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Authors: Yolonda Tonette Sanders

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BOOK: In Times of Trouble
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“What about the baby?”

“Who, Nia? That's my granddaughter.”

Lisa was sure her expression gave away her shock. “Chanelle has never told me much about Kyle, and now I understand why. I strongly disapprove of her dating anyone with children. My daughter has a lot going for her and I don't want her taking on adult responsibilities that she's not able to handle.”

“I understand your concern, but Kyle doesn't have any kids. Nia is Jameela's daughter.”

Lisa fought hard to keep her jaw from dropping to the floor. “You mean that little girl who came down the stairs?”

“Forgive me if I seem rude, but what does my daughter's child have to do with the party last weekend?”

Just then the front door opened. “Hey, what's u—” A young, slender, bi-racial boy came in dribbling a basketball. His sentence was left dangling once he looked at Lisa.

“Kyle, where have you been? You got out of school an hour ago and I told you to come straight home.”

Lisa eyed him up and down. His pants rested well below his hips and she could clearly see that he was wearing white boxer shorts. His cornrows peeked from underneath his doo-rag. What in the world did Chanelle see in him?

“My bad. . .I stopped over Stick's for a minute to shoot some hoops.”

Stacie sucked her teeth. “Do you know Lisa, Chanelle's mother?”

“Um. . .hi!” He avoided any real eye contact.

“Hello,” Lisa forced herself to say.

“Uh. . .Stacie, I forgot my bag at Stick's. I'll be back in a few.”

“Okay, but don't stay gone too long. We need your help around here.”

“Ahiight.” He scooted out the door just as fast as he'd come in.

“Do all of your kids call you by your first name?” Lisa asked in disbelief.

“Yeah, why
?

“Let me get to the point of why I'm here.”

The words “please do” seemed to be painted all over Stacie's expression.

“I'm sure your son is a very decent young man. . .It'll be best for him to stay away from Chanelle. She starts college in the fall and needs to focus more on preparing for school and less on boys.
She doesn't need to be entangled in any relationship right now.”

“Why don't you just come out and say what's really on your mind?”

“Truth is. . . .Chanelle already has a boyfriend. As a matter of fact, she's dating Justin Scott, the starting running back for Ohio State.” She couldn't blame that lie on Olivia's advice. She'd blurted it out all on her own. She'd pray and ask Jesus to forgive her in a minute. Right now the lie seemed a necessary evil.

“It's funny that you don't mind her dating this Justin dude, but she can't date Kyle. You know. . .I've been trying to be cool and all because you're Chanelle's mom, but I get what you're saying. You don't think Kyle is good enough for Chanelle, do you?”

“No, that's not what I'm saying at all!” That was an even bigger lie than the first one she had told! “It's just that Chanelle's behavior has gotten progressively worse recently, and her coming home drunk was the final straw.” Somehow the tables had turned and Lisa found herself on the defensive.

“Let's get one thing straight,” Stacie said with more swerve in her neck than Lisa had ever seen from a white girl. Finding herself even uneasier, she fiddled with her necklace. “My son did not make Chanelle get drunk.”

“I'm not saying he did. All I'm trying to say is that—”

“I heard you loud and clear. No need to explain yourself again. I'll tell Kyle that he needs to stay away from Chanelle. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of stuff to do yet, and I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd get up out of here.” Her eyes glared with fire and Lisa could tell that she'd practiced great restraint not to swear at her.

“Stacie, wait—”

“Good-bye!”

Without further hesitation, Lisa got up and walked out. Her
mission to permanently remove Kyle from Chanelle's life had been accomplished, but she felt horrible. W.W.O.D.—what would Olivia do right now? Lisa wondered if she should go back in and apologize. Liv would most likely tell Lisa to “shake it off” and keep moving. Despite the nudging guilt of having hurt Stacie's feelings, Lisa did exactly that. Besides, she didn't have time for drama. She had a guest coming for dinner.

CHAPTER 10
A Step Further

L
isa called and updated Liv immediately upon leaving Stacie's house, disclosing everything except that their children were now supposedly dating. Despite the twinge of guilt she had previously felt, by the time Lisa got home she was feeling much better. It was a little shy of five when she walked in and found a note from her mother on the dry-erase board:
Went to pay on my furniture. Chanelle's with me. We'll be back well before your minister friend gets here. Love, Mama.

Lisa quickly jumped in the shower before preparing dinner. She began getting more excited about this evening and now appreciated Eric's insistence. At thirty-eight, it was ludicrous that she had been sneaking around with him like they were engaged in some type of forbidden affair. It was about time things were out and in the open.

Her mother and daughter got home around six. Chanelle came in and kissed her on the cheek and then ran upstairs to finish her homework. About an hour later, the ringing doorbell announced Eric's arrival. It was as if Eric was peeking through the kitchen window and waited until the oven timer went off because he and the homemade lasagna were in sync; and the freshly made salad
was crisp and ready. Lisa hurried to greet him, yelling to her mother and daughter to come down.

“Mmm. . .something smells good. . .” he said, stepping into the house and gently kissing her cheek, stirring up a surprise tingling sensation within her.

“I brought something.” He handed her a plastic grocery bag. “Since you're providing dinner, I figured the least I could do was bring dessert.”

“Thank you. I was so focused on the meal that I didn't even think about anything sweet.” She opened the bag and saw a red velvet cake and a box of peanut brittle. “Um. . .thanks.”

“What's wrong?” He obviously noticed her hesitation.

“I can eat the cake, but FYI, I'm allergic to peanuts. If I eat the peanut brittle, I'll get a serious case of hives that'll send me into a tailspin.”

“Oh gosh, I'm so sorry!”

“There's nothing for you to be sorry about. You didn't know. Besides, I'm sure my mother and daughter will eat it.”

“Eat what?” Her mother strolled into the living room. Lisa explained the situation while she reached out to shake Eric's hand.

“Mama, this is my friend, Eric; Eric meet my mother, Hattie Davis.”

“Hi, Minister, nice to meet you.”

“Please. . .call me Eric. Nice to meet you as well.”

“Mama, is Chanelle on her way down?”

“When I poked my head in her room to make sure she'd heard you, she was on her cell phone. She should be down in a minute.”

Technically still on punishment, Chanelle was only supposed to use her cell phone for emergency calls, but Lisa had stopped giving her grief about it. Within seconds of her mother speaking, Chanelle descended into the living room.

“Hi, Chanelle.” Eric smiled and extended his hand. “I've seen you at church many times, but I don't think we've ever been formally introduced. I'm—”

“I know who you are,” she said rudely, smacking her lips and trudging into the kitchen.

Had Chanelle waited to see the fierce look her mother gave her, she probably would've dropped dead from its intensity. Even Lisa's mother seemed surprised by Chanelle's reaction. Lisa turned to Eric to apologize, but without her even saying a word, he said, “It's okay. Give her time to warm up to me.”

Unfortunately, Chanelle remained cold and distant during dinner. Lisa wondered if perhaps Chanelle wasn't as receptive of her relationship with Eric as she had thought. Even still, Lisa could not take the brash responses, unnecessary sighing, and eye rolling any longer. “Chanelle, may I have a word with you in the living room?”

“For what? Am I embarrassing you?”

“Yes, you are.”

“Good. Now you know how it feels. At least I'm not gonna go to his mama behind your back and tell lies about you. I just spoke to Kyle. Stacie told him everything you said.”

Lisa burned with anger. “First of all, I don't care what her children call her, but when you're in my presence, you will put a ‘miss' in front of her name.”

Chanelle rolled her eyes. “You're so old-fashioned.”

“Yeah, well, you ought to be thankful for that; otherwise you could end up pregnant and with a baby like Kyle's sister.”

“Just because Jameela has a baby doesn't mean that Miss Stacie is a bad mother. I don't know why you think you're so much better than her.”

Eric and Lisa's mother looked liked clueless spectators. Lisa
didn't want this banter to continue in front of Eric, but she couldn't stop Chanelle from pulling her in. “No one said that I was better than her. I just know that it's wise to watch the type of company you keep rather than hanging around with any and everyone. And for the record, young lady, I don't have to explain anything to you. In case you've forgotten,
I'm
the mother,
you're
the child. You're not supposed to be talking to Kyle anyhow. Stacie had no business telling her child the details of our adult conversation. I did what I needed to in order to protect you.”

“Protect me from what?” Chanelle screamed.

Lisa stood up from the table and glared at her daughter. “That's enough! We're not going to discuss this right now.”

“You act like Kyle is some type of criminal or something.”

“One day when you have kids of your own, you'll understand what it means to only want what's the best for them.”

“Yeah, well, I'll be real and give people chances. I won't write them off the list just because they don't live in the suburbs and make millions of dollars. You act all high and mighty and get on me because I lied to you, but you're no better. You obviously didn't have a problem lying today. I can't wait 'til I move out of this house! You're such a hypocrite!” Before Lisa could fully comprehend the fierceness of Chanelle's words, her daughter had spun out of the kitchen and up the stairs.

Lisa stormed after her, but then stood at the bottom of the stairs powerless. Both her mother and Eric were right behind her. Part of her wanted to go knock the snot out of Chanelle, but it wasn't necessarily for being disrespectful as much as it was for embarrassing her in front of her guest.

“I'll go talk to her,” Lisa's mother said calmly. “Eric, in case I don't make it back down, it was a pleasure meeting you.”

Feeling in despair, Lisa walked to the sofa and collapsed. “I'm
so sorry about this.” Tears colored her voice. “Having you come over tonight was a bad idea. I should've known that there would be too much tension in this house.”

“It's okay, Lisa.” He came and sat next to her and gently grabbed her hand. “I'm here if you want to talk about it.”

“There is so much drama going on, I wouldn't know where to start.”

“How about with what just happened?”

Lisa explained the whole situation that began last weekend with Chanelle coming home drunk, sneaking out again this past weekend, and the visit she made to Kyle's mother's this afternoon after work. Lisa wasn't sure if it was her level of comfort or level of discouragement that prompted her to confide in Eric, but she left no stone unturned in telling her story, disclosing even her own little white lie about saying Chanelle and Justin were dating.

“Lisa, I have to be honest with you. . .it sounds like you're so busy trying to handle this thing yourself that God hasn't been able to work because you've been in His way.”

Had such a comment come from her mother, Lisa would've instinctively taken offense. But, she could tell from the soft look in Eric's eyes that he didn't mean any harm. The way he caressed her hand confirmed his gentle nature. “Do you think I was wrong by going to his house?”

“Not necessarily. . . .I think some of the things you said were wrong—and manipulative. As a mother, you have a right to tell Chanelle that she can't see that boy. You even had a right to share your concerns with his mother, but you have an obligation to turn Chanelle over to God. I can guarantee that if you continuously tell her that you don't like him, it'll draw her closer to him. Stop telling her how much you dislike him. She clearly knows by now. Start praying about the relationship and trust that God
will either open her eyes or give you a different view of things.”

Eric was doing alright until he said that last part. “I can't see myself changing my mind about this boy,” Lisa snarled.

BOOK: In Times of Trouble
5.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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