Hood Love Part 3 - Shelly
Life has never been a fairy tale for me, but it damn sure wasn’t a nightmare either. Here I was the same girl that had been born to a drug addicted mother and shuffled through abusive foster homes my entire life, about to walk across the stage as a lawyer. Ms. Rosa, my last foster mother, would be so proud of me. She was the only foster parent I had that actually cared about me. She was a single woman who was not able to bare children. She treated me just like I was her daughter, but she took ill when I was in the 11th grade. I took care of her as best as I could, but she passed after my high school graduation. She made me promise her on her death bed that I would finish college and become a lawyer. She left me a life insurance policy valued at 500,000. Before today, I hadn’t touched that money at all. I had just let it incur interest. However, I took out $100,000 to surprise Babs.
Money had never been an issue for me, Babs, or Kat because we were hustlers. I had known Kat and Babs since middle school. However, Ms. Rosa lived right next door to Ms. Mae, Kat and Babs’ mother, so I spent a lot of time over their house. Kat had taught us how to get older niggas when we were younger and trick them out of their money without giving up no pussy. Babs was more ambitious though. She wanted more than a couple dollars for food, clothes, and the latest sneakers. She wanted big money. She got it and made sure we got it too. I loved that the most about her – her selflessness.
Before, love wasn’t on the radar for either of us. We had only met Leaf & Reek six months ago, but it felt like forever. The night of their first date, Leaf gave Babs the deed and bill of sale to the nightclub. You heard me correctly. He didn’t want any money for it either. He just wanted Babs. Though he gifted it to Babs, she kept her word that we’d open it together and we both assumed equal ownership. After running a few errands, I made my way home. When I walked in, I could hear Babs laughing on the phone with Leaf. It warmed my heart seeing her be so open to being loved. She always verbalized not feeling worthy. Well, Leaf proved her wrong and I’m glad he did.
“Are you ready for graduation Sis?” Babs asked.
“I ammmm.” I responded and showed off my customized cap. There was this dope artist in Philly that customized caps and she had done an amazing job with mine.
“Well, you don’t act like it. Put some pep in your step. And that’s beautiful. She did her thang.”
“Yes, she did. And excuse me mother. I’m about get dressed now.” I chuckled.
“I’m sorry. I’m just pressed. I’m so proud of you.”
“Thanks Babs. For real. I couldn’t have done it without you.” I said sincerely.
“No ma’am. No sentimental shit. Save that for later. We have so many surprises for you.”
“Cool. I’ll see y’all there.”
“How do you know that he’s coming?” Babs asked as she blushed.
“Girl please. Why else would you need 2 tickets? I had already given Ms. Mae hers. Besides Latif mentioned it when I was talking to Reek.
“What do you mean by he mentioned it?”
“He asked why everyone had a ticket to come except him. Reek was like ‘What the fuck would you be coming for?’ and he was like ‘The same reason why Leaf going.’ So, we both just regarded him.”
“He’s so weird.” Babs said. “I’m not talking about your brother babe. I’m just saying.” Babs said to Leaf. Latif was always on some creep shit – saying and doing inappropriate things to me. He never touched me though. Babs hated his ass, but I learned not to pay him any mind – mainly to protect Reek. I knew he would try to hurt him, and Latif seemed crazy and just not worth it. Besides, I knew how to handle myself. My phone rang and it was Ms. Mae so I went to my room. Babs still wasn’t talking to her and Kat, but they were still family to me, so I kept in contact. Ms. Mae always loved me unconditionally and I loved her the same.
“I was just thinking about you baby girl! How are my girls? Are you ready for your big day?” She asked before I could even say hello. Things had been so weird having to sneak and talk to her and see her. I understood how Babs felt but I thought it was completely selfish to Ms. Mae. Most importantly, life was too short to hold onto grudges.
“Hey Momma Bear. I am good. Babs is as well. She’s hanging in there with her friend too. Remember the building I told you we lost due to another bidder like six months ago?”
“Well, the bidder was Leaf. He’s Babs’ friend and he gave us the building.”
“Literally the same night we met him.”
“Are y’all sure it isn’t a scam or something. Why would he just give it to y’all? Who is he? Where is he from?”
“Ma, his name is Leaf it’s not a scam. He’s really into Babs and takes really good care of her. It’s a lot to break down but we’ll talk soon. I have to go Momma. I have to get dressed before I be late for my own graduation.”
“Okay. Are we still doing dinner after?”
“Of course. I wouldn’t miss it. Is Kat still coming?”
“Yes. What about Babs?”
“Oh yeah. That was the point of telling you about Leaf. He’s really close to my boyfriend, Reek. They’re like brothers. So, no talking about family business because he’s coming to dinner with me.”
“Alright. I think I can do that. Just for you though.” Ms. Mae answered, and we hung up.
Dressed in my cap and gown, I stared at myself in the mirror. I was amazed at the woman that stared back at me. I had already secured a position at Brown & Associates, so that took a lot of stress out of my life. The blessings were pouring in like a waterfall. I shook my head to clear my thoughts so that I wouldn’t start crying and mess up my make up.
“Damn, you’re beautiful.” I turned around and smiled after hearing Reek’s voice. We hugged for what felt like it was going to be forever. For the first time in my life, I felt safe. I know that Reek is human but the way he handles me just makes me feel like he’s superman. Babs had already left out, so I secured the house and headed to Reek’s car. In the passenger seat waiting for me was a gift box and a dozen beautiful red roses. It was so beautiful and unexpected. Reek wasn’t like Leaf. He didn’t shower me in gifts daily or take me on shopping sprees. I don’t know if he wasn’t in the financial space to do so, and I really didn’t care because I had my own money. The way he juggled working at the recreation center, teaching beginner Islamic classes, and taking care of his son, made me fall in love with him. Even with having a full plate, he still prioritized me. There were many nights he stayed up late the night before a long day to help me study and get my assignments done. He’d pop up just to bring me flowers, food, and energy drinks on long nights. He was a great listener and gave amazing advice. He was just all around perfect for me. Whenever I couldn’t sleep, I’d call Reek over to cuddle with me. He would do it with no hesitation. That was my baby.
On the ride to Baltimore for my graduation, we listened to love music and sang together. I felt like I was on cloud nine. Nothing could bring me down. We pulled up to the graduation and not a soul was outside. I kissed Reek and hurried in to assume my seat. I was relieved to have made it right before graduation started. When my name was called, and it was my turn to walk across the stage, my family and friends represented but screaming and hollering my name. I felt so amazing. I was really doing this. As I began to walk down the steps to return to my seat, I looked out into the crowd smiling but that smile was short lived. Guns were pulled out everywhere and one was pointed right at me. The first bullet shot right pass my shoulder blade and a second one pass my ear. Chaos erupted in the room as people scrambled to secure their loved ones and to get out of the building. I took a good look at the mother fucker holding the gun towards me and watched Latif put a bullet in his head. How did Latif get here? Given the circumstances, that question was not really a priority. I spotted Babs running to one exit as Reek grabbed me and exited out the do piu If it ain’t one thing, it’s always another.
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