Read His Reason, Her Choice Online
Authors: Teona Bell
Tags: #interracial romance, #contemporary romance, #bwwm romance, #multicultural romance
His Reason, Her Choice
Copyright © December 2014, Teona Bell
Cover art by J. E. Visions © December 2014
This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
oy opened her eyes at the grunt in her ear and the blast of bad breath in her face. She tried to hold hers and roll away, but Isaac’s heavy arm lay across her breasts. While she inched to the edge of the bed, his fingers spasmed, and he pinched her nipple. A gag rose in her throat. She tried to disguise it as she usually did by coughing, but that only served to wake him up.
“Aw, baby, where you going?” Isaac complained as she stood with her back to him.
She made a small noise, one aimed to make him think mornings just weren’t her thing. In reality, bile filled her throat. She needed to get to the toilet fast.
“A few more minutes, Joy,” Isaac begged. “You know I’m hard when I wake up. Come take care of it.”
The door slammed before she could catch it, but she managed to get the water turned on at the sink and the shower going full blast. After that, she sank to her knees and threw up. How in the hell would she make it through another day of this? Another night? The thought of Denita and Nicolette needing a few more years before they could stay home by themselves buried Joy’s head in the toilet a second time.
Her stomach churned, her ribs hurt, and her throat burned. There was nothing left because she hadn’t eaten much the night before. Isaac had wolfed down most of what she had cooked, but she had made sure the girls ate first, and Nicolette had seconds.
Joy flushed the toilet. When she stood up and washed her hands, she turned the water off, prepared to brush her teeth. A ding caught her attention, and she glanced at her cell phone on the back of the sink. She never failed to grab that too when she went into the bathroom.
The text read,
“Rise and shine, beautiful.”
Joy let a small smile touch her lips and shook her head.
“You’re better than an alarm clock. I don’t even set it anymore.”
“I thought it was Isaac’s breath that did the trick.”
“Haha. You’re not funny.”
She had told Russ about the disgusting combo of stale cigarettes and whiskey breath she woke to every day but not about how her boyfriend grossed her out. Russ was a friend from school that she had spent four years fighting through all levels of math with because he was a genius with numbers. Russ had kept in touch over the years even though she had left Georgia and moved to New York.
Joy refused to share her shame with anyone. As far as Russ and her mother knew, she loved Isaac, and they were in it for the long haul. No one, including Isaac, knew she stayed with him because he paid for daycare for her girls. He wasn’t even their dad. That was one thing her mother never let her forget. Denita and Nicolette had two different dads, and the man she was with now wasn’t one of them.
“Be back in a minute. Gotta brush my teeth and wash off the funk.”
“So you’re naked?”
“Don’t be dirty,”
she typed back.
“If Isaac saw this...”
“Sorry. I respect the guy.”
Joy smirked. She wasn’t stupid. Russ had been so obvious about his crush from eleventh grade, but she had never once considered dating a white guy. Okay, she had thought about it, but no. There were enough issues in her life. Her babies came first, period. She did what she had to and survived for them. Nothing else mattered.
She stepped into the shower and began to wash off. A sound caught her attention, and she stuck her head out of the shower to listen. The doorknob jiggled. Isaac shouted through the door.
“Why do you always lock the door, baby? Come on. I’ve seen what you’ve got, and I have to piss.”
She ducked back into the shower, ignoring him.
Another day. Just one more day.
The lie didn’t work. All she heard was years, and it seemed like a death knell. No way was he coming into the bathroom with her. She’d made the mistake once of leaving the door unlocked. His dumb behind thought she wanted to get frisky in the shower. Sure, if he didn’t mind puke mixed with water on his chest.
Joy ducked her head. Water cascaded over her shoulders, and she sighed. Isaac wasn’t a bad guy, and he deserved a girlfriend who really wanted him. She knew she was being selfish. Hell, she lectured herself on a daily basis about it. Then he gave her a check for the center where she dropped off the girls. There was just no way in the world she could do it alone.
Banging started on the door, and slapped a hand against the back of the shower. Solitude over. With her hair dripping after she’d meant to keep it from getting wet, she turned off the water and stepped out of the shower. She didn’t unlock the door until she had toweled dry and had slipped into clean panties and a bra, which she had placed in the bathroom the night before. Isaac jerked it open and ran past to the toilet.
“Why didn’t you use the girls’ bathroom?”
“Have you seen their bathroom? I think there’s stuff alive that shouldn’t be in there.”
“You’re not serious.” She frowned at him. “They’re girls. Sure they get their toys everywhere and don’t like picking up after themselves, but they’ll grow out of it.”
“You don’t change from being a slob.”
“I know you’re not calling my daughters slobs!”
He let go of his junk, halfway through, and she cringed. “Hey, ease up, Joy. I was only joking. You know I love the girls, and they love me.”
She refused to disabuse him of the delusion. Isaac was decent to the girls, and in turn they were respectful of him, but that didn’t constitute love on either side. “It’s not like you’re that clean.”
He glanced down. “Oh, I’m going to clean that up.”
She rolled her eyes and left the bathroom. He would. Isaac missed like many men did, but he wasn’t nasty. There were a few habits she hated with a passion, but the fact was she was with him for all the wrong reasons.
“I’m not ready to do anything about it,” she whispered as she walked across the hall to her daughters’ room. “So suck it up, Joy. Life goes on.”
icolette’s chubby feet stuck out from beneath her covers, and Joy tickled them. Her baby girl wiggled and curled both knees toward her chest. “Oh no you don’t, little miss.” Joy grabbed the covers, but Nicolette held on with a death grip.
“No, Mommy, I’m sleepy.”
Joy’s heart stirred. She kissed the rounded cheek. “I told you to turn off the movie and go to sleep. Now you’re paying for it. Wake up.”
“Don’t wanna,” came the muffled reply beneath the covers.
Nicolette groaned, but her upper body popped into view. She scrubbed fists against her eyes and sat up yawning. Joy straightened and stood on tiptoe to see into the top bunk. Denita, her six-year-old, was wrapped so tight in the covers, they might as well be her night clothes. Even still, they added little bulk to her long, slender frame.
Rather than wake her right away, Joy spent time staring into Denita’s peaceful face. From the moment Denita woke until the time she went to bed, she never shut up. Joy got so many calls from school, it wasn’t funny, and she wondered how Denita could learn anything with her lips always flapping. That didn’t change the fact that her older daughter was smart as a whip.
Joy touched the tip of her nose. “Denny,” she whispered, “time to get up.”
Denita’s eyes opened, and she frowned. “Mommy, don’t call me Denny. It’s gross.”
“It’s not my name.”
“Watch your mouth.”
Denita sighed dramatically. “Yes, ma’am.” She rolled to the edge of the bed. “Is Nico out of the bathroom? She’s slow. Can’t you wake me up after she’s already finished, Mommy? Or wake me up first?”
“You don’t like Denny, and I don’t like Nico,” Nicolette complained. “I’m not a boy, and Carlos said Nico is a boy’s name.”
“Carlos is stupid,” Denita said, and she jumped nimbly to the floor, her nightgown sliding off her shoulder. Joy wondered for a moment when she would stop having trouble with everything being too big and too short on Denita, and too tight and too long on Nicolette.
“Stop, arguing, both of you,” she said and moved to the dresser to open a drawer. “Where are your shirts, Nicolette? I don’t see them in here.”
“You didn’t wash them, Mommy.”
“What?” Panic set in. She rushed to the closet. “I told you to bring them into the kitchen.”
“I forgot. Then you forgot. Are we having pancakes today?”
Joy ran a hand over her face. “Are you serious? Nicolette, you should have reminded me. Damn it! You can’t wear your shirts more than once.”
“That’s because she’s so messy,” Denita said unhelpfully. “Mommy never makes pancakes on school days, Nico. You know that.”
“Don’t call me Nico!”
Joy searched the dresser anyway, hoping she had overlooked a shirt. She knew she didn’t. “Maybe I can do a fast wash and dry, or a quick rinse in the sink and then dry.”
She moved to the laundry basket. Denita passed by, eying her. “Mommy, are you going to work like that?”
“I don’t have time for you,” Joy snapped. “You know I’m not going to work in my underwear. Get in the bathroom.”
“Not that.” She pointed at Joy’s head. That’s when Joy recalled getting her hair wet in the shower. She reached up to find a half air-dried, nappy mess. Of course, just because she was trying to go longer between getting a touch-up and had fifteen miles of new growth, this had to happen.
“Ugh, why today? Get in the bathroom, Denita.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Her daughter darted out of the room, probably feeling good about herself since her work had been done, throwing Joy’s morning out of whack.
Joy dumped all the dirty clothes on the floor, grumbling. Short, plump arms came around her neck from behind, and she sagged under the weight of her five-year-old leaning on her.
“Mommy, are you mad at me?”
“But you said a bad word, and you were talking to me.”
Shame washed over Joy. She thrust the clothes away and reached around to pull Nicolette onto her lap. She kissed each of her cheeks and cuddled her tight. “I’m sorry, baby. That was wrong of me. I was definitely not mad at you. How can I be when you’re so cute?”
Nicolette grinned from ear to ear, giving Joy a good view of her slightly crooked front tooth. Being so loose, it would probably come out soon. Joy had already overheard Denita telling her sister to put it under her pillow to get “cold hard cash.” Where did she even get that term? Probably from listening to Isaac.
“I forgive you,” Nicolette informed her.
“Thank you. Now get up so we can get out of here on time. I can’t be late again this week.”
Denita strode in, the front of her nightgown soaked. “We’re late every day.”
Joy narrowed her eyes at her. “Did you wash off or just splash water on your nightgown?”
“I washed off!”
“Let me smell your breath.”
Denita looked highly insulted, but she left the room again. Joy found one of Nicolette’s shirts, and just as she expected, it was stained with something red in several places, probably ketchup. Denita was right. They were going to be late again.
s he there?” Russ asked. He always asked that question whenever he called her.
“Why do you act like we’re up to something?” She rose to go out to the living room to check on the girls. They sat before the television watching a show she couldn’t understand anyone liking, but she had suffered through a few episodes and deemed it for them.
“Because I don’t want to get you in trouble.”
Joy returned to the bedroom and put him on speaker while she rubbed her feet. They hurt so bad. She hated her job, but it halfway covered her bills, so she stuck with it. If she had done like Russ had done and gone straight to college instead of getting pregnant, maybe things would be different.
“Isaac knows we’re friends, and he doesn’t have a problem with me talking to you.” Nothing eased the ache, so she took a few pain pills. Maybe after she had cooked dinner, she would soak her feet in warm water. “As long as you don’t ask me what I’m wearing, we should be fine.”
He chuckled. She kind of liked Russ’s laugh because it was deep and sexy. His personality was like the boy next door, and he was cute too. Despite that, she didn’t spend her time fantasizing about the man.