Chapter   Thirteen

"Man, I hope this works," Alisha said, worried about her cousin.

"Don't worry. Brian's a good guy. Everything will be fine," Nick assured her.

"Then why'd he accuse her of using him for money?" Alisha asked.

"He didn't mean it. But there's one thing you have to understand when it comes to us and girls. We have to be careful about who we hook up with 'cause we don't know if they're being real with us or not."

"I guess I can understand that. It's just that I've had to see her all depressed and unhappy for the past month. I was beginning to think I shouldn't have moved in with her."

"I know what you mean. I like VJ and all, but I was starting to wonder if she was worth all the hurt and bad days that Brian was going through. Sometimes I have to share a room with him, which meant I had to listen to him talk about her all night after a show and listen to him plead to her answering machine 'cause she wouldn't talk to him, then slam the phone down when he got frustrated. One time broke the phone 'cause he slammed it down so hard."

"For real? That's crazy. VJ tried to act like nothing was wrong, but I could tell. All she did was go to class, then go to work and on weekends, she'd stay home all day and watch TV. I tried to get her to go out to a club, a restauraunt, a park, anything just to get out of the apartment, but she wouldn't listen to me. VJ kept insisting that she was all right."

"Let's not talk about them anymore. It's making me depressed."

"You're right. It's enough to make anyone depressed. What can we talk about?" VJ asked him.

"How about you?" Nick suggested. "Tell me all there is to know about you."

"There isn't much to know," Alisha said. "I'm from New Mexico, where my parents, my older brother, Daniel, and my two older half-sisters, Danielle and Kimberly, live. VJ's my cousin on my mother's side of the family, my father owns a chain of restauraunts around the country. I'm seventeen, I go to high school and graduate this year, and I work for my uncle's real estate business. How about you?"

"Well," Nick said, as he thought about what he'd say. "I'm from New York, moved to Florida when I was younger, I have one older half-sister, three younger sisters, and a younger brother. I have a tutor 'cause I travel a lot with the group that I joined when I was thirteen. I used to do a lot of acting and singing when I was younger and this is where all my hard work has gotten me."

"How old are you?"


"A younger guy."

"Do you care?"

"No. I went out with an eighth grader when I was a freshman in high school. Three, actually."

"Then I'd say you wouldn't mind. When's your birthday? Maybe you're older than me by months.

"January twenty-eighth."

"Are you serious?" Nick looked at her surprised. "So is mine."

"Then I guess I am a year older."

"Well, I'm still taller."

Alisha laughed. She like Nick a lot and hoped they could develop a good relationship. Nick was thinking the same thing as Alisha. He really thought she had the good personality he looked for in a girl. 'And she's gorgeous,' he thought with a smile. They continued getting to know each other and getting closer.


Brian heard the door open and turned around in his chair, thinking it was one of the guys. Instead he saw VJ standing in the doorway and he dropped the phone he held in his hands. Brian blinked to make sure he wasn't seeing things and saw VJ still standing there when he opened his eyes again.

"Can I talk to you?" she asked him.

"Sure. Have a seat." Brian pointed to a chair next to him. Then he picked up the phone and put it away.

He watched as VJ walked over to the chair and sat down. He wanted so much to take her in his arms and tell her that everything was all right now that she was there, but he knew if he did, they wouldn't do any of the talking they needed to.

"How did you know I'd be here?" Brian asked her, although he suspected he already knew.

"I asked BJ," VJ answered. "I knew we needed to talk, so I asked her if she knew when the group was going to be in one place for more than a couple of days."

"Why didn't you talk to me whenever I called you in the past month?"

"I didn't want to do this over the phone. I wanted to talk to you face to face."

"I can understand that. So let's talk."

"Okay. Why didn't you tell me who you were when you met me?"

"Because, like I said before you took off, I wasn't sure if you knew who I was or not and if you did, then I had to wonder if you were being real with me or just messing around trying to get something out of me. My turn. How come you didn't tell me who you were when you found out I lived in one of your father's buildings?"

"For the same reason you didn't say anything to me. Whenever I told a guy that I was the daughter of a wealthy person, who owns apartment buildings and houses, they try to benefit from it. I had an extremely bad experience with it."

Brian looked at her, concerned. "What did he do?"

VJ took a deep breath before talking. It still hurt a little to talk about it.

"I was seventeen, and I had just graduated from high school," she started. "The senior class trip was to France and I had to beg my father to go. He was worried I'd get in trouble. You know, someone would try to take advantage of me. Well, I met this guy there. He was from the US and we started hanging out together. I fell for him hard and he knew it. He came back home with me and I introduced him to my family. My father and my brothers didn't like him at all, but they didn't interfere because I liked him so much. Well, he said he wanted to start up a business and asked me if I could lend him some money to get started. I did and I trusted he was using it for the 'business' he wanted. I later found out that he was engaged and using the money to buy himself and his fiancee clothes, a new car, jewelry, even to pay for their wedding. I broke it off with him as soon as I found out. My father tried to take legal action against him, but I convinced him to just forget about it."

Brian watched her as she told him this and saw she was telling the truth. He saw her eyes were filled with tears threatening to fall at anytime. He couldn't resist any longer and he leaned over and took VJ in his arms.

"Ever since, I've never told any guy about my family. They always think that I come from an average-income family."

"I'm sorry, VJ. I'm sorry you had to go through that." Brian pulled back and looked her in the eye. "I have to tell you, I will never do that to you. I've been taking care of myself since I was eighteen and now my career is finally taking off. But I won't be able to enjoy my success if I can't be with you. You just have to trust that I like you for who you are and not for what you have."

"I do trust you, Brian," VJ told him. "I'm sorry about what I did to you and what I said. I wasn't exactly nice. But I didn't know you. You kept your real life a secret from me."

"I won't do that ever again. I want you to share in all the success I have. I want you to be in my life."

"And I want to be a part of it. I want you to be a part of mine, too. To share my successes with the business I have. Or rather I'm going to have. I want you to be there with me when I take over."

"So do I. And I will be."

Brian leaned over and gave VJ the most passionate kiss she'd ever been given. She returned his kiss with every ounce of feeling she had for him. When they pulled away, they looked at one another for a moment, then smiled. VJ encircled his neck, while Brian wrapped his arms around her waist and leaned in for another passion-filled kiss.

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