Read part 1

(Part 2)

_____Under the advisement of my parents’ lawyer, I wasn’t to have any contact with Dre at all. I may have been the one that had the marijuana in possession, but she was the one that they really wanted. And any contact between us could jeopardize my case even worse. Not that it could get any worse. I plead guilty. Like I could really plead not guilty when the police found the weed in my room. To me, it was an open and shut case, but they didn’t want me. They wanted Dre. It turned out that they had been watching her for a few months. And I wanted to kick myself for not noticing sooner. But at least I had noticed in time before the raid.

_____The looks on the police officers’ faces were priceless. They had turned the loft upside down, tearing into walls, tearing up pillows, chairs, beds, sofas---anything they thought Dre would stash the weed in. They even found the hidden door in the hall closet, but of course, it was empty. They were heated. Eventually, they started getting rough with all the guys, and then one of the cops had mentioned getting warrants for everyone’s houses. And in about an hour, we were on our way to my house. I dreaded every step up those stairs. I dreaded the look of fear on Anya’s face as two officers and I walked into the apartment. And I dreaded opening my bedroom door for them, knowing they would find it all.

_____I vaguely remember being read my rights. I just stayed silent. They asked questions, Anya asked questions, but I wouldn’t say a word. I just stared blankly forward as they cuffed me and lead me downstairs to the squad car.

_____I had to finally speak, because the detectives were starting to get on my nerves.

_____“What about Anya Townsend?”

_____“She’s not involved.”

_____“How do we know you’re not lying?”

_____I just shrugged. “You’ll have to believe me. Anya didn’t know what I was doing in the apartment.”

_____One of the detectives, Drake, sat opposite me. He lit a cigarette and handed it to me.

_____“Astoria, why are you doing this to yourself? We all know that you are not capable of this.”

_____“What makes you so sure?” I asked as I puffed.

_____“You have no priors. Honour student, good career…let’s face it. You got involved with the wrong person. There’s no point in you taking the fall for this.”


_____“Did Andrea plant the weed in your apartment?” The other detective, Anderson asked. “Are you afraid to talk? Astoria, we can get protection for you.”

_____That made me want to laugh. I was safer out there than in here. “I told you already. Andrea has nothing to do with this.”

_____“So what did we walk in on tonight?” Drake asked. “We heard a lot of yelling and screaming before we got to the front door.”

_____“Have you ever had hungry men over your house before? Wasn’t I cooking when you busted in the loft?” I asked. “They get loud often, even in public. You can dress them up, but you can’t take them anywhere.”

_____Drake sighed. “We’re tired of this game, Astoria. Do you realize that you’re facing anywhere between three to fifteen years in prison?”

_____Three to fifteen years? Jesus, my life was over.

_____He must have noticed the look on my face, because Anderson suddenly sat beside me. “I understand that you’re in love. But don’t let her take advantage of you like this. All you have to do is tell us that the weed belonged to Andrea and we can work out a deal for you. It’s your first offense, it’s only possession…”

_____“I’m not going to lie.” I said. “Andrea had nothing to do with this. All that’s mine.”

_____“Who are your contacts then?”

_____I smirked. “Like I’m going to tell you.”

_____Drake slammed his fist on the desk. “If you’re not willing to help yourself here, Astoria, we can’t help you.”

_____I just shrugged, infuriating them even more.

_____You’re probably calling me stupid, huh? Well, you’re probably right. But you’ll do stupid shit in the name of love. All I knew was that my baby was in danger and that she needed to be out of it so she could take care of her family. And I couldn’t let anything happen to her. I wasn’t entirely stupid. I knew I was going to go to prison, but I figured since I was a first-time offender, I couldn’t get the maximum. Somehow, this had to work out for me.

_____I had stopped talking, and when my parents arrived with their lawyer, I felt like my world had totally crumbled. The look on my mother’s face shut me down. And it’s not easy, mind you. Having to lie when you know it’s only hurting those you love. But I had no choice.

_____The trial went rather quickly. Two days. I must have been the very first person in history to plead guilty to drug charges. The only thing that hitched us was that the prosecution kept trying to go after Dre. Trying to get me to admit that Dre was in on this with me. But I wouldn’t. I said that I had found the contacts at a rave and had somehow found a way to raise the money to get the weed so I could distribute it to people that I knew, who could make back my money. I had even lied, saying it wasn’t my first time.

_____The judge wasn’t sympathetic. But she did take in account it was my first offense and that I had admitted I was guilty. I was indicted and sentenced to five years, maximum prison, with possibility of parole after three years.

_____Dre wasn’t at the trial. In fact, that last I had seen Dre was the day of the raid. I never really had any time to myself, and I wasn’t allowed bail since I dated Dre and could be a flight risk. So the last time I saw her, was really the last time. And my one regret was that I didn’t tell her I loved her before I left.

_____And here I was now, chained, walking into prison. I’ll tell you this: the worse sound you will ever hear in your entire life is the sound of that gate closing behind you. When I heard that heavy thud, I just gritted my teeth and kept shuffling along, making sure not to trip on the chains, and tried my best to keep the tears in.

_____I was stripped. Examined. And whatever modesty and individuality I had was taken away. Naked, I was given my number, since names didn’t matter to them, and I was welcomed to my new home.

_____The first month was the hardest. Actually, the first day was the hardest. I had three cellmates, Tina, Corrine, and Shameka. Tina was in for stabbing some girl at a party, Corrine was in for grand theft auto, and Shameka robbed a bank at gunpoint.

_____“She thinks she’s Queen Latifah or some shit.” Corrine had said.

_____Shameka flipped her the finger. “Whateva.” Then she hopped up on her top bunk, walking out of the cell.

_____“Watch your ass.” Corrine told me as she pulled her red hair back. “Shameka’s down to be like Cleo too, if you know what I mean.”

_____I knew what she meant. I could spot a stud anywhere. But I just waved her off and lay on my bottom bunk, underneath Tina, and just closed my eyes and prayed I could sleep the next five years.

_____After a while, you get into a routine. If you want to survive, you keep to yourself, don’t talk back to the guards, know who not to fuck with, and basically watch your ass.

_____Now, femmes, like me, can be a prime subject for some major bullshit when you first get in. Not saying all femmes---but femmes like me. Dre was proud of the fact that I was a “lady”. I could get rowdy sometimes, but when it came down to it, I was extremely feminine and ladylike. Sometimes too girly. And you can’t be like that when you go to prison. That’s asking for people to jump on your ass.

_____It took about three days. I was in the cafeteria, eating some lunch, when this chick suddenly bumps into me. My first instinct was to jump to my feet and kick her ass, but I had to remember where I was. So I just sat there and didn’t move.

_____“So you’re a new fish, eh?” She sat beside me. Goddamn, she was a burly woman. At least six-feet-one and three hundred and fifty or some odd pounds. “What’s your name?”

_____“Tori.” I answered, taking Corrine’s advice. Pretty names get bullshit responses.

_____“Tori, huh?” I could feel her sizing me up and I wanted to cry right there. Could I really take years of this? “My name’s Rock. If you want to make it up in here, you’ll be nice to me, hear me?”

_____I finally turned to look at her. “Why?”

_____“Because if you’re not, I can get nasty with you.” Her nostrils actually flared. Jesus.

_____My answer? I picked up my tray, got to my feet, and walked away. Hell no. Get as nasty as you want, but I ain’t gonna be anyone’s bitch. I’ll be damned.

_____Obviously, Rock was not gonna take that lightly. Next thing I knew, my head was suddenly snapped back, and I dropped my tray as I fell to the ground. The bitch had a hold onto my hair, and held me down.

_____“Listen, fish. Don’t fuck with me, hear me?” Then her fists came at me so fast, I didn’t have time to even try to duck. I felt her move away from me, then a sharp pain struck my stomach, then again, and again. The woman was literally kicking me in the middle of the cafeteria, and no one was stopping her. I eventually just curled up to protect what I could, praying for her to stop.

_____Then she was gone. I felt myself being lifted to my feet and guards helped me walk back to my cell, where I curled up in my bed and cried. I had asked to go to the clinic, but they ignored me, saying I wasn’t in that much danger and to sleep it off. That’s when I realized what I was in for, and that I really had to face it all alone.

_____Or so, I thought.

_____At the end of my second week, was visitor’s day. I knew my parents weren’t going to come to see me, so I didn’t expect anything. But when a guard had come to the lounge to tell me I had a visitor, I was truly surprised.

_____I walked outside to where the visiting area was, and in the far corner, a woman in all pink waved at me. I had no clue who she was, but I was curious.

_____“Astoria?” She asked softly as I sat down.

_____I nodded.

_____She smiled. “I’m Ivy. I’m a friend of Dre.”

_____My heart literally jumped. My baby didn’t forget me. But I held back. “How do I know Dre sent you?”

_____“She said to tell you that you’re an idiot…but the chicken was good.”

_____I smiled, wanting to hug this woman I didn’t even know, just out of happiness. _____

_____Concern washed over her face, and I knew she was noticing my bruises. “What happened to you?”

_____“It’s nothing.” I said, knowing how I looked. “Dre sent you? How? Why?”

_____Her eyes darted from side to side to make sure no one was close by to hear. “She can’t come see you herself. They have her under surveillance and just waiting for her to fuck up. And she’s afraid that if she comes to you that it’ll only make things worse for the both of you. They are begging for her to make a wrong move.”

_____“But she’s not going to.” I simply said.

_____Ivy nodded. “She’s doing good actually. Everything’s all over. She’s living a normal life again. Construction really is her first love.”

_____I smiled knowing it was true.

_____“I do have bad news though.” Ivy sighed. “Dre’s mother died last week. She said you ought to know.”

_____“Oh God.” I just closed my eyes. If I had any doubt at all, they were all gone. I knew I had made the right decision. “And her little brother’s with her?”

_____Ivy nodded again. “I guess she and her mother had some agreement that she would take him.”

_____“Yeah.” I could feel the tears starting to roll down my cheek. I wanted to be there for Dre so bad. She needed me. Right now, she needed me to curl up beside her and just talk to her. I could only imagine what she must be going through, having to mourn alone.

_____“I can’t stay too long. But Dre wanted you to know she hasn’t forgotten about you. That you’re still and always will be number one in her heart, and that she and Antoine are waiting for you when you get out.” Ivy rose to her feet. She smiled at me then reached out and lightly touched my bruised eye. “And we’ll see what Dre can do about this.”

_____We hugged, then I watched her walk away. It was a meeting of less than five minutes, but it gave me the strength I needed. Dre was waiting for me. I had to survive for that. But as it turns out, I didn’t have to survive alone.

_____Three days later, I’m in the cafeteria again. I’m sitting in the far corner as usual, when I see Rock enter the room. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I had heard that she was looking for me, and I didn’t want to have to deal with her.

_____But, of course, she found me and made her way over to the table I was sitting at.

_____“I don’t want any trouble.” Was the first thing I said to her.

_____“Trouble? Oh, hell nah, I ain’t gonna fuck with you.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out two packs of cigarettes and laid them on the table. My brand.

_____“These are for you.” She said.

_____I swear, I looked around, waiting for the Candid Camera sign or something. Yes, even in prison. “What for?”

_____“I didn’t know you were Dre’s woman.” Rock said. Were her hands trembling? “If I knew, I wouldn’t have fucked with you. I’m sorry, ok?”

_____I just stared at her wide-eyed, wondering how the fuck Dre managed to pull this one off? Damn, she’s good.

_____“If you need me for anything, just let me know. I got your back up in here, ok?”

_____I just nodded, still not able to speak.

_____She nodded herself, then walked away.

_____I made a mental note to not only give Dre the biggest kiss in the world, when I got out, but to also kiss Ivy whenever I saw her next.

_____I won’t say that my time in prison was easy. It most definitely wasn’t. But having Rock on your side can make it somewhat bearable. I did my time like I was supposed to; I did all my duties, I took a trade class in auto mechanics, and I read like a madwoman, spending as much free time as I could in their limited library. The only thing I didn’t have to worry about was my protection, because Rock made it known that if anyone fucked with me, they were fucking with her. And no one wanted to fuck with Rock, cuz she was a lifer and had absolutely nothing to lose.

_____Ivy paid a visit once every month, keeping me up on what was going on outside and how Dre was doing. She was our only contact with each other. The police had finally taken the heat off her once they realized she had definitely gone straight. But we still didn’t want to take any chances, so we didn’t write any letters and didn’t call each other. But Ivy was good for keeping me informed. Dre had managed to set up a legit construction business of her own, and was making quiet a name for herself. It seemed that Ivy was closer to Dre than I had realized from the conversations she had, and things she told me. When Antoine had first entered high school, I knew that Dre was going to be beside herself with worry. Ivy regaled me with stories on how Dre would call her for advice on how to raise a teenager.

_____“How do you know Dre anyway?” I asked. It was strange, but I was so used to not asking questions, that it never really popped into my head before now. But after two years and five months of being here, I figured I could ask.

_____“Let’s just say that she met me when I was at my lowest, and helped me better myself.” Ivy replied. “I owe her my life.”

_____“You have kids?” I asked.

_____She nodded. “Two. Seventeen and fifteen. Both boys.”

_____“Can I ask you something?”


_____I lit a cigarette and sighed. This question had been on my mind for the longest time. “Does Dre ever date?”

_____Ivy didn’t say anything at first. “Um…I’m not sure if I’m in the position to say either way.”

_____“I’m not trying to check up on her or anything.” I explained. “It’s just that…I know she has a life out there. And if she met someone…I’d understand, that’s all. I can’t expect her to wait for me.” It’s funny, that I said it aloud, but in my heart if I knew that Dre was seeing someone else, it would probably kill me.

_____Ivy reached over and took my hand in hers. “Believe me when I tell you that you are the only person on her mind right now. She doesn’t have room for anyone else.”

_____I closed my eyes in a silent prayer of thanks.

_____And my time went on. More visits from Ivy, a couple of letters from my parents. I had started sketching again, which, at the time seemed a little hopeless, but the girls on my cell block got a kick out of seeing my designs.

“When I get out, I’m definitely looking you up.” One girl, Vera had said. “You’re shit is off the hook.”

“You think so?” I asked. It had been well over two years since I had picked up a pencil.

Corrine looked over my shoulder. “Damn, girl. Hell yeah. Hey, put me on the list too. My ass won’t be in here for too long.” Then she winked before leaving.

Another ray of hope. It got me to thinking that possibly I could start up on my own once I got out. As much as I made a name for myself in the company I worked for, the designs I created for myself and The Bitches, put my names on a lot of women’s lips in Dre’s business. So at least, on the outside, I could still have a chance. I made a mental note to talk to Dre about it as soon as I could.

Another year had passed, and before I knew it, I was up for parole.

And I got scared.

_____Don’t get me wrong. I did want to get out. I did want to be free. But I also think a part of me was afraid to be out. I had changed. Every day I spent there chipped a little bit away from me. I wasn’t the same woman who had first walked in here with tears in her eyes. Hell, I couldn’t remember the last time I had even shed a tear. I would never say I was naïve beforehand. Hell no, we all know that. But prison changes you, whether you want it or not. If you managed to survive one day in prison, you’re never the same again. How would I be after three and a half years of lock-up? What would be out there for me? I knew my job was gone. During the trial, I had received a letter that my services were no longer needed, and they had shipped my materials home. Home. Funny.

I no longer had an apartment, since Anya had x-ed me out of her life. I couldn’t blame her really. Since she was in the apartment at the time of the search, she had been arrested as well, although eventually let go. But the experience itself had pissed her off, and she let me go. From Ivy, I found out that she moved out of state, and no one, not even Danny, knew where she went.

_____My parents had visited me only twice during my time in prison. I could see that they were embarrassed each time, so I never asked for them to come back. My father wouldn’t speak to me, and all my mother could do was cry as soon as she saw me or heard my voice. Eventually, they stopped pressuring me to tell them the truth, and slowly, they stopped calling as often, even though the letters stopped. And during the last six months, I didn’t hear from them at all. Ivy told me that they were still around, so I knew that they just didn’t want to deal with me anymore. And it surprised me that I never cried over it. Not one single tear. I had just taken the knowledge, locked it in my heart, and went on.

_____I did get paroled. Oh, please, you thought I wouldn’t? I was a model prisoner. Half of the guards couldn’t understand why I was in prison in the first place, and in my last months, they were looking out for me as well.

But even if I was a model prisoner, and everyone and their grandma said that I was a good person, I still had to keep claim that I was guilty, and had reformed during my imprisonment. I had just told a partial truth when I faced the parole board.

“I realize what I’ve done, and I realize it was wrong. I honestly just got caught in a bad situation. It was stupid. And I ruined my life for it. But I need to get back on track. I have a degree that I worked hard for, and I have a lot of people to make proud again. The three years I spent in prison has taught me a lesson: to think for myself and do what’s right for me.” I had rehearsed it well. Little lie here and there, but hell…it got me out.

By the time my release happened, I was in an emotional conflict. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. All I knew was that the bus was going to drive us back to the city, and from then, I was basically on my own. There was a halfway house with a room available to me. I had my parole officer that I had to check in with the next morning, and once a week for the next six months. Almost everything was planned except whatever life held for me.

The night before my release day, I had walked around the building, saying goodbye to the women and girls I had become friendly with. Rock was the hardest to say goodbye to. She admitted that at first, she had only looked out for me because I was Dre’s girl. But after awhile, she realized what kind of person I was.

“You’re a good person. Make it out there, ok? Don’t end up back in here.”

“There’s no reason for me to.” I answered her as I hugged her tightly.

She just nodded at me, then walked away, head down. She was genuinely a nice person, but like the rest of us, had gotten stupid at one point in her life. And sadly she had to spend the rest of her life in here. It’s too bad that there wasn’t someone who had looked out for her when she first came in. Maybe she wouldn’t be so untouchable. But I guess when you know that there’s no chance to leave, you just have to survive the way that you know how. That’s all you can do. Survive. With that in mind, I walked back to my cell to spend my last night in my barred home.

The bus ride back wasn’t much different than when I arrived. I still had no idea what to expect when I arrived to my destination. My last visit with Ivy didn’t clue me in on anything. I had asked about Dre, and she had said that she hadn’t been able to get in touch with Dre for a few weeks, so she couldn’t even tell her that I had been granted parole. Chills ran down my spine at her words. What if Dre was gone? What if Dre got tired of waiting? What if she met someone new? Three and a half years may not be a long time in general, but it really can be, especially if you have no contact with the person. I hadn’t even heard Dre’s voice in all that time. I didn’t doubt that she’d try to hold out, but there were so many opportunities for her to be with someone else, especially if I wasn’t there.

Then, all the doubt started. What if I did all of this for no reason? What if the detectives were right, and I was just some chick to her. True, she had let me in and trusted me, but you see all those movies were gangsters and dealers have these women that are basically playthings. These women are temporary and don’t really mean much. What if Dre thought of me that way? No, no, no. She had sent Ivy to me. For three and a half solid years, she had sent Ivy so that I had some kind of contact with her. Why would she go through all that just to abandon me? Maybe she wanted to keep my mouth shut. Maybe if she thought that if I knew early on, then I would confess everything. She could be long gone now, and there would be no reason for me to talk, since I had already served my time.

I closed my eyes, pressing my forehead against the window. My stomach was churning. I was making myself sick with worrying about all this shit. I had completely punked out, hadn’t I? What woman in her right mind gives up all that she has worked for, for a person she knew for less than a year? My life was basically ruined. For the rest of my life, I’d be known as an ex-convict. I couldn’t get a job or an apartment without mentioning it. I was marked for life.

“Idiot.” I cursed myself. “Stupid, naïve idiot.” Everyone was right, weren’t they? Anya, my parents, the detectives, my lawyer; all of them were right. I wanted to cry so badly. And the closer we got to the city, the more I wanted to just disappear. I had done all this for nothing. Granted, Antoine wasn’t a ward of the state, but in exchange, I ended up a ward of the state myself.

“You’re in over your head here,” Anya’s words danced in my head. “You may be tough, but deep down you’re as innocent as they come. It’s too dangerous.” I just totally let love blind me. What the hell was I thinking?

Then I got mad. Mad that I was such an idiot. Mad that I had absolutely nothing out there. And for what? Love? What did love get me? Three and a half years of my life taken away. Then my anger turned to sadness. Complete, total sadness. I felt so defeated. I had taken the risk for love and had ultimately lost.

_____I didn’t even realize the bus had stopped until one of the guards had screamed my name. I got to my feet and slowly stepped off the bus, carrying my clear plastic bag full of idle belongings I had collected over time. I recognized the area quickly. I was about fifteen minutes away from where I shared the apartment with Anya. That, of course, was now gone.

_____I reached into the pocket of my jeans and pulled out the address for the halfway house that I could stay at. Walking-wise, it would take me about a half-hour, which was fine. That would give me enough time to beat some more sense into my head.

_____The bus pulled off, and I turned around to start my walk, when I saw it. A black SUV. Cadillac Escalade. And leaning against it, arms crossed under her breasts, smoking a cigarette was Dre. Dressed in all black, her hair in loose braids, with that smirk on her face when she realized I had noticed her. She hadn’t changed a bit.

_____I didn’t know what to do. I just stood there, feeling the tears start rolling down my cheek.

_____She casually walked over to me, then just pulled me into this huge bear hug, lifting me off my feet. Instinctively, I just wrapped my legs around her waist, just as our lips met for the kiss I had been waiting, for what felt like a lifetime to feel.

_____“I’ve missed you so much.” She said. “You have no idea.”

_____“Oh, I don’t?” I asked, sliding back down to my feet. I stared into her eyes, and felt my heart do that pitter-patter thing. God, I’d always love those eyes.

_____She shook her head. “It took me a while to understand why you did it. Then when my moms died, it all clicked. Baby, I owe everything to you…”


_____“And don’t you ever, EVER do any shit like that again, you hear me?” She continued. Tears were streaming down her face. “You gave up too much for me, Astoria. Way too much.”

_____I couldn’t stop touching her. I was gripping her hands as if she would disappear if I let go, leaving me all alone again. But I reached up and brushed some of her tears away.

_____“You’re worth it.” I simply said. “I kept you and Antoine together, just like Lorelei would have wanted it.”

_____“It was my mistake. I should have paid for it.” She kissed my hands. “Baby, I can’t give any of it back to you. Do you realize that? I’ve spent the last three years, six months, and twelve days realizing that there’s nothing I can do to give it back to you. What you gave up…” She stopped suddenly, squeezing her eyes shut.

“You know, you pray for someone who will love you unconditionally. Who will do just about anything for you? But baby, I never wanted you to…”

I placed my finger on her lips. “I love you.” That’s all that needed to be said.

She just nodded. “I’ll never forgive myself for letting you do this. I’m gonna spend the rest of my life trying to make it back up to you. You have my heart, girl. And anything else that you want or need…it’s yours.”

_____“You can start with dinner.” I said, suddenly famished. “Is Nina’s still around? I haven’t had anything decent to eat for a while.”

_____She laughed. “Definitely. Besides, you got some surprises waiting for you at home.”


_____She nodded. “Madd surprises. I sold the loft, by the way. I decided to keep my mom’s house. No point in making Antoine suffer any more than he has to, and move him from his school, his friends, and shit. And the house is ready for your creative touch. All of your things are still in storage, I saved everything that was at my place, and I hooked up the den so that it can be your sewing room.”

_____She opened the passenger door, helping me inside, and in the backseat, was Antoine, listening to music through his headphones and playing a Gameboy. When he felt the car move, he looked up, and a smile brightened his face when he saw me. Oh my god, my little boy was almost grown.

_____“Astoria. I missed you!” Did that voice come from him? He pulled the headphones off his head and hugged me the best he could in our position. He glanced at Dre when she got in herself. “Can I stop ‘minding my own business’ now that she’s in the car?”

_____Dre chuckled. “Yeah, you can.”

_____“My mom wanted me to give this to you.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box. “She gave it to me on her…you know…the last day. She said I wasn’t to open it and that it was meant for you.”

_____With trembling hands, and Antoine and Dre watching me closely, I opened the small box, and found piece of paper and an antique gold locket. When I flipped the top open, there was a picture of Dre when she was younger, holding Antoine on her lap. He couldn’t have been more than nine years old at the time. I unfolded the paper and immediately started crying again at the words. “My family is now your family. I know what you did. You’re the right woman for them. Thank you for giving me peace.”

_____“That’s where her locket was?” Dre asked. She read the note, and I could see the pain on her face. She just handed it back to me, taking the locket, and I bent my head as she fastened it around my neck. “Looks good on you.”

_____I just smiled. The emotions were getting too heavy, so I playfully punched her in the arm to lighten the mood. “Are we going to Nina’s or what? Don’t you know you’re supposed to feed someone once they get out?”

_____She chuckled. “Here you go, acting like you’re all big and tough now that you were in the pen. You gonna be like this forever?”

_____I smiled. “I think so.”

_____She returned my smile, and planted a kiss on my cheek before she started the SUV. “Yo, Antoine, when was the last time you had good lobster?”

_____“Lobster? That’s nasty.” He said. He had his arms around my seat, hands clasped in front of me. I reached up and covered his hands with my own.

_____“Oh, baby brother, you have no clue. Wait till you try this place. It’ll make you cry it’s so good.” She pulled away from the curb and into traffic.

_____“I ain’t eating lobster.”

_____“What did you say?” She asked.

_____He sighed. “I AM NOT eating lobster. Damn, Dre, can I leave school for a day, please?”

_____“I’m not gonna have you talkin’ like some idiot, ok?” She said. “And what are you doing with that Gameboy anyway? I thought you had a book you were supposed to be reading for your English class.”

_____“Dre…” He groaned.

_____“Don’t ‘Dre’ me. We already went through this, Antoine.”

_____I couldn’t help but smile at their light arguing, as we sped down the street. These were wonderful sounds. Family. That was the reason I had done all this. And I knew I had made the right decision. Now, I’m not saying that what I did was right for everyone. But for me, it was. That’s just how it goes. You do what you have to. You do what feels right. And the consequences never really matter. Especially when you’re blinded by love.


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