JC looked over at the clock on the DVD player. “One-thirty in the morning,” he huffed and changed positions on the bed. All of a sudden he heard rain beating on the window. He jumped up from the bed looked out the window. It was complete darkness outside but he could see a hint of his own reflection. “I wish I could tell her how I feel.” He continued to stand by the window and watch the rain fall non-stop. The rain hitting the window seemed to calm his nerves and help him delve further into his own thoughts.

JC walked with the Wyatts back to their limos. Mrs. Wyatt became scared and grabbed JC by his arm. “Have you seen Latise?” JC held her hand gently and tried to reassure her, “I’ll look for her, you should go on. I’ll find her and take care of her.” Her mother looked into his crystal blue eyes and knew he meant that. “Joshua please find her. I’ve already lost one child, please don’t make me lose another.” He nodded to her and tightly hugged her. He opened the door and helped her into the limo. Closing the door, the windows came down. “I’ll find her. She just needs sometime to herself.” She silently agreed as the automatic window came back up.

JC walked around the cemetery and soon found her at Daryl’s grave sitting on her knees.

JC rushed up to her and helped her off the ground. “He was seventeen years old…he didn’t even have the chance to live yet…why did he have to get caught up in that mess?” He threw his arms around her as she turned a tear stained face to his. JC held a hand underneath her chin. “Latise, you know it wasn’t like Daryl to ignore someone in need. That girl’s boyfriend was slapping her around. How could he not interfere?”. She sobbed miserably into his shoulder, it broke his heart in two. “But he didn’t even know her. Someone else could have helped her.” JC rubbed his hand over the back of her head. “Someone else didn’t help her, Latise. He couldn’t live with that on his conscious, knowing he could have helped but didn’t.” Latise sobbed again, “He isn’t living period! Why did he feel like he had to save everyone?” He wanted to help her but knew there was nothing he could do. “Why? Why?” she cried. Daryl was a good guy. Why did he have to get shot over defending some stupid girl. Why couldn’t he just walk away?” JC held her tightly as she continued to cry. “It’s okay Latise, let it all out. If your mad, it’s okay to be mad. Don’t hold onto any of this.” It was the two of them alone. She grieved at his grave for another half hour. The couple walked back to his car, with JC never letting her go. Latise leaned her head against his shoulder as they stopped at the car. “Thank you Josh…for staying with me.” He looked at her and wiped another tear away. “I wanted to stay. I loved him too. He was like a brother to me.” They stood in silence for a moment. JC shook her shoulder. “Are your ready to go home?” The hurt look on her face said it all. “I know I should go but I can’t just yet. Do you mind if I stay at your house for a few hours?” JC opened up the passenger side and helped her in He then opened his own door and entered the car. “Yeah, that’s okay. We’ll tell your mom when we get there.”

The ride home was quiet. Latise closed her eyes and eventually slept. After hearing of her brother’s death she slept for a few hours at a time. JC watched her from time to time to make sure she was alright. He pulled into his driveway and tapped her hand. “Latise? Latise sweetheart? She gradually open her eyes and saw his sparkling blues looking upon her. She smiled. “We’re at my house.” JC went around to the passenger side of the car and helped her out. They headed up the steps and entered his house. On the hallway table his parents left a note saying they would be at the Wyatts. As he read the note, Latise headed up the staircase and into his room. JC called the Wyatts house and his mom answered. “Hey mom, it’s Joshua. Latise is here at our house, she’s gonna take a nap. Please tell her mom she’s okay.” His mom readjusted the phone to her ear. “I will. I think we’ll be over here for a few hours. If you need anything call. I love you.” JC smiled weakly into the phone. “I love you too mom.”

JC headed for his room and noticed Latise sitting on the bed looking lost. He sat beside her and held her hand. “What are you thinking?” Latise looked at him again with sad eyes. “How am I supposed to go on without him? He is…was my everything. Why do we even bother caring about people when there’s so much hurt and pain when they die?”

JC turned his body to face hers. “Maybe death is a way for us to reevaluate our own lives and to learn not to take anyone for granted. We should remember that we’re all on this earth for a short period of time. We have to make the most of our time with the people we love.” Latise took her free and placed it on her heart. “But it hurts so damn much. This pain is indescrible. I’ve never had this feeling before. I…I just have so much rage and everything.”

JC closed his eyes, sympathizing with her, “Latise, I don’t know. I wish I had a reason that could make sense of this all but I don’t. All I know is if he was never in our lives, we would’ve never been the people that we are now.” Latise reached her hand to stroke the side of his face. JC slowly moved his face into her hand, as he softly spoke to her with his eyes still closed. “I wish I could take this pain away from you. If it was within my power I would do it…when I see you like this I…I just want to reach out to you and take you into my arms…” She leaned into him as her lips lightly grazed his. JC gradually opened his eyes. “Latise…we shouldn’t..” She interrupted him again and stared at him with heartbreaking eyes, “I need you Josh…I’ll understand if you don’t want this to happen. I can respect your wishes because you matter.” She silently waited for him to respond.

JC stood up in front of her and watched her as she awaited his answer. He shook his head and started to speak. Latise rose to her feet and looked him straight in the eyes. “Joshua, you said that if you could take my pain away you would. You have the power to do that now…you can make this happen.” He turned away from her. “Do you know what you’re asking me to do? Do you even hear what you’re saying?” He heard her delicate voice over his shoulder. “I know exactly what I’m saying. I am asking you to make love to me.” JC continued to keep his attention off of her. “I can’t make you forget about your brother’s death…” JC saw her feminine hands reach around his stomach. He felt her breasts pressing against his back as she lay her head against his back. Latise slowly began untying his necktie and tossed it on the floor. She then moved on to unbutton his shirt. “Latise…” JC quickly turned to her and stared at her. He didn’t see the angel that rescued him from the neighborhood bully. Nor did he see this teenage crush that he so eagerily put on a pedestal. He didn’t even see her as this genius that always had the right answers no matter what the problem was. As he stared at Latise he saw her for who she was—a girl. A girl who was being bullied by sadness and pain. A girl who was so deepily submerged in sadness and pain that even her pedestal couldn’t protect her from its crashing waves. A girl who knew of a problem but didn’t have the answers.

JC stepped forward and passionately kissed her soft, full lips. He nuzzled his nose on the side of her neck as he quietly asked, “Are you sure you want this to happen? You know I’m a…” Latise stopped and searched his face to finish his sentence, but he only diverted his eyes.. She understood his silence as embarrassment began to creep onto his face. “Josh?” He continued to look everywhere but at her. “Joshua!” Her tone caught his attention, she led him to the side of the bed and had him sit. Latise stood before him and held his hands. “I’m sorry Josh I had just assumed that this…that I, wasn’t your first. I’ll understand if you don’t want this to happen. I can respect your wishes because you matter. Your first time should matter.” JC thought for a moment and nodded his head in silence. “Latise, I can’t think of anybody that I’d rather share this part of my life with. Over the years I’ve put so much trust in you for everything…”

For the first time he was able to be her champion and her support system. JC pulled her down to him. Their lips were just a slight distance apart. “Now it’s your time to let me do the same for you. I want you to trust me.” He kissed her again as her hands roamed freely over his chest removing his jacket and his shirt. As she unbuckled his belt, she loosened his pants and helped him slid out of them. She smiled as she noticed he had on Karl Kani boxers. “That’s that African American influence,” she teasingly stated. Grinning, he lifted her hand and had her sit beside him. JC unbuttoned her blouse and flung it to the side. He softly caressed her breasts as he nibbled on her ear. He stopped momentarily to ask her, “Do you trust me?” Latise let out a soft moan as she pushed JC’s head further into her neck. “Do you trust me?” he sexily asked again. Latise grabbed his face as she lazily looked at him. “Yes I do,” she peacefully responded.

JC began kissing her and unhurriedly planted kisses down her chest and towards her stomach. He removed her skirt and discarded it. Latise let out a girlish giggle as she saw her skirt and her panties fly through the air, one right after the other. He removed his boxers and stood on his knees above her with all his glory. Latise sat up to meet his juicy lips. JC gently laid her back down. Latise grabbed him and begin to work him. He moaned louder and louder and started to lick his lips while he enjoyed this feeling. Latise grinned knowing the pleasure he was feeling. He buried his head into her shoulder. With her free hand she caressed his neck and whispered, “Wait it gets better.” With all the foreplay Latise was ready to become one with him. As she guided him, she stopped for a moment. JC looked at her with shock. “What are you ok? Why did you stop?” Latise had her eyes closed. “Moment to adjust.” JC sexily grinned as he understood she was referring to his size. As she opened her eyes and saw that grin she rolled her eyes. “And?” she flatly replied. ‘You’d better pay attention cause I’m not about to work this again…” JC silenced her as his tongue explored her mouth. Their bodies moved slow and deliberate at first. JC now understood the term hip action when he was learning to dance. Now he was getting to use what the lesson had taught him. As their joining sped up, Latise began to cry out louder and louder and he was hitting her spot. She tried to gain control as she bit her lip to stifle her. Their bodies began to glisten with sweat as the marathon continued. JC’s cries grew louder as they reached their breaking point. JC began breathing heavily as he rolled off Latise. He lay facing her and moved closer to her, putting his arm around her waist. Latise started to say something, but JC gave her a knowing look as if he understood. She smiled and snuggled up to him as they lay quietly in bed.

The jolt of lightning, brought momentary light into the darkness. JC woke up from his short-lived journey. The sound of thunder rolling and the raindrops hitting the window helped ease JC back into this time and space. He heard a slight knock at the door and turned to see Latise there with her purple tee shirt and purple and black plaid boxers. She stood at the door with a pillow in her hand and nervously shifted from side to side. She flipped on the light, causing JC temporary blindness. “Joshua?” she sang in a low, childlike voice. He rubbed his eyes as he tried to adjust to the light. He leaned against the window sill, amused by her behavior. “Yes?” Latise dug her toe into the carpet and cased her room. “Um, can I sleep with you?” JC tilted his head downward and began to chuckle. “What? What did you just ask?” Latise huffed a moment and stepped into the room. “I meant can I sleep in the same room with you jackass!” JC rubbed his chin and squinted at her, “Still afraid of a little thunder and lightning?” He sauntered over to her and towered over her. “If I were you and I was afraid of the natural elements, I’d ask a hell of a lot nicer.” Latise gave him a dirty look and breathed in deepily changing her attitude. “Josh, I’m scared of the T and the L, and I was wondering if I could stay the night in here.” JC folded his arms and mockingly acted like he was giving serious consideration to her request. “Hhmm. After giving this serious consideration. I’ve…decided…” Latise grew impatient, “C’mon now boy I have to get up soon. Any day would be ok to respond.” She tossed the pillow at him and he caught it. He began again, “I’ve…decided…NO!” He picked her up and placed her outside the room and shut the door.”

She threw a hissy fit and yelled at him. JC leaned against the door, listening to her every word. “Lala shhh! Lala, you gotta cut that out. You’re gonna wake up Justin.” He heard her quiet down as he continued his torture. “Now Lala, if you want in, you have to ask nicely.” He heard her mumble something under her breath and she cleared her throat. JC felt a push on the door and figured she was leaning against the door too. Latise regained her composure and used her best sugary sweet voice, “Josh, please let me in. I’m so sorry for my actions before. Please accept my apology. May I sleep in the room?” He opened the door and hung on the door. “Now that was all you had to say.” He stepped off to the side as she entered the room. She climbed onto the bed as he got on the other side. She rolled her eyes as she settled herself beneath the covers and faced him. JC lay on top of the covers and teased her some more. “I don’t know what’s wrong with a few pleases and thank yous. You are so difficult sometimes, I swear you’re like five.”

Latise sat straight up and became jokingly defensive. ‘It’s my damn house, I can act the way I want to cause I’m the Supa Star up in here.” He took a pillow and hit her with it. She looked at him crazy and extended her pointer finger and rolled her neck. “Tell me, you didn’t do what I think you just did! Naw, hell naw! Tell me, you didn’t do what I think you did!” JC leaned closer to her and sexily whispered, “I did and I’ll do it again.” He playfully hit her again and they started wrestling. They tussled back and forth until Latise was on top of him. He grinned a mischevious grin at her and for a moment they sat there. Latise remembered being in a similar position with JC before, which was their one night of lovemaking. The thoughts running through her head made her face turn red from embarrassment. JC kept looking at her, taking in the view. He disrupted her thoughts. “What are you thinking about?”

As she started to answer, another crack of lightening hit the ground, causing them to feel the tremors. Latise’s eyes grew wider and she let out a tiny scream. JC caught her as she jumped off of him. She held on tightly around his waist and buried her head into his chest. He sighed to himself and put his arm around her. “I surely would have thought you would have outgrown this.” She stared questioningly at him, “Outgrow this? Aren’t you still afraid of clowns?” JC gave her a tight squeeze, “They are evil and do the devil’s work scaring little kids and messing them up for life. But I digress, we’re not talking about me, it’s all about you this time.” He arose from the bed and headed to turn off the lights. Turning back he saw her crawl into a ball with the covers tucked all around her. “Are you gonna be okay?” She was under the covers and softly replied, “Yes.” He shut the light out and got back in the bed on top of the covers.. The both lay there listening to the patter of the rain and the thunder rolling. Another lightening bolt touched down and JC felt Latise jump again. He slid behind her and rubbed her arm. His being there brought a peace to her. He wrapped his arm around her and softly spoke to her, “You’ll be okay Lala. I’ll always be here for you. I won’t leave you.” His words gently swirled in her head and blocked out the rain, thunder and lightening, as she gradually went to sleep.

Chapter Seven: