Teeming with dramatic plot twists and wickedly delightful erotic frills, a passionate story about two lovers struggling with heartbreak, heartthrobs, and self-fulfillment.Many of us fall into unrelenting cycles that lead us to inevitable heartbreak—a knee-weakening, nearly unbearable period of withdrawal where we curse our indiscretions and promise to do better next time. But why? Why do we do this to ourselves? That’s the question Erin is constantly asking herself. Along for the ride is Tariq, a young man battling his past as well. While their romantic lives intertwine, they find it almost impossible to break free of the merciless beast that is love and its ugly stepsister, heartbreak. At first, Erin’s attraction to Tariq is like a drug addiction she can’t ignore, but as drama ensues and the ugly past comes back to visit, both Tariq and Erin realize how bad—as in good—love truly is
Chapter 3: Erin
Damn. I was standing in this storm, strolling down the dark streets of Lake Underhill in wet socks holding on to a pair of five-inch boots, one with a broken heel, the other one scuffed up beyond recognition. My cell phone battery was dead. I couldn’t call my girl Loraine, and I stupidly left my wallet in Tariq’s front seat. I couldn’t even use a payphone to call a cab. My freshly relaxed hair was ruined, my makeup was running, and I’d be sniffling come morning. “I hate men,” I whispered to myself. All I wanted to do was get home, pop open a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label, and throw back a good, hard drink. Usually after a first date, I’d go home and sip on a tall glass of Riesling while Sade played in the background. Tonight was different; tonight, I needed to yank Tariq’s picture from the top drawer of my nightstand, stick it in a trashcan, and set it on fire—not before I gave Loraine a good tongue-lashing for thinking that Tariq and I would actually be a good match. I wiped the snot that slowly dripped from my nose. Throwing my hands in the air, I kicked the big puddle of water in front of my feet. Tonight was the last damn straw. I freaking hated men.
When I got home, I had to ignore the awkward glances I got from my neighbors who couldn’t understand why a pretty girl like me would actually be walking home in the rain. When they tried not to stare at me, I wanted to say, “What the hell’s your problem? You never saw a black girl come out the damn rain before? Mind your damn business!” Instead, I ended up faking a smile while I kept my head down and searched for my keys.
Before I could unlock my door, Alonzo, the wiry banker from down the hall, shot me a smirk and waved. I tried to ignore him, but my wet hands couldn’t find my keys quick enough.
He yelled out, “You all right?”
I utilized the overly expensive therapy technique I had learned in my sessions and breathed deeply. “I’m good. Trying to get to bed.”
“Did you need any help with anything? You look like hell.”
I couldn’t take it after that. I shot him an evil glance and flared my nostrils. Realizing that he’d crossed the line, he stopped walking closer to me and dropped his goofy smile. But before I gave him the chance to tuck tail and run, my neck started rolling, my finger went to wagging, and my lips started snarling. “I said I was all right, damn. Can’t a girl walk into her damn home without everybody in this got-damn apartment building trying to figure out what’s wrong? I had a bad night. It’s not like I came here with a wounded Siberian tiger under my skirt, rocking a shaved head and bright-orange nail polish. Can I walk into my apartment, Alonzo? Can you give me that courtesy, please? Shoot!”
Alonzo opened his mouth to speak, then snapped it shut quickly. Without another word, he nodded and turned on his heel. Walking back into his apartment, he yelled back, “Have a good night.” He then slammed the door shut behind him.
Confident in my victory of finally getting to tell some man off, I found the key to my apartment and walked inside. Dropping my keys, purse, and shoes to the floor, I grabbed my Johnny Walker bottle and headed for my bathroom. I stared at myself in the mirror. I tried to wipe what was left of my running eyeliner. I looked like Tariq had given me two black eyes instead of kicking me out of a moving vehicle. I brushed the few strands of hair stuck to my face behind my ear and wiped the smeared foundation from my dimpled cheeks. I took a deep breath and tried not to remind myself of the hundred and fifty hard-earned dollars I had spent on my not-so-fresh relaxer two days prior to my date. My wet hair sat on top of my head, limp and dead, like the rain had a vendetta against me. I couldn’t understand how an almond-eyed, full-lipped, earth-yellow complexion bombshell like myself would find herself walking home in pouring rain as my overly expensive MAC makeup melted off my face.
J. Lovelace is a freelance journalist, editor, and published author. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s in Creative Writing and Public and Organizational Communications. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, daughter and son while pursuing a graduate education.
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