tagInterracial LoveYour Love Ch. 04

Your Love Ch. 04

bycnhemingway©

Here ya go people. 4th installment. This was done without an editor so shred away.

I know I said it last time but just a reminder; I'm working 2 jobs and I'm also in school. So these may not come as quickly as we'd all like but I'm doing the best I can.

ENJOY!

*****

"Holy f-ing shit." Carmen said for twenty-eighth time.

Christina sighed loudly while she waited for her best friend to process what she'd just told her.

They were laying on the floor of Christina's two-bedroom apartment. It was small but quaint. Carmen had good taste so she made it work.

"Christina, what the hell?" Carmen said accusingly.

"Hey," Christina lifted herself up on her elbows to face her friend. "No judging! I know I'm in bad spot but I don't need that from you of all people!"

"I know, I know I'm sorry." Carmen lifted herself to sit Indian-style, "This is just a whole lot to process girl. I mean you know I have never been crazy about Jackson but this is heavy."

It was true, Carmen had always been polite to Jackson and had always thought he was a nice guy but standing next to Christina, he was just plain dull. Carmen knew Christina in and out, they had been best friends for most of their lives, it killed her to see her give up the life she wanted for a guys whos idea of excitement was to wear mismatching socks.

Christina spoke up, "I don't know what to do."

"Do you like him?" Carmen asked.

Christina thought a moment, of course she liked him. She wouldn't be feeling this conflicted about someone she didn't like, but the truth was they had seen each other all of twice.

"I barely know him." Christina responded, trying to dodge the question.

"Oh stop it!" Carmen laughed at her. Carmen was insulted. That was two times today her best friend thought she could pull the wool over her eyes. "You do like him, and you will call him.'

Christina let out a stubborn huff. She didn't like being told how she felt, but it was the truth.

"In fact," Carmen said slyly, "You're going to call him right now!"

With that Carmen snatched the Stephen's business card that had been laying on the floor, ran to the bedroom, and snatched Christina's phone off the charger.

"No!" Christina yelled running up behind her. "I'm not ready. I don't even know what I'm supposed to say."

"Tell him you've been thinking about him!" Carmen said laughing like a teenager. "Tell him you want to have his little mocha latte babies!"

"God, you are so immature!" Christina said snatching the phone away from her, "You are supposed to be helping me see sense, not egging me on."

"Oh please," Carmen said suddenly serious, "You and I both know that marrying Jackson would be a mistake. I'm not saying this Stephen guy is your prince charming either but he's gotta be closer to it than your dear boring fiancé. Jackson doesn't have a single solitary spark of thrill in his body. But this Stephen guy practically swept you out of the room tonight, in front of your fiancé I might add, and gave you, and I quote "the best kiss of my life"".

Christina opened her mouth to argue but Carmen silenced her.

"Christina you are the bravest most outspoken person I know, but this last year you have been nothing but a huge coward." Carmen knew she should have felt badly about what she was saying but she was nothing if not honest. "You have been agreeing to everything everyone throws at you, you've let Jackson's family walk all over you with these wedding plans, and worst of all, you've played devil's advocate with your Mom when you and I both know you still haven't forgiven her!"

Christina sat on the bed and remained silent. She hated to hear it all but she knew it was true.

"Christina, if this guy is your one ticket from under your parent's thumb then you've got to take it. You deserve it. Even if only to learn how to stand up for yourself."

Carmen knew she was pushing her but she had one more point to make, "No matter what happens with all of this inevitably someone will get hurt, but better now then 20 years down the road when you realize this was the moment to walk away."

Silence filled the room.

Carmen watched Christina as she stared down at the floor. It wasn't until Christina sniffled that Carmen noticed she was crying.

"Chris, I didn't mean to make you cry." Carmen sat on the bed next to Christina and wrapped her arm around her shoulder's. "I just don't want to see you turn into your Mom. You said yourself that was your biggest fear."

It was. It was a fear that kept her up at night. Christina closed her eyes and remembered that awful day.

***8 YEARS AGO***

Christina walked into her family's huge 9-bedroom house after getting home from school.

"I'm home!" Christina yelled.

No answer. That was odd, her mother was supposed to be home. Her car was in the driveway.

Guess she went to the dinner with Daddy after all Christina thought to herself.

Christina walked into the kitchen and tossed her book bag on the counter.

Two half drunken glasses of wine sat on the counter but Christina didn't think anything of it. She figured her older sister had brought a friend over or something, Arlene was always sneaking into their parent's alcohol cabinet. If she kept being so nonchalant about it she was going to get caught one of these days.

Christina grabbed the glasses and poured the leftover wine into the sink before carefully placing them in the dishwasher.

"God I'm hungry." She said to herself.

Opening the fridge Christina looked over her choices.

Leftover takeout, sandwich, pizza. Yes, pizza. Christina had just reached into the fridge when her actions were abruptly interrupted.

*CRASH*

Christina jumped and looked towards the ceiling. What in the world?

Someone's here.

Christina imagined a window being broken so someone could make their way inside. Suddenly a wave of fear washed over her at the thought of having to fight off a burglar. She grabbed her cell phone out of her bag, quickly punched in 911 but didn't call, and then slowly walked to the hall closet to retrieve a weapon. Scanning the area quickly she saw her brother's baseball bat leaning against the back wall and snatched it up.

She walked over to the bottom of stairs and stood for a moment, trying to listen for another noise. Nothing.

Christina slowly stepped onto the first step trying not to let it creak.

Second step.

Third step.

Fourth step. *creeeeeaaaaaaaak*

She stilled. Dear God don't let me die today.

At that moment Christina heard another sound.

"Mmmmmm."

Was that her mother? Oh God did this guy have her tied up? Who knows what he'd done to her! Without thinking Christina ran the rest of the way not caring if she made any noises, only wanting to get to her mom.

Christina got to the top of the stairs and ran to her parent's bedroom door. Without thinking she grabbed the knob and swung the door open.

Christina went in yelling and swinging her bat, "Mom are you...". Christina gasped.

There was no burglar.

There was no break in.

A blue vase lay on the floor, smashed to pieces. It had been knocked off the bedside table it had once occupied. In its place was her mother's foot.

Her naked 47-year-old mother lay on the bed beneath their neighbor's equally naked 22-year-old son who'd been home from college only three weeks.

Both looked up at her in horror.

"Christina," Marion whispered harshly, "Christina please."

Christina stood frozen. She couldn't comprehend the scene in front of her.

The neighbor's son stood slowly, clearly unsure of what to do next. He grabbed a pillow and did his best to cover his nudity.

"Christina," he finally spoke, "I'm David, I came over to introduce myself to you and your mother was here..." He trailed off knowing how stupid he must have sounded.

Marion looked at her daughter with pleading eyes, begging her to say something.

Christina's mind began to catch up to the situation and finally she spoke in a voice barely above a whisper, "I hate you."

That was all she said before dropping the bat at her feet and turning to sprint out the door. Running downstairs into the kitchen she grabbed her book bag and her car keys and ran to her car.

The last thing she heard was Marion screaming her name from the top of the stairs.

Christina brought her thoughts back to the present.

It was true.

She hadn't forgiven her mother. The anger she felt towards her radiated through her veins every time Marion opened her mouth to speak.

How could she?

How could she do what she did?

Tear up their family. Break her Father's heart.

Her father. That made her angrier than anything. He took her back. Sure he kicked her out at first and didn't speak to her for months but after all the groveling her mother did he finally agreed to work on their marriage and let her move back in. It took Christina years to acknowledge Marion's presence and even longer to look her in the eye. Ultimately she decided to make an effort for her father's sake, she saw how much her lack of a relationship with her mom hurt him.

But as much as Christina tried she just couldn't bring herself to fully forgive her.

Marion had even tried on many an occasion to explain her actions to her daughter.

"I was young when I married your father." She would always say. "I didn't even know what love was, I never gave myself the chance to see what else was out there."

It wasn't until this moment that she actually felt for her mom's situation.

Hell, the way Christina saw it she may have been heading down the same road. She was marrying the first man she ever looked at in a loving manner and now it was all falling on her like a harsh responsibility.

Carmen was right, she owed to herself.

Stephen may very well not be the man she'll end up with but he damn well sure was going to be the man to help break her out of this shell.

What am I thinking? Christina was coming to her own realization.

"Carmen." Christina spoke timidly and Carmen looked over at her. "I don't think I'm marrying Jackson."

"Oh?" Carmen raised her eyebrows in pleasant curiosity. She liked what she had just heard.

"I care about him, but I don't love him." She said more to herself than to her friend.

Christina stood up, suddenly anxious and all the things she'd have to do in order to make amends for what she was about to do. Cancel the honeymoon, the flowers, write apology notes, see if I can get the deposit back on the church, tell my parents. Yea, she'd definitely have to prioritize.

It was all rushing into her so quickly.

"I'm supposed to get married in a week." She began to pace the bedroom floor as Carmen watched her. Carmen smiled as she saw the gears turning in Christina's head.

Carmen knew her best friend so well.

She was about to do it. She watched Christina pace the floor while she muttered to herself.

Any second now the words would leave her mouth and she'd try to run.

"I need a minute" and off she'd go.

But not this time.

Carmen was prepared.

She totally understood getting stressed out but this time Christina wouldn't be able to just say the magic words and then run away. She'd have to deal with the problem head on.

Carmen stood up just in time to see Christina turn for the door and exclaim the words, "I need..!"

Before she could finish her sentence Carmen threw herself in front of Christina's pathway.

"You need to breathe!" Carmen said sharply as she blocked the exit.

The two women stood at the bedroom door gazing at each other. Christina had almost worked herself into a full on panic attack.

Christina knew she was right; she didn't have the luxury of running away this time.

Carmen continued, "There's not a damn thing you need to do that is going to get done tonight Chris. You and I both might as well get some rest and I will personally help you start world war three after breakfast tomorrow. I'll even make shrimp and grits with bloody mary's, because it is going to be THAT kind of day."

Chirstina considered her words and smiled.

She nodded at Carmen before backing away from the door.

"Now," Carmen said collecting herself, "I have an unopened bottle of Stella Rosa. We can call that dinner before heading to bed. Deal?"

Christina smiled and breathed a sigh of relief at the knowledge she wouldn't be going to battle alone.

She nodded at Carmen's suggestion of wine for dinner.

THIS is why she was her best friend.

He checked his phone again.

Nothing.

Was he crushing on a girl that wanted nothing to do with him?

No! She felt the same thing I did last night.

Stephen sighed audibly and threw himself on his leather couch and berated himself for behaving so clingy but he couldn't help himself, he missed her.

He was sitting alone at his apartment waiting for Catherine to come over. He looked down at his watch.

6:30. She was late but that wasn't at all unusual, she was only on time for anything when it benefitted her.

Tonight was the night. He'd end this ridiculous charade once are for all, for both their sakes.

"Ugh, I need a beer." Stephen muttered as he lifted himself off the couch.

Stephen wandered into the kitchen and thought to himself.

In just a couple of hours I'll be a free man.

Stephen almost smiled at the thought but he still felt bad about the inevitable hurt Catherine and her parents would feel.

He reached for the refrigerator door and swung it open.

Dammit, outta beer. Guess I'll have to do this completely sober.

Right at that thought Stephen heard his front door lock clicking.

Here we go.

The door opened and Catherine stepped in wearing a cotton pink maxi dress, pink and gold flip-flops, and smiling her pearly white smile.

This girl dressed for summer year round.

"Hey pumpkin!" She shrieked.

Stephen responded timidly, "Hey."

"So what was so important that I had to postpone my mani-pedi?" Catherine asked accusingly.

"We need to talk."

Catherine perked up a bit with a curious look on her face.

"What about?"

"Let's sit first. Do you want anything to drink?"

"No, I'm fine."

Stephen nodded before walking over to the couch and sitting down.

Catherine followed slowly and sat on his loveseat facing Stephen.

"Listen Cat," Stephen started, "Thing have been really crazy lately with all the wedding planning and I think you and both know we haven't really had an opportunity to talk."

Stephen paused a moment seeing if he could catch her reaction but she had on her poker face.

He continued, "Well lately I've been feeling like we may not be making the right decision. I care about you Catherine and I do love you, but I don't think we should get married. I honestly believe it would be a mistake."

Stephen looked at her more intently waiting for her to say something.

What she did next he wasn't expecting at all.

Fucking finally! Catherine thought to herself excitedly.

She closed her eyes and let out a breath of relief she felt she had been holding for over a year.

When she opened her eyes Stephen was looking at her with confusion. It wasn't until then that she realized she was smiling.

"Umm." She heard him say.

"Stephen," She finally spoke up. "It's 100% ok."

"It is?"

"I wanted to tell you for a while now but I couldn't. My parents wouldn't let me."

"Your parents? Wait what?"

"I love you Stephen but more like a really good friend which is what you have always been to me, but definitely not like a husband."

Catherine looked at Stephen and could tell he was relieved at her response.

"Well that's great Catherine, I feel the exact same way. But what do your parents have to do with this?"

Catherine sighed. She'd have to tell him now.

"Daddy's company isn't doing well at all; he had hoped that once we'd gotten married that Taylor Architectures would go from just making small donations to Basin & Co. Buildings and do a full merger."

Stephen's look of confusion intensified.

Donations?

"Catherine, my company has never made a donation to your dad's business."

There was silence.

Catherine face took on the same look of perplexity that plagued Stephens.

The two looked at each other as their conflicting information hung in the air.

"You did. I've seen the statements myself. I never brought it up because Daddy said yall's business affairs didn't concern me."

"How long?" Stephen asked in a clipped tone clearly already piecing the puzzle together himself.

Catherine was nervous now, she hoped the situation wasn't what it was beginning to look like.

"The statement I saw was dated about a month before we got engaged."

Stephen swiftly stood up.

"We are going to the office, let's go."

She had seen Stephen mad before and Catherine knew it was best to keep quiet and do what he said.

Catherine said a quiet prayer to herself and followed him out the door.

Stephen swung the office building doors open and was immediately greeted by Deacon, his company assistant.

"Stephen!" Deacon said in surprise then turned to notice Catherine trailing behind his boss. "Catherine! I didn't know you'd be coming in. Shall I get you something to drink? An evian perhaps?"

Stephen had already walked ahead into his private office clearly on a mission.

Catherine smiled an apology at their rush through the foyer.

"Sorry Deacon, he just came in to grab a file." Catherine said hurriedly as her heels tapped against the black granite floor. "We won't be staying long!"

With that Catherine rushed to catch up to her ex-fiancé. When she opened the doors she saw Stephen peering at his computer screen.

He looked up for only a second and then returned his eyes to whatever he had been studying.

Catherine came around and placed on hand on the back of his leather chair and the other on the desk trying not to distract him but wanting to see what he was looking at.

Financial statements.

Catherine's eyes skimmed the pages as saw lists of incoming and outgoing funds.

She had no idea how'd they find what they were looking for.

"There it is." Stephen stated.

"What?"

"Look." Stephen pointed at the screen

She followed his finger to one of the outgoing payments.

Debit: BC supplies... $100,000

BC? Catherine thought. Basin & Co. no doubt.

Catherine was floored. How could he do this? Her own father?

"A hundred thousand dollars." Catherine muttered. "That's not a ton of money. Maybe he just needed to borrow it and he'd put it back."

Stephen looked over his shoulder at Catherine. She looked like she was grasping for one last straw of hope that would make her father innocent.

Stephen sighed.

He moved the mouse over to the search box and clicked. He typed in "BC supplies" and hit enter.

A long list appeared on the screen that disproved her theory.

When all was said and done Baker Basin had stolen over three and a half million dollars from Stephen's company over the last three years. He had set up a monthly withdrawal from one of Stephen's accounts. At this point there was only one question. He wouldn't be able to set it up by himself though. Baker would need someone who had access to the company's bank information.

So who the fuck was helping him?

Stephen and Catherine drove in silence through downtown.

Stephen had been so angry he forgot to consider that Catherine had just found out her father was a criminal.

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