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Now my comments about the story:
Ravenous… yes, the novel you should read to understand some more things about Shadow. I love my readers who have read all my books. OmG! talk about experts at my stories. You guys rock!
And I regret to inform you that you are going to hate me for this chapter, but in all fairness, Lauren needs to work out her feelings for Dylan properly. She don’t make the best decisions when it comes to her heart as you guys have seen and even though Dylan stomped on her heart he was still the first man to have it.
We all have a little lauren inside of us. Some of us are just a little stronger at resisting the heart than others.
Black’s Innocence Chapter 35
Instead of opening the door, Lauren asked loudly, “Can I help you?”
“Yes, my name is Blair Newman. Shadow sent me.” The woman held up a thick file with lots of rubber bands around it.
Opening the door, Lauren invited the woman in. This Blair looked about her late twenties and was average size with curves. She looked pregnant, but Lauren didn’t want to ask.
Blair smiled comfortably as she was used to meeting strangers and handed Lauren a business card. “I should also let you know, I’m your landlord’s wife as well. My husband owns the Charlotte townhouses.”
“Really?” Lauren asked shocked as she shook Blair’s extended hand. “Yes, I am Lauren Jensen.”
“I told you that bit of information, just in case you ever meet my husband. I’d prefer you not mention Shadow to him. She irritates his soul, but she gets too much of a kick out of it.”
“But you’re her friend?”
“Oh yes. She’s been a lifesaver to me. I’d have never gotten this far in life without her help. She’s invaluable.” She handed the file over to Lauren. “Which is why you’re invaluable to me as well. Whatever you can do to straighten this mess out so it’s understandable would be awesome. She’s got so much going on I don’t think she knows what’s happening with all her properties.”
“This is Shadow’s stuff?” Lauren asked looking at deeds, invoices and bank accounts. “She has a business. I mean I lot of business.”
“The majority of her business is real estate, but she also funds small businesses as well. The girl is smart. Too smart for her own good. How was she? I’ve only spoken to her and not seen her. Did she look well? ” Blair asked concerned.
“She looked beat up the couple of times I saw her.”
Blair gasped and frowned. “I hate her for agreeing to help her uncle, but if she doesn’t he’ll just go after Paradise.”
“What?” Lauren asked confused.
Shaking her head, Blair said, “That’s just too much for you to consume right now, Lauren.”
“So you know why she looks like someone’s beating the shit out of her most of the time?”
“Unfortunately, her uncle is making sure she can defend herself.”
“We’re talking about Shadow. The little teenager that looks like she hasn’t been home trained ever and likes to look like a tomboy in high-end clothes?”
Blair chuckled. “Yeah, the streets certainly taught her a lot of things she wouldn’t change, but you’d be surprised how much she actually knows. The man who found her on the street was a criminal after she ran away from her adopted mother. He taught her a lot and other stuff just came natural.” Blair pointed to the folder. “This came out of necessity. Too many people ask too many questions about little girls not being in school so she had to fake a lot of things. Owning property helped and recruiting women who needed help anyway also helped. I was one of them. I had kids. I knew a little stuff about a lot of things. Shadow needed our help and we desperately needed hers.”
“What about her real mother? She said her mother is trying to kill her.”
“I never asked about that. I know Shadow was given to a woman to raise but she hated this woman and the only reason she didn’t kill the woman was because the woman also had a son. Shadow calls him her brother, but that’s about it and it’s the only reason why she didn’t kill the woman, but she ran away and came to Detroit to hide from Blaque Heart.”
“No.” Blair sighed. “See the woman who wants Shadow dead is named B-L-A-Q-U-E. Shadow is currently being slightly protected by Blaque’s brother, King, but that’s not going to last for long. Blaque is kinda angry that King is protecting Shadow. I don’t think Blaque assumed Shadow would be this strong. I personally think Blaque took great pleasure in seeing if Shadow was just going to die on the streets.”
“But that’s her child.”
“I’m not even sure about that and I don’t think Shadow is really sure anymore. At one point, Shadow believed her real mother was in Detroit, which is why she came here initially, but she never took the effort to reach out and try to find the woman.”
“Why does she think her mother is this Blaque now?”
“Her uncle likes to get in people’s head and mix up the truth for his own sad pleasure. Shadow relayed her uncle saying Blaque had a hard time getting pregnant a long time ago, but that was pretty much all he said, but Shadow also found out just recently she was given to her adopted mother.”
“Why is King using her?”
“Because he can’t come to Detroit. Not until he gets everything laid out in terms of legitimizing his business and try to get his cousin not to kill him. That’s another long story.”
“Shadow seems like she has her own drama.”
“Well, she does, but she does know if you get Tyler’s situation worked out, it will help her uncle and then he won’t need her anymore and she can be free of him, plus he won’t find Paradise.” Blair smiled with hope glittering in her eyes. “Shadow needs to be happy and get some rest. She deserves that with how much she had helped so many out.”
Coming close to Lauren, Blair took her hands and held them close. “You will have my undying gratitude if you can help her be free of King Heart.”
“I’ll do my best,” Lauren promised.
Blair nodded and prepared to leave. “Good. Thanks.”
“Now I just need to understand Blaque the evil woman from The Black family.”
Blair chuckled. “The Black’s are Tyler’s people through and through, even if he doesn’t want to acknowledge them. That’s an even longer story. How about we have lunch soon?”
“Sure, we can have lunch soon, but one more thing, Blair.”
Lauren remembered what Shadow had said about The Black’s being protective. “Can you find out how did I come to get accepted into this place?”
“Oh sure, I already know,” Blair said. “Tyler asked my husband if his real estate office could email you and assume you already inquired about an interest in this place.”
“But I did email this place or the apartments in The Charlotte for a spot on the waiting list as I did with hundreds or other places.”
Blair smirked. “I looked that up for Shadow. I saw you emailed from your work email, but actually it was never opened until I found digging around for Shadow. My husband, Sterling, only did whatever Tyler wanted. He owes his lawyer a great debt as well and Tyler was not taking no for an answer.”
“Thank you,” Lauren said reeling as she realized Tyler had set everything up. Damn him and his games! She was glad he decided to take a break because she needed to get away from him as much as possible.
After letting Blair out, she went to get ready for her date with Dylan Knight. Having any machinations that things could be like they way she had always dreamed was silly. She was actually dying of curiosity of what Dylan wanted to say to her.
Would he rub in about his hurt? Or would he find out about Dr. Jefferson backing her truth and need to apologize to her. If he knew about the truth, then this meant he had spoken with Tyler, but when?
Dammit! For one night she was determined not to think about Tyler Black. Just get the information from Dylan, see what twisted game he was playing too and then vow to stay as far away from the both of them when her contract with Tyler was over with.
Dylan arrived on time and looking impeccable in a baby blue suit with a white shirt and matching blue tie; even his shoes were blue alligator skinned.
This was his attempt to impress her. He knew she loved when he dressed up and looked like a million bucks.
He carried two dozen red roses and she forced a smile to her lips trying not to remember all the white rose petals she had to hurry up and clean up all over her bedroom floor just an hour ago.
“Thank you,” she said taking the flowers and inviting him inside.
“Wow and wow,” he said coming in and looking around. “These place have the longest waiting list in the world. I’d been waiting since this place opened up to get a spot. How in hell’s name did you get in here?”
Lauren frowned because why wouldn’t Tyler just help him get in here if he was the lawyer for the owner, who would do anything for Tyler. “Lucky?” she guessed not wanting to reveal what Blair had gotten her and changed the topic immediately as she put the flowers down on the dining room table. Coming back to face him, they awkwardly met gazes.
“Can I hug you?” he asked uncomfortably.
“Yes,” she said.
Dylan leaned down and hugged her tightly.
She closed her eyes for the brief moment and tried to feel what she used to feel from the past, but the only thing she could feel was what felt like heartburn.
“Let’s go eat,” she said pushing away.
He started to lean down as if to kiss her, but she dropped her purse on purpose and let him pick it up. She walked to the front door to give them distance and then he escorted her out to the car.
“You look beautiful, Lauren,” he said, as he opened his car door to let her inside.
He was driving his regular dark golden Chrysler 300 and she slid in the passenger seat and relaxed at the familiarity. A year ago, she was sitting in this seat, happy as a lark very ready to be a wife.
Fondly, she looked down at her left hand’s ring finger.
Dylan got in the driver’s seat and followed her gaze.
“What happened to your ring?” he asked regretfully. “I know we’re divorced and it’s probably somewhere in one of your jewelry boxes.”
The thought of all the jewelry she’d sold over the past months really hit home for her because at this point, she had no jewelry boxes. “I had to sell it to pay bills,” she answered. “I had to sell all my jewelry to pay bills, Dylan.”
“Really?” he asked having the nerve to actually look shocked.
Looking at him confused, she questioned, “You really didn’t think about what happened to me, Dylan?”
A huge look of guilt engulfed his face. “I have a lot of explaining, Lauren. I hate myself in all of this and I’d say sorry a million times daily if it could mean you would forgive me for what I’ve done to you.” He leaned over and kissed her cheek.
She turned away not wanting his proximity. “You only saying sorry because you found out I was telling the truth?”
“Yes,” he admitted. “I’d been avoiding everyone’s call until recently. My mother told me I needed to speak to Tyler about you last Thursday and when I called him, he told me about what Chance had told him.” He reached over and took her hand, squeezing gently. “Let’s get to eating and talk about what a horrible person I am.”
Lauren forced a smile in understanding and nodded.
Dylan took them to a Thai restaurant in the suburbs and she tried to hide her disappointment because he must’ve forgotten she hated spicy food.
She remembered they would go to these places when they dated because he loved very spicy food.
“Why are we here?” she inquired.
“I just landed this morning,” he said as he opened up her door. “I’ve been missing spicy food since I left.”
She let him escort her out of the car and into the restaurant already trying to formulate how not to get her food not spicy.
They were seated as soon as they came in. Despite it being a Sunday night, the restaurant wasn’t that crowded.
After they ordered their food, they locked gazes and he reached across the table and took her hand.
She realized he was trying to become familiar with her body again but she was highly aware of his touch and was still trying to determine if she wanted to be comfortable with his level of intimacy she felt he was taking from her. In the past, she didn’t mind. Hand touching, cheek kissing, and lots of hugging, was the norm between them.
Of course Lauren always put limits on their intimacy and had a choice to do that now.
“It pained me to get up and leave you that morning. After I woke up in the middle of the night and found the birth control, I just laid beside you and thought about life. I should have woken you and said something but I didn’t know what to say or how to confront you about what I was thinking. I didn’t act like a husband to you, Lauren. I didn’t try to communicate my feelings and do what people do when they care about one another. I just acted like a selfish son of a bitch.”
Considering how his mother had acted towards her recently, Lauren didn’t want to stop him from calling himself that name, so she agreed. “Married people talk things out.”
“You’re right. You are so very right, Lauren.”
She shifted in her seat uncomfortably. “But you really didn’t wonder what happened to me?”
“In the beginning, no, because I was angry and I didn’t want to listen to anyone. I thought and believed what I did and no one could change my mind about it.”
“Tyler influenced you?” she questioned.
“No, I didn’t want to listen to what he had to ay.”
She frowned because his confession took her aback. “You mean Tyler tried to talk you out of it?”
“He said I should go wake you up and talk to you but I didn’t want to do that. Like I said I was angry and confused. Like a coward, I left depending on Tyler to take care of everything like he always does. I knew he was good at resolving things and I didn’t want to think about it anymore.” He honestly looked laden with guilt. “I left and thought I would never look back; even when I spoke with Tyler I kept it all about business. I never made it personal because I was hurting inside so much.”
Lauren’s thoughts were in flurry, but she pushed for the truth. “Why’d you think coming back here and apologizing would be fine?”
“I didn’t, but I had to try. Like I said, I found out about Chance coming to the office and Tyler being very upset by his visit. My mother and I spoke and she pressed me about getting on Tyler about what he did. I inquired last Thursday about what he had done and why he had been upset. Tyler told me what Chance had said about you.” He put his head down in shame. “I realized in that moment i was the biggest fool in the world and from the beginning you were innocent in all of this.” His eyes welled up and she thought he was about to cry. “You were honest from the very beginning and nothing was your fault.” A tear ran down his cheek and he wiped it away. “I don’t know if you’re ever going to forgive me, but I promise from here on out I will be honest with you about everything, Lauren. Anything you ask of me, I will tell you the truth. And if I have to spend the rest of my life making up to you the pain and suffering I have caused because of my stupidity then I will do so. I swear.”
Lauren was shocked how sorrowful he was. “Did Tyler tell you what I was going through?”
“No,” he said taking a handkerchief out and cleaning his face. “I know you disliked him so I knew you wouldn’t be giving him any updates. I did ask my sister if she knew anything, but she said you’d disappeared off the radar after losing your job.”
“She didn’t make my life any better after everything happened,” Lauren said bitterly.
“And even that’s my fault,” he said quickly. “Everything is my fault, Lauren. I had so much more going on with my life when I walked down that aisle with you and I allowed one little stupid thing to block a blessing any man would be honored to have. If I wasn’t an idiot by this time we’d be sitting pretty with most of our debts paid off and pretty much about to have our first child.”
He was right and Lauren pulled her hand away feeling cold on the inside.
“Do you WANT to know what happened to me?” she questioned.
Their food was brought and Lauren felt a wave of nausea at the smell of Tyler’s spicy food. She wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to keep anything down tonight.
Lauren waited patiently for the waitress to set their food down before she began speaking.
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