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Authors: Ruthie Robinson

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #African American

Reye's Gold (26 page)

BOOK: Reye's Gold
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I’ve got to drop Shane off at home. I’ll see you later,”
she said. She picked up her bag of soccer gear and took it
and Shane to her truck before Sam could see her tears.

* * *

 

Reye walked Shane to his front door and waited while he rooted around in his backpack for his key. The door
opened before he found it, startling them both. Joe stood
there, his eyes landing on Shane, before moving over to Reye, who couldn’t read his expression.

“How was the game, Shane?” he asked, his eyes
returning to Shane and giving him a smile, ruffling his
hair as he entered the house.

“Great, Uncle Joe. I had two assists, didn’t I, Ms.
Reye? We won!”

“Yes, you did, you were great,” Reye said into Shane’s
beaming face.

“I’m sorry I missed it, I had work today, but Ms. Reye
gave me the schedule for the season and I’ll plan on
making the rest of them, okay, dude?”

“Okay, Uncle Joe,” Shane said as his arms locked
around Joe’s waist in a tight hug.

“Well, I’ll see you two after spring break. You guys
have a good week, okay,” Reye said.

“Okay. See ya, Ms. Reye.”

“Reye, wait.” Joe turned to Shane. “Let me talk to
your coach for a second. I’ll be right back, okay?”

“Sure,” Shane said, skipping away.

J
oe stepped out of the house and stood next to Reye.
He was taller than she was, about the same height as
Stephen. Reye joked that Stephen and Henri belonged to
a fraternity filled with handsome men, and Joe fit in
easily, too. He had shoulder-length blond hair, grey eyes,
and a slim and athletic build. At this moment, he was
also uncomfortable. It was written into his stance as his
hands were shoved into his pockets and he trained his
eyes to a spot above her head. She heard him take a deep
breath. “I wanted to thank you for all that you are doing
for Shane. He and I both appreciate it,” he said.

Surprised and pleased, she responded. “You’re wel
come. He’s a great kid. Have you heard from your sister?”

“No, not yet.” He pushed a big breath out again. “I’m
not finished. I also wanted to apologize to you for the
things I said to you at the party and about you after that
soccer game. I was just angry, have been that way for a
while. The things I said were really directed at Stephen
and were less about you. I don’t like your boyfriend.” He
moved his eyes from hers to look off toward the street.

“My life hasn’t been easy, getting through school,
going on to college. Navigating through the foster care
system left me really angry. I resent Stephen and those
like him that are given so much, receive so much,
without much effort, just lucky at birth. He even has
you,” he said, giving her a smile.

“Stephen’s had to work hard, too, you know. He
couldn’t help who his parents are.”

“You know what I mean,” he countered, giving her
another smile, smaller this time, a smile not perfect, but
d
isarming nevertheless. “Defending him, huh, must be
love, I can tell.” He paused, looking at her intently now,
his voice quiet and serious. “I’m only telling you this
because of what you’ve done for Shane, and, indirectly, for me. I’m starting to like you.”

“Tell me what?” she asked, fearing what he would say,
but unable to resist knowing, like passing by an accident
on the road and looking for something gruesome.

“He won’t be there for you in the end. You do know
that, don’t you?”

“I’d better get going,” Reye said.

“I don’t mean to make you angry, and this isn’t an
attack on him. He’s just not tough enough for you. He
won’t be strong enough in the end to stand up to the
pressure from his parents. That’s all.”

“Thanks for the apology, but I really do need to get
going.” She walked down the steps to her car, getting
away from something she’d begun to suspect.

“Yeah, see ya.” His eyes followed her until she was
gone.

* * *

 

Spring break in Cancun, really? What had he been
thinking? He’d so outgrown the need to drink everything put before him and screw everything in sight a long time
ago, since Reye, anyway. He’d gone to a party the first
night they were here, but left after about thirty minutes,
tiring quickly of the loud, blaring music and girls asking
him to dance. He went back to the hotel. Henri and
s
ome of his other frat brothers were here having the time
of their lives, women everywhere. But he wasn’t inter
ested, choosing instead to spend his days on the beach,
his nights in his hotel room. He went snorkeling at XelHa, a little cove about an hour and half away from the
hotel, and rotated his time between lying on the beach, swimming and snorkeling, getting in some much needed
sleep. It was beautiful here, blue, clear water, white sands . . . he should have brought Reye.

He felt bad about leaving her, about not attending
her first soccer game, about not meeting her family, but
he didn’t want to promise more than he could give.
Going to her game felt dishonest in some way, it would
have indicated a commitment that he wasn’t prepared to
make. So he’d become a different type of jerk to her
instead.

Chapter 13

Two weeks later, between classes and running late, a
harried and tired Stephen rushed through the back door
of his fraternity’s house. He’d promised to leave a book
for a frat brother at the house. The semester was quickly
closing in on him, leaving him knee-deep in books with
little time to spare. He entered the house, distracted,
head down, moving fast, and ran smack into a body.
“Sorry dude, my bad.” he said, not aware of who he’d run into. Stephen stopped and looked up into a face made of
stone. The face belonged to Joe. Standing next to Joe was
an alarmed and wary Henri. He didn’t get why Henri
hung out with Joe, but as long as Joe stayed out of his
way, he ignored their friendship. “Henri,” he said as
acknowledgment, stepping aside to allow room for Joe to pass. He would rather chew off his leg than hold a con
versation with Joe. He looked away, hoping Joe would
take the hint and leave. He didn’t, but rather waited until
Stephen’s attention returned to him.

“What?” Stephen asked, not bothering to hide his dislike.

“Dude,” Joe said, distaste marring his face, too. So
they both didn’t like each other. “You know if you’re not
serious about Reye, you should tell her.”

“What the fuck did you just say to me?” Stephen
asked.


I said, if you’re not serious about Reye, you should
tell her. She doesn’t deserve bullshit, she loves you, and
you and I both know you’re too much of a pussy to stand
up to your parents for her.”

“What the hell do you know about me and Reye?”

“We talk,” Joe said calmly.

“You talk. What the hell does that mean? Are you
chasing after my woman now, Joe?”

Joe continued to hold his gaze as Stephen moved in
closer. “I know you don’t have the guts to go against
Mommy and Daddy for her. You and your easy life,
always the smooth and successful one, but you are such a
fake!”

“So this is about you being jealous of me?” Stephen
angrily jabbed Joe in the chest as he posed the question.

“Are you kidding me? Jealous? Why would I be? You
don’t even appreciate what you have. Maybe Reye
would
be better off with me,” Joe said and sneered.

Stephen stepped closer to him. “You need to back the
fuck up, dude!”

“And if I don’t?” Joe asked, moving forward. Henri
squeezed in between them, grabbing Joe by the arm.

“That’s enough! Let’s go!” he said, hauling Joe out of the room and out through the back door.

“What are you doing?” Henri asked.

“You know I’m right, don’t you?”

“Leave it alone,” Henri said.

Stephen stood inside, steaming, processing the fact
that Joe not only knew Reye, but had been talking to her.
Joe had defended her, to him, of all people, and he’d
s
tood there clueless. Reye hadn’t mentioned a word to
him. How the hell had that happened? He was angry and
hurt. Was Reye interested in Joe? He’d never considered
her with anyone but him.

School was forgotten; he needed to talk to Reye, and he
needed to do so now. Dropping the books off as promised,
he drove immediately over to her house, where he pulled up
behind her truck and parked. She opened the door at his
banging, surprised to see him angry. She moved to let him in, but he didn’t move, just stood at the entrance.

“How the hell do you know Joe? And I don’t mean
from the frat party. You’ve talked to him since then,
haven’t you?”

“Are you coming in? I’m not going to have this con
versation standing here. Either you come in and talk to me like an adult or you can leave.”

“Answer the question Reye,” he said as he entered her
house, reducing the volume of his voice, but not by much.

She closed the door and turned to him. “Remember Shane from my class? Well, he is Joe’s nephew, his sister’s
kid. I’ve been taking him home from the center and soccer practice.” She looked at him, puzzled by this
anger. “I didn’t tell you because I remembered how you
reacted before regarding Joe. I wanted to avoid all that.
Anyway, Shane’s mother left him, and Joe’s been taking care of him since then. I took him home one day after
soccer practice, because no one had shown up to pick
him up. That’s when I found out about Shane’s mother
and relationship to Joe. It’s great what he’s doing for Shane, and I wanted to help.”

Silence greeted her explanation.

“So we talk. It’s necessary, since I’m responsible for
Shane sometimes. I agreed to bring Shane home, and he’s
apologized to me for his behavior at the party and game. I
take it you ran into him again,” she said. “What happened?”

“Nothing that I care to share.”

“What do you mean ‘care to share’? Talk to me,
Stephen.”

“No. You didn’t tell me about Joe, I don’t have to talk
to you about him, either.”

Men could be such kids sometime, she thought.

“You’ve got some nerve,” she said, angry now at being
questioned by him in this way, as if he had the right! They
were casual the last time she’d checked. She marched over
to stand in front of him, once again thankful for the sim
ilarities in their heights. She didn’t have to look up to him;
she looked him directly in his eyes.

“So I didn’t tell you about Joe, but you keep secrets from me, too, Stephen. Was Beth in Cancun with you?”
she asked, inwardly flinching at the initial reaction of
recognition and shock that was visible on his face. It was
there just for a second.

“Joe told me a lot of things, none of which I believed.
He told me that you were seeing someone besides me,
someone named Beth. He also told me that you wouldn’t
stay with me, that you would never pit yourself against your family for me. That Beth was your family’s choice.
Is that true?”

“Beth is an old friend from high school, nothing
more. We grew up together in Dallas. Her family and
mine are good friends.”

“Did you see her when you went home?”

“Yes, at a couple of parties, but I also saw other
friends from high school. She wasn’t in Cancun with me.
I went alone, spent the time there alone. There is nothing
to this, Reye.”

BOOK: Reye's Gold
11.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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