Sunday, November 9, 2014

Love Unbroken is permanently FREE!

After a long tug of war with Amazon, Love Unbroken is now free! I did a lot of updating to it and now you can enjoy it for free on both Amazon and iTunes! How awesome is that?

As a thank you, I'd like to publish the first chapter of the book! It's been changed due to rewrites, so I hope you enjoy the new version!

“Good morning, beautiful,” Ahmad Dawson said to his waking girlfriend as he planted soft kisses on her cheeks and temples. Camille Anderson slowly opened her eyes and gazed up at him. Her eyes looked over his face, admiring his strong jaw line and his sexy goatee that framed his full lips. His light brown eyes gazed back into hers, completely filled with love and compassion.

She loved waking up to him feeling loved and wanted. It was these moments that she lived for and cherished greatly. She wondered how her life would be if she didn’t meet him two years ago.

She could remember that day as if it was yesterday. “Please remind me why we’re going all the way across town to work out when there’s a gym on campus?” Camille complained as she followed behind her best friend Selina to her car. Selina tossed her dark hair into a messy ponytail and rolled her eyes. 

“Geez, Cam, it’s my birthday. Can’t we just do something spontaneous for once?” she replied, adjusting her gym bag on her shoulder. Camille exhaled loudly. The only reason why she was up at the crack of dawn with Selina was because of her birthday. She stayed up almost all night studying the night before and the lack of sleep was starting to take a toll on her.

After the annoying battle with morning traffic, the women finally crossed the parking lot and entered the doors of Legendary Fitness. Camille looked around, completely unimpressed. There was nothing spectacular about the gym, which made her assume that they were there simply because Selina had her eye on someone who either worked here or worked out here. She glanced over at Selina who was checking her lip gloss in a compact mirror. “I don’t even know why I agreed to this. Can we get to yoga, please? I need to get back home and get a few hours of sleep before class,” Camille huffed, grabbing Selina by the arm.

Both women stopped in their tracks when they saw him. A man standing at six-foot-seven stood a few feet away from them, talking to another member of the gym. Camille stared at him in awe. Never in her life had she seen such a beautiful specimen of a man. Her stomach clenched with need when his eyes turned in their direction. “Who is that?” Camille whispered, completely unaware of the fact that she was tightening her grip on Selina’s arm.

Ow, you’re cutting off my circulation,” Selina winced, pulling her arm from Camille’s grasp. “And that’s Ahmad, the man that will soon be mine,” she boasted, smoothing her hand over her hair as the man approached them.

Camille was paying no attention to what Selina said. Her eyes were drawn to his chest, which was beautifully molded in the Under Armour compression shirt that he wore, showing off all of his chiseled muscles. She felt her breath catch in her throat as he came to a stop in front of them. “Good morning, ladies. Welcome to Legendary Fitness,” he smiled. Camille just stared at him, quickly becoming lost in his beautiful light brown eyes.

“Hi, Ahmad. This is my friend, Camille. I figured that starting my birthday with a yoga class would put me on a good path for the rest of the day,” she flirted, moving a little closer to him.

Ahmad gave her a small smile. “Well, happy birthday. And nice to meet you, Camille,” he said, turning his gaze back to the speechless beauty that was standing in front of him.
Ahmad had seen the other woman a few times in the gym and was no more attracted to her then than he was the first few times he saw her. Her friend was a completely different story. Although she didn’t verbally speak to him, her eyes spoke everything that he needed to know. He could see that she was curious about him as well as attracted to him. Her soft brown eyes gave her an innocent, child-like look. She had gorgeous curly hair that was pulled up into a ponytail with a white ribbon. She was absolutely beautiful, and there was no way Ahmad could let her leave without either getting her number or giving her his.

“Nice to meet you, too,” Camille said shyly, returning a smile that made his heart flutter.

Selina loudly cleared her throat and pulled Camille away. “We’d love to stay and talk, but yoga will start soon—

“Here, I want to give you this,” Ahmad interrupted, quickly scribbling something on his clipboard and tearing off a tiny slip of paper. “Call me sometime,” he winked, handing the paper to Camille before walking off to the front desk.

Camille stared at the paper in awe as Selina huffed off to the yoga studio. She smiled and quickly placed the paper in her gym bag before hurrying off to catch up with her friend. She would have to worry about her Selina’s attitude later, but right now, she was too busy basking in excitement from what she would deem the best day of her life so far.

“Morning, babe,” she said, kissing him gently on the lips. Ahmad pulled her close to his chest, burying his face into her soft curls. He loved everything about her. He looked forward to waking up next to her and seeing her pouty lips as she slept. She always looked angelic with tiny strands of her curly hair cascading over her face.

“Oh, I got you something for our anniversary,” he said, kissing her forehead. She smiled and slowly sat up.

“I’m surprised you remembered. As busy as you’ve been all week, I’m sure you would forget your head if it wasn’t attached,” she teased. Ahmad smiled and walked over to her closet.

“Hey, don’t talk junk to me or else I’ll take it back to the store,” he joked. Camille stuck her tongue out at him and watched him curiously as he felt around the top shelf. She felt her eyes widen when he retrieved a black velvet box and returned to the bed.

“Happy anniversary, baby,” he smiled, placing the box in her hands.

Camille kissed him gently and caressed his face. “Happy anniversary, babe. You definitely didn’t have to get me anything. Being with you is a gift in itself,” she said.

Ahmad playfully rolled his eyes and smirked at her. “Girl, just open it. It took me almost two weeks to find this. I’m sure if I didn’t get a gift for you, I’d probably be single right now or put on ‘punishment’. I just hope that you like it,” he said, his eyes shining with excitement.

Camille smirked at him as she opened the box, immediately becoming overwhelmed with emotion. “Babethis is… wow,” she stuttered, pulling out a 14-carat white gold diamond necklace. She could feel tears burning her eyes as he put it on for her. “It’s so beautiful,” she gushed, hugging him tightly.

“Not as beautiful as you,” he murmured softly, pulling her in for a passionate kiss. Camille sighed and slowly pulled herself away.

“Your present will have to wait until tonight,” she hinted, wiggling her eyebrows. Ahmad pretended to pout. 

“Why can’t I have it now?”

“If I give it to you now, we’ll never leave my bedroom,” she said seductively, biting his bottom lip. He chuckled and quickly glanced at the clock. It was a little after eight in the morning, and with his full schedule, he needed to get an early start.

“I have to get ready for work. My schedule is completely booked today,” he said, quickly kissing her forehead as he got out of the bed and headed for the bathroom. Camille sighed before lying back on her pillows. He was always so busy with his personal training career, which she was proud of, but it took away a lot of quality time from them being together since she was a student at the University of Miami. Between their schedules, they didn’t have as much time as they would like together, which sometimes put a strain on their relationship. However, they somehow were making things work and they both were happy for now.

Once she heard the shower running, she reluctantly got out of bed and padded down the hallway to the kitchen to find something quick for breakfast. Knowing that Ahmad was pushed for time, she quickly blended a protein shake of kale, strawberries, bananas, and kiwi for him before making herself bacon, eggs, and toast. As she consumed her breakfast, her mind wandered to the activities she planned later for their anniversary night. Because he had to work, they couldn’t go out of town, so she planned to do something small at her apartment.

Ahmad came rushing out of the bedroom with his gym bag on his shoulder. “Thanks for the smoothie, babe. I’ll see you tonight,” he said, grabbing his blender bottle and giving her a quick peck on the cheek.

“See you tonight,” she mumbled to the door that he was already gone out of.

He inhaled deeply as he stepped into the gym where he worked. Everything was the same as usual; there was the usual smell of equipment, sweat, and faint scents of body wash from the members coming out of the showers. He set his gym bag down in the staff locker room and sat on the bench to look through his schedule for the day. His phone buzzed in his pocket, indicating that he had a text message. He absently took the phone from his pocket and quickly glanced at it to see that it was a message from Camille. The thought of his woman always made his heart skip a beat or two. He opened the message with a grin spreading across his face.

Lunch today? I have a long study session this morning and would love to eat with you on your break. I love you, Cam.

He quickly responded and headed out into the lobby to start his day. At least he had something to look forward to because he knew today was going to be an extremely long day.

Camille sat alone in the back of the library going over her Probability and Statistics notes. She was waiting on her friends who made plans with her earlier to study, but as late as it was becoming, she figured they may have had something else come up. She could feel a headache coming on as her stress started to build up. She absently pulled one of her spiral curls and watched it spring back a few times before trying to focus on the lecture notes in front of her. It was hard to concentrate on math when her mind was constantly fantasizing about later activities that she would be engaging in with her boyfriend.

Only a sophomore, she was ready to be done with school. It wouldn’t be too bad if she’d been studying what she truly wanted to study. She didn’t want to be a computer programmer; she wanted to go to culinary school, become a chef, and travel the world. Unfortunately, her parents made her agree that they would pay her way through college and handle her bills if she pursued a degree that they saw fit for her. Her mother was obsessed with her getting a good job in a male dominant field, so here she was, stuck with Computer Science.

She exhaled loudly and rearranged her notes for the tenth time and tried to focus. “I was tempted to leave after looking for you for about ten minutes,” Selina whispered, taking a seat from her across the table. Camille sighed in relief. It was nice to finally see a familiar face.

“Where’s everyone else?” Camille asked, looking around to see if she saw any signs of Porsha and Deena. Selina shrugged as she pulled out her study material.

“I’m not sure. I haven’t seen them all day. It may just be us today,” she stated.
Camille felt a slight tinge of disappointment. Since she began dating Ahmad, things were increasingly weirder between her and Selina. Although the two women were currently best friends, they didn’t start off that way when they first met in high school.

Back then, Camille was a very shy, quiet girl, but her beauty seemed to get her a lot of attention and popularity, especially with the guys. Selina became jealous once her crush showed interest in Camille, causing her to corner Camille in the locker room during gym class where they had a big fight. Once they were forced to do community service together during their suspension, they eventually learned more about each other and figured out that they had much more in common than they thought. After they resolved that incident, they’ve been best friends since.

Selina casually pulled out a package of gummy bears and loudly crinkled the package as she tried to open it. A passing librarian gave her a warning glance to stop the noise, making Camille giggle. Camille couldn’t remember a time when Selina didn’t have some kind of food stashed away. It seemed like she always carried a snack with her that would magically appear any time she was hungry. Camille grabbed the candy and took a handful after popping the bag open with ease.

“What happened to being on a diet? If I remember correctly, gummy bears aren’t healthy,” Camille joked.

Selina pouted. “If that’s your slick way of trying to call me fat, then fuck you. Maybe I’ll get your sexy ass boyfriend to whip me into shape, and I mean literally whip me into shape,” Selina gushed, fanning herself.

Camille rolled her eyes. She hated when Selina made sexual jokes about Ahmad. Yes, it was his job to get people in shape, but Selina always took it too far. Camille knew from experience what kind of shape Ahmad could get someone in inside and outside of the gym, especially in bed. She shook the naughty images from her head and tossed the gummy bears back to her friend with a grin.

“Now Lina, you know I would never call you fat. As for the ‘fuck you’ comment, no thank you. My man does that very well, so I don’t need it from anyone else. Oh, look at what he got me for our anniversary today,” she whispered excitedly, bringing Selina’s attention to the diamond pendant that she was wearing.

Selina gave it a quick, uninterested glance and turned back to her notes. “Don’t brag. If I hadn’t dragged your ass to his gym for that yoga class, you wouldn’t have a man to do that ‘very well’ or buy you nice anniversary gifts,” she muttered bitterly.

“Seriously, Selina? It’s been two years already, so please get over yourself. It wasn’t my idea to go to that gym, remember? You’re the one who stalked his ass and didn’t make a move. All I did was show up with an attitude,” Camille reminded her, turning back to her own notes.

The ladies studied in silence for a little while, each lost in their own thoughts. This was the reason she didn’t like being alone with Selina. Every time they were together, Ahmad would somehow be brought up into the conversation and things would become awkward. Why couldn’t Selina just accept the fact that they were together and be happy for them? She honestly felt like a man was putting a gap between her friendship for no reason. Selina really needed to get a grip on herself.

Camille glanced at her phone and saw that it was a quarter to one in the afternoon. She was meeting Ahmad for lunch soon, so it was time to end her study session. “I have to go. Ahmad and I are having lunch together during his break,” Camille stated, packing up her things.

“Whatever,” Selina mumbled, never taking her eyes away from her notes. Camille rolled her eyes and quickly gathered the rest of her things, feeling herself becoming more and more annoyed the longer she was around Selina.

“Maybe you won’t be that much of a bitter bitch the next time I see you,” Camille spat, storming out of the library.

“Push itharder than that,” Ahmad instructed as he watched his client Kelly finish up her last set of leg presses. She gave him a seductive smirk and extended her lean legs on the machine.

“I’m sure I could push a little harder if someone like you spotted me,” she purred. Ahmad turned his attention back to his clipboard and pretended to be engrossed with the information he was writing down. Dealing with Kelly during her private personal training sessions was starting to become awkward. Her sexual advances weren’t helping the situation, nor were his needs and imagination. Every time he trained her, he made it his business to hurry up and get it over with. Kelly was nothing but a ticking time bomb of trouble.

Kelly apparently couldn’t get it through her hair extensions to her brain that he was happily taken. The simple thought of Camille slowly caused a smile to creep across his lips. There was nothing that he looked forward to more than going home to his woman for a nightcap after having to combat a woman who literally spent her whole training session trying to attack him with her vagina.

“Thinking about me?” Kelly asked, breaking into his thoughts. He frowned at the sight in front of him. Kelly was bent over, stretching her quads and calves with her back to him. He cursed himself for allowing her to see him in his moment. She would take something as simple as a smile and turn it into something sexual. He looked at his watch and was relieved to see that his time with her was up.

“That wraps up our session for the day. You can go into the cardio room and choose a machine of your choice as a cool down. I’ll see you again on our scheduled time on Thursday,” he stated in a professional tone. Kelly slowly stood up from the yoga mat she was sitting on and walked toward him.

The sight of her workout gear sticking to her body from sweat caused a lump to form in his throat. Her purple and black sports bra looked as if it wanted to slowly rip down the middle and release the contents that it was responsible for holding. Her black yoga pants created the perfect mold to show off her perfectly toned legs and backside. It was hard not to stare at a woman with a body that Kelly possessed. She had the body of both a porn star and a fitness model.

She walked up to Ahmad’s six-foot-seven athletic frame and gave his bicep a nice squeeze. “Thanks for the session. Maybe we can hang out sometime outside of the gym for a drink or two,” she suggested seductively.

His conscience rolled its eyes. “Sorry, I’m a little busy. I’d have to check with my girl’s schedule and maybe we can all go out. I’m sure you’d love her just as much as I do,” he stated dryly, turning his attention back to his clipboard.

Kelly let out a strained laugh. “You can’t go anywhere without your little girlfriend? I thought you were a big boy?”

“Are you questioning my manhood?” he asked, starting to get irritated.

Kelly shrugged. “I mean you act like you can’t hang out with a friend without your girlfriend tagging along.”

Well that would be different if this ‘friend’ wasn’t trying to come between me and my girl. Stop the innocent shit,” he said, heading toward the door to exit the studio.

Kelly gasped dramatically. “Is that how you speak to all of your clients? I pay you good money to train me and I expect to get a good sessionif you know what I mean,” she winked as she grabbed the waistband of his shorts.

Ahmad glared down at her. “Attending to anyone’s pleasure isn’t in my contract. I’m a personal trainer, not a fucking escort,” he growled.

Shelly, the gym manager, came to a stop as she saw the scene that was unfolding between the two as she was passing. Ahmad gave her a pleading look to help him and she immediately rushed in to his rescue.

“Ahmad, your next client is here. I don’t know what’s going on here, but it looks inappropriate, Ms. Lawson. I’d hate to have to revoke your membership,” Shelly said sternly. Kelly looked up at Ahmad with lust in her eyes as she released him.

“See you on Thursday,” she purred to Ahmad and left the studio. He rubbed his forehead and sat on the bench.

“Shelly, I don’t know how much longer I can train her. I know her family brings a lot of business and money to the gym, but I can’t deal with this every time I work with her,” he muttered through his fingers as he buried his face into his hands. Shelly sighed.

“I know it’s tough, Ahmad. We can always assign her another trainer, but she specifically asks for you. In this business, money is money. Sometimes you just have to deal with the bullshit to get to the good shit,” she explained. She was right. Ahmad dreamed of opening his own gym one day, so he needed all the extra money he could get. If this was what he needed to do until he made it, he would just have to hold on a little longer.

“Hey Shelly,” a familiar voice said as the studio door opened. Camille walked in smiling her smile that always made him forget his stress and frustrations. She gave Shelly a quick hug and nearly jumped on Ahmad to hug him. He lifted her off of the ground, tightly embracing her before placing a small kiss on her neck and lips.

“Hey there, beautiful. You ready to go eat?” he asked, placing her back on the floor and taking her hand.

“Yes, I’m starving! Besides, I’ve missed you and I’m ready to spend some time with you,” she said, standing on her tiptoes to kiss him once more. Ahmad glanced up and noticed Kelly was watching them from the lobby with a glare. He smiled to himself put his arm around Camille’s waist. He definitely wanted to make sure that Kelly fully understood that he wasn’t remotely interested in anything she had to offer.

When they made their way to the lobby, Kelly approached them with a bright smile. “Hey, Camille! I didn’t know you were a member here!” she squealed, catching Camille completely off guard. Camille gave her a confused smile.

“I’m not a member; my boyfriend just works here and I’m taking him out to lunch,” she said, gesturing toward Ahmad.

“You two know each other?” he asked, slightly horrified. Camille brushed a few curls from her face.

“Yeah, we have a history class together,” she replied nonchalantly. She wasn’t really sure why Kelly was acting so interested in her suddenly as if they were close friends. In class, Camille didn’t even exist to her.

Kelly scoffed and put her hand on her chest. “Ahmad is your boyfriend?” she asked incredulously.

Camille raised an eyebrow as she folded her arms across her chest. “I believe that’s what I just saidunless you were diagnosed as deaf today,” Camille said slowly.

“Come on, babe, I’m starving. If we don’t get anything soon, I think my stomach is going to eat my liver,” Ahmad said nervously, pulling Camille toward the door.

Camille rolled her eyes. “What is her problem? Is it hard to believe that we’re together or something?” she asked him, putting her arm around his waist. He kissed her forehead.

“Don’t worry about—

“It’s not that it’s unbelievable, Camille,” Kelly said. “It’s just that I thought I would have more . . . what’s the word I’m looking for . . . competition,” she smirked, throwing her towel over her shoulder as she walked off.

Camille glared at her as she disappeared around the corner. “Babe? Are you okay? Let’s get some food,” Ahmad said softly, gently squeezing her hand. Camille sighed and followed behind him. As bad as she wanted to wrap her hand around Kelly’s blond ponytail and show her a real competition, she figured it would have to wait for another time. Now, she was spending time with her man.

Ahmad could tell that Camille was still bothered about the confrontation with Kelly. If he knew that Kelly was going to act like a complete bitch, he wouldn’t have let the conversation continue. The waitress came up to the table, penned down their drink orders and disappeared again. Trying to cheer her up, he took her to her favorite burger joint, the Shake Shack. Although it was all the way across town from his job, he made the extra effort to make sure that their luncheon was a success.

“I’ve missed you today,” Ahmad said, taking Camille’s hands into his. He could feel her soften her resolve as she slowly brought her attention to him.

She sighed and gave him a small smile. “I’ve missed you, too. I’m sorry I’m being so uptight; my morning hasn’t been the best.”

“What happened?”

“I had another awkward situation while studying with Selina. She’s always so bitter about our relationship, which is so fucked up because she’s my best friend. I tried to look past it since I was coming to eat with you and decided to just leave and not argue with her about it. I should be happy about spending time with my man right now, but I have this overwhelming urge to throat punch one of your clients instead,” she stated bitterly.

Ahmad chuckled and kissed her hand. “Selina is always going to be jealous, baby. She would never have me on her best day. Don’t worry about Kelly either. Even if I were single—

“Don’t be dramatic just to boost my self-esteem. If you were single, you probably would’ve sampled her already,” she muttered, pulling away from him as she leaned back in her booth.
Ahmad was saved for a few minutes when the waitress returned with their drinks and took their orders. Dealing with Camille’s insecurities was something that was new to him. He was used to being with women who were confident, which is probably why he didn’t have a major problem with Kelly. He didn’t understand her reason for feeling the way she did. She was absolutely beautiful; he was sure that she didn’t have a problem finding someone who was attracted to her.

He slowly rose to his feet and slide in beside her into the booth. “You know that I love you, right?” he asked, capturing her chin with his fingers. She nodded and sighed. She knew she was overreacting about the whole situation. There was no reason to take it out on him, he didn’t do anything wrong.

She took a deep breath, exhaled, and smiled. “I’m sorry. It’s just been a long morning,” she said, kissing him gently.

Why on Earth do I ever have to question his love, she thought as Ahmad’s tongue tickled hers. He proved his love and attraction to her every time he touched her, kissed her, and smiled at her. He never hid his feelings for her in public, even when he hung out with his immature friends.

Their kiss was interrupted when the waitress clumsily crashed plates of food onto the table. Camille smiled to herself as she plucked a French fry from the basket. She had nothing to worry about. She would just have to get used to jealous women wanting her man.

He watched her in amusement as she tried biting into a burger that was almost as big as her head. She kept turning the burger in different directions, trying to find a place where she could bite into it without making a huge mess on her face. Ahmad laughed.

“Baby, just cut it in half. You’ll find an easier way to bite it then,” he chuckled. Camille stuck her tongue out at him.

“I’m a big girl, I can handle this burger,” she said and took a bite out of it. Ketchup, mayonnaise, and a slice of tomato all slipped out of the other end of the sandwich, most of it ending up on her hands. He laughed heartily as he passed her a napkin. She playfully kicked him under the table with a grin as she retrieved the napkin from him to clean herself up.

“Had I known you were bringing me to the Shake Shack, I wouldn’t have worn this dress. This place is notorious for overusing toppings and condiments,” she mumbled, trying to chew the remaining food in her mouth as she wiped her hands.

“But isn’t that why you like this place? Because they overuse all of your favorite things? Like all of these curly fries and the meat on your burger?” he joked.

She shrugged as she took another bite of her burger. Ahmad took this time to soak up his woman’s beauty. Her thick, natural curly hair hung loosely around her shoulders with a few curls cradling her face. Her big brown eyes were what drew him to her when he first met her. They were the kind of eyes that made you want to protect and love the person they belonged to. There were also those sexy, deep dimples that appeared when she smiled that made his heart beat a little faster. Her body was curvy, lean, and petite, perfect for his tall athletic build. He loved everything about this woman. To him, she was perfect.

“What are you staring at? Do I still have something on my face?” she panicked, digging into her purse for her compact mirror. He smiled and shook his head.

“You’re all good, Cammy. Don’t worry; you look beautiful. I meant to tell you that I love how that sundress looks on you,” he observed, licking his lips. She blushed. She knew that this was his favorite sundress of hers and she also knew that if he was given the chance, he would waste no time in peeling it off of her.

“Well, thank you, baby. I wore it for you since we actually had time to eat together today,” she murmured, eying him seductively. Ahmad licked his lips and looked around.

“Do you think we have time?” he asked, nodding in the direction of the bathroom with a wicked grin on his lips. Camille giggled and kissed him gently.

“Don’t be nasty. You’ll have to wait until tonight.”

Mmmbut what if I can’t wait until tonight?”

“You’ll be able to, baby. I promise I’ll make it worth the wait,” she breathed against his lips before kissing him again.

Ahmad playfully sighed dramatically. “Okay, fine. I have to get back to work anyway. Let’s get out of here,” he suggested, putting cash on the table. Camille requested a carry out box to put her food in and they walked out of the restaurant hand-in-hand.

“Where are you heading to?” he asked, walking her to her car. Camille shrugged. There were a few things she wanted to do before their date later on that night and she also needed to talk to her mother about a few things.

“I’m probably going to see my mom for a few minutes. I haven’t spoken to her in about a week. Our last conversation wasn’t very pleasant,” Camille remembered bitterly. Ahmad chuckled and pulled her close to his chest. “When do you ever have a pleasant conversation with your mother? Your sassy mouth makes everything difficult,” he said, kissing her before she could utter a disagreement.

Once they said their goodbyes, Camille got into her Camaro and headed to her mother’s office. She was nervous about seeing her mother. The last time she spoke to her, they argued about her grades and her mother insisted that Ahmad was a major distraction. Her mother just couldn’t accept the fact that she was just unhappy and uninterested in the major that was chosen for her.

Camille let out a long breath as she parked her car in front of Jackson’s Legal Services. Her mother was a paralegal despite having a Master’s degree in business. It made Camille wonder if her mother was trying to correct her own mistakes with all of the pressure and nonsense she put on her shoulders.

As soon as Camille entered the building, the smell of books, burned coffee, and printing papers filled her nose. She wrinkled her nose at the combination of odors as walked toward the front desk. The secretary looked up from her computer and smiled. “Hi, Camille! Your mother just returned from lunch. You can go on back, sweetie,” she beamed. Camille softly thanked her and turned to walk down the hall.

Karin was sitting at her desk reading over legal documents when Camille entered. “Hi, mama,” Camille said, softly closing the door behind her. Karin looked up and smiled.

“Well, if it isn’t my beautiful baby girl. Have a seat,” she offered, motioning toward the chair sitting on the other side of her desk. Camille took a deep breath and took a seat. Karin took off her glasses and studied Camille for a few moments.

“Are you alright?” she finally asked.

Camille nodded. “I just wanted to stop by since I haven’t seen you in a few days.”

“Is that a new pendant?” Karin asked, eying Camille’s necklace. Camille’s hand immediately went to her neck, rubbing the pendant nervously.

“Yeahit was an anniversary present from Ahmad,” she said nervously.

Karin smiled. “The boy has good taste in jewelry at least,” she mused, standing up from her chair and walked over to her filing cabinet.

Camille sat in silence for a little while, unsure of what to say. It was always awkward talking to her mother most of the time. Ever since her parents divorced, her mother showed very little emotion or interest in much of anything. It was like talking to a brick wall most of the time. “Do you and your friend have any plans tonight for your anniversary?” her mother suddenly asked. Camille fought the urge to roll her eyes. It annoyed her to no end that her mother wouldn’t identify Ahmad as her boyfriend.

“Yes, my boyfriend and I have plans tonight,” she corrected her flatly, folding her arms across her chest.

Karin dismissed Camille’s tone and returned to her desk with a stack of folders. “Have you gotten your homework done?”

“Mom, I’m not a child. Yes, I went to the library earlier with Selina and got it done.”

“You still hang around that girl? Something’s not right about her,” Karin stated. Camille bit the inside of her cheek. She could definitely agree with her mother about that subject. Karin never liked Selina, even after she and Camille became good friends.

“We had a little fight earlier. She’s always bitter to me whenever I bring up Ahmad. I think she’s upset that we’re together,” she sighed. In a way, she felt bad that her relationship was tearing her friendship apart. She knew that Selina truly believed that she’d “stolen” Ahmad away from her, but Camille figured that she couldn’t steal someone who didn’t actually belong to anyone.

“You need to be careful around her, baby. This is the same girl who fought you in high school just because a boy she liked ended up liking you instead,” Karin reminded her, turning her attention back to the papers on her desk.

She silently processed her mother’s words. She didn’t think Selina would be extreme and do anything to hurt her now that they were adults as well as best friends, but she couldn’t be too sure at this point. She sighed and rose to her feet. “You’re right, mama. I’ll keep my eyes opened. I’m going to get home so that I can do some more studying for a little while,” she said, trying to appease her mother to get out of her office quicker.

Karin got up and quickly hugged her. “Okay, love. Call me when you get a chance,” she said. Camille agreed and quickly walked out of the room. As soon as she closed the door behind her, the heaviness she felt in her chest immediately lifted. She definitely needed to get out of there.

“You need something sexier, girl,” Porsha said, taking the cotton pink bra out of Camille’s hand. Camille invited her two other friends, Porsha and Deena, to help her pick something to wear for Ahmad later that night. After her awkward time with Selina earlier that day, it was refreshing to be with friends that were happy for her relationship. They were wandering around Victoria’s Secret browsing through different sections. Nothing was really catching Camille’s attention, causing her to become discouraged.

“If all else fails, your birthday suit should be good enough,” Deena suggested with a grin, filing her fingernails. Porsha and Camille giggled.

“You know, that could actually work,” Camille joked, tossing a pair of panties at Deena. Porsha looked around.

“Is Selina meeting us here or something?” she asked.

Camille rolled her eyes as she moved to a rack of lacy bras. “No, I didn’t invite her. I don’t feel like dealing with her right now. I had enough of her unnecessary drama when I studied with her earlier,” Camille said with disgust. Deena and Porsha exchanged a look and shrugged. They didn’t like to get in the middle of Camille and Selina’s issues, but they did agree with Camille on how bitter Selina had been acting lately.

“You know, I showed her the necklace Ahmad bought me for our anniversary and she acted all unbothered and rude. She was like ‘don’t brag, if it wasn’t for me’ blah, blah, blah. Ahmad and I have been together for two years and we’re just as strong now as we were when we first met. I wish she would just get with the program so that this wouldn’t be so awkward,” Camille said.

Deena nodded. “Yeah, I find it to be quite petty. There are plenty of men at school for her to chase after if she wants a man so bad. There’s no point in chasing a man who’s taken,” she stated.

Camille put down the lingerie set she was holding when she remembered the incident with Kelly at the gym. “Apparently Selina isn’t the only one who wants my man. Ahmad’s client, Kelly—“

“Kelly who? Do we know her?” Porsha interrupted.

Camille sighed. “Yes, she’s that blonde girl in our history class that sits with the jocks at the back of the classroom.”

“Oh, I have to hear about this,” Deena said, leaning against the lotion display.

“So I went to the gym to meet Ahmad so that we could go out for lunch. When she saw us together, she acted like she couldn’t believe I was his girlfriend. She claimed that she thought she had ‘more competition’,” Camille stated sarcastically, using air quotations.

Porsha rolled her eyes. “See, that little bitch would’ve gotten her weave snatched,” she hissed. Deena nodded in agreement.

“Believe me, I would’ve said something, but Ahmad was pulling me out of the door and she was already gone. I know he only has eyes for me, but it’s the disrespectful women that are getting on my nerves,” Camille admitted with frustration.

She paused when she felt her phone buzz in her purse. She quickly retrieved it and smiled when she saw that she had a text message from Ahmad.

Can’t wait to see you baby. –A

She looked at the time on her screen and nearly panicked. He was due to get off in two hours and she needed to start cooking as well as set up her apartment. “We have to wrap this up, ladies. I don’t have time to pick anything new; he’ll be getting off soon and I have to get home to start getting ready,” Camille rushed, tossing the items that she decided she didn’t need onto a random panty display.

She quickly hugged her friends goodbye and nearly teleported to her car. Once she got home, she pulled out the ingredients to make steaks, asparagus, and brown rice, which was his favorite. While everything was cooking perfectly, she headed into her bedroom to set everything up for their romantic night ahead.

Ahmad slung his gym bag over his shoulder, preparing to head out of the door before he heard someone call his name. He sighed deeply and turned around, seeing one of his co-workers, Alexis, rushing toward him. He raised an eyebrow in confusion, wondering what she could have wanted from him. When she finally reached him, she bent over with her hands on her knees to catch her breath.

“Shelly…wants to know…if you can work…a few more hours. She…has an emergency…to handle…and has no one…to close the gym…but you,” she panted. He looked at his watch. It was fifteen minutes until seven and the gym didn’t close until ten-thirty that night. There was no way he could work any longer; he promised Camille he’d have dinner with her for their anniversary.

He sighed loudly. “I can’t. I already have plans for the night. She’s going to have to find someone else,” he said, turning away from her and continuing to the lobby. 

Alexis shrugged. “I don’t know. I can call her and tell her, but if you can’t do it, she’s obviously going to have to find someone else to do it,” she muttered and walked off.
Ahmad shook his head and sat on the bench in the lobby to wait on Shelly. He really didn’t want to disappoint Camille tonight. He knew how important it was to her for him to be there, and he didn’t want to let her down. Shelly approached him with a frown on her face. 

“What seems to be the problem?” she questioned, folding her arms across her chest.

“I was just telling Alexis that I already had other plans after work and I can’t close tonight. I told you last week that it was my anniversary today and I needed to get off in time. You know if I could close, I would, Shelly,” he said.

Shelly eyed him for a few seconds before rolling her eyes. “But that’s the thing, Ahmad. I’m not asking you to; I’m telling you. Last I checked, I ran this gym and if I ask you to close, you close. So you can call your girlfriend to tell her that you’re going to be a little late, put your gym bag down, and get comfortable behind the check-in desk until closing time,” she stated firmly, turning on her heels. She stopped abruptly and turned back around. “Oh yeah, happy anniversary,” she said, quickly walking back to her office. Ahmad tightly clenched his jaw in anger and frustration. He knew Camille was going to be upset when she found out he was coming in late.

The excitement in her voice when she answered the phone made his heart ache. “Hey, baby, I was just thinking about you,” she purred into the phone.

Ahmad sighed and rubbed his forehead in frustration. “Hey, babe. I have some bad news,” he said slowly. There was a brief pause before he continued. “Shelly is making me close tonight…so I’ll be coming in much later than I originally planned,” he said.

Camille didn’t respond. She leaned against the counter with the phone to her ear, disappointed in what she just heard. She looked around at the meal she prepared for him, seeing that it was now all a waste.

“Cam?” Ahmad said, catching her attention again.

She sighed. “Yeah, I’m still here. I understand. I was just hoping that you’d come over because I made you dinner and everything,” she muttered.

She tried to hide the frustration in her voice, but she wasn’t doing a good job of it. One thing she hated the most was when their plans changed because of his job. The silence between them was becoming awkward. “Well, what time should I expect you then?” she finally asked, her silky voice soothing his frayed nerves.

“It may not be until eleven-thirty or midnight. I’ll be there as soon as I can, baby,” he promised.

“I thought the gym closed at ten-thirty?”

“It does, but we have cleaning and everything once the doors are locked.”

“Okay, baby. I love you,” she said softly.

“I love you, too, babe. I’ll call you back when I go on break or when I get off,” he said. They said their goodbyes and hung up.

Camille sighed and ran her fingers through her hair. Frustrated wasn’t even the word to describe how she was feeling at the moment. She reluctantly made her plate of food and sat down at her dining room table alone. She didn’t plan on spending her anniversary this way. She was already tired and was afraid that she’d be asleep by the time he finally made his way to her apartment. She bitterly sipped her wine as she looked at the empty chair across the table where her boyfriend should have been sitting. After picking at her food for half an hour, she gave up and went to clean up the rest of the food in the kitchen.

Around ten-thirty, she began pacing her living room floor, waiting to receive a phone call or text from him to let her know what was going on. She lit a couple of candles in the living room to help calm her down and put her back into the mood of celebrating. She wasn’t going to allow his boss or his job to ruin their night. She would still make it special, even if they didn’t have much time. She turned on a little soft music and went into her bedroom to change into a bra and panty set that she bought last week but still hadn’t been able to wear for him. After checking her reflection in the mirror, she put on her red satin robe and curled up on the couch. It would only be a matter of time before he arrived.

Ahmad quietly let himself into her apartment a little after midnight. He was extremely exhausted, and going to bed was the only thing on his mind. He inhaled deeply and could smell vanilla candles being burned in the dimly lit apartment. “Cam?” he called out, closing and locking the door behind him. When he didn’t get an answer, he set his gym bag on the floor next to the door and made his way into the living room.

He sighed when he saw her curled up on the couch, fast asleep. “Fuck,” he whispered to himself. He went into the bedroom to prepare the bed for her and was immediately stopped in his tracks. She’d sprinkled rose petals on the floor and also on the bed in the shape of a heart. There were more candles lit around the bedroom as well as a large teddy bear holding a card that said, “I love you”. He shook his head as guilt consumed him. She went through all of this trouble just to end up spending the night alone.

He blew out the candles and pulled the blankets back so he could put her in bed. He returned to the living room and gently picked her up into his arms. She stirred slightly. 
“You were too late,” she murmured, still half asleep.

Ahmad sighed and kissed her forehead. “I know and I’m sorry, baby,” he said softly, placing her in bed. She went back to sleep soundly as he headed into the bathroom for a quick shower. He felt bad that he wasn’t able to keep his promise. He would definitely have to find a way to make it up to her.

Fifteen minutes later, he settled in bed next to her and wrapped his arms around her. She snuggled closer to him. “I love you,” she whispered against his chest. Ahmad held her tighter and closed his eyes.
“I love you too, baby.”

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