Episode 22 Trouble in Paradise
JC walked down the street to the seven-eleven around six-thirty, he had noticed his grandmother had run out of milk and he didn’t want her to have to force herself out of the house that early. You never knew who was hanging around, waiting for a little old lady to step out and buy her morning milk. He had left Caitlin preparing breakfast and smiled as his new girlfriend was happily settling into their small house in Compton. She never looked down upon his humble beginnings and for that he was grateful. She had got up out of bed, showered and fed Callie and asked him what he wanted for breakfast. He’d smiled and told her not to worry, he’d grab something later, but when his grandmother got up, they both informed him he had to eat. In truth,he liked being taken care of and Caitlin, although a busy woman, was still wifey material. She had snuggled happily with him the night before in his tiny room, chatting about all kinds of stuff that he darn’s speak to his boys about. Politics, things that mattered. Rogue and B-dog would be cool with that kind of conversation but the rest of the guys would ask him to hand over his ghetto pass. That was the usual way to indicate you were not cool. JC just wanted to move forward and not be stuck in the rut he had been wedged in since his high school graduation.
Turning around the corner, he smiled snidely as three guys he knew to be Battle’s friends were hanging and smoking joints. They shifted uncomfortably and JC walked past them as bold as brass.
“Hey, nigga, you shot my boy?” One asked, a little uncertainly. In their neighborhood, it worked like a hierarchical system. There was the top dog and flowing down in levels were their underdogs and finally the fleas that sat at the bottom. He was not exactly top dog but he wasn’t a flea either. These guys were definitely ranked below him and that was clear by the stammer in the short guy’s voice.
“Nah,” JC laughed and put a hand on the young guy’s shoulder friendly. “Didn’t you hear? The cops got the wrong nigga. Shit, must be the case that if you are at an event, you’re from the CPT, you’re automatically a suspect.” His tone was friendly but his eyes flashed dangerously. The three men passed a look and jC suddenly grabbed the shirt of the guy whom’s shoulder his rested on. “And if I find out which one of you niggaz told five-o it was me, I’ll fucking kill you! You hear me?” The guy’s eyes widened in fear as his friends backed away cautiously. “I said, you fucking hear me?” “Yeah, sure thing, JC!” The guy nodded furiously his comprehension. “Good, or else, next time we meet, you’ll be in lock up, you understand me, homie?” He nodded again and JC gave them the signal they could leave which they promptly did.
Caitlin handed Rose a towel to pull the griddle from the stove. They had made pancakes and Caitlin was grilling sausages and bacon on the huge george forman grill. The kitchen was small and cozy and Caitlin felt at home here.
“Your house reminds me of my dad’s house in carson,” She spoke naturally to Rose, as if they’d known each other their whole lives. “You lived in carson?” Rose looked up at Caitlyn now, her brown eyes quizzical. Her eyes were the one part of Rose Carter that didn’t display her age in the least. They danced with life and joy as she watched the younger woman expertly lift the meat from the grill and place them on the three plates set before her. “yeah, until I moved out to go to UCLA,” Caitlin wiped her hands on a damp cloth and took the plates to the table. “Didn’t JC tell you that?” Her eyes were warm with wonder as she looked in the direction of the older woman. “No, he didn’t,” Rose mused as she lay knives and forks at the three places on the old scrubbed wooden table. Callie was lying by the door, watching her mistress work happily. Caitlin had called work and told them she was taking the day off. After all, not much needed to be done today and she was still exhausted from the previous few weeks. Rose wondered silently why her grandson had not told her Caitlin hadn’t always lived well. Carson was the next city to Compton and she knew as well as most that it had trouble like any other, but Rose had been led to believe that Caitlin was from the rich end of LA. Frowning at her grandson’s secrecy, she pulled the chair from beneath the table and took her seat. She wasn’t sure why she was surprised by this in the slightest. After all, JC was not forthcoming about most information in his life. Why should his love life make it to the drawing board?
Caitlin took her seat, wondering why the older woman had gone quiet. She was afraid she had in some way offended her. That was definitely not Caitlin’s intention. She admired this woman that through all hardships had raised the man she was currently very fond of. Picking up her knife and fork, figuring that eating would mask the awkwardness that had fallen between them, Caitlin hoped JC hadn’t run into any trouble. He’d been gone a while now and she pressed the silver button on her watch to hear the time spoken clearly as seven-twenty-five AM. He had been gone for thirty minutes and the store was just down the block. As she picked up the cutlery again, Rose spoke to her.
“Honey, if you get involved with my grandson, you must learn something fast. he doesn’t do anything by halves. He will answer to no one but himself and often disappears without explanation or reason for hours, days and occasionally weeks at a time. Prepare yourself because being with JC is not going to be easy.”
Caitlin nodded and realized she was aware of this far too well.
“I know things won’t always be straight forward or uncomplicated, but it’s something I am willing to do,” She sighed and cursing herself for saying anything, stuffed a forkful of pancakes into her mouth. As she chewed and Rose watched on with pity in her old face, the front door slammed and JC’s voice was heard.
“Just me,” He called and entered the small kitchen that emphasized his height. He had to stoop slightly to enter through the doorway and as he leaned against the kitchen counter, he smiled at the two women that meant so much to him, sitting as family should around the table at breakfast time. “You guys are amazing!” He placed the milk into the fridge and took his seat at the table across from Caitlin. smiling sexily at her, his eyes sparkling with affection, he took her hand, aware her eyes, no matter how beautiful, still were blind to his loving glances.
“How are you this morning?” He asked in those silken tones that made her stomach wobble. Smiling she gave his hand a squeeze. “I’m doing good, and you?” Her smile was sweet and light. “I am feeling good!” He filled his fork and began to eat his breakfast. Caitlin felt Rose’s eyes on her and she hoped beyond all hope that the older woman wasn’t disapproving of her now.
Emily opened the front door to a small, blond-headed delivery guy around eight-thirty. Smiling she took the huge bunch of red roses he held out and signed the electronic pad he offered her.
“Thanks,” She called and closed the door, her face falling as she spied they weren’t for her. Why she expected Cory to get her flowers, when she had repeatedly told him she despised flowers was beyond even emily’s comprehension. Placing them in some cold water in the sink, she reached for her cell phone and dialed Caitlin’s cell. She had not been angry with her friend for continuing to see JC as Lexie was. She just prayed she knew what she was doing. Emily knew there was more to this situation than Caitlin was letting on, but Em had decided not to push it. Caitlin would only remove herself further from them if they kept quizzing her the way they had been doing.
“Hello?” Caitlin’s’ cheery voice answered the phone after only a few rings. “Sup Em?” “You got flowers!” Emily mused teasingly. “I did?” The confusion in Caitlin’s voice astounded Emily. “Well, dude, you have a man, they do that kind of thing,” Emily laughed at her friend’s confusion. She also thought to herself as she ran the cold water over the stems of the beautifully scented roses, the color of blood that she wished Cory was this romantic.
“I’m with JC,” Caitlin said in an aghast tone. “Emily, what does the card say?”
Emily could not comprehend why Caitlin was being so difficult about all of this. Her man sent her flowers, why wasn’t she excited? Sighing dismissively, Emily opened the card and read it aloud: “To Caitlin, It was a pleasure meeting you and thank you for being by my bedside. To see your face helped my speedy recovery. I hope I can make it up to you by taking you out to dinner one night this week. Lots of hugs, Battle.”
emily dropped the card onto the counter and gasped, realizing Caitlin’s astonishment was founded. Of course, why would JC send flowers to their house when Caitlin had stayed with him the previous night. And now, another guy, a guy she barely knew, who had seemingly caused a rift between them already was sending her a dozen red roses. The line had gone horribly silent and Emily checked to see if the call had been disconnected. Seeing that it hadn’t, she called her best friend’s name. “Caitlin, are you OK?” Her stomach was in knots. What was JC Carter really capable of doing? Would he hurt Caitlin? Had he heard any of that? She gulped back fear as she heard Caitlin’s voice.
“We’ll be right over!” And the phone was disconnected. Emily looked around her and prayed to God Alexia had left for work already.
Lexie sped around the arena on Jackal, a young cult she was breaking in. Dan had been on his ignoring her phase for the past few days and she was growing absolutely tired of it. Feeling the horse pant beneath her in the hot summer’s sun, she directed him to a water troth and rested him for a few seconds in the shade. Wiping her face with the back of her hand, ridding herself of perspiration from the hot day, Lexie allowed a sigh to escape her. She knew her friend was making a big mistake, but that was the least of her worries as she looked up and saw a tall, tanned, blond-headed figure coming toward her.
“How’s he doing?” Dan asked with a sharp air about him. A gentle desert breeze blew Lexie’s fringe beneath her riding hat as she glowered at the man she had been on and off having an affair with for the past few months. “He’s good!” She informed him curtly, tossing her head back in an insolent tone. “Working hard, of course!” “Right.” Dan patted the horse. “I’ll let you get back to it.” He turned to walk away but Lexie grabbed his arm hard. “Don’t walk away from me!” She hissed through clenched teeth. Dan was becoming like her addiction, like she ultimately needed him in ways she’d never needed anyone, let alone a man, before. He was smiling satisfactorily at her. “What’s the matter, Lex? Don’t like being played at your own game, huh?” She scowled at him, her insides wrenching with annoyance and lust for the good looking horse man. “Shut up, Dan,” She tugged on his shirt, leaving the horse drinking still as she walked over to the bridle shed as she tapped him on the butt. “You know you missed me!” She giggled like a child who had just won the best prize at the fair. Smirking, he pulled at her clothing and threw her onto a stack of hay. Giggling like crazy, Lexie felt all the pent up tention vanish from her body as she gave into the illusiveness of the man she could not have.
The door was open as Caitlin and JC entered the house. Emily was standing by it. JC walked directly past her to the counter. Emily stared into the face of her best friend, anxious to see if she was well. She looked fine on the outside.
“What’s going on?’ Emily whispered as JC stood, back to them, rigid and still as stone. Caitlin raised a finger to her lips as Emily spoke. Emily glanced back over to JC who was still stood stock still. glancing down, Emily saw Callie, still as JC, not even wagging her golden tail. Something was very wrong.
JC felt sick as he read the neatly scrawled words on the red card. What was this nigga thinking? Fucking with his girl? Was he truly interested in Caitlin or was she just a way to get at him? Why was battle trying to fuck with him anyway? He’d never been interested in messing with JC or any of his crew before, why now? He turned to see Emily staring at him and Caitlin’s worried expression. Both girls stood quietly and patiently by the door. His heart swelled at the sight of Caitlin standing there. she had already proven so much to him. On the way over, she kept quiet, occasionally resting her small, gentle hand on his leg as he drove. His stomach had been gripped by some invisible hand when she had told him what the card had said. He had to see it for himself. just to know about it wasn’t merely enough. But now that he had, he was uncertain of what choice to make. The gangster in him wanted to go after Battle, warn him, but he knew Caitlin did not want that. What choice did he have though? If he didn’t do anything, it would look weak on the streets. It would give any nigga who thought her to be attractive, [and JC was under no illusion that that number would be many], to go after his girlfriend. No, he would have to teach Battle a lesson, whether Caitlin liked it or not.
She knew, in the pit of her stomach what was coming next. The rate of her heart told her so much about the situation that she did not yet want to know but she was realistic. JC was going to go after Battle, after all, he had “come after her” as Jc put it, and now he would have to learn a hard lesson.
“Baby,” JC walked steadily over to the small blond-headed girl he was caring for more and more each day despite her being the object of this current problem. “I know,” She sighed heavily, walking into his arms and allowing them to encircle her lovingly. “I know!” She repeated as a whisper in his strong chest. Stroking her long blond hair, kissing the top of her golden head, he knew this girl was doing crazy things to him.
In turn, she felt safe amidst his muscles and wondered how the future would turn out. Her heart raced both with fear for him and the continually growing affection she felt inside.
Emily crossed her arms and knew that whatever was going on between them needed to remain that way, private and confidential. She turned and walked outside, quietly closing the door and heading into the city where she could be lost amidst the hustle and bustle.