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"Ohmygodohmygodohmygod. Oh. My. God! Harder. Harder. Harder!"
Cicely "Cee Cee" Stevens walked toward the master bedroom of her condo with her eyes and mouth wide open. There was no way she could possibly be hearing what she thought she was hearing.
Not in her house.
Not in her bedroom.
No damn way was this happening to her after the day she'd just had at work!
But the squeaking of the bedsprings and the bang, clunk, bang, clunk, bang of the headboard didn't lie. Isaac was cheating on her .
That lowlife had another woman in her bedroom. In her bed! And he had better be thankful that she didn't own a firearm. The old adage that God protected babies and fools was obviously true, because if she'd had a gun, heaven help the fool!
At one time not all that long ago, Cicely's job had been all-important to her. She had known that she was damn good at it. As an executive in the corporate finance department of the huge media firm Mainstay, she was well-known all across Miami for her business acumen and savvy. She'd had a style and flair for business that made money appear with such ease folks had hardly realized that money was moving.
Now, however, her new passive-aggressive, anal-retentive division leader, Leonard Stone, barely gave her breathing room, and the workplace had become a hostile environment.
Her new division leader had graduated from FAMU, as she had, and she'd tried on numerous occasions to build a better working relationship with the insufferable man. But he wouldn't budge, and she was starting to think that she might need to start pounding the pavement, looking for another position.
She'd had hopes of moving up the corporate ladder. She'd hoped to try her hand at corporate development so that she could work in mergers and acquisitions and really make deals, not just get the money to make the deals happen. She'd thought she was a shoo-in to get the division leader position in the corporate development department when it opened up. But she had no such luck.
The promotion should have been hers. It would have gotten her away from the division leader from hell and in charge of her own department. Instead, she'd just found out, it was going to some interloper who was more than likely a friend of Leonard "The Evil One"as she had grown fond of calling himStone.
Home sweet home was usually her space of refuge, a place to wind down and relax. But now she had come home after a particularly hard day at work to find her nice, quiet, nerdy, handpicked-because-he-would-never-hurt-her boyfriend Isaac in the bed with another woman.
Can a sista catch a break? Seriously?
He was supposed to be waiting for her so that they could celebrate the promotion she'd thought was hers when she came back from celebrating with her girls. Thirty-year-old Cicely had just given the cheater a key to her place after a year and a half of being a couple. It seemed like the logical next step, since her biological clock was ticking loudly. It was starting to sound like a hurricane warning tone on full blast. And he had seemed like the perfect candidate for a future husband. Nice. Safe. Sweet. A little bookish
okay, maybe totally nerdish but sweet definitely sweet.
And he wasn't supposed to hurt her like this!
She took a deep breath as she reached the door. His cheating just proved her original beliefs, the ones she'd had almost all her life. No man is safe when it comes to matters of the heart.
The only person who can protect your heart is you.
It's better not to fall in love.
She'd decided a long time ago that she would never get caught slipping and falling in love. But she did have deep feelings for Isaac, the kind of camaraderie they could have built a nice, strong, sturdy lifetime on.
She was certain that if she was really in love with Isaac, the lying, cheating, humping-another-woman-in-her-bed jerk, she wouldn't be able to open the door and calmly do what needed to be done.
That's why love was a problem. If she loved him she might have thought twice about kicking his faithless behind to the curb!
She opened the door and saw exactly what she thought she would see. Isaac was screwing some floozy.
She slammed the door behind her and cleared her throat.
The startled lovebirds broke apart, each grabbing for the cover.
Cicely frowned because she had purchased those 500-count ecru Egyptian cotton sheets just a few weeks ago and now she would have to burn them or at least throw them in the trash. Because there was no way in hell she would ever sleep on them again. She glanced around at her recently remodeledso it wouldn't look so girlish and make the cheating boyfriend she had just given a key to uncomfortablebedroom. Everything from the chocolate duvet to the ecru sheets would have to go.
"Sorry to interrupt. But since this is my bedroom in my condo and all I'd appreciate it if you both get your nasty asses out. Now!" Cicely put one hand on her hip and pointed toward the door with the other.
Isaac grabbed his glasses off of the mahogany-and-nickel nightstand and the sheet dropped. The woman pulled more of the sheet over herself, and Cicely wondered when they were going to get their nasty behinds off of her platform bed.
Yuck. Just. Yuck. Would she have to get a new bed, too?
She rolled her eyes as Isaac struggled with the woman for the sheet and tried to explain himself at the same time.
"Baby, I can explain . She means nothing to me . It was just a one-night thing . She's been throwing herself at me for months I'm just a man Baby, please." Isaac's words started to jumble together as he leapt from the bed and pulled on his trousers.
Once the other woman resigned herself to getting out of the bed, she at least had the good taste to get dressed quickly and quietly. Cicely did notice that the woman cut Isaac more than a few nasty looks while he was rambling out his apologies and explanations.
The woman was pretty if you liked tall, slim model types with perfect chocolate skin, big doe eyes and cute, pixie-style haircuts. Once clothed, she wore a rather nice purple pantsuit and killer matching shoes. Cicely had to give it to Isaac; at least he picked a really attractive woman to cheat with.
The woman walked over to the bedroom door where Cicely was firmly posted. With her arms folded across her chest, Cicely gave the woman the once-over and, with one scathing look, dared her to say anything out of line.
The woman took a deep breath and bit her lip.
Cicely arched an eyebrow.
"Look. I don't want any trouble. He misrepresented his situation to me. And for what it's worth, I apologize for my part in this. I'd just like to leave now. I didn't mean you any harm, Cicely." She turned to Isaac and spat out, "You're a jerk!"
Shocked that the woman knew her name, Cicely gave her a more thorough once-over. She realized she knew the woman. She was the lobby receptionist in the office building that both she and Isaac worked in.
The accounting firm that Isaac worked for was on the ninth floor of the building, and the company Cicely worked for was on the fifteenth floor. Cicely couldn't help rolling her eyes then.
If Isaac and she had initially hooked up by meeting in the elevator of that building, then why not Isaac and the lobby girl? With so many other companies and employees located in the high-rise office building, who really knew how many other women this geek-nerd-jerk of a man had been with or was still sleeping with?
As if he could tell where she was going, Isaac began pleading his case again. "This was the first time. I have never I would never, ever do something like this to you. You gotta believe me, baby. I love you I just started to get cold feet, that's all Things were starting to get real serious between us, with us exchanging keys and all.it's a big step."
Both Cicely and the lobby woman sucked their teeth at the same time.
Cicely stared at the woman again.
Her name was Pam. Cicely now remembered that she had always thought that Pam's smiles and greetings were a bit false whenever the woman would say hello as she signed into the building in the morning.
Now she knew why.
Cicely stepped aside and let Pam leave. Hearing the front door close, Cicely turned her attention back to the cheater.
Isaac's usual toasted-cinnamon complexion was looking almost ruby-red. He ran his hand across his close-cropped hair several times. He always did that when he was thinking. Now Cicely thought it might be a sign that he was trying to think of a lie.
"I love you, Cicely. You gotta know that " Isaac started. "I thought you were going out with your sister and girlfriends for happy hour?"
The mention of her canceled girls' night out celebration focused her attention on yet another reason why this had to be the worst night ever. After finding out that she had been passed over for the promotion, she'd called her two best friends and her sister to cancel their impromptu celebration. She'd felt like curling up on the sofa with some Chunky Monkey ice cream, her favorite torn sweatpants and FAMU T-shirt, a blanket and her boyfriend, feeling sorry for herself.
Is that really too much to ask for? Seriously?
Instead, she came home to her boyfriend in her bed with another woman.
Isaac reached out and touched her shoulder, trying to pull her closer to him.
"Uh-uh. No. Don't you ever touch me again! And I want you out of my condo. Give me your key and get the hell out. Take anything of yours here because you will never be coming back!" She turned and walked out of the master bedroom.
She couldn't stay in the condo tonight. Finding him in her bed with another woman had left her feeling almost violated. He had tarnished the sacred space of her home. She had to get out of there. At least for a little while
He followed her with his pants half-zipped. Ironic.
"Baby, please don't do this. Please don't go. Where are you going? Are you going to your sister's place?"
"It's none of your business where I'm going. And why are you still here? Give me my keys and get the hell out." She hissed out her words with all the venom she felt for him.
"I don't want to go. I don't want our relationship to end. Can't you give me another chance? Can't we work this out?" He gave her a pleading look and a nervous grin. "I made a mistake. But if you love me, we can get past this."
If she loved him.
She cared about him deeply. She had committed herself to building a life with him because he was supposed to be a safe bet. But she didn't love him in that way that always landed women in trouble unless they existed in some make-believe romance novel or chick flick where everything always turned out perfectly and everyone always lived happily ever after.
That's why she had thought she would be safe. She knew enough not to believe that fairy tales existed in the real world. That's why she'd picked Isaac. He wasn't the fairy-tale type, far from it. But he was her shot at a nice, staid, secure and somewhat happily-ever-after life.
Was this her fault for settling into a relationship she thought was safe?
She shook her head.
This wasn't her fault.
It was his sorry, no-good, trifling fault. She went to her closet and started packing a bag. She was normally a nonviolent, peaceful person. But she had to get out of there before she caught a case.
Isaac reached out and touched her shoulder. She turned and glared at him, giving her eyes just enough squint to show that she meant business.