She's So Not Having This Problem "I go on vacation in the Bahamas to celebrate my promotion and who do I see? Maurice Goings, NFL superstar, my high school and college sweetheart...the man who not only broke my heart, but drop-kicked it beyond repair. We were only a few weeks away from marriage when I caught him cheating on me. I changed schools, became a top lawyer, and swore that I'd never be hurt like that again. I don't care that Maurice is even finer than ever before, I'm not letting him fool me twice. . ." But He's Ready To Do Whatever It Takes. . . "I know I hurt Kenya a lot, but I really do love her. No matter how much she tries to push me away, fate keeps drawing us back into each other's arms--and God knows there's still so much sizzling chemistry between us. So this is my last chance to show her that she can trust me again. It's going to be the hardest thing I've ever done--but Kenya's worth it..."
Release date: April 19, 2010
Print pages: 351
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Let's Get It On
Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, North Carolina
Kenya Taylor didn’t like surprises, yet she was in for a big one as she walked across the lush green campus of Johnson C. Smith University. Despite the fact that it was late October, the sun beamed brightly, and the temperature had soared to around seventy degrees. She was tempted to pull off her soft leather jacket. But knowing her luck, it would be thirty-five degrees tomorrow, and then she’d be sick with the flu.
With her work-study check in her pocket and another A plus in her political science class, Kenya was ready to celebrate with her boyfriend, Maurice Goings. The high-school sweethearts had come to college together and beat the odds of most couples like them. They were still together. Most of the others had broken up a few months after arriving on campus. Not Maurice and Kenya.
At least, not yet.
She approached his dorm room, with a smile on her lips. Thoughts of the night they’d spent together simply holding each other made her happy, though moments like that were beginning to happen less frequently. She understood he had other things to do and didn’t make a big fuss about it.
Maurice was a star football player, and every girl on campus wanted him, but Kenya trusted him and was confident that their love could withstand any temptation. Without knocking, as she’d done on several other occasions, Kenya walked into his dorm room.
“Baby,” she said. Then the rest of her words froze in her mouth. The sight before her was indescribable. Maurice wasn’t doing this to her. This was a nightmare.
“Oh, yeah, big daddy,” Lauryn Michaels screamed as she rode Maurice as if he were a prized stallion.
Grasping the wall, Kenya swallowed the bitter bile rushing up her throat and settling in her mouth. Tears threatened to fall from her eyes. All she wanted to do was slip out of the room and forget what she’d seen. Holding on to the edge of the wall, she spun around to leave the room, but as she made her exit, she knocked over a stack of Maurice’s books. The couple turned and looked toward the door. As tempted as she was to pounce on them, she didn’t.
“How could you do this to me?” she said, shaking her head.
Maurice and Lauryn untangled their bodies, and he rose from the bed, stumbling to cover his nakedness.
“I didn’t mean for you to find out like this, Kenya,” he said as he crossed over to her. Kenya shrank away from him as he reached out to touch her arm.
“You, you . . .” Words failed Kenya as she looked at the smirk on Lauryn’s face. “She doesn’t care about you! She doesn’t even know you! It’s funny, now that you have NFL scouts looking at you, every skank on campus wants to latch on to you, and you’re too blind to even see it.”
Maurice ran his hand over his face. “Kenya, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I love Lauryn, and I want to be with her. I’m glad it’s out in the open, because this sneaking around hasn’t been fair to you, me, or her.”
“You love her? How can you even . . .” With closed fists, Kenya pounded his sculpted chest, hoping to reach his heart and break it as he’d broken hers.
“Don’t do this,” he said as he grabbed her wrists. “You’re making a fool of yourself. People grow apart, babe, and that’s what happened with us. What we had was high school and—”
“He needed a real woman, not a little, fat girl,” Lauryn called out from the bed. “He has me, and you’re dismissed.”
Maurice turned to Lauryn. “Stay out of this,” he said.
Kenya snatched away from him. “You know what? You two can have each other. I hope you’re happy with your choice, Mo.”
Storming out of the room, Kenya refused to give either of them the satisfaction of seeing her tears. She’d only loved Maurice Goings since she was a freshman in high school. She’d only helped him study for exams that he had to pass so that he would be eligible to play for the Golden Bulls’ football team. She’d only given him her heart and her virginity, and all she’d gotten in return was the ultimate betrayal.
Sorrow, anger, hurt, and disappointment flowed through her body like the blood in her veins. Grown apart? Had we grown apart when I wrote your damned research paper? Had we grown apart when I stayed up all night, helping you grasp the concepts of calculus? she thought bitterly.
Kenya rushed into her dorm room and flung herself across the bed. Her roommate and best friend, Imani, looked up from her computer.
“What’s wrong, chica?” Imani asked, noticing her friend’s tears.
“What are you crying about? Failed a quiz?” She laughed, then returned to typing, expecting a quirky comeback from her roommate.
“Leave me alone.” Kenya buried her face in her pillow.
Rising to her feet, Imani crossed over to her friend and sat on the edge of the bed. “Kenya, all jokes aside, what’s going on? Did something serious happen?”
Kenya focused her teary-eyed gaze on Imani. “Remember when we met freshman year and I told you my boyfriend and I came here together and that we were so in love? I said that we’d probably walk down the aisle to get our degrees and then get married.”
Imani nodded. “And I said it wouldn’t last past second semester, and look, we’re about to graduate, and you two are still together. That wedding is probably going to happen soon.”
Kenya shook her head. “Never. It’s not going to happen.” Her voice was barely above a whisper.
Sniffing and wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, Kenya exhaled loudly. “Maurice and I broke up because he’s sticking it to that slut Lauryn Michaels.”
Imani shook her head and pulled Kenya into a sisterly embrace. “Girl, forget him. You can do so much better than a low-down cheating dog. And if he’s sleeping with Lauryn, he’ll be in the clinic soon. There aren’t too many guys on campus who haven’t had the pleasure of her company. If he has a car and money to spend, you can guess who was in love with him.”
“But I still love Mo. It’s not like I can turn off what I feel for him because he was in bed with her. I wish it worked that way. And as wrong as it is, I want to rip the weave right out of that girl’s head. Instead, I just stood there, fighting back the tears.”
Imani raised her eyebrow, because Kenya wasn’t violent. She was always the one who helped her avoid conflict. “Don’t do anything crazy. The last thing you need is to get suspended from school at this late juncture.”
Kenya groaned loudly. “Everybody’s going to know. You know how this campus is. This story is going to grow into something else before it’s all said and done.”
Imani nodded. “You two did have celebrity status. You were like Will and Jada, Denzel and Pauletta, Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee.”
Kenya glared at her. “Aren’t you supposed to be comforting me?”
“Hey, I’m just being honest. If the rumors about Lauryn are true, this is going to be all over campus before dinner. She has a mouth like a motor, and if she can make herself look good, then she’s going to spread the rumor. You can do better than Maurice, though. He walks around like his crap doesn’t stink. Forget him.”
Kenya turned away from her friend. “I wish it were that easy.”
Imani shook her head and returned to her computer. “It’s a shame he doesn’t feel the same way. Seems like he’s already forgotten you.”
Hugging her pillow and leaning against the wall, Kenya closed her eyes and cried silently.
Maurice sat on the edge of his bed, his head buried in his hands and his heart feeling as heavy as a lead brick. Though he’d wanted to end things with Kenya, he hadn’t wanted to hurt her. Not after all she’d done for him. Before anything had ever happened romantically between them, Kenya had been his friend. Now she hated him; her eyes had told him that when she’d left the room. She had every right to, though.
“Baby,” Lauryn said as she wrapped herself around his torso, “you can’t be sitting her thinking about her when I’m willing and waiting to do anything you want. I do believe we were in the middle of something before we were so rudely interrupted.”
He pushed her away. “I didn’t want things to turn out this way,” Maurice said, rising to his feet and fishing his boxers out of their pile of discarded clothing. “I’ve got to find her and make things right.”
Lauryn frowned, then stood. “I know she was special to you, but what about me?” She ran her hand down the length of her sculpted body. Her years of cheerleading had given her a figure that was usually reserved for exotic dancers and adult entertainers. She had no qualms about using her perky breasts, small waist, and round bottom to get what she wanted. Right now, she wanted to keep Maurice in this room, and not because she desired him or even wanted to have sex with him. She just wanted to make sure she was in control of him.
So what if he and Kenya had grown up together and were high school sweethearts? This was college, and she wanted Maurice for herself. Why wouldn’t any woman want him? He was the star of the Johnson C. Smith football team, and he had NFL written all over his awesome body.
Lauryn wouldn’t call herself a gold digger, but she knew a golden opportunity when she saw one. Maurice was her ticket to the good life, and chubby Kenya wasn’t going to stand in her way. She couldn’t have planned the scene that had happened between them any better herself. Knowing Kenya the way she did, Lauryn knew there was no way she’d take Maurice back. Kenya was one of those “moral majority” chicks or a missionary girl, as Lauryn called it. Obviously, Kenya hadn’t been taking care of home, and that was why it had been so easy to entice Maurice and make him hers. When the NFL money started rolling in, she was going to the one on the receiving end of it, not Kenya.
She had to stop him from going to find Kenya. Leaping into action, Lauryn grabbed Maurice and pushed him down on the bed. Next, she took his manhood into her mouth and tried to suck him until all thoughts of Kenya disappeared from his mind. At first, he tried to push her away, but it didn’t take long for Maurice to succumb to the pleasure of her oral sex.
Kenya who? she thought as Maurice moaned in pleasure.
The next morning, Kenya wanted to skip class, but she’d worked too hard to let Maurice and his wayward penis threaten her future.
However, the moment she walked out of her dormitory, she realized that the story of her twisted triangle had not only spread across campus, but it had a life of its own. When she walked by a group of cheerleaders, she heard one of them whisper, “I heard she was in the hospital last night because she slit her wrists.”
Ignore them, she thought as she trudged up the hill.
As she passed a group of football players, guys that she knew because of Maurice, she could see laughter in their eyes.
“Damn,” one of them called out. “You can cry on my shoulder, boo.”
Fighting the urge to flipping him the bird, Kenya continued on and prayed she could make it to the communication arts building without hearing anything else. But as soon as she opened the door to the building, Yvette Mason, the editor of the student paper, cornered her.
“Kenya, my God! I didn’t expect to see you today. Are you all right? Will you be suspended? You’re the best writer that we have on staff, and we have deadlines coming up. Have you turned in your articles?”
Kenya held her hand up. “What the hell are you talking about?”
Yvette looked around as if she was making sure there were no eavesdroppers around. “Rumor has it that you pulled a knife of Lauryn Michaels after you caught her and Maurice in bed together.”
“Get out of my face with that nonsense,” Kenya snapped.
“Kenya, I don’t want to get all up in your business, but I have a responsibility to the paper, and so do you. If you’re going to be suspended or even arrested, we have to get your articles.”
Exhaling loudly, Kenya took two steps closer to Yvette. “I didn’t pull a knife on anyone, I didn’t try to kill myself, and I don’t give a damn about Lauryn or Maurice. Now, I’m going to class. As far as my articles go, you’ll have them when they are due.”
As Kenya turned on her heels to head down to the basement, she saw Maurice walking into the building. She wanted to slap him, push him down the stairs, or break his neck, anything to make him feel the pain that she was feeling inside.
“Kenya, I-I . . .”
“Save it,” she barked. “I have nothing to say to you.”
“We need to talk.”
“Go to hell,” she replied as she descended the stairs.
Maurice ran after her and grabbed her arm as she reached the bottom of the stairs. “I didn’t want things to go down like this. Can we still be friends?”
“Sure,” she said sarcastically. “As soon as hell freezes over, you and I will be the best of friends. Maurice, I hope she gives you a disease and your man parts shrivel up and fall off. Don’t ever speak to me again. And tell your whore that if she doesn’t stop spreading rumors about me, I’m going to turn her fiction into reality.”
Kenya pushed through the double doors leading to the journalism classrooms and promised herself that she wouldn’t cry, despite the hot tears stinging her eyes.
When she walked into the classroom, all of the chatter stopped, and eighteen pairs of eyes focused on her. Kenya ran her hand over her face and stared them all down.
This has got to stop, she thought as some people began whispering.
“Listen up, people,” she yelled. “I know you’ve been discussing my personal life. I just have one thing to say. Get your own damned lives. I didn’t cut anybody, I didn’t cut myself, and I’m sick of the rumors. My boyfriend and I broke up. That’s it.”
Kenya didn’t give anyone time to respond before she ran out of the classroom. The main reason she’d decided to attend JCSU, because it was such a small school, was going to be the same reason she’d have to leave. She wasn’t going to be the next Eboni.
Kenya remembered when Eboni Sanders, a popular cheerleader, passed out at a basketball game, and rumors swirled for a year about what had caused her to faint. She’d been rumored to be on drugs, she’d been rumored to be pregnant, and she’d been rumored to have HIV.
As it turned out, she was diabetic, and her blood sugar had been extremely high that day. But the rumors had dogged her until the day she dropped out of school. Kenya wasn’t about to allow that to happen to her. Her last few months of college weren’t going to be spent dodging rumors and Maurice.
While heading back to her dorm room, Kenya came face to face with Lauryn and her crew. The smirk on Lauryn’s face spoke volumes. She looked as if she’d beaten Kenya. And in a sense, she had. But if Maurice was the prize, Kenya hoped it would rust.
“Hey, Kenya,” Lauryn said. “Listen, I’m so sorry about what happened yesterday. But that’s life. Men leave women. Don’t let it consume you, and please don’t try to kill yourself.”
“Lauryn, go straight to hell, and take Maurice with you. You guys deserve each other,” Kenya replied, then shoved Lauryn as she blew past her. She didn’t stick around to watch Lauryn tumble down the hill, but from the laughter that rose from the football players watching them, she knew it was a funny sight. But she didn’t take any pleasure in her irrational act. She was acting the way everyone had rumored that she was.
What am I doing? I can’t sink to her level, she thought sadly.
When Kenya made it back to her dorm room, she sat down at her computer and logged on to Clark Atlanta University’s Web site. She had to laugh as she perused the CAU site. Her mother, Angela, had urged her to go to her alma mater, but Kenya had wanted to attend the same college as her boyfriend.
Mother always knows best, Kenya thought, remembering the conversation she’d had with Angela before applying to Johnson C. Smith.
“Kenya,” her mother had said as they looked over college catalogs, “you’ve always made good decisions, and I want you to choose the college you attend. But following Maurice isn’t a good idea.”
“Ma, I don’t want to go to a school that has an Angela Taylor Mass Communications scholarship. That’s too much pressure to live up to.”
Angela had folded her arms across her breasts and had lifted her eyebrows. “No matter where you go, I’m not accepting anything less than a three point zero. I will not hesitate to snatch you out of school and let you work at Wal-Mart if you think you’re going to Charlotte to play house with Maurice.”
Kenya had frowned and shaken her head. “Ma, I want to get an education. Maurice is going to be playing football, and I’m going to be laying the foundation for my future career as a public-relations executive. I love him, but I’m not a fool. Daddy, please talk to her.”
Henry Taylor, who had been reading the newspaper while his wife and daughter argued, had dropped the sports section and had looked at them. “Angela, let the girl make her own decision,” he’d said quietly. That was Henry’s way, non-confrontational, until he was pushed. “I just know one thing. This better not be about chasing that knuckleheaded boy.
Kenya had folded her arms across her chest and had shaken her head. “Come on, Daddy. I’m not following Maurice.”
“Then explain to me why you want to go to Johns C. Smith,” Angela had said.
“Johnson C. Smith,” Kenya had corrected. “Well, Charlotte is a growing city, and Smith is a small college, which means less competition for internships and things of that nature. There are a lot of new public-relations companies moving to Charlotte. With all the banks in Charlotte, they are always looking for public-relations folks to tell their stories to the media.”
Angela had smiled at her daughter. “Well, I see that you’ve researched Johnson C. Smith and Charlotte. If that’s where you want to go to school, then I’ll support you.”
Kenya had hugged her mother and kissed her on the cheek. “I’m not totally clueless, Ma.”
Angela had patted her daughter’s shoulder. “I know. Your father and I did a good job.”
As Kenya picked up the phone to call her mother, she prayed that Angela had enough clout to get her into CAU without much of a hassle. All she had to do was figure out a good reason for the desire to transfer in her senior year.
“This is Angela,” her mother said when she answered the phone.
“Ma, hi,” Kenya said.
“Hey, baby. Is everything all right?”
“I can’t just call and say hello?”
“Not when you should be in class, and not when I’m at work.”
“You’re the editor, Ma. You don’t get busy until later.”
Angela sighed into the phone. “And I know when my daughter has something she wants to ask but is afraid to do so.”
“Uh, well, I kinda got into a little trouble.”
“Hold on,” Angela said.
Kenya heard her mother close the door to her office. She knew this wasn’t going to be pretty.
“Kenya Denise Taylor, are you pregnant?”
“No. Ju-just suspended,” Kenya said, formulating the lie in her head.
“What! What happened?”
“Uh, I-I got into a fight.”
“Kenya, what in the hell is wrong with you? You’re a senior about to graduate. Do I need to come up there and talk to the chancellor? I can’t believe you did something so stupid as to get into a fight. Tell me that it didn’t have anything to do with Maurice.”
“Ma, I’m sorry. Okay, I’m not going to lie to you. Maurice and I broke up, and this campus is too small for me to see his face every day, and it was really nasty, and I just want to get away.”
For the first time since she’d caught Maurice and Lauryn, Kenya sobbed uncontrollably. She told her mother the entire story about catching Maurice having sex with Lauryn and the rumors.
“You can’t run from them, baby,” Angela said.
“Ma, you wanted me to go to Clark Atlanta, and now I want to go there. I don’t see the problem.”
“The problem is, I don’t want you to think that you can cut and run when you face some adversity. I know he was your first love, but you will get over it.”
“Easy for you to say. You married your first love. Ma, please, I can’t stay here and be subjected to seeing him with her and hearing all of the rumors. Please, I’ll do anything.”
“Let me talk to your father, and we’ll get back to you tomorrow. Go to class, and ignore all of the talk.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Kenya said, all the while thinking, Easier said than done.
Maurice rushed to the infirmary when he heard that Lauryn was there. He hoped that the reason behind her being there was another rumor. There was no way Kenya would have pushed her down a hill. That wasn’t in her nature. Then again, Kenya was mad as hell, and there was no telling what she was capable of.
God, I hope Lauryn isn’t hurt and Kenya doesn’t get into trouble for this, he thought as he opened the door to the infirmary. Maurice found Lauryn sitting on a bench, with a sling on her arm.
“Mo, Kenya tried to kill me,” Lauryn said.
“What happened?” he asked as he sat down beside her.
“That fat sow pushed me down the hill beside the student union.”
Maurice pulled her into his arms. “I’ll talk to her.” “No, don’t. Just ignore her. I’m going to press charges with campus police.”
“Don’t do that. Kenya is upset about us, and you really can’t blame her.”
Lauryn pushed away from him. “Hello! I’m your woman now, and my arm was nearly broken.”
“You want her to get kicked out of school? Come on, Lauryn. Your arm isn’t broken. Just let it go.”
“Okay, who do you want? Me or her fat ass?”
“I’m with you, but you don’t have to bad-mouth Kenya.”
Lauryn pushed her hair back with her unbandaged hand. “Fine, but you’d better keep her away from me.”
“Forget about Kenya. Come on. Let me pamper you until I have to go to practice,” he said as he scooped her up into his arms.
Maurice couldn’t help but wonder if he’d made a mistake letting Kenya go.
Two weeks later, Kenya got the okay from her parents to come home to Atlanta. Though she’d have to start over at Clark Atlanta as a junior, it was well worth it. Watching the romance of Maurice and Lauryn was sickening. And to add insult to injury, Lauryn now had the entire campus believing Kenya was out to get her. She was happy to go home.
The day she packed her things, Maurice showed up at her dorm room. “Kenya?”
“What do you want?” she said, not looking up at him.
“What are you doing?”
“Minding my business.”
“Are you leaving school?”
She slammed her clothes into her suitcase, then looked up at him. “Maurice, get away from me. You gave up the right to know what I’m doing when you put that girl on top of you.”
“You fought so hard to come to school here, and I don’t want you to leave because of me,” he said. Maurice timidly stepped inside the room.
“Aren’t you just full of yourself,” she snapped. “Who cares what you think?”
“I still care about you, Kenya. Are you going back to Atlanta?” What he wanted to do was reach out to her, but the fiery anger in her eyes pushed that thought out of his head.
“Get out. Don’t worry about where I’m going. Just know I won’t be around you and your little tramp anymore. You win, Maurice. You and Lauryn drove me away. You broke my heart beyond repair, and I’ll never forgive you for that. I hate you as much as I loved you. Now, get out of my way before I do something that I will regret. Enjoy, but regret.”
“Out!” she said. She knew that she was using anger to mask her pain, and though she wanted to hate him, she couldn’t and didn’t.
“So, this is how it’s going to be? We’re not even going to try and be friends?”
She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself down. “Friends? Let me put it like this, if you were on fire, I wouldn’t spit on you unless I had gasoline in my mouth. You snuck around behind my back to be with her. Would a friend do that? Would a friend lie to my face over and over again? Hell no, we’re not friends, and we never will be again. Now get out of my face.”
A wave of sadness washed across his face. “I still have love for you, Kenya, and if you ever need anything . . .”
She picked up a broken shoe and threw it in his direction. Quickly, Maurice ducked out of the way.
“I need you to get out of my room and out of my life!”
Maurice walked away from the door, and Kenya thought that would be the last time she ever saw him.
Nine years later:
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
“And the Carolina Panthers are headed to the NFC championship for the third time in three years,” the television announcer exclaimed happily. “We’re standing here with first-year Panther Maurice Goings. What an unbelievable game!”
“I was just catching what Jake threw my way. This was a big game, and we all had to step up and make plays if we wanted to win,” Maurice said, with a smile. “Lauryn, baby, this is for you. I love you. Marry me.”
“Whoa! Championship run and an engagement,”. . .
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