Twelve

As Shawn and Riana were driving to Penbrook Hospital, all Riana could think about was Monica and the baby. She really hoped Monica’s baby didn’t suffer any damages.

Please let Monica and the baby be okay. she prayed.

Shawn looked over at Riana and put her hand in his. He squeezed it gently and smiled.

“I know you’re worry about Mon and the baby, but I know Monica. She’s a strong woman, so she will get through this. Trust me.”

“I know she’s strong, but what if she loses the baby? She been through so much lately and if she miscarries, I don’t know if she can take it.”

Shawn sighed as he started to drive again after being at a red light. Riana picked up her phone and dialed Britney’s cell phone. She called her earlier to tell her about Monica, but she wasn’t answering.

“Why she’s not picking up her phone?” Riana asked.

“Calling Britney again?”

“Yeah; I guess she’s busy. Hopefully she will check her messages.”

Britney looked at Isaac and started to walk backwards. Isaac walked towards Britney with a huge grin on his face.

“It been a long time, Brit. Where have you been hiding?”

“I haven’t been hiding. I’ve just been busy with work and school.”

“I dropped by your job. Everyone keeps saying you’re not on schedule. I also been calling you, but you haven’t return my messages. Why is that? Are you trying to avoid me?”

“No, I’m not. Like I said, I’ve been busy.”

“Too busy to talk to your old friend; I just want to know how you’re doing, that’s all.”

“I really have to go Isaac.”

“What’s the hurry? You can’t spare a few seconds to talk?”

The way Isaac was acting was scaring Britney. She had never seen him act this way. He was too calm.

Britney stopped walking and stared at him. It seemed he was either high or drunk. Whatever it was, it was making him act strange.

“Isaac, you don’t look so good. Maybe you should go to your place and lay down for a while.”

“I could, if you come with me. We could do like we used to do. I missed laying in bed with you, talking about life.”

“I can’t Isaac.”

“I missed you Brit. I want us to be together again. You don’t want to?”

“Isaac, I really have to go.”

She tried to walk past him, but he quickly grabbed her arm.

“Let go of me!” she yelled.

A long ring escalated into the sky. Britney realized it was her cell phone ringing for the third time.

She looked at her jean pocket wondering whether to pick up the phone. She wanted to the other two times, but how the way Isaac was acting, she thought it was wise not to.

“Don’t pick up the phone. We need to talk, now!” He yelled.

The sudden rise of his voice made Britney’s skin crawl. She jumped by the sudden outburst.

“I’m sorry. Did I scare you? Well, you should be. I tried to be nice to you, but it seem like you don’t like that. You never liked good guys, did you? You always wanted a bad boy.”

Britney tried to reach inside her pocket without Isaac noticing. From the way he was ranting and raving¸ he didn’t even notice she had her hand in her pocket.

She searched for the talk button on her phone, hoping that whoever was on the line could hear Isaac talking.

“I never said that. Isaac, what happened between us was a mistake. If I could go back and change what happened between us, I would. You weren’t worth losing my friends over.”

“If you still not speaking to them, why are you at the apartment?”

Britney sighed. Her fingers finally found the talk button and press it on.

“It’s none of your business why I’m here. Why are you following me in the first place? The last time I heard about these situations, they were called stalking cases.”

“I was just concerned, that’s all.”

“Well, as you can see, I’m fine. Now I have to go.”

“Not until we straighten things out between us.” Isaac said.

As his voice changed from strange to straight terrifying, so was his grip on Britney. He was actually hurting her.

“Please let me go. You’re hurting me.”

“I thought you liked it rough.” he said while laughing.

Britney looked at Isaac with a panicky expression on her face.

Whoever on the other end, please help me.

On the other end of the phone, Riana realized that Britney picked up, but wasn’t saying anything.

“That’s weird. She picked up the phone, but she’s not saying anything.”

“Maybe it’s her connection. Hang up and try again.” Shawn said.

Riana started to hang up when she heard a male voice talking. She could barely make out the words he was saying, but she knew it was someone talking.

“Someone having a conversation.” She said.

She tried to hear the conversation, but everything sounded static. She soon later heard Isaac asking Britney why she was at the apartment.

“It’s Isaac and Britney. They’re at the apartment.”

“What are they doing there?” Shawn asked.

“I don’t know. Why is she still talking to him?” Riana asked.

She listened on when Britney told Isaac to let go of her. Riana looked at Shawn and sighed.

“Turn the car around. We have to go to the apartment.”

“What’s going on?”

“Britney’s in trouble.”

***

Cheryl and Chris were in Chris’ car heading to Penbrook Hospital. The two were in a middle of having sex when Riana called about Monica. Now the two were down the road wondering whether Monica and the baby were okay.

“It seems like so much has been going on with us since school started. When will the drama end?” Cheryl asked.

“I don’t know baby. Right now, we have to stay positive and pray that Monica and the baby are okay.”

Cheryl nodded as she looked out the window. Her phone started to ring in her purse. She answered it after the first ring.

“Hey Ri. What’s going on?”

“We had to go back to the apartment. I called Brit’s cell and heard her and Isaac arguing.”

“Did you want me and Chris to stop by the apartment?”

“No, go to the hospital. We can handle it.”

“No, we’ll be there.” Cheryl said.

She hung up the phone and looked at Chris.

“We have to go to the apartment.”

“What’s up?”

“Isaac and Britney are there and it looks like trouble.”

Chris sighed and made a sudden U-turn in the street they were driving on. They headed in the direction of Cheryl’s apartment.

Britney looked at Isaac and struggled to get from Isaac’s grasp. His hold was too strong for Britney as she attempted to wiggle her way out. Isaac noticed what she was doing, so he held on to her even tighter.

“You think you can get away from me that easily? You thought wrong. I’m tired of being nice now. You’re going to come with me whether you like it or not.” he said angrily.

He began to jerk Britney towards his car. She tried not to move by dragging herself to the ground. She fell, causing Isaac to lose his balance with her. He picked her up in a furious rage.

“I know what you’re trying to do. It’s not going to work.”

He was about to strike her when someone grabbed a hold of his hand. Shawn put Isaac’s arm behind his back, causing him to shriek with pain.

“Damnit! What the hell are you doing?”

“You think you’re going to hit her? You have another thing coming.” Shawn said.

He pushed Isaac and he almost trip on his own feet. He turned around and started to laugh at Shawn.

“I’ve been waiting on this moment since the hospital.” Isaac said.

“Come on then.” Shawn said.

Isaac ran up to Shawn to hit him, but Shawn was too quick. He decked Isaac with his right fist and threw him towards a parked car. He went up to him and grabbed the back of Isaac’s shirt. He threw him on the ground and started to kick him with his shoe.

Riana went over to Britney and put her arms around her.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I’m glad you were able to hear us.”

“I’m glad too.”

Riana looked over at Shawn and Isaac and she ran over to the two.

“Shawn, stop it! That’s enough!”

Shawn looked at Riana. He kicked Isaac one more time and went over to his car.

Riana looked at Isaac as he struggled to stand up. She wanted so bad to hit him for all the drama he has caused for her and her friends. Even though her conscience was telling her one thing, her body was telling her another.

“What the hell.”

She pulled out her left hand and balled it in a fist. Isaac looked at her and gave a smirk.

“You wouldn’t. You don’t have the guts.”

Riana decked him with the balled fist, causing him to fall back on a nearby car. The sudden impact of the blow made him hit the front of a Ford Explorer, causing the alarm to go off. He slid off the SUV and fell into the grass nearby.

Riana looked at Isaac and shook her hand.

“Wow that hurt.”

Cheryl and Chris walked over to the three and looked at Isaac on the ground.

“What happened?” Chris asked.

“Nothing y’all need to worry about. Let’s go; you can ride with us Brit.” Riana said.

Britney took Riana’s right hand and squeezed it.

“Thanks, but what’s wrong?”

“Monica’s in the hospital; that’s why I was calling you.”

“Oh no.” Britney said.

“Now, let’s go check on Monica.”

The five got into their cars, leaving Isaac in the parking lot in a fit of pain.

As the five walked into Penbrook Hospital, they immediately went to the emergency room desk.

“Hi. We’re looking for Monica Taylor. She was brought in thirty minutes ago.” Riana said.

The receptionist looked at her computer and then at the five standing in front of her.

“You can wait in the waiting room.”

They looked at each other and walked inside the waiting room. After ten minutes, everyone was standing up either walking around in circles or staring at each other.

“You think we should have called Mon’s parents? They need to know she’s in the hospital.” Riana said.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea. I don’t think they know she’s pregnant.” Britney said.

“Too late for that.”

Everyone turned around and noticed Monica’s parents standing in front of them.

“Mr. and Mrs. Taylor.” Riana said softly.

“Was anyone going to tell us Monica was pregnant?” Mrs. Taylor asked.

“How did you all know Monica was in the hospital?” Britney asked.

“The hospital called us. Now is someone going to answer my question?” Mrs. Taylor said.

“We thought Monica may have told you about the baby. We didn’t know she kept it a secret from the both of you.”

“How many months is she?”

“Three.” Cheryl said.

Mrs. Taylor went to the nearest chair and sat down. She put her head in her hands and sighed heavily. Her husband went over to her and sat beside her. Riana turned around and sighed.

“I can’t believe Monica didn’t tell her parents.”

“I guess she was too scared to.” Cheryl said.

Someone walked over to the group waiting for news on Monica. He looked at them with a stern look on his face. Everyone looked up and realized it was a doctor with some news on their friend.

“Hello Doctor, I’m Tiffany Taylor, Monica’s mother. Is she okay?”

“Hello Mrs. Taylor, I’m Dr. Peterson. I have some good news and some bad news about Monica’s condition. The good news is that Monica is fine. She suffered massive injuries over the fall, but she will recover.”

“What about the baby? Is the baby okay?” Mr. Taylor finally spoke.

“I’m sorry, but Monica suffered a miscarriage while she was transported to the hospital. There was no way the baby could have survived such a horrific fall.”

Riana and Britney shook their heads in disbelief.

“This is going to devastate Monica.” Britney said.

“Does she know?” Riana asked.

Dr. Peterson nodded his head.

“We told her ten minutes ago.”

“Is there any way she could have visitors?” Cheryl asked.

“Yes, she can. We just moved her into a private room, room 107. Visitors can only stay for ten minutes and only three people are allowed.”

“Thank you, Dr. Peterson.” Mr. Taylor said.

“I’m really sorry for your loss.” he said to Monica’s parents. He turned around and walked out of the waiting room.

Everyone looked at each other with a bit of sadness.

“I can’t believe the baby is gone. Monica started to become so attached to him or her.” Riana said.

“Now she would never know if it was a boy or girl.” Shawn said.

Mr. and Mrs. Taylor walked over to the group.

“We think it would be best if you all saw her. Monica doesn’t know we found out, so it probably would be better if we didn’t go in.” Mrs. Taylor said to Cheryl, Riana, and Britney.

“You are her parents; I think she would be happy to see you two.” Riana said.

“We’ll see her soon. Right now, we just need to clear our heads.”

“Besides, you three have been there for her. It would be good for her to see you all.” Mr. Taylor added.

“Thank you.” Britney said.

As Riana, Britney, and Cheryl started to walk, Mrs. Taylor walked behind them.

“Wait!”

The three turned around and looked at Monica’s mother.

“I just want to say thank you for helping Monica through everything. I know how much you mean to her and I’m glad she has such good friends to get her through this. I know she is going to need you more than ever now.”

“We know, but she is going to need you as well.” Riana said.

The three turned around and walked down the long corridor towards Monica’s room.

Thirteen

Shawn and Chris realized the tense situation everyone was under, so they decided to go outside for some fresh air. As the two went over to a bench, they sat down and looked at the beautiful day in front of them.

“For such a beautiful day, it sure is lousy.” Chris said.

“I know. I can’t believe Mon lost the baby.” Shawn said.

“Neither can I. I know she is going to be in pain for a long time. If only we can find the guy who did this to her. We can hurt him like he hurt Monica.” Chris said.

“What good would that do? It may feel good at the time, but it’s not going to help the situation. What Monica needs is people who will be there for her.” Shawn said.

Chris nodded his head in agreement.

“I hear you.”

“So, on to lighter things, how are things going between you and Cheryl?”

Chris smiled.

“Things are going great. I think I’m in love.”

Shawn laughed as he slapped Chris on the back.

“That’s good. You’ve finally found love. How does it feel?”

“It feels good. All day, everyday, I think about Cheryl. I feel good just being near her. There are days where I can’t wait to see her and when I’m with her, I don’t want her to leave.”

“You got it bad, man.”

“Yeah, I do. I’m not afraid to admit it; I’m in love and it feels damn good!”

“I’m happy for you. Cheryl is a great girl.”

“What about you and Ri? How are things going between you two?”

“Things are going good. We’re getting to know each other better, and I love being around her.”

“Have you two done anything?”

“Like what?”

“Have you two had sex, man?”

“I’m not telling you. You’re my boy, but some things I don’t need to tell you.”

“That never stopped you before. Besides, it’s no big deal if you did or didn’t.”

Shawn sighed.

“We haven’t had sex yet, but I want to. Damn, I want to. Just being with Ri gives me this feeling that I never had before. She told me she’s a virgin and she wanted to wait until the time is right. Well, earlier she thought the time was right, and we were going to, until she got the call from the Health Center about Monica. Chris, I don’t want to mess things up with Riana, especially if we take this next step. I don’t want her regretting anything between us, especially this.”

Chris smiled.

“I’ve never seen you like this Shawn. You really care about her.”

“I do. I’m in love with her.”

“Wow. Who would have thought us two would be in love?”

“I sure wouldn’t have thought it, but things can happen.”

“How is Marcus doing? I know you mentioned he hasn’t been at the apartment recently.”

“He’s good, I guess. He decided to come home at the wrong time today. Riana and I were in the middle of pleasuring each other when Marcus walked in.”

“Wow. I know that made Ri uncomfortable.”

“She was in the bathroom for about twenty minutes. To make matters worse, Marcus was laughing about it.”

Chris looked at Shawn’s serious expression and bust out laughing. Shawn rolled his eyes at him.

“I’m sorry man, but I can picture you and Ri getting it on and Marcus walking in laughing his ass off. That’s funny.”

“Whatever. But seriously, I think something is up with him. When I talked to him, he seemed on edge about something. I can tell he’s doing something he shouldn’t be doing.”

“What you mean?”

“I think Marcus is in trouble. And this time, I don’t know if he can get out of it.”

***
Riana, Britney, and Cheryl were at the door of Monica’s hospital room. The three looked at each other deciding on who was going to open the door.

“I’m nervous; we don’t know what state Monica is in.” Britney said.

“I know, but she’s our friend, so we have to be supportive for her.” Riana said.

“Ri’s right. Monica needs us more than ever now. Instead of us being nervous, we should have the strength to help her through this.” Cheryl said.

She opened the door and the three stood in the doorway with sad looks on their faces.

Monica was laying up in her hospital bed looking out the window with tears streaming down her face. She looked over at her friends and started to cry hysterically.

“We’re so sorry Mon.” Britney said. She went over to her and put her arm around her. Riana and Cheryl went over to the two and the four shared a group hug.

“We are so sorry. We still can’t believe what happened.” Riana said.

Cheryl grabbed a tissue from a table near her and gave it to Monica. She smiled at her and wiped her eyes.

“I still can’t believe it either, but it okay. Things happen for a reason. Maybe this was a way of saying that I was too young to have a baby.”

“Maybe so, but it doesn’t change the fact that you had a person growing inside of you. You can’t change that in a day or a week. That’s always going to be a part of you.” said Cheryl.

“I know.”

“Your parents are here, Monica.” Britney said.

“What! How did they know I was here?” Monica asked in a panicky voice.

“We don’t know. Maybe the hospital contacted them for insurance purposes. They wanted to see you, but since they just found out, they didn’t want you to be under more stress.”

“I would have loved to see them, but I understand what they meant.”

“How are you physically?” Cheryl asked.

“I’m fine, I guess.”

“Maybe we should let you rest. You had a rough day and sleeping probably will help a little.” Britney said.

Monica gave a weak smile.

“Thanks, but I don’t think sleeping will help much.”

“We know, but try to get some anyway.” Riana said.

She reached over Monica and kissed her forehead.

“How long will you have to stay in here?”

“For a day; Dr. Peterson will release me tomorrow.”

“We’ll come back, okay.” Cheryl said.

Monica nodded her head and gave another weak smile.

“You’re going to pulled through this, okay.” Britney said. She held Monica’s hand and smiled.

“I know.” Monica said softly.

Cheryl went over to Monica and put an arm around her.

“Bye Mon.”

The three went towards the door and closed it. They put their arms around each other as they walked down the corridor. Monica watched the door close and a tear started to roll down her cheek.

“I don’t think I will ever get through this.”

***
After the long afternoon, everyone decided to go back to the girls’ apartment. They were in the living room thinking about everything that occurred that day.

“What a day.” Riana said softly.

“Yeah, but just think, the semester is almost over. Maybe we can put this year behind us.” Shawn said.

“Well, some good things did happen. I mean, if Britney didn’t have a thing with Isaac, you and Shawn wouldn’t be together.” Cheryl said.

Britney rolled her eyes at Cheryl.

“I didn’t mean it like that. Even though it was awful what happened to the both of you, if it didn’t happened, Ri wouldn’t had met Shawn.”

“She does have a point.” Shawn said.

“I guess so.” Britney said.

“So, what is everyone plans for tomorrow?” Riana said to change the subject.

“Chris and I are going to my parents’.” Cheryl said.

“You’re going to meet the parents. Is it that serious?” Shawn asked.

Chris smiled.

“Yeah, it is.” He said, while looking at Cheryl.

Cheryl looked at Chris and blushed.

“Well, good luck Chris. Cheryl’s parents are family, but they can be pretty intimidating.” Riana said.

“Don’t scare him, he wouldn’t want to go.” Cheryl said.

“Sorry.”

“What about you, Ri?”

“Nothing really; I’m just going to relax now that our project is finished.”

“When are we going to see it?” Britney asked.

“Soon, we thought maybe we will show the class first before anyone else.” Shawn said.

A loud sound escalated into the room. Shawn looked on his side and realized it was his phone. He answered it in two rings.

“Hello.”

“Hey, can I borrow your car, mines in the shop.” Marcus said on the other end.

“I would, but I’m not.”

“This is an emergency, man. I need to go somewhere and I’m in a hurry.”

“Why can’t one of your boys take you? You always do it for them.”

“They’re unavailable. So can I or not?”

“First off, I don’t like your attitude. I don’t know what’s going on with you lately, but whatever it is, I’m not going to be a part of it.”

“You’re not going to help your brother? After all I’ve done for you!”

“Don’t go there, Marcus. You know I would do anything for you, but lately you’ve been acting strange. You’ve been coming home days at a time, and we hardly talk anymore. All I want to know is what you’ve been up to for the past few months.”

“I keep telling you it doesn’t concern you, so stay out of it.”

“Fine, I will; but you’re not getting my car.”

“Fine, I’ll find another way there.”

Before Shawn could say anything else, Marcus hung up the phone.

“Are you okay?” Riana asked.

“I’m fine, baby. It’s just my brother being an ass.”

Chris looked over at Shawn and realized he had a serious look on his face. He knew that look Shawn had. It was a look that usually meant he was up to something.

“What are you thinking, Shawn?”

“Nothing; why you think that?”

“You have that ‘I’m thinking about something’ look.”

“Damn, nothing gets pass you. I really think Marcus is in trouble. He wanted to take my car because his in the shop, which I don’t believe. He didn’t tell me anything about where he was going and what he had to do. After I told him no, he practically started yelling at me telling me I’m not a good brother.”

“That’s messed up. What are you thinking about doing?”

“I have to go back to the apartment. I need to find out what’s going on.” Shawn said.

He started to get up and went over to Riana, who was near the table getting some papers.

“Baby, Chris and I are going to head out.”

“Okay. Will I see you tonight?” she asked as she put her arms around him.

“Maybe; I’ll let you know, okay.” he said.

He gave Riana a kiss on the cheek and him and Chris went towards the door.

Cheryl watched as the door closed. She locked it and turned to face Riana and Britney.

“Something is going on.”

“What Chris told you?”

“He and Shawn had something to take care of.”

“I have a bad feeling about whatever they’re about to do.”

“Me too; maybe we should follow them.”

“That’s a bad idea.” Britney said.

“Why?” Cheryl asked.

“If you do, that would make them think you two don’t trust them. Whatever they’re doing let them handle it.”

Cheryl looked at Riana and sighed.

“Britney’s right; we should let them handle their own problems.”

Riana looked at Cheryl and the two turned to Britney with the same look.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Britney asked.

“That’s our ‘it doesn’t matter what we say to people, we’re going to do it anyway’ look. Let’s go, Cheryl.” Riana said. She went over to the couch and picked up her car keys and purse.

“Where are you two going?” Britney asked.

“We’re going to Shawn’s. I know they went there.”

“You’re making a big mistake. They’re going to hate you two for this.”

“Are you coming?” Cheryl asked.

“Sure, why not.” Britney said while getting up.

The three headed towards the door.

***

Shawn and Chris were in Shawn’s Dodge Charger heading towards his apartment. He wanted to get there before Marcus left so he could talk to him.

I need to know what is going on with him.

Chris looked over at Shawn.

“We’re going to get there, don’t worry.”

“How can I not? This isn’t the first time Marcus has been in trouble. Every time he was, I bailed him out. I don’t know if I can keep doing this for him.”

“How do you know he’s in trouble?”

“I know he is, I can tell.”

Shawn made a left turn onto another street and into the parking lot of his trendy apartment complex. He parked in the covered parking space and he and Chris got out of the car. The two ran up the stairs two at a time and Shawn opened the door. When he did, he stopped in the doorway in a state of shock. The apartment looked like a tornado stormed through as clothes were thrown everywhere and the furniture was overturned.

Shawn walked into the apartment and looked around cautiously to see if anyone was inside. When he realized no one was, he went straight into Marcus’ room. On his way, he stopped in his room and noticed that it was ransacked as well.

“What the hell is going on?”

He went into Marcus’ room and seen him in his closet looking frantically for something.

“Marcus, what the hell is going on? Why is the apartment in shambles?”

“Leave me alone, alright. I’m looking for something.”

“You had to tear the apartment apart to find it? Marcus, I know something is wrong. Whatever it is, you can tell me. We are family, right?”

“Yeah, but even you can’t help me with this.”

“Maybe I can, if you tell me.”

“Listen, this is something I have to figure out on my own. It doesn’t concern you. And I think it’s good if you didn’t know.”

“Just tell me what it is and maybe we can figure it out together.”

Marcus turned around and looked at Shawn. He had a rage in his eyes that made Shawn wonder who the guy was standing in front of him.

“Get out of my face Shawn.”

Shawn gave Marcus a stony glare as he started to turn around. When he did, he stopped and turned back around to face his brother.

“You know what, if you need me to do anything for you, just don’t. In fact, don’t ask me to do anything else for you.”

“Fine by me.” Marcus said as he continued to look around his room.

Shawn sighed and walked out of the room. When Shawn left, Marcus found what he was searching for. He pulled out a .45 caliber gun from a Jordan’s shoe box under his bed.

“Now, it’s on.” he said.

He put the gun under his shirt and went out the room.

Shawn was in the living room putting some things back in its place. Marcus went over to Shawn.

“I’m sorry I went off on you. I didn’t mean to get mad at you.”

“It’s cool.” he said.

Marcus smiled and tried to give Shawn an one arm hug.​

Shawn looked at his brother. No matter how much his brother got on his nerves, he can’t stay mad at him for long. He went up to him and the two hug. Whey they did, Shawn noticed something hard behind Marcus’ back.

“Why do you have your gun, Marcus?”

“I need to protect myself.”

“From what? What is going on?”

“I have a situation going on at work. You know that case I’ve been working on?”

“What case? I thought you quit the force after the last incident. I thought you were working at Washington High for the school police?”

“I lied. I never quit the force. I just said that so Mom and Dad would stop worrying about me.”

“I was too. You almost died after that drug trafficking case.”

“I know, but this case I have to finish. After I decided to quit the force, the chief gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. If I can nail this case, I could be a detective. Now, I know that’s not the job everyone wants for me, but this is something I’ve dreamed about since I was little. You know I have, Shawn.”

“I know. What going on in this case?”

“I’m trying to bust this drug lord who’s selling weed and crack to kids. That son of a bitch has been on the block for years, but the department could never get him because either he knows when the police are coming or have other people to push his shit. Since the chief thought I had the skills to do this job, I took it. That’s what my problem been for the past few months. I’ve been on a case.”

“Well, that does explain a lot.” Chris said.

“Yeah, it does. I thought you were in serious trouble.” Shawn said.

“I know, and I’m sorry I didn’t tell you until now, but I didn’t want anything to jeopardize this case.”

“Why do you need my car?”

“I was going to try something different. I have a feeling something strange is about to go down tonight, and I needed another car since they know mines. Hopefully, if everything works out, we can finish this thing tonight.”

“Just be careful, man. If you need my car, you can take it.”

“Nah, I got my partner to drive me. Don’t worry little bro, your big bro is going to be fine.”

“I hope so. I would like to see you back here in one piece.”

Marcus laughed and gave his brother a hug. To Marcus, it was saying see you later, but for Shawn, it felt a little different. It felt like Marcus was saying farewell.

“I’ll see you later, okay.”

Shawn smiled.

“Okay, Marcus.”

“Bye, Chris.” Marcus said while going to the door.

“Bye.” Chris said.

He looked at Shawn and noticed something was bothering him.

“You’re okay?”

“No, I’m not. Something doesn’t feel right.”

“Don’t worry; everything is going to be okay.”

Shawn shook his head and sighed.

The doorbell started to ring. Chris went up to the door and opened it. Riana, Cheryl, and Britney was outside looking at the inside in disgust.

“What happened?” Riana asked.

“Nothing. Why are you here?” Shawn asked.

“We were concern about you two. You left in such a hurry.” Cheryl said.

“Everything is cool, so you all can go back home.” Chris said.

“We don’t have to. We can help clean up.”

Chris looked at Shawn. Shawn waved his hand for the three to come in.

“Where should we start?” Riana asked.

“Anywhere, it doesn’t matter.”

“How’s Marcus?” Riana asked while putting some pillows back on the couch.

“How did you know I was looking for Marcus?”

“I just knew. How is he?”

“He’s fine. I know now why he hasn’t been at home.”

“Is it something bad?”

“Nah, I just hope it doesn’t kill him.”

Riana put her arm around Shawn.

“Don’t worry about him. I’m sure he can take care of himself.”

“I hope you’re right.”

***
Monica was lying in bed flipping through a magazine. She tried to read the articles, but her mind wasn’t into anything since arriving at Penbrook. She felt miserable about what happened with her baby. Just the thought of having someone growing in her and quickly taken away made her heart ache.

She put the magazine on the small table near her and rolled over on her side. She looked out towards the window and took several breaths.

“Why can’t life be so simple?”

“I keep asking myself that every day.”

Monica looked over and saw Donnell standing by the door with a bouquet of pink roses. Monica didn’t know what to think as she was face to face with the guy she loved.

“What are you doing here? How did you know I was in the hospital?”

“Britney told me. I’m sorry if I surprised you like this.”

“It’s okay. I’m glad you’re here.”

He walked into the room and closed the door behind him.

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine, I guess.”

“I’m really sorry about the baby.”

“Thanks. I still can’t believe I miscarried. Just this morning he or she was still inside of me. Now, it’s gone.”

“I’m sorry. I wish I could make you feel better.”

“You are, just by being here.”

Donnell smiled and took Monica’s hand.

“I know I said some pretty harsh things the last time we talked. I want to apologize for that. Even though I was angry at you, I had no right to blow up on you like that.”

“I understand why you blew up. Every time we got back together, I found some way to screw it up.”

“No, you didn’t. We both did, but that’s what make life so interesting. We have to go through things to understand what we have and to appreciate it. Mon, ever since we had that fight, I’ve been miserable. All I thought about was you and the baby. I wanted to call or come by the apartment, but I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know what you would had said or done.”

Monica smiled and kissed Donnell’s hand.

“You really missed me?”

“Yeah, I have.”

Monica smiled and the two hugged.

“I missed you too, Donnell.”

“I should have been there for you. If I was, this wouldn’t have happened.”

“Don’t blame yourself for this. It wasn’t your fault about the miscarriage.”

Donnell looked straight at Monica and put his hands on her shoulders.

“I promise for now on, I will be there for you. Whatever problems we have, we will face them together, okay.”

“Okay.”

Donnell put Monica in his arms and sigh heavily.

“I won’t let you down anymore, baby. I promise.”

***
An hour later, Shawn, Riana, Chris, Cheryl, and Britney finally finished cleaning up Shawn’s apartment. They were now in the living room watching TV. Chris and Cheryl were asleep on the couch, while Britney was asleep in an armchair. Riana and Shawn were the only ones awake as they were snuggling on the floor.

“Should we wake them up?” Riana asked.

“No, let them sleep. Today has been pretty exhausting. Let’s go in my room.” he said softly.

He got up and grabbed Riana’s hand to help her off the floor. She got the remote that was lying on the floor and turned off the TV. When they went into his room, he closed the door and kissed Riana on the cheek.

“What did you want to do? We could watch TV, talk…” Shawn said.

“Let’s just cuddle. I just want to be in your arms.”

Shawn nodded and the two lay on his bed. He put his arm around Riana while she put her head on his chest.

“This feels so nice. I wish I could stay like this forever.”

“Me too; after all that has happened today, this is the safest place to be.”

Riana smiled and they kissed each other.

Shawn reached over on the edge of the bed and grabbed the TV remote. He turned it on and started to change the channels. As he flipped through one channel, he noticed a location near the apartment that was familiar to him. He stopped on the news and put the remote down.

“This is breaking news. A police officer has been shot outside of this building on the block of Main and Parker,” the news reporter said while pointing to an abandon building behind her.
“The officer, who has been identified as Marcus Walker, was gunned down after a drug bust went terribly wrong. He was taken by life flight to Hamson Memorial, where he is listed in stable condition. We will have more news when it is available. Live from southwest Houston, Stacy Lewis, 11 News.”

Shawn suddenly felt sick as he stared at the television in shock. He looked over at the window and got up slowly.

Riana looked at Shawn with a scary expression on her face.

“Shawn, maybe you need to sit down.”

“It’s happening again. I knew something was wrong. I knew he was in danger.”

“Baby, calm down and call your parents. Maybe they know more than what the news is reporting.”

“They may not know what happened, otherwise, they would have called.”

“They have to know; otherwise the news wouldn’t have identified Marcus.” Riana said. She went over to Shawn’s nightstand and grabbed his cell phone. She handed it to him.

“Call them. I’ll be in the living room.”

She went to the door and opened it. When she walked outside, she noticed that the three were up from their nap.

“What were you two doing in there?” Cheryl asked smiling.

“Nothing; I have some bad news. Marcus has been shot.”

“What happened?” Chris asked.

“From the news, he was working on a case. I didn’t know Marcus was a cop.”

“Yeah; we thought he quit the force, but found out today he never left.”

Shawn walked into the living room in a daze. He just talked to his parents who told him that they tried to call him before the news broke about Marcus. He looked at his friends and sighed.

Riana went over to him and put her arms around him.

“I have to go to the hospital.” he said softly.

“You want some company?”

“Yeah; we’re here if you need us.” Chris said.

Shawn nodded and the five grabbed their belongings and left his apartment.

Fourteen

After a thirty minute drive to the hospital, Shawn thought they would never reach Hamson Memorial as Chris went up to the visitor’s parking garage. As Chris pulled Shawn’s car in to an empty parking space, the five got out of the car and quickly went into the hospital entrance.

As they went inside, they went into the waiting room area where Shawn noticed his parents waiting anxiously for news on their son. Shawn went over to them and gave them a hug.

“Hey.” he said softly to his mom and dad.

“We’re still sorry about not calling you before those vulture aired the story.” his mom said.

“It’s okay Mom. Now, let’s just focus on Marcus.”

Riana looked at Shawn and his parents. She wished she could be by his side, but she knew he would rather deal with Marcus with his family. On the way there, Shawn barely said a word to her in the car. He was so sad and distant. She never seen Shawn act like that and it scared her.It seemed as if he was different person.

Shawn walked over to Riana and took her hand. The look he had on his face was a look of gratitude for her being there. She stood up and followed him as he went over to his parents.

“Mom, Dad; this is Riana, my girlfriend.”

“Hi.” Riana said kindly.

Mrs. Walker went up to Riana and gave her a hug.

“It’s nice to meet you. I’m sorry it’s under bad circumstances.”

“I know, I’m really sorry about Marcus.”

“Let’s hope he makes it.” Mr. Walker said.

Chris, Cheryl, and Britney walked over to the group. Chris looked at Shawn’s parents and extended his hand out to the two.

“Chris, it been a while seen we seen you.” Mr. Walker said.

“I know, I hate it under bad terms.”

Someone walked into the waiting room. Everyone’s attention went directly to the person coming near them. They realized it was Marcus’ doctor, which treated him from the last incident.

Mrs. Walker frantically went up to the doctor.

“Is Marcus going to be okay?”

The doctor looked at Mrs. Walker with a sincere look on his face. The look only made everyone even more nervous.

“Dr. Martin, please tell us if Marcus going to be okay. Is he going to die?”

Dr. Martin put his clipboard to his side and looked at the small group in front of him.

“Marcus is not going to die. In fact, he’s completely fine.”

“Oh, thank God!” Mrs. Walker exclaimed.

“Thank you.” Mr. Walker said as he looked up at the ceiling.

Shawn looked at the ceiling as well as he gave a silent prayer.

“Once again, Marcus is a lucky man. The bullet did go pass the chest, but it went right through the back. It grazed him a little, but he will live.”

“Thank you so much, Dr. Martin.” Mrs. Walker said while shaking Dr. Martin’s hand wildly.

“You’re welcome. I always knew Marcus was a survivor, especially from the last incident.”

“Will it be alright if we see him?” Shawn asked.

“He’s sleeping right now, but we do have to keep him in for a couple of days, so you can come back tomorrow to visit him.”

“Thank you again, Dr. Martin.” Mr. Walker said.

“No problem.” Dr. Martin said. He turned around and walked out of the waiting room.

Shawn looked at Riana and picked her up. He turned her around, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

“I’m so happy he’s alive.”

“I’m happy too.”

Mrs. Walker went over to Shawn.

“Did you know Marcus was still on the force? I thought he quit.”

“I just found out today. He told me that he was up for a promotion and this case was going to get him there. I don’t think he knew what type of danger he was in with this case.”

“How he could have not known! He was almost killed the first time he was on a high profile case. When is he going to learn that this is not the job for him. He should have a job that does not involve getting shot!”

Shawn looked at his mother and put his hand in hers.

“I understand what you’re saying, Mom. I thought Marcus lost his mind when he said he was going to be a cop. Even today when I found out he never quit, I thought he was crazy for thinking about doing a case, let alone getting a promotion; but when I looked into his eyes, I realized that even though we don’t like Marcus’ career choice, that’s the job he chose and love. He will never leave that job and I can respect that.
“Sometimes in life a person will make a decision that his family will disapprove of, but instead of criticizing or disapproving of the decision, his family should stand behind it and be there for him.”

“He’s right, you know.” Mr. Walker said as he walked up to the two.

“Although we don’t like his decision, we should support him on his profession.”

Mrs. Walker looked at her husband and son and smiled.

“I guess you’re right, but after the last time and this incident, I’m always going to worry about him and whether I’m going to see him again.”

“We understand, but that’s something we as a family have to deal with. Marcus is going to be fine, I know it.” Shawn said.

“When did you become so wise for your age?” Mrs. Walker asked.

“I don’t know; I guess I learned from my parents.”

Mr. and Mrs. Walker put their arms around Shawn and gave him a hug.

Riana looked at the scene and smiled. She looked over at Cheryl who had her knees up to her chest. She looked like she was worried about something as she looked at Riana.

“What’s wrong?” Riana asked.

“I was thinking about something.”

“Like what? You know you can tell me.”

“It’s nothing important.”

“I know when something is bothering you. Now, tell me what’s up.”

Cheryl turned towards Riana and sighed.

“It’s my parents. Remember when I said I’m going to their house tomorrow? Well, it’s not for a social visit. I changed my major today from psychology to pre-med. I have to tell them that I don’t want to be a psychologist; I want to be a doctor.”

“I thought you wanted to be a psychologist?”

“That’s what I wanted you to think. I never wanted to be a psychologist. That was my parents’ dream. I always went by what they wanted me to do; from my major, to who I should
date, to when I used the damn bathroom. I never had a mind of my own because I never wanted to
disappoint them. Now, I’m so nervous about tomorrow because I don’t know how they are going to react. For all I know they might stop paying my tuition.”

“Come on Cheryl, I don’t think they would do that.”

“You don’t get it Riana; you see my parents as the dream parents, the parents that everyone wants to have; but it’s all a joke. What you see is a lie and now it got so old, even I believe
it. My parents always been dictating and controlling, and now I can’t handle it anymore. I want to live my own life and I feel like I should be able to.”

Riana looked at Cheryl and touched her right shoulder.

“And you should. Even though they’re your parents, they have no right to tell you what to do.”

Cheryl smiled and put her hand on Riana’s.

“Thanks for understanding.”

“No problem, but why didn’t you tell me about your parents? We tell each other everything.”

“I know, but this was something I wanted to handle myself. I know I told Chris to go with me tomorrow, but now that I told you, I would rather if you was there with me.”

“Sure Cheryl, but I think all three of us should go. You going to need all the support you can get.”

“Thanks.” Cheryl said.

She extended her arms to Riana and the two hug.

***

After spending another thirty minutes at the hospital, Shawn told his parents he would meet them tomorrow to visit Marcus. While Chris and Cheryl went back to the apartment and Britney went home, Riana and Shawn were at his apartment getting ready to go to sleep. After everything that has happened that day, Riana didn’t want to go home. She wanted to stay with Shawn and put everything that happened behind them.

“How you feel now after the day is over?” Riana asked.

Shawn smiled as he climbed into the bed.

“Now that I know Marcus is okay, I’m doing pretty good.”

“That’s good. I just met Marcus, but I know that he’s a nice guy. I wouldn’t had want anything to happen to him.”

“That’s nice to hear. How you pick that up in a few minutes?”

“I figured since you’re a wonderful guy, I know your brother is too.”

Shawn smiled and turned on the TV. He put an arm around Riana and kissed her cheek.

“I know now that life is too precious to waste on anything petty. I want to live life to the fullest because you never know what tomorrow will bring.”

“I agree, that’s why I want to talk to you about what happened earlier.” Riana said.

“I didn’t mean that, baby.”

“I know, but let me finish. After what happened with Monica and Marcus, and even when I talked to Cheryl tonight…”

“What’s wrong with Cheryl?”

“It’s her parents. They always tried to make her do things to please them and in order for her not to disappoint them, she just went along with it. She even told me that she never wanted to major in psychology and she rather majored in pre-med. That’s why she’s going to her parents’ tomorrow to tell them that she changed majors.”

“Wow, I’m glad I have parents who supportive of my decisions.”

“I know. I told her I will go with her to support her. She’s so afraid about how they will react; she’s thinking they’re going to cut her off financially.”

“That’s bad. I hope everything works out for her.”

“I hope so too, but going back to what I was talking about; I realized that after what happened I don’t want to waste any time on the most important things in life, and that’s including being with you. Shawn, I love you and being with you is so important to me. Life is too short to worry about having regrets. I want to share my first time with you.”

Shawn rested his hand on Riana’s cheek.

“You sure Ri?”

Riana smiled.

“I’m sure.”

Shawn gave Riana a serious expression as he leaned over to kiss her. Just the feel of his touch made Riana weak as she returned his kiss.

The two lay down on the bed as they prepared to move into the next phase of their relationship.

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