(c) LadySade (aka T.S. Taylor) All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book/story or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author.
Something a little more lighthearted after my last story. :)
Hope you all enjoy. Feel free to leave a comment.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
"Mmm-mmm-mmm! Suzy done come out to play..." The 5'11" girl ducks her head as she approaches the group of whistling and hooting teenage boys. The 17 year old blushes when she feels their hungry eyes explore her exposed skin. Susan usually avoided wearing anything that showed too much leg; but it was 98 degrees and she was headed for her friend's barbeque. A pair of shorts and an oversized t-shirt made for an easy change of clothes.
Susan's colorful, plastic bangles clank together as she yanks her graphic tee down. Another wave of snickers from the boys encourages the young girl to hasten her steps. However, she is stopped when she feels the warm hand wrap around her wrist. "Whoa, whoa whoa, girl. Where you think you going off to so quickly?" Susan did not have to look up to know that the deep voice belonged to the heart throb of the basketball team, Xander. The girl shrinks back when his six foot frame invades her space. "You lookin' real nice today. Got your hair all braided and what not."
"Thanks, Xander," she mumbles, her eyes looking downward. She tilts her head away from him when his fingers graze her gold hoop earrings.
The 18 year old wets his bottom lip. He glances over his should when he hears his boys whispering. "So, uh... I know that I neglected to pay much attention to you during high school, but I'd like all of that to change. How about you and me meet up after you finish doing whatever it is you gotta do? You know," he takes a hold of her hand, "catch up. Get to know each other a little better."
When Susan finally looks up, she finds that the man is mere inches away from her face. He smiles when her big brown eyes meet his. Her heart skips a beat. "Geez Xander, that sounds good and all," she slips her perspiring hand from his dry one, "but I think that the relationship we have for now is alright." Both Susan and Xander's attention is drawn to the group of chuckling boys.
"Oooo, she told you, brah..."
"Tch. Don't mind them." Xander frowns at his friends before turning to face Susan. "Anyways... as I was say-- H-hey! Where you goin'?!" the teenager hollers, surprised to see that Susan had made her way across the street. He only looked away for a few seconds!
"Oh, sorry Xander," Susan calls out. She places her hands behind her and walks backwards, "I really have somewhere I've got to be. And I can't be late... I'm sure you understand!" She gives a quick wave before turning to jog towards her friend's house.
Xander smiles as he watches her braids trail behind her.
Summer summer summer time. Time to sit back and unwind. Time to sit back and unwind.
The smell of seasoned meat and the sound of Will Smith's smooth rhymes fill the air as Susan makes her way to the Jackson's residence. "Sorry I'm late, Dominique!" She hollers as she enters the back gate to her best friend's yard.
"Sue!" The short full figured teen hops out of the pool and makes a dash for her tall friend. She gives Susan a hug. "As long as you are here, that is all that matters!" Dominique steps back and pokes out her bottom lip. "Where's your bathing suit?"
"I'm wearing it."
Dominique raises an eyebrow as she looks Susan up and down. "You gonna jump in my pool with shorts and a RUN DMC t-shirt?"
"No... It's under this."
"Oh," Dominique turns around and heads back towards the water. "Well hurry up and get in. I don't want to be the only one swimming."
Susan looks around. "Where is everyone?"
"Ma is inside cooking, Dad is in the garage getting more meat and Jazz..." Dominique looks at her friend when she says her brother's name. A wide toothed grin spreads across her face when she sees Susan respond with reddening checks. Dominique clears her throat before continuing, "Well Jazz is somewhere around here. He's supposed to be manning the grill. Oh, Nene and Candy will be here as well."
The friend frowns. "Say what?"
Susan shields herself from the water that resulted from Dominique's cannon ball. "Don't be a baby, Suzy! Take off those clothes and get in! The water is fine."
Susan scans her surroundings as she carefully removes her shorts. "Hurry uuuup. I'm waaaaiting." Susan lets out a deep breath and lifts the hem of her shirt. She almost has it off when she hears the sliding glass door open.
The teenager holds her shirt over her chest. "Oh! Hey Jazz..."
"Where have you been, Jazz? You were supposed to be watching the grill. Just ‘cause you like those charred covered hotdogs don't mean the rest of us do!"
The 22 year old laughs at his sister's remark. "Sorry, Sis. I was helping Ma with the potato salad." He looks over at the bashful family friend. "Dang, Sue. You done grown since the last time I saw you."
"You think so?"
He nods, "Yeah. Last time I saw you was, what, a year or so ago? You were pretty tall back then too, but now." He steps toward the young lady and looks down at her, "You're almost my height! I got you by 3 inches." The warmth from Jazz's hand tingles her shoulder as he attempted to measure her height against his. "You're as tall as you wanna be and as pretty, to boot." He takes a step back to get a good look at her. "And those eyes... do they ever stop shinning?"
Try as she might, Susan could not fight the smile that spread across her face. "Thanks Jazz."
"Eeewwww. Get a roooom!"
"I know, right?!"
The Jackson siblings and Susan turns to see where the source of the voices came from. Dominique squeals with delight as her friends make their way through the back yard. Candy heads straight for Dominique while Nene looks Jazz up and down. "So what? You can't say ‘hi' to nobody?"
The man sighs. "Hello Nene."
"Mmm hm." Her eyes dart to Susan, who greeted the girl with a slight nod. "This one right here, he's trouble girl. Don't fall for him."
Jazz rolls his eyes. Why did his sister have to invite tweedle dee and tweedle dum? They were loud and obnoxious. They had no class. And judging by the slight look of disdain on Susan's face, she did not fancy them too much, either. Why couldn't they take a page or two from Susan's book? She's sweet, dependable, and best of all, his parents trusts her alone in their home. But with those two girls, leave them alone with Dominique and there might not be a house to come home to.
Susan fidgets with her shirt, her eyes examining the stubble on his face. She licks her lips when she sees a droplet of sweat drizzle down the side of his neck. She sighs inwardly. "So, Jazz." His dimpled smile is contagious. "How are you enjoying college life?"
"Well it's nice. It's a whole lot of reading and writing, but it's good. After this year is up, I think I'm going to go straight for my Masters. You know, get that out of the way. I heard that you were accepted into Spelman. Congrats on that."
"Yeah. My grandma was so excited. She mentioned that I might even snag myself a Morehouse man."
Jazz chuckles, "Well you know us Morehouse brothas; we got it goin' on." Susan could not help but giggle when he pops his collar.
"Is that so?"
"Shoot! You better recognize," he responds, looking at her from over the rim of his black glasses.
"Dang it, Jazz! Stop hogging my guest to yourself! I'm sure that she did not come all this way to hear your dull behind talk about school..."
Jazz shakes his head. "I suppose Little Sister is right." Susan groans mentally. "But, yeah, when you come down, I'll be sure to take care of you. You know, show you around."
"I'd like that."
His smile widens. "Great. I'll catch up with you later, Baby Girl."
"Alright, see ya."
"Yeah bye!" Dominique looks over at Susan. "Now drop those clothes and get in this pool. It's time for some girl talk!"
Susan sits on the edge of the pool, swishing her feet in the cool water. She listens as Nene and Candy talk about their "man problems". "And I told Reggie that if he did not get his," Nene looks around before whispering the swear words of the sentence, "shit together, that I was going to leave his trifling ass."
"Well, did he?" Dominique inquires.
"You tell me," Nene says, sticking out her hand to show off a gold script ring that read "love".
"Dang Nene!" Dominique exclaims as she grabs the sassy girl's hand. "This real?"
"No it ain't! I'll give it three days until that shit turns her finger green..."
"Tch! Don't hate Candy! Just ‘cause D.J. ain't taking care of his business doesn't mean you can come in and rain on my parade."
"So, what about you Susan? Got any boys coming after you? Do you have your eye on a special somebody?"
The tallest girl of the group shrugs her shoulders. "No, not that I know of..."
"Well what about Jazz?" Susan's brown eyes look into the hazel ones that belong to Candy. "I saw y'all getting real nice and cozy over there. You can't tell me that there is nothing going on."
Susan throws a quick glance over at Dominique, who responds with furrowed questioning eyebrows. "As far as I know, there isn't anything between us..."
Candy purses her lips together. She was not convinced. However, Nene was happy to accept Susan's answer at face value. "Well that's good, Suzy. No offense, but Jazz ain't all that. He looks like a nerd with those thick ass glasses and he has no game. Right now, he's Steve Urkel. But if he got contacts, maybe he would be hot." Nene heaves herself out of the pool and takes a seat on the warm concrete next to Susan. "But for real, I know someone who's got there eye on you."
Dominique swims over to the girls. "What? Who?"
An impish smile comes to Nene's lips. She loved being the center of attention. "Y'all sure you want to know?"
No. Susan thinks.
"Yes," Dominique and Candy respond in unison.
"If I tell you, you must promise not to say a word." She watches as Candy and Dominique nod their heads. "It is... Xander... Clark."
Candy raises an eyebrow, "Are you for real? Xander? Cute basketball Xander?"
"You know it."
Dominique turns to Susan and gives her a knowing smile, "Oh...my gosh..."
"And you wanna know what's more?" All the young women look at Nene. "I invited him to come over. Isn't it great?!"
Candy and Dominique shout with excitement while Susan's brain yells a resounding "Noooooo". She had to say something, and fast! "Um guys. Do you think that this is such a good idea? This is, after all, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson's call. I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't appreciate us inviting more people without their permission..."
"My parents won't mind. Besides, it's not like they're gonna be around us all night. They'll be playing dominos with the Wards. And Jazz ain't gonna care."
Susan stares at the arm that Nene wraps around her shoulder. "Be prepared to break out of that shell of yours, Ms. Sue. You're gonna snag yourself a real man."
Susan sits on the swinging bench as she watches the girls at play. "Why aren't you in the water?"
She turns her head when she hears Jazz's smooth voice. Susan raises her hotdog, "Have to wait 30 minutes after this." Butterflies erupt in her stomach when she hears him laugh. More flutter about when he takes his seat next to her. She squirms a little when his gaze does not ease off of her. "What?"
"You've got some," he points at his face and then at hers, "mustard... there."
"Oh," she sticks out her tongue. "Am...mmy...bittin...it?"
He chuckles. "Oh, no. It's right...over..." Jazz grabs her by the chin. "Let me ..." And with his thumb, the man wipes the girl's cheek clean. "Got it." Susan stares as he sucks his thumb clean of the condiment. He grins bashfully, "Sorry. That was gross, wasn't it?"
"N-no, you're good... Thanks." Susan clears her throat, "So, where were we? I mean, from the conversation before."
Jazz leans back, "We were talking about how much you've grown. Then we started talking about college..."
"Yes. College. That's where we left off." Susan shoves the remainder of the food into her mouth, dust the crumbs off of her hands, and turns toward the man. "Tell me more about college."
Jazz tilts his head and shift his glasses. "Well, there isn't much to say. I mean, it is school."
"Weren't you apart of a fraternity or organization?"
He shakes his head. "No. But I did do some traveling abroad."
Susan perks up, "Really?"
"Yeah. I traveled around South America and I visited Spain."
"Did you like it? Would you go back?"
"It was pretty cool. I would love to go back but you know," he rubs his thumb against his index and middle fingers, "you got to have that dough. And I didn't want to take out more loans than I had to." The two talk about all that he saw during his adventures. He talked about the food and the people he met. He even told her about a sneaky pickpocket whose cover was a lowly violin player. "The guy was so good at his heist! He would perform on the violin. After a while, people stop paying attention to him and just listen to the music. I also look away from him, but when I look back, he wasn't there! The music was still playing but no violinist to be found. Then I saw his radio and then I saw him sneaking up on the unsuspecting. He got busted, though. Yep, he was good, but not that good."
"...Wow Jazz. That is cool. You know, when I get into college I want t--"
"YO YO YO! I hear this is where the PARRRTY BEEE!"
"Aaaaah!" Nene races out of the pool as soon as the rambunctious teen burst through the fence. She wraps her arms around him. "We've been expecting you."
Xander does not immediately embrace Nene, but when he sees Susan's looking, he pulls the woman into a tight hug. Susan wrinkles her nose and looks away when his hands roam up and down Nene's back.
Susan shakes her head. "It's just Xander."
"Oh, the kid that used to play with you and Dom? I thought he moved or something."
"No, he's at the same house."
She grits her teeth when she hears Xander's loud laughter. "Candy, you somethin' else!"
Susan clears her throat. "Anyways, as I was say--"
"So you gonna act like I'm invisible?"
The young woman watches as Xander makes his way towards her, his muscular arms swinging at his sides. He acknowledges Jazz. "S'up man?"
Xander puts his hands on his waist and turns his attention back to the girl. "So, you gon play like I don't exist?"
The dark chocolate man smiles at her irritated tone. "That's more like it! It's not nice to ignore people."
Yeah, kinda like how you ignored me all these years?
"So, you gonna get in the pool? I see that you got a swim suit on... You should've worn a two piece. Show off that sexy body of yours."
"Xander, do you mind? I'm kind of in the middle of a conversation."
His whisky brown eyes look from her to Jazz. "Nah, nah. It's cool. Imma let you spend time wit yo boyfriend." Xander removes his shirt, his ripped abs staring her dead in the face. Susan throws an embarrassed glance at Jazz. The grown man responds with a smile and headshake. "But, if you need me, you know where to find me." The boy winks at the un-amused girl as he tosses his shirt aside. "CANNON BALL!" he howls before jumping into the pool.
Susan leans forward and lets out a breath. "Looks like someone has an admirer..."
She looks over at the sitting man. "What?"
"You saw him, didn't you? He did everything but beat on his chest." Jazz slides closer to the red-faced girl. "Think he's telling me to back off. He making it known that you're his woman." Jazz laughs when he sees the twisted up look on her face.
"Ew, no. I am no one's woman. Besides, he's not my type."
"Oh? Then what is your type?" He gently bumps his shoulder against hers when she does not answer. "Tell me," he whispers. "I won't judge."
Susan breaks into a bashful smile and looks away. "Well, my type of guy is one who respects me, who takes the time to understand me... who loves me. Someone I love... Someone like..."
He leans in closer, "Yeah? Go on." Susan slowly takes in her bottom lip and bites down on it. The words teeter-tottered on her tongue. Dare she say it? Things might change if she were to do so... "You gonna tell me?"
His scent, his velvety voice, and the warmth from the sun...it all felt so perfect. ‘It never really mattered too much to me. That you were just too damned old for me...' Love You Down streams from the boom box. She turns toward him, her eyes landing on his succulent lips. She breathes out an inaudible moan and then looks him in his brown eyes. "I...I want...someone...like you." Her words are soft.
Jazz stares at her. Although she could not read his face she could see some of the playfulness dwindle from his eyes. There was a shift in his body language as he drew away from her. "Susan..." He keeps his composure, his eyes searching her face. He didn't know what to say. Jazz wanted to believe she meant it in a way of admiration, kind of like how girls said they wanted to marry their fathers when they grew up. But his gut told him different. She was giving her confession, and he was not sure what to make of it. He clasps his hands together. "Sue...I..."
Buuuuuuzzzz. Jazz looks down at his waist and grabs the vibrating beeper. He stares at the number on the pager. He then turns to her, "I'll be right back."
Susan stares after the man as he heads into the house. Her heart sinks a little. She had just made a complete fool of herself. She got caught up in the moment and now she had to live with her actions. Sighing, Susan eases back in her seat. She surveys the yard but stops when she sees Xander staring at her. The girl holds herself and looks away; sure that he had witnessed her shame.
It has been nearly two hours and still there was no sign of Jazz. Had she scared him off? Susan tries not to think of the awkward moment. She wanted to forget it ever happened, that's why she was playing Spades with the girls. But it was kind of hard to forget when she could see Xander staring at her from the corner of her eye.
"Alright, Dom and Suzy done beat us for the umpteenth time! It's time for new game." The familiar devious smile comes to Nene's lips, "How about ‘Truth or Dare'?" The 18 year old doesn't wait for a response. "Candy truth or dare?"
The teens laughed and hooted at the embarrassing activities and secrets that were disclosed. Nothing too invading; at least, not until Xander's turn.
He looks at each girl, appearing as though he could not decide who to pick. He looks Susan in the eye. "Sue, truth or dare?"
She rolls her eyes big, brown eyes. "Neither."
"No Suzy, you can't do that," Nene huffs, "If you're gonna play the game, play it right or not at all..."
"I dare you to give me a big, wet kiss... with tongue."
Xander stares at her long and hard, a seriousness surfacing his face. "You sure?"
She is unsettled by his tone, but nods, none the less.
"Alright," he licks his bottom lip. "What were you and Dom's brother talkin' about?"
"Mmmmm..." Candy hums as she leans in closer. "Do tell."
Susan cuts her eyes at Xander. What happened to the lighthearted questions he asked the others? "...That's personal."
"Oh God... Answer the question! You picked truth!" Nene pipes up, clearly annoyed. "You weren't even supposed to switch from the dare..."
"She has a point," Dominique agrees softly.
"Yeah. Like I told you before, if you're gonna play the game, play it right."
"Fine," the chair screeches when Susan stands to her feet. "I'm not playing anymore. Besides, I have to go." She looks at her friend, "‘Nique, I had a blast. Sorry I couldn't stay longer."
"Suzy, what's wrong?"
"Nothing. I promised Grandma that I'd be home no later than 8:00... I'm gonna say ‘bye' to Mr. and Mrs. Jackson."
Xander watches the teenager disappears into the house. "Forget about her," he hears Nene snap. "She's no fun. Dare me, Xander."
After saying goodbye to the owners of the house, Susan makes her way to back door. She stops when she sees Jazz leaning casually against the counter. "You leaving, Sue?"
She gives him a weak smile, "Yeah, I've got to get home. I have chores to do..."
The man pushes himself off of the counter and blocks her way. He gently grabs Susan's arm. "Can we talk?"
Before she could object, he pulls her behind the dining room wall; away from prying eyes and eavesdropping ears. He looks down at her, his eyes sweeping the contours of her sweet face. His sights hop from her thick eyebrows, to her lashes, and, finally, to her plump mouth. The longer he examined her features, the more he was able to accept that the girl he once knew was now a young woman. His eyes were opened to her beauty, and a part of him desired her. Without thinking, the man brushes his thumb over her full pout... and kisses it. He quickly pulls away when he feels her kiss back.
Jazz sucks in his breath when his eyes meet hers. He breaks their eye contact, feeling ashamed for what he just did. When he sees her shy smile, he knows that he has to put an end to what he just started. "Susan, you're a nice girl. You deserve that understanding man who loves you... but you do know that man can't be me, right?"
Her eyebrows furrow in confusion as she looks down. "I know you can't now... But," she looks into his eyes, "what if... when I'm older?"
He shakes his head. "It's not that. I just... I cannot be that man... I don't love you that way."
Jazz watches as water accumulates in her eyes. "But, you just kissed me. If you don't feel that way..."
"I'm sorry, Sue. I was just caught up... I shouldn't have... I'm sorry." He goes in to hug her, only to have her push past him. "Susan..." She pulls her hand out of his light grip and waltz to the back door. She gives him one last look before exiting.
"Sue! Yo, Sue, wait up!"
"Xander, what do you want?"
The young man does his best to catch up with her. "Nothin'." He hops in front of her, "Can't a brotha walk you home?"
"I'm half way there..." His eyes plead with her. "Fine."
The two are silent as they walk down the narrow sidewalk. Xander glances at the quiet woman "Listen, I'm sorry about earlier. I shouldn't have been in your business..." Silence. "So... Dominique told be about Spelman. I'm going to college in Atlanta, too."
"Yeah. I've been accepted to Georgia Tech. I got a basketball scholarship... We should meet up while were down there." Susan doesn't answer. "You know, it would be like good ole times."
She stops. "Like good ole times?"
"Yeah, like back in middle school."
She starts walking again, "Xander, we're hardly the same people we were back then. I changed, you changed."
The boy's eyebrows furrow. "I didn't change that much."
"Oh nooo. You being the star basketball player did not jade you one bit..."
Hearing the sarcastic tone in her voice, Xander makes an attempt to defend himself. "Listen, I know that I wasn't the greatest friend in the world. I know that I can be a bit selfish..."
"But I never stopped thinking about you. I never stopped wondering how you were doing."
"Thinking? Wondering? I live down the street from you. What is there to think and wonder about? Did I ‘think' or ‘wonder' about you after your Daddy passed away in 10th grade?" Xander looks down. "Did I think or wonder about you when I saw you struggling in Geometry? No. I came over. I was there for you." Her steps quicken, "Sucks I can't say the same for you..."
"I had priorities."
"Did that include trading your old friends in for fake ones? Did it include acting as though I never existed?"
He twirls her around by the shoulder. "Look. I know that I am not the perfect man. I know I made some stupid ass decisions, abandoning you being one of them. But all bullshit aside," he stares into her eyes, "I want our friendship back. I want you back..." He grabs her hands. "I should have been there for you like you were there for me. I shouldn't have been so caught up in what others thought of me at the expense of losing you. I realize that now... I miss you, Suzy."
Susan bites on her bottom lip in an effort to keep it from quivering. Today was supposed to be easy. Nothing serious, just good old fun. Yet, somehow she managed to rock her little world within a span of five hours. First she drives a stake into hers and Jazz's relationship and now, here comes Xander with his apologies and "I miss you" load. What happened to all that smooth talk from earlier in the day? What happened to the cocky S.O.B. who thought he could win her over in front of his boys? She wanted to tell him to go kick rocks. However, when the vulnerable woman opens her mouth, the words "prove it" shoot out.
"Yes Xander. If you missed me so much and you want our friendship back so bad, prove it. Prove it now or I will walk my butt right into that house."
Xander's eyes follow her pointed finger. He did not realize that they already reached their destination. He looks back at the girl, his mouth slightly agape. "Well, I uh... I don't..." She narrows her eyes and turns to leave. "Sue, wait!" She watches as he digs into his back pocket and breaks out his wallet. She looks at him quizzically. "Just...hold on..." He pulls out a tattered picture, "Here."
She takes the photograph in both hands and studies it. "I remember this..."
It was a picture of 10 year old Xander and 9 year old Susan sitting on the back porch of his mother's house, sharing an ice cream cone. That day, Mrs. Clark was keeping Susan until her grandma got back from work. When she heard little Suzy crying, she runs out the back to see what the matter was. Seeing that Susan had dropped her ice cream, she goes back inside to make another one. When she goes back outside, she sees the cutest thing that just had to be captured on film.
"I... I know that don't prove much. I hope that it does show you how much I think about you... Shows how much I wish that things between us didn't change..." She nods her head. "Sue, I really do care for you... So what do ya say? Can we start over?"
She looks at the photo in thought, "Can I hold onto this for a while? I promise I'll bring it back..."
"Sure, sure..." Xander says with a grin. He watches her walk away. "S-so, when are we going to hang out again?"
She pauses when she gets at the door. "...Give me some time to think about it, alright?"
He nods, "Take all the time you need... I'll... I'll be waiting for you." When she enters the house, Xander turns on his heel and heads home.