• JoyBussuAuthor

When life throws tomatoes...MAKE SALSA!

Have you ever had a time in your life when it seems to be one great big "I told you so." moment? No? Well let me tell you I have and I am! My problem is I brought a lot of it on myself. I am always reminding someone that words and thoughts have power and then go around thinking the absolute worse outcome of something and when it happens I shake my head and sigh: 'Now see? I knew this was going to happen'. Yeah, it happened because I put power and thought into the wrong things and let the right ones fall stagnant.

I am a big believer in manifestation, what you put out is what you get back and most of the time I am amazing at it, in times like the ones we have found ourselves in with this pandemic, not so much. The uncertainty of this situation has me all the way on edge and I hate it!

Well, writing is my refuge and calm so you, my dear readers are reaping the benefits of my time of unrest. So until I am able to return to work I will be blogging daily to keep myself for overthinking EVERYTHING. Hence the title, life has thrown me tomatoes so I'm making salsa dammit!

I am also working on yet another new book as well, no make that two with four more completed and waiting on covers so they can drop, also, in the upcoming weeks I will be reintroducing you to a set of my favorite characters since my first attempt of a series is based on this group of ladies, so stay tuned!

Before I give you a bit more of Light Eyed Girl to read, people please take this pandemic seriously and be careful out there. The sooner we comply the sooner we can get on the other side of this, I love and adore my family but I am not meant to stay inside with them indefinitely! I am losing my ever-loving. mind already! Just kidding but seriously we have to remember we are all in this together and we will get through this, just be kind to each other and help when and where you can. Until tomorrow here is a bit more of Light Eyed Girl.

Leading with Light and Love always and sending it your way,

Natalie L. Gamble, Author.

Chapter 11

I got a part time job and started college full time. When I had free time I spent most of it with Raunda and Aunt Bettie.

Both of them went to school locally, yes that's right my Aunt Bettie went back to school too!

“So Nikki when is Joseph coming back home?” We were sitting on the floor in Raunda’s room painting our fingernails.

“He’s supposed to be home in about three weeks, but I'm going up to see him play with his dad next weekend.” She returned to her nails nodding.

“So Raunie how are the guys at Dover, you've been there long enough to know now.”

She shrugged “It's just like high school they just have more money and bad ass cars.”

I rolled my eyes in her direction. “So how many men do you have so far?”

She smirked. “Girl please I’m going to college to get my education. I don't have time for men.”

We both busted up at that comment. Sure she needed her education but with Raunda men were always high up on her list of priorities.

“Oh that reminds me you remember Donald?” She asked me blowing her nails.

I frowned trying to remember. “I think so light skinned, tall, hangs out with Melvin and Keith?” She nodded, holding her hand out to check her nails for smudges.

“Yeah, remember how he cheated on me?”

I nodded. “ Yep and I remember how bad you cussed him the hell out when you found out too.”

“Well now he’s all in my face buying me lunch, walking me to class, playing the straight role.”

I shook my head. “Raunie I don't know what you do or how you do it but you always have these fools sprung over your ass, why would he be any different?” I asked, looking at my own hand before beginning to apply another coat.

“Whatever Nikki, anyway he’s coming over tonight are you going to be around?”

I finally had the whole weekend off. “Yep, I plan on spending the night I told Joseph to try to call me over here when I wrote him Wednesday why?”

She shrugged. “No reason, just curious.”

I gave my cousin a hard look. “Raunda is Melvin coming too?” Melvin had a crush on me right before I went to babysit for Josh, He followed me around like a puppy and acted like he was God's gift to women, umm no!

“Nikki I don't know! I just asked if you were going to be here.” She answered me innocently and started to work on her toes.

I narrowed my eyes and blew my nails. “Uh huh.”

Donald came over later not with Melvin thank God but with another friend we had never seen before named Derek.

As luck would have it Tori came home around the same time and we were sitting on the couch catching up when Derek wandered back into the living room after a few minutes in Raunda’s room, he sat closest to me.

“Hi I’m Nikki and this is Tori, Raunda’s sister.

He acknowledged Tori with little enthusiasm she returned his disinterested look.

“So Nikki I found a way to copyright our music.” I nodded flipping the pages of my tourism book.

“Cool, I can’t wait to get started. Uh Derek, so what's up?” I turned to him sitting my book next to me, I had to say something, he was staring at me like I was his last meal.

“It's just that I would like to talk to you ALONE if you don't mind.” He said pointedly, throwing an annoyed look at Tori.

Tori hopped off the couch. “I will catch up with you later Nik, I need to speak to Mom anyway.”

I sat back on the couch, folding my arms watching Tori walk away before glaring at him. “What the hell was that? That was rude as hell, are you always this forward?” I don't care how important he thought he was, he had no right to talk to Tori that way.

“Only when I see something I want.” His eyes were traveling up and down my body as he leaned forward towards me. Oh hell no!

“First of all backup because I don’t know you like that and second, since you chased Tori away what did you want to talk to me about?” I asked, pushing him away from me before scooting over on the couch.

He smiled at me. “Do you have a man?” He asked, looking me up and down again.

“Yeah I do why?” I picked up my travel and tourism book again and my highlighter.

He looked around the living room like he was trying to find someone. “It’s Friday night where is he?” He smirked, a knowing smile in his face.

Oh hell no this cocky bastard was getting on my damn nerves! “He’s at the AFA, basic training.”

He flashed me a wicked grin and shrugged, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

I sat up, looking hostile. “Excuse me?”

He sat back leaning towards me. “I said out of sight, out of mind. Meaning if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.”

Same wicked grin. “So Nikki where do you go to school?” He stretched his arms across the back of the couch.

“Why?” I frowned, hating that he was so comfortable while making me uncomfortable.

“Just making conversation.” He shrugged still smiling over at me.

“I go to CCD, I’m studying Travel and Tourism.” I held up my book for him to see, he grabbed it out of my hand and flipped through a few pages before setting it down on the couch.

“Interesting field.” He nodded and continued to stare at me.

“Will you please stop looking at me like that?” I snapped snatching my book up again and uncapping my highlighter as I opened it up to the bookmarked page.

He smiled again, “Why does it make you nervous?”

I rolled my eyes at him before returning to my book.

“No it’s just fucking annoying.”

He laughed a little at my annoyance. “So where do you work?”

I smirked, dragging my highlighter across a sentence. “Are you writing a book or something?”

He shook his head. “That smart mouth, I like it.” I sighed rolling my eyes towards the ceiling, “Neither my attitude or me are for you to like, but to answer your question I work at Pic N Save.”

“So can I call you sometimes?” He asked, pulling a piece of paper out of his pocket and grabbing my highlighter from me.

I looked at him like he was crazy. “I just told you I have a man.” I snatched my highlighter from his hand.

He shrugged, “So?”

“So that means I love him and am faithful to him.” I snapped moving further away from him and going back to highlighting.

Raunda walked in with Donald close on her heels.

“Nikki, we are going to go to the movies, do you want to come?”

She asked me looking hopeful.

I stretched my arms over my head before looking over at her, “Nope, Joseph is supposed to call.”

Derek let out a frustrated sigh. “Girl come on you're going to just sit around all night waiting for him to call?”

I shot him a dirty look before looking back over at Raunda. “Raunie it’s my first day off in a while, I'm just going to stay here and read, you go ahead.” She went to get her coat and tell my aunt she was leaving.

“Are you sure you don't want to go Nikki?” Donald asked me, smiling from me to Derek.

I looked over at Derek who was still staring at me, like I was a sandwich. “Yeah I'm sure.” I stood up and went to move around Derek to leave the room when he grabbed my hand.

“I'll be in touch Nikki.” He smiled that evil ass grin at me, It sounded more like a threat than anything else.

“Whatever.” I snatched my hand away and went to find Tori. Raunda met me on the stairs, “Girl what the hell did Derek say to Tori? She is pissed!”

I shrugged, shaking my head, “Girl! That man is touched! First he chases Tori off, then hones in on me like I'm his last meal!”

She actually started laughing. “Raunda what the hell is so funny?” I snapped, folding my arms.

“And you were worried about Melvin.” She said through her laughter. “Sure you don't want to come?”

“Shut up Raunie.” I glared over at her.

“Please Nikki, just go, you can sit by me.” She begged, grabbing both of my hands. I pulled my hands away and folded my arms again, leaning against the wall by the stairs.

“Girl hell naw, he is too forward for me and besides like I said before Joseph might call.”

She shook her head. “Fine, just know that Imma get you back for this.” She pouted and moved past me and left with Donald and Derek.

“Love you Raunie, have a good time!” I called as they left, giggling when Raunda flipped me off.

Joseph called me a bit later and I was in the guest room reading by eleven.


“Nikki, there's a message for you at your register.” One of my coworkers told me as I pulled on my smock, that following Monday to start my shift.

A pink message slip read ‘Please call Derek’ and had a number listed. “You have got to be kidding me.” I mumbled and threw the message away and started my work day.

Everyday after that I had the same message, See? I told Raunda the boy was touched! How much worse would he be if I had gone to the damn movies the other night?!

“Thank you for calling Pic N Save, how can I help you?” I answered the phone with my most professional voice.

“Yeah, is Nikki working tonight?” A deep voice asked.

“This is Nikki, can I help you?” I looked down at the phone confused.

“Nikki, this is Derek, did you get my messages?”

I rolled my eyes heavenward. “Yes I did, what do you want Derek?”

“You.” He said confidently.

I gripped the phone tighter. “Derek, I'm at work. I don't have time to play games with you, what do you want?” I growled into the phone.

“ I don't like games either Nikki, call me tonight when you get home or I might just have to pay you a visit tomorrow.” He hung up.

“Shit what was with this man?!” I hung up the phone trying not to let my irritation show, no one but my parents gave me orders and Derek was going to hear about it when I got home!

Later that night after I finished my homework, I dialed his number with annoyance someone answered on the first ring.


“Can I speak to Derek please?” I could hear him smile through the phone. “This is him.”

“Derek this is Nikki.” I snapped.

“Yeah I know thanks for finally calling me back.” He snapped back.

“Now what do you want? I told you I have a man I'm committed to. Why do you keep calling my job?” I asked through clenched teeth.

“Nikki, I already answered that, I told you I want you and I'm used to getting what I want.” He stated matter of factly.

I let out an aggravated sigh, “Derek why? You don't know shit about me.” He laughed. “Yeah, but I know what I like and that’s you and that prissy little attitude of yours.”

I ran my hand through my hair, closing my eyes and counting to ten, “Look Derek I'm sure you’re a nice guy and all but I'm in love with Joseph.”

He sighed. “Like I said before out of sight out of mind.”

I shook my head. “That may be true for some people, it’s not true for me and Joseph.”

“Check this out just say you'll go to the movies with me and you decide when.”

“Dammit Derek don’t you listen?!” I asked, getting loud.

“Only when it's something I want to hear.”

He was starting to aggravate my very soul! Why couldn't he just leave me alone? It was bad enough I couldn't see Joseph when I wanted to, but him badgering me was making things even worse by reminding me he wasn't here.

“Derek what do you want from me?” I asked again.

“I already told you.” He chuckled, it seemed like he loved the fact that he was making me mad.

“Fine I will go to a movie with you and I will let you know when, now will you back off a little?”

“Nope, and I look forward to seeing you, good night Nikki.”

“ARRRGH!” What the hell was wrong with him?! I slammed the phone down in frustration.

My mood changed swiftly when I remembered I was going to see Joseph at his game the next day.

Joseph’s father picked me up the next afternoon to drive to the game. We ended up talking about my favorite subject, his son.

We met Joseph and his mom outside the chow hall.

“Hi Nikki, How have you been?” Joseph’s mom asked me and smiled.

“I'm fine and you?” I tried to shake her hand.

“Girl get over here!” She pulled me into a hug. I liked Joseph’s mom. She was really down to earth and the few times I’d been around her she was very easy to talk to.

Joseph had to go back to the barracks so I walked around the Academy with his mom, we watched him play and almost went hoarse cheering for his team.

They won 31-10.

“Nik-Kay what's up baby?” He walked over to me and his parents after the game, grabbing my hand and we walked back to the barracks.

“So have you missed me?” He asked, putting his arm around me and moving away from his parents.

I gave him a maddening look, “You’ve read my letters and my cards, you know and good and well I do!”

He laughed “Yeah I know I've been missing you too but hey I’ll be home next week.”

I smiled up at him. “Been counting the days, I can't wait.”

He showed me around the barracks and introduced me to a few of his friends before kissing me goodbye because he had curfew and his dad was ready to drive back.

I hugged his mom and thanked her for keeping me company and headed for home.

By the time we pulled into my driveway I was in a blue funk going to his game made me miss him even more.

“Hey Nik how was the game?” Rachel asked looking over her shoulder she was laying down on the couch.

“It was good, they won, where’s Mom?”

“She already went to bed.”

“Oh well Rachael, I'm going to bed see you in the morning.” I started towards the stairs and my room.

“Oh yeah Nikki come here.” My sister called after me. I came back to the living room.

“Yeah what's up?” I asked kicking my shoes off.

“Some guy named Derek called you, he said call him when you got in.” She told me looking over at me.

“What, he called here?” I asked grabbing the paper Rachel was holding out to me.

“How the hell did he get the number here?” I mumbled as I went downstairs to take my shower.

I was in the family room reading when the phone rang. I dived for it because Joseph had said he would try to call me before lights out.


“Hi baby I was to calling to see that you made it home safely.” His voice sent warmth all through my body.

“So did you have fun today?” He asked.

I laid back on the couch. “Yes seeing you is always fun.”

“Well I can't talk that long I just called to tell you I love you.” “I love you too Joseph goodnight.”

The next week went by at a snail's pace, when I didn't hear from Derek I figured he finally got the hint.

I bought Joseph a teddy bear and three white roses to welcome him home.

“Thank you Nikki I'm going to put him on my bed at Mom’s house.” He gave me a quick kiss and picked up his bear and flowers.

He had told me earlier when we spoke on the phone that we were going over to his house for awhile. “You ready?”

I nodded and grabbed my jacket. I told Joseph I wanted to make love to him again in my last letter to him. I wasn't as nervous as I was the first time I was actually looking forward to it.

When we got to his house that tingling feeling started as soon as he touched me. When it was over I was still tingling and throbbing for some reason it made me feel kind of disappointed.

“Nikki are you okay?” Joseph asked with a look of concern on his face.

“Im okay.” I leaned over the bed to grab my shirt.

“Wait a minute Nikki what's wrong?” Joseph was getting really good at reading my emotions.

“Joseph it's just that I missed you so much and longed to be close to you and just like that it’s over.”

He pulled me in his arms and kissed my forehead. “Nikki I'm here all weekend.”

I shrugged, pouting a little bit, “Yeah I know but now I have to share you with everybody else.”

He smiled, shaking his head, “Yeah but I don't enjoy kissing them as much as I love kissing you.” He leaned down and kissed me then got off the bed to get dressed.

Once I was dressed he talked to me into going to a small get together with him. I ended up watching movies while he played dominos for a few hours then he took me home.

“Will I see you tomorrow?” We were sitting in his car in front of my house.

“I told Gene and them I would go lift with them tomorrow so after that?”

I sighed. “Well okay call me if anything changes, I will either be here or at Raunda’s.” I moved to get out of the car.

“Nikki are you sure you're okay?”

I smiled “Yeah I'm fine just tired.” I lied. I was a little upset, I had waited for him for six weeks and had spent the most of the night watching movies while he played dominos and I felt a little cheated.

“Do I get a kiss goodbye?” He asked with a half smile. I leaned over and kissed him quickly and exited the car.

“Eugene and them my ass.” I grumbled out loud as I walked into the house. I was still venting after my shower. “I wrote you and sent you cards every other day and I can't even get an entire night with you?!”

I sat down hard on the couch and started to lotion my legs. I was really mad at myself for not telling him how I really felt.

“Don't trip Nikki you will see him tomorrow.” I tried to reassure myself.

I stayed close to home the next day, I did have studying to do, but I wanted to make sure I was home to hear from Joseph.

He called me about 4 o’clock that afternoon. “Nikki baby, I’m so sorry. We went to go lift and then to get something to eat. Are you busy?”

I closed my travel and tourism books and pushed them aside. “No, I’m just studying.”

“Oh well, I was going to stop by and say hello. Is that okay?” “Yeah, I will be here. So I will see you soon?”

“Yeah, baby. I love you, Nikki.”

Three hours later, he walked in apologizing. “Nikki baby, I’m so sorry, I was still with Gene and them when I called you earlier and we just got to talking and-” He trailed off when he saw the dirty look I shot him.

“I cooked hot wings for dinner if you want some.” I sat on the loveseat across from him.

“No, that’s okay. I can’t stay long, I’m going to a party with-”

I held up my hand, “Let me guess, Eugene and them?”

He gave me a sheepish grin and nodded. “Nikki, listen. I promise to spend all my time with you tomorrow before I head back.”

I got up and walked to the kitchen and packed up the rest of the hot wings for him, which by the way I made at his request in the first place!

“Here I made these for you, I remembered when you wrote me once that you wanted some when you got home. Eat them if you get hungry after the party.” I handed him the container and forced a smile.

“Are you sure you’re okay with me going tonight?”

Another phony smile from me. “Yeah sure, they are happy you’re home too, I will see you before you leave tomorrow.”

I walked him to the door and he gave me a hug and kiss and left.

Mom came out of her room and came out short when she saw me standing there. “I thought you and Joseph were going out.”

“Uh no, he went to a party with some of his football friends instead.” I followed behind her back to the kitchen and grabbed a soda out of the refrigerator. I sat back down in front of my books.

“Mom?” She pulled out the ice tray and filled some in her glass “Yes?”

“Why is it , I could have pulled Joseph’s heart out for being late but once I saw him, I didn't care because he was here with me?”

“It’s called love, Nikki, and I’d say you got it pretty bad, just don't get stupid with it.” She sat down next to me at the table, I was putting my books back in my backpack.

“What do you mean, Mom?”

“Nikki, you have a good heart, and I know you love Joseph, but it’s easy for people you love to take advantage of you because you're so easy going, so be careful.”

I stood up and slung my backpack over one shoulder and nodded. “I will, Mom.”

I leaned down and kissed her on the cheek and headed to my room. I was sitting on my bed painting my toenails when my phone rang,

“What's up Nikki, this is Derek.” I cursed Joseph silently, if I was with him I would have missed this call.

“What do you want, Derek?” I went back to painting my toes.

“Where’s your man at?”

I sighed, “Why?” “Because it's Saturday night and didn't he come home this weekend?”

My cousin’s big mouth had struck again, I’m pretty sure she was the one who gave him my number too!

“Yes, he’s home. He went to a party with his football buddies.” I could have kicked myself the minute the words left my mouth, that was all the ammunition Derek seemed to need.

“If you were my woman and I had just got back to town? My friends would be lucky to get a phone call.”

I rolled my eyes at the phone, “Well, I'm not your woman, so don’t worry about it.”

I heard him smiling. “One day Nikki, one day.”

“Whatever Derek. Now that you know where my man is, Goodnight.” I hung up the phone and climbed into the bed, wet toenails and all. Between Joseph standing me up, my mom’s words, and now Derek, I was exhausted.

Joseph stopped by as he was leaving out and I was mad as a hatter about it.

At least he wasn't with his football crew, but with his mom. I’m sure she felt as cheated as I did.

“I’m so sorry, baby. I promise you, the next time I get leave, it will be you and me all weekend.”

I was looking down at my feet, trying not to flip out. “Okay, Joseph.”

He lifted my chin so I had to look at him. “Forgive me?”

I sighed. “Of course I do. Get there safe and call me when you can.”I smiled weakly.

I walked back to the house with Derek’s words ringing in my head. ‘Out of sight out of mind.’ I could only hope not all men thought like Derek.

Joseph continued to come in and out of town as he could with football and classes. More often than not, he stayed close to school.

I continued to write him letters, sent him cards and tried to remain upbeat, I mean there was always Christmas break right?

“Nikki, go out with me tomorrow.” I was talking to Derek on the phone. I tried everything I could to get rid of him, but to my surprise, he kept hanging around.

Eventually, I gave up trying to discourage him, I still reminded him on a constant and daily basis that my heart belonged to Joseph. “No, Derek.”

“Nikki, I don't get you, you seem like a smart girl. You mean to tell me you actually think that he's sitting up at school, just missing you?”

I sighed in frustration, “No, Derek. I know he goes out to parties and stuff with his friends.”

“And I bet you money they ain't all male friends either.” He laughed a little.

“Derek, I'm not trying to hear this shit tonight.” I snapped.

Joseph had called me earlier in the week to tell me he didn't think he was coming home this weekend yet again.

“Why, because you thought of it yourself already?”

“Derek, if I say I will go out with you tomorrow, will you please drop the subject?” I sighed massaging my temples.

“No, because you know I’m right, and you hate to admit it.” He laughed harder.

“Whatever Derek. I get off at six tomorrow. I usually get home around seven. What time are we leaving?” I was trying to remain cool, but under the surface I was seething.

Everyday I didn't hear from Joseph or didn't get a letter from him that is exactly what I was thinking, he was out with someone else. I poured my heart into his letters, spent hours choosing the perfect cards, and his absence was starting to piss me off!

“Around eight, what's your address?” I gave it to him and hung up, feeling like I signed a deal with the devil.

The next night, I almost wished I hadn’t agreed to it, but I needed to get out of the house.

“Rachael, can you get the door, please? I forgot my coat.” I rushed back downstairs to grab my coat. When I came back up, Derek was sitting in the living room, with my mom and Rachael.

“Hi. I guess it’s too late for the introductions, huh?”

He smiled. “Yeah, I was just telling your mom how mean you’ve been to me,” He teased.

I rolled my eyes and tried not to smile. “Whatever.”

He checked his watch. “Are you ready? The movie starts at nine.” He was dressed pretty nice for a casual date. If he wasn’t so annoying, he would be cute.

“Nikki, can I talk to you before you go?” My mom asked.

“Sure.” I followed her out of the living room and into her room, knowing she was about to get on me for going out with someone else. “Mom, before you say anything, we are just friends. He knows all about Joseph. It’s just a movie with a friend.”

“No, girl. I was going to tell you if Joseph calls, I will tell him you went to sleep with a bad headache.”

I hugged my mom. “Thanks, Mom, but I doubt he will call anyway.”

She hugged me back. “Well, try to have a good time, anyway. Derek is pretty cute.”

I rolled my eyes heavenward.“Yes, and he knows it, too.” I pulled on my coat and walked back into the living room before following Derek out of the house.

“You look nice, Nikki.” I smiled over at him, when he opened the passenger side door for me. ‘Maybe, this won’t be so bad after all,’ I thought to myself. “Thanks Derek.” I was wearing a pair of jeans and a blouse. Nothing special.

“But I have to say, damn girl. You got a banging body!”

I guess I spoke too soon. I shook my head and stared out of the window.

We went to see a scary movie he picked, but it was pretty dumb.

Afterwards, we went out to eat. It was pretty fun, as much as I hated to admit that to Derek.

“Thanks, Derek. It was fun.” We were back at my house. “You’re welcome. What are you doing tomorrow?”

“Um, I might go over my cousin’s, other than that I will be here.” “Okay, cool. I will come pick you up at eight, alright?”

I gave him a maddening look, “No, not cool. I didn’t agree to go anywhere else with you.”

He threw a frustrated look back at me. “Girl, come on. Just say you will go with me tomorrow.”

I thought how persistent Derek could be, and I didn’t have the strength to fight him all day tomorrow until I said yes. “Fine, I will call you, when I’m ready.” I offered in surrender.

He just smiled down at me, grinning from ear to ear. I turned and started walking towards the house, searching in my purse for my keys.

“Oh, and Nikki?” I turned to answer him and ended up against my house with Derek’s tongue in my mouth. No sooner than I went to push him away, he stopped and walked away. “Goodnight, Nikki.” He called over his shoulder. He laughed all the way back to his car.

“Derek, you are such an asshole!” I stormed up to the door, let myself in, and stomped off to my room. “Men get on my damn nerves!” I snapped and tossed my coat on my bed.

I don’t know what made me angrier, the fact that I still hadn’t heard from Joseph or that Derek took it upon himself to kiss me and had the nerve to do it well!

The next day, I thought of one hundred and one excuses why I couldn’t go out with Derek again. Most importantly, I was emotional and lonely for Joseph, and that could be a deadly combination. Derek called me about 7:30 .

“Nikki, I thought you were going to call me when you were ready.”

“Derek, I don’t think that’s such a good idea. It’s obvious you don’t respect the boundaries of just being friends.”

He chuckled. “Nikki, I never agreed to just be your friend, and it was one kiss, no harm done. In fact, it won't happen again, unless you want it to.”

I was biting my bottom lip, thinking. I didn’t want to spend another Saturday night at home, but Derek wasn’t exactly the company I needed to keep right now but what else was I going to do? Tori was in Boulder and Raunda was out with Donald. What the hell? It beat staying at home.

“Derek, I’m getting dressed, I will call you back in a few.” I hung up and headed for my closet. I had pulled out a few clothes when my phone rang again I thought it was Derek calling back with a smart ass comment. “Hello?”

“Hi, Nikki. Baby, how are you?” It was Joseph.

My heart dropped to my feet. “Hi, where are you?” I countered, getting nervous for his answer.

“I'm at the house, getting ready to come get you in about thirty minutes, if that’s alright?” I closed my eyes and cursed myself for agreeing to see Derek again. I knew it would lead to trouble!

“Yeah, that’s fine. I will just see you when I get here, ok?”

“Ok, see you then, baby.” I hung up with Joseph and waited about thirty seconds to make sure the line was clear and I dialed Derek’s number.

“You’re not coming.” Is how he answered the phone.

“Derek, Joseph’s home and he’s on his way to get me now.”

He sighed. “I figured it was something like that, well, call me when you get home, and maybe we can hook up then.”

Was he crazy? There was no way I would even take the chance being seen with him with Joseph home!

“Yeah okay, bye Derek.” I hung up and went to change clothes.

Once I made sure I looked ok, I talked my mom out of one of her jackets. Mine still smelled like Derek’s cologne. Joseph came over about two hours later and drove to his father’s house, so we could be alone.

He led me to his room and started to kiss me, my body practically ignited into flames when he touched me. “Oh, Lisa, I missed you so much.” He murmured in my ear.

It was like someone tossed ice water in my face. I pushed him away from me. “Who in the hell is Lisa, Joseph?”

He looked at me and looked away. “She’s just a friend, Nikki.”

I scoffed. “She must be some friend that you call out her name when you’re here with me.”

He grabbed my hands and pleaded. “ It’s not like that, Nikki.”

I shook my head and glared at him. “Take me home, Joseph.”

He still hadn't let my hands go. “Baby, no, we need to talk about this.”

I snatched my hands away and grabbed my coat, putting it quickly.

“Joseph, you can either take me home or you can explain to my Aunt Bettie why I'm walking to her house this late at night on the verge of tears.” I walked out of his room and through the basement.

My Aunt lived a few blocks away from Joseph’s father and I wasn't bluffing, I was getting the hell away from him!

“Nikki wait, I swear baby, she’s just a friend!” He was close behind me.

I whirled around and glared at him. “Save it Joseph! I REFUSE to let you do this to me again!”

He quietly put his coat on and drove me home, he kept pleading his case as we pulled up in front of my house. “Nikki, I swear to God, she is just a friend.”

I sat back with my arms folded, looking over at him feeling like a damn fool for being in this situation with him again. Why the hell was I so damn stupid?! “How good a friend, Joseph?”

He shrugged, “We went out a couple of times, but nothing happened, I promise you, nothing happened.”

“Then why, when you are with me, someone you supposedly love, do you call out her name?” He looked over his steering wheel and through the windshield, but didn't answer the question.

“Yeah, well, when you can answer that question, give me a call.” I jumped out the car and walked up the walk, rushing into the house.

The first thing I did was change my clothes and hair, the second thing I did was call Derek. “I absolutely refuse to let you reduce to that pitiful person again, Joseph Peters!” I murmured, picking out a pair of earrings to wear.

Derek came and got me about thirty minutes later. “Damn girl, you look good!”

I smiled at his compliment and fought the tears that still wanted to fall. “Thanks, are you ready?” I grabbed my coat and walked out the door, I wasn’t going to take the chance of Joseph calling with his bullshit excuses. I just wasn't in the mind frame for it.

“I was just about to get something to eat when you called. Are you hungry?” My nerves were too bad for food right now, but I couldn't keep him from eating because of me. “Sure, I could eat.”

We drove to a 24 hour diner, I sat silently looking out of the window refusing to cry.

“Is this cool?” He asked pulling the keys out the ignition, he hadnt said much on the drive over.

“They serve food, don't they, so why wouldn't it be?” I snapped before I could stop myself.

He smiled at my sarcasm and came around and opened my door, as we walked in he mumbled. “That smart ass mouth.”

“So, what happened?” He asked after I sat there staring down at my nails shaking my leg, my emotions were all over the place, he was putting sugar and cream in his coffee.

“Don't ask.” I rolled my eyes in anger, hating the fact that I still wanted to cry.

“Well, I want to know. One minute, you’re telling me you can't go out because your boy is in town and the next one you ask me to come get you and you're dressed to kill.”

I reached out and started playing with the straw in my Sprite and sighed in defeat. “Derek, he called me somebody else.”

He dropped his usual smartass expression and was suddenly serious. “I’m really sorry, Nikki. Are you okay?”

I shrugged, “ I don’t know, I mean am I surprised? No not really, it's like I expected it to happen eventually. To be honest, I think I am okay just so embarrassed and angry. I gave him so much to prove I loved him, to make him stay, but down deep, I guess I always knew I would never be number one to him, be it football, his friends, or whatever, I was never really firstwith him.”

Derek shook his head and took a sip of his coffee. “Some muthafuckas are dumb as hell.”

I shrugged. “ As are some females, it's not all his fault. I willingly gave all of me knowing a lot of the time recently it was all one sided, but life goes on, and I guess it’s time to start living mine.”

The waitress brought our order and I watched him eat his bacon cheese burger with gusto, while I played with a fry in ketchup.

“Nikki, I was going to take you to a party but I was thinking, do you want to go to my place and watch a movie instead?”

I considered his offer while dipping the same fry in ketchup one last time before finally taking a bite. “Sure, it’s still early.” I just hope I don’t live to regret this decision.

We finished our meal in silence, but every time I looked up Derek was staring at me. I was beginning to think this was the norm for him.

He started telling me more about himself on the way to his house. Mainly he lived alone, had a baby daughter, and a cat that was really jealous, and I should watch out for her.

“Derek, if that cat attacks me, I’m kicking your ass and hers!” I snapped when we got to his house, his cat was meowing low and moving around me slowly.

He laughed at me and took my coat. “Have a seat.” He indicated the couch, I sat on the side closest to the door.

He came and sat next to me after closing the cat in the laundry room. looking me up and down. “You know it’s your fault if she poops in my shoes right? Nice outfit by the way.” He said, his eyes still traveling up and down my body.”

I was wearing a red skirt and blouse outfit that came above the knee, it was new, I hadn’t had a chance to wear it yet, so I pulled it out tonight.

“Thanks, my grandmother sent it to me as a graduation gift., I like it.”

He shook his head. “If you grandmother knew how you look in that outfit, she might have rethought sending it.” He gave me a predatory smile.

I glared at him and folded my arms. “Yeah well my grandmother doesn’t think like you, Derek.”

He looked me up and down again, nodding, “Very true.”

I looked over at him, his hazel eyes were dancing with God knows what thoughts before he got up and walked over to his entertainment center.

“So Nikki, what do you want to watch?” He kneeled in front of the TV and called out a few titles, I chose one and he popped it in the VCR.

He came and sat back down next to me, I slipped off my shoes and slipped my feet under my hip. I felt him looking at me but tried to pretend I was watching the movie.

After about 15 minutes I couldn't ignore it anymore, “Derek why do you always look at me like that?”

“I just like to.” His eyes never left me, he made a slow and deliberate trip up and down my body.

I shook my head and went back to staring at the screen. He was so damn annoying.

Derek leaned over and placed a soft kiss on my neck. The contact sent chills through me.

I turned swiftly. “Derek why did you do that?”

He smiled, “Because I wanted to.”

I narrowed my eyes in annoyance. “You act a lot on impulse don't you?”

“Yep I do.” He moved closer to me and ran his tongue around the edge of my ear and down to my collarbone.

I jumped off the couch as chills and heat shot through me at the same time.

“Come here Nikki.” His hand caught mine, his hazel eyes shining.

“No, I don't think that’s a good idea.” I tried to pull my hand away but he only gripped it tighter and pulled me back down on the couch.

“Tell me, why did you jump Nikki?” He asked, his mouth close to my ear. “Because it tickled and I don't like to be tickled.” I lied, there was no way in hell I was going to tell him the truth!

His tongue went back to the same spot, “No you're not,” He whispered close to my ear. “I think I found your spot, you liked it I can tell.”

My heart rate accelerated, my body got warm all over.

“Derek stop it.” I tried to sound firm and move away.

He kept me close by pulling my hand he was still gripping behind his back.

He continued to kiss my neck and my breathing became heavy , I was trying to get my brain to listen, willing the rest of me not to respond.

There were new sensations rushing through me as he kissed my neck and used his free hand to touch me and they were incredible! I had to stop him before things went too far. “Derek please.” I moaned and tried to move again, I turned my head and was met with his searing kiss.

His lips pressed against mine and when his tongue pushed into my mouth my thighs went up in flames. I tried to move my head but only succeeded in driving his tongue further in my mouth.

His free hand found one of my breasts, my sanity was about gone when he pulled away from my mouth. “Derek we can't.”

My protest was weak at best as he dipped his head under my blouse and pulled my nipple in his mouth with slow suction. Oh. My. God! So many emotions and feelings ran through me at once, I wanted him to stop but I want him to continue. I wanted to feel guilty but I wanted more of his hands and mouth on me. What the hell was the matter with me?!

He stopped and looked down at me, I was in a semi reclining position, my breath was short and choppy, he was leaning over me with one of his knees between my legs.

“Derek I'm sorry, I should have ne-” I was trying to tell him we had to stop, and now!

“Sorry for what?” He asked as he started to unbutton my blouse.

“I didn't mean to let things go so far, I shouldn't have kissing you, we can't do-”

He captured my lips in another kiss, his tongue deep into my mouth and whatever protest was about to say, died on his lips.

“What are you doing to me?” I moaned when his lips moved from my lips and back to my neck, I was shivering all over. He lifted his head and snatched his shirt over his head, his labored breathing matched mine. “This is only the beginning Nikki.”

He pulled me to my feet and took my hand, leading me to his room, his arousal apparent. Before I could even blink he was kissing and touching me all over, the more he did, the more I wanted him to do.

He started to remove my clothes, kissing my bare skin as he went along the way. When he reached my underwear and replaced my panties with his mouth, my knees buckled, HOLY HELL! Sensations I never knew existed were coursing through me and all I could focus on was Derek, I wanted all Derek wanted to give me. By the time he entered me I was on another plateau, my body tingling like never before and I was climbing higher and higher.

When he came about twenty minutes later, I begged him not to move, my body was still humming. He kissed me softly until I finally calmed down and sighed contently beneath him.

He looked down at me, touching my face and turning serious on me.

“Nikki I won't say I’m sorry and I don't want you to be either,” He paused to kiss me again. “From the first time I saw you I knew I wanted to be with you, be your man if given the chance. I knew even when you didn't you weren’t happy with Joseph.” He rolled onto his back and I pulled myself on one elbow, looking over at him.

“And now that you’ve been with me, what happens now?” I asked pulling the sheet higher up to cover my breast.

His eyes locked with mine. “Nikki I won’t rest until you are truly mine.”

“Derek how do you know I want to be anyone’s let alone yours?” I argued, feeling all mixed up inside. Three days I could barely stand Derek, and was screaming my love for Joseph from the rooftops. Now here I was naked in Derek’s bed!

“You will be Nikki, just watch and see.” He said, pulling me to him and kissing me again.

Although Derek had taken me to a new level of excitement that I found difficult to describe I was tired of being hurt by love and honestly I was in no mood to rush into another brand of it.

I hibernated in the basement the next day trying to put things into perspective. I had no answers for my actions the night before, it wasn't about revenge or because Joseph had hurt me again, those emotions may have been the reason why I called Derek but I didn't plan on what happened with Derek. All I knew was, I liked how he made me feel and wanted it to feel it again.

After about three hours of beating myself up for feeling that way, I convinced myself it was okay for a woman to want sex even if it was with someone she didn't love.

Derek called me early in the evening and the sound of his voice made me blush. “Hey Nikki what’s up girl?” He sounded pretty happy and upbeat, like he was just loving life.

“Nothing really just staring off into space thinking, to be honest.” I sat up grabbing one of the throw pillows to hug.

“So when can I see you again?” He asked, smiling through the phone.

“I have to work everyday this week but I work the day shift on Saturday so I can see you then.”

He sighed, “Sounds good, but I’d like to see you before then.” He reasoned.

“Derek, why don’t you just come by tonight?”I suggested. I had classes in the morning and I wasn't trying to be out all night. 5 AM came too early.

“Sure I can be there in about an hour.” I could tell he was still smiling.

I hung up and jumped up and ran upstairs to tell Mom and Rachel that Derek was stopping by.

“Mom, Derek is coming by in a little bit, can you holler down when he gets here?”

She was making hot water cornbread. She nodded and gave me a sideways glance. “Sure, so do you want to tell me what’s going on?”

I sat at the table. “What do you mean?”

She flipped her patties of cornbread and looked over at me. “ Wanna tell me why you left with Joseph then came back almost immediately and left again with Derek?” She arched one eyebrow.

I dropped my head in my arms. “Oh God Mom it’s terrible!”

“What is and sit up I can barely hear you.” I looked over at her.

“Joseph. He did it to me again, Mom but this time he called me another girl's name!”

She pulled the cornbread out of the skillet and sat it on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain the excess oil.

“And how does Derek play into all of this?” She asked, looking over at me sideways again.

I shrugged. “I honestly don't know, he’s so pushy but he’s kind of growing on me, I like his company.”

She stirred her greens nodding for a moment. “Well good, I thought if Joseph broke your heart again you would never recover plus I thought you were too young to be that serious about someone anyway.”

I smiled. “Thanks mom.”

She walked over and kissed me on the forehead. “Just don't get so many men, you can't keep them straight!”

I laughed and stood back up going back to the stairs. “Yeah right mom, if I decide to date Derek he will be more than enough to keep me occupied.”


I was down in the family room reading when mom called down. “Nikki! Derek’s here, make sure you're decent!”

I laughed and sat up on the couch just as he hit the last step. I looked at my watch, one hour on the dot, if he was anything he was punctual.

He walked over to the couch with his trademark grin. “So how’s Nikki?”

I moved over so he could share the couch with me. “She’s fine, have a seat.”

He pulled off his jacket and when his hazel eyes locked with mine I blushed remembering all we did the night before. “Any regrets?”

I shook my head, “No, not really I mean I guess I am officially single.”

He frowned suddenly, looking hostile. “What do you mean you guess you’re single?”

I rolled my eyes, “Don't trip Derek you know what I mean.”

He sagged in relief. “I thought maybe Joseph called and you decided to forgive him, thought I had to put in more work to prove to you I’m the man you want and need.” He winked, looking over at me like he was ready to devour me.

“Derek please, even if he had called there is no way we could be together now.”

“Why is that?” He asked.

“Derek I just don't jump into bed with people and plus I can't trust him.”

He looked confused. “Oh- Kay I don't understand the jumping into bed part.”

I ran my hand down my face. “Derek what happened last night never happened to me before, I had sex with someone I barely know.”

He shrugged, “So okay now we get to know each other.”

I gave him a serious look, “Derek, we started in the middle how is that even possible?”

“Nikki you are all over the place what are you trying to say?” He asked, taking my hands.

I took a deep breath. “Derek I don’t regret what we did but until recently I thought sex was a one sided and painful ordeal. With you it wasn’t like anything I ever felt.”

He still looked confused. “And that’s a bad thing?”

I shrugged again. “Up until last night I have constantly reminded you that I have a boyfriend and how much I loved Joseph. Now that that’s over and what happened with us so soon I can't even begin to think what you think of me.” I blushed again.

“No less than I thought before I mean I even like you more.” He ran his thumb across my bottom lip, smiling at me.

Shivers ran up my spine, “What the hell was this?” I snapped at myself.

He stared at the tv for a minute thinking, “So, now that the sun is shining and it's a new day do you think you would want to be back with Joseph?”

I couldn't believe he looked so insecure for once.

“No Derek I don't, it’s time I realized we make much better friends and leave it at that.”

He stared at the t.v. a little longer and then smiled over at me again. “So back to you and me.”

I shook my head laughing. “Yeah what about us?”

“What I said last night stands, fight it all you want, you will be my lady someday.”

I rolled my eyes at his cockiness. “Whatever Derek you never quit do you?”

He suddenly pulled me to him and kissed me deeply, his tongue making a meal out of my mouth. “No Nikki I don't quit and you don't want me to either.” He answered when he pulled away. His lips met mine again and sent me soaring.

“Derek, you have got to stop kissing me like that.” I said when he pulled away again.

“Why?” He asked, his wicked grin had returned.

“Because we are in my mother’s basement and your kisses do things to me.”

His eyes started to dance with mischief. “We can always go to my house.”

I moved away from him. “No Derek, I have an early class in the morning plus I still need to recover from last night.”

He smirked. “Nikki, you are just scared I might turn you into a freak.”

“Exactly.” I picked up the remote and started flipping channels. I could tell Derek was staring at me probably contemplating his next move. I finally threw the remote down.

“Derek why do you keep looking at me like that?!”

He smiled wickedly. “Like what?”

“You know how Derek, like I’m your last meal, like you’re going to jump me any minute.”

“Maybe I am.” He leaned over and found that sensitive part of my neck.

“Derek you need to quit.” I protested weakly.

“Why should I when I know how it makes you feel?” He whispered in my ear, giving me chills.

“Because like I told you before we are in my mother’s basement and she is upstairs.”

He chuckled against my ear, “No she isn’t.”

I pushed his head away from my neck. “What do you mean ‘no she isn't’?”

“Oh she said her and your sister were going out to eat, did I forget to tell you that?” He returned to his place on my neck.

“I know I saw my mom cooking cornbread so why did she take Rachel out to eat?”

He kissed me a few more times and shrugged trying to look innocent. “Maybe it’s because I told her I was taking you to dinner?”

I pushed his head away again. “Derek! Why would you tell her that?”

“Hmm because I am after I taste you again.” He dipped his head and returned to my neck again. I shot off the couch.

“We can not do that here.”

He stood up and grabbed my hand. “Fine let's go.” He started dragging towards the stairs.

“Derek wait a minute I don't have on shoes and I don't have my purse.” I worked my hand loose and walked back towards my room.

I grabbed a pair of shoes out of the closet and turned to find my purse and ran right into Derek. He was standing in the middle of my room watching me like a hawk.

“You ready?” I asked, trying to sound calmer than I was, Derek moved like his damn cat softly and swiftly I was going to always have to watch his ass!

“I like your room.” He walked around my room and ended up on my bed.

“Hmm comfy.” He leaned back next to my favorite teddy bear. “Thanks so do I and yes it is.” I answered sitting on the other side of my bed.

“Do I make you nervous Nikki?”

I rolled my eyes in his direction. “No I just have to get used to someone who acts primarily on impulse.”

He smiled at me. “So you never dated anyone like me before?”

“If you mean self assured and cocky as hell then no.” I answered, pulling on my shoes and went to grab my purse. “You told my mom that we were going to eat so let’s go.”

When I went to stand he pulled me across the bed so I was laying on my back. “Dammit Derek!” I went to get up and he was over me kissing me upside down tongue in my mouth.

Just when I started kissing him back he hopped up. “Let's go, I'm starving.” I sat up looking at his retreating back.

“This boy switches up so much I'm getting dizzy.” He drove us to a pancake house to eat, so much for me not being out late it was already after eight.

“Derek, tell me more about yourself.”

He had just taken a big bite out of his burger and gave me an exasperated look chewing the bite.

I laughed, “I mean when you're done chewing.”

He swallowed. “What do you want to know?”

I shrugged, “Whatever you want to tell me.”

Derek told me he went to the same college as Raunda, he was an art major. He worked two jobs and reminded me about his little girl.

“So why aren’t you still with her mom?” I asked, sipping my sprite.

“Because her mom is out of her damn mind.” He snapped.

I put my hands up in surrender. “Ok, ok sorry I asked.”

He smiled at me. “Sorry sore subject, just because you have a baby with someone doesn't mean you should be with them.”

“Ok then next subject.”

He talked for the next two hours about their relationship, his jobs, school, being a young father and his plans for the future. I had to admit once I let my guard down, Derek was enjoyable to talk to.

“So tell me Nikki when did you lose your virginity?” He asked as we were sharing an ice cream sundae. I almost choked on it.

“Huh? Why do you want to know?” He chuckled at my shocked expression.

“Call it curiosity.”

I swallowed another bite of ice cream. “I was fifteen, so a little over two years ago.”

“And how many times have you had sex?”

My eyes grew huge. “Dang you're nosy! But to answer your question, counting you about 6 times.”

He paused with the spoon halfway to his mouth looking at me in surprise. “You’re lying.” He shook his head.

“Derek why would I have to lie about that?”

He shrugged and smiled. “So at least that answers my question.”

I looked confused. “What question?”

His evil grin spread across his face. “Whether you were inexperienced or just messing with some little dick having dudes.”

My jaw dropped to the table. “Derek!”

He laughed at the look of shock on my face. “What? You asked!”

I shook my head looking over at him.

“You know Nikki you seem like a very emotional person, and sex is the ultimate when it comes to connecting to someone it's just odd that you don't see it that way.”

I smiled at his observation. “Derek you read people so well why do you come off so abrasive?”

He shrugged. “Defense mechanism, I grew up on the East side of town and being one of the only white boys in black neighborhoods and schools you learn to blend in or fight, I learned how to do both.”

I took a sip of my drink thinking I never noticed Derek's race, he was so damn overbearing you overlook it I guess. He had long black hair, those crazy gorgeous hazel eyes, about 6’2’ and pretty solid. Not as big as Joseph but he wasn't small either.

“Nonetheless Derek you approach women like opponents, I think that is part of the reason I was so standoffish to you , it's like you were daring me not to like you.”

His face lit up in a cocky grin. “It worked didn't it?”

I gave him a stern look. “I didn't say I liked you Derek.” My smile was fighting me to get through.

“Girl don't even try it, you wouldn't be here if you didn't.”

I laughed a little. “True enough but I still think you are still too cocky for your own good.”

We continued to eat our sundae in silence stealing looks at each other over the table.

“So are you coming home with me?” His wicked grin was back.

“Derek I want to but I have to get up super early and work tomorrow too.” He sat back staring at me in that possessive way he seemed to save just for me and folded his arms. I threw my napkin at him.

“Stop looking at me like that!”

He ducked the napkin and took care of the bill. “Fine I will let you off the hook this time, let's go.”

He grabbed my hand and led me to his car, he ended up staying at my house for another two hours so I ended up going to bed pretty late anyway.

Lying in bed I had to laugh at the sudden turns my love life had taken. I broke up with Joseph, went out with Derek, had some incredible sex. I was almost afraid of what the future might hold.

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