ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is coincidental
Copyright © 2014 by Leila Lacey.
All rights reserved, In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher is unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.
Copy Line Edited by: Geri Hansford
Content Editor: Leanore Elliott
To Isaiah: Reach for the stars, don’t fear greatness, and don’t fear being different.
Thank you for being my son.
Did I do it? Alena Banner wondered as she walked as fast as her five foot one frame would let her down the brightly lit hallway. Following behind her mother in law, with her heart pounding in her ears so loudly she couldn’t hear what the PA system was announcing. The smell of antiseptic, bleach, pain, desperation and death was over whelming.
Did I? Did I say I love you? I can’t live without you? Did I say it? The desperate litany of questions kept coming as she picked up her pace. Her heart kept beating so hard and fast she could literally take her pulse if she closed her eyes and counted. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.
Why can’t I remember? Why can’t I remember if I said it? Alena kept mentally kicking herself as she stepped into the waiting room.
“How is he?” her mother in law Hazel asked her son Jeffrey. He’d driven ahead to the hospital.
“I don’t know yet momma. They told us to wait here and they would come and talk to us,” Jeffrey replied. “Sit down momma.” He helped his mother sit in a small brown chair in the waiting room.
Wait? Alena thought. WAIT? I am supposed to wait? She thought as she looked around the waiting room at the bad western painting on the wall, painted in the most horrendous shade of brown. The small brown chairs with polyester fabric and cushions which must have been sat on so much, they no longer had any padding in them. The green carpet with its tight weaving of brown flecks made the carpet look dirty.
Hazel kept rocking her body and screaming with her arms wrapped around herself as she wailed, “Lord, please don’t take my baby!”
Jeffrey rubbed her back and tried to reassure her that everything would be okay.
Julie, hazel’s sister, tried to get her to drink some water.
Alena could read the look of guilt all over Jeffrey. If it wasn’t for him, being a selfish alcohol and drug addicted prick that Marcus always felt responsible for, he never would’ve been on the street that night. He would have been at home with Alena, watching a movie and eating popcorn.
I can’t. Alena thought as she turned abruptly and left the waiting room. I can’t wait. I need to see him. She walked towards the automatic doors leading to the emergency room.
BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. Her heart pounded harder. She looked around at the people walking in the halls of the hospital, to see if they could hear her heart. It seemed so loud to her, that she just knew they must be hearing it. But they were going about their day, like she wasn’t even there, like her heart wasn’t beating like a jack hammer. Alena kept moving forward down the hall toward the automatic doors. Her hands shook and her legs felt like they would buckle at any moment.
BOOM, BOOM, BOOM…the vision in her eyes became like the view of a telescope or binoculars. The door which must’ve been no more than ten feet way seemed like it loomed a mile away at the end of a boundless hall.
Alena continued toward the door. She needed to see him—see her Marcus. Her heart kept telling her…he needed her.
BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. Goodness, I might need to go and see a doctor once Marcus is all better. Either my heart is very loud or my hearing is bad. Alena anxiously arrived at the automatic doors. She tried not think of how bad she knew things were for Marcus. Because if she did, she would fall apart. Her heart would stop beating. She pressed the button to open the door to let herself into the emergency room.
Alena’s heart continued to beat like a hammer on a nail. Looking around the emergency room, nurses were running around with doctors following close behind. It seemed like they were coming out of the walls and the floors like ghosts. The machines were beeping loudly and there were people in all of the ER bays. She could hear them coughing, crying and moaning in pain. She stood just inside the doors of the emergency room.
There he was, her Marcus, laying on a gurney with a doctor on top of him pumping ferociously on his chest yelling, “Come on Marcus, come on!”
A pool of blood puddled beneath his bed. To Alena, it looked like the size of the red sea.
“Come on Marcus, come back to us buddy!” Another doctor said as all the doctors and nurses worked on him. There had to be at least twenty or thirty men and women running to and from the bay he was in. Trying to stop the bleeding, to get his heart beating and trying to get him to breathe.
“CLEAR!” A female voice shouted. The cardiac monitor echoed with a solid beep noise like when a person has no pulse.
Turn that fucking thing off! Alena thought, as she stood there unable to move from the spot. Unable to stop staring at him. Don’t stop looking don’t stop looking at his feet. If you keep looking at his feet then he won’t leave—he promised he wouldn’t leave. So keep looking at his feet.
BEEEP the machine kept blaring indicating his heart wasn’t beating.
“CLEAR!” someone else said as they laid the white electrical paddles on his chest and zapped him. Marcus’ body lifted completely off the table and fell back hard. They zapped him once again, while his body raised off the bed and fell down hard.
The doctors all stopped for a moment waiting to get a heartbeat.
Nothing but the beep.
Don’t leave me baby! Alena pleaded still staring at his feet. He was covered head to ankles in doctors, nurses and machines trying to save his life. But she could still see his feet
Did I say it? Did I tell him I love him? Did I say it? She asked herself.
Alena started to shake as she suddenly felt a cold breeze run through her entire body. Cold and comforting, yet frigid and lonely, all at the same time. “Oh!” She grabbed her chest
BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, Alena knew—in that moment, her Marcus, the love of her life, her best friend, just left her. She knew, without anyone telling her.
“How long has he been down?” one of the doctors asked another
“Twenty minutes,” the doctor said.
The first doctor sighed. “We have to call it guys, time of death…eleven forty two P.M.”
BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.
“I can’t breathe,” Alena whispered. “NO, NO, MARCUS—NO!” she shouted.
Alena fell to the floor while wailing at the top of her lungs her pain so unbearable she kicked and squirmed while screaming his name. All she could hear was her heart breaking. “NO, NO, NO!” she screamed.
“I need twenty cc’s of pentobarbital” A doctor shouted, as he and three nurses leaned over her. Trying to get control of her wailing body.
“It will be ok sweetie, we understand” one of the nurses said to her as they held her down.
“NO. You don’t understand, you don’t understand! He is my soul, you don’t understand! I can’t live without him!” Alena wailed. As the doctor finally got the sedative into her system and she started to lose consciousness, Alena stared at his feet and thought of when she first met Marcus.
Marcus and Alena were high school sweethearts. They met their first day of high school in homeroom. Alena although sweet, smart and gorgeous had always been rather shy.
Marcus was the opposite, he’d always been an outgoing guy who made friends with everyone. She’d been sitting in a desk far away from other people reading a book. He walked over, sat down, extended his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Marcus.” Then gave her his Captain America smile.
“Hi. I’m Alena.”
“Are you shy?” Marcus asked her
“Yeah a little.” She shrugged her shoulders
“Well don’t worry. I’m your first friend. You have any problems you let me know. I got you,” Marcus told her while puffing his chest out.
“Are you scared?” he then asked her.
“You never have to be afraid again. I will always be here for you,” Marcus told her with a smile.
Gazing into his eyes, Alena realized even though she didn’t know him, she knew he was telling the truth. So, from that day on, she felt safe and they became inseparable. They remained best friends until the summer of their sophomore year. By the time they returned to high school the following fall, they were boyfriend and girlfriend.
While Alena faded into unconsciousness with tears streaming down her face like a torrential downpour, three nurses held her down. She whispered one last time, “You don’t understand!”
Fifteen years before the event…
South Shore’s Homecoming dance was in full swing. The DJ had just started the song, Da Butt from Spike Lee’s movie, School Daze. The crowd of horny teenagers went wild and rushed to the dance floor bumping and grinding against each other.
The South Shore Panther’s football team had beat their biggest rivals the Lakeland Knights…thirty-five to ten. It was the first time they’d won a homecoming game against them in many years. The students and faculty were riding high.
Alena was the student body president and chair on the prom committee, not to mention being on track, the class valedictorian for the next year when she graduated. She’d always been smart and wasn’t the type of girl to get in trouble or disobey her parents. While most teenagers were fighting like cats and dogs, Alena was making sure her parents were nothing but proud.
One of her father’s rules were Alena could not date until she graduated from high school.
It’s not like there were guys lining up to ask her out. Being eighty pounds overweight. The few guys who did pay her any attention, very quickly changed their tune when they found out about her father’s rule and that she wasn’t about to break it.
Marcus was the only guy who’d consistently been her friend.
For Alena it’d been a relief and a problem. From the moment she’d met him, she’d known he would be someone important in her life. As they’d gotten to know each other Alena had started to have a crush which developed into love.
Tonight while all the dancing went on, she was standing against the wall, something she did at most of the school dances because no teenage boy wanted to bump and grind on the dance floor with a girl while knowing it would go nowhere. Although Alena felt confident in her own skin. She knew boys wanted playboy models.
Or, they wanted a girl like Patty George who was grinding her plump ass against Marcus’ pelvis on the dance floor right now. Not a smart overweight daddy’s girl, who never broke the rules.
“What are you doing standing over here all by yourself? Why aren’t you on the dance floor?” Vanessa, her sister asked walking up behind Alena.
“What? Oh, nothing. I don’t have anyone to dance with.”
“Bullshit. You’re standing over here eating your heart out because Ho Bag Patty is over there trying to get impregnated by Marcus on the dance floor” Vanessa sneered staring at the couple.
“I AM NOT!” Alena denied.
“Just look at her! I mean damn, I bet you if we held a UV Light on her jeans right now, those bitches would light like a Christmas tree with the essence of every seventeen year old boy in two counties!” Vanessa said laughing
“NESSA!” Alena chided but she laughed with her. She knew she was right and that’s what scared Alena about Marcus dancing with her. She’d never given Marcus any inkling she was in love with him. She didn’t even know why. While he’d had girlfriends in the time she’d known him and it’d been like death by a thousand cuts every time he started dating someone.
Although unrealistic, she’d hoped and even prayed in the back of her mind, he wouldn’t date anyone else.
“What? I didn’t turn her hoo-ha into a seven eleven, open at all hours. She did!” Vanessa defended.
“Jesus!” Alena said dropping her head into her hands.
“What’s up ya’ll, why aren’t you dancing?” Marcus said as he approached the sisters.
“I stopped to go to the bathroom,” Vanessa replied, “Let me go over here and ask seven-eleven if they have any Slurpee’s. Find me when you are ready to go Lena and I will go home with you”.
Alena howled, then slapped her hands over her mouth, knowing Marcus knew nothing of their inside joke.
“I am scared to ask what your sister is talking about!” Marcus said
“Yeah, you don’t want to know” Vanessa nodded while smiling at him
“What’s up Ma? You gonna come dance with me tonight finally?”
“Finally?” Alena asked. Marcus had only ever asked her to dance one time in their freshman year.
“Yeah, Finally!” He said tickling her side. “You are at every dance, because you’re on every committee in school, yet you never look like you’re having any fun”
“That’s ‘cause I want to dance, not dry hump on the dance floor, or feel a penis trying to make an unwelcome entrance into my butthole.”
Marcus spit out the water he’d been drinking and doubled over in laughter. “See? I can always count on my girl to make me laugh!” He hugged her to him.
As they embraced, the DJ started the song Tenderoni by Bobby Brown.
“OH! That’s my song! Come on Lena, dance with me. I promise not to push my penis in any of your holes,” he said laughing.
Alena let Marcus lead her out onto the dance floor.
He turned her so when she finished the spin she ended up in his arms. As they swayed to the music, Marcus hummed the song.
One of Alena’s favorite things in life was when Marcus hugged her. He always smelled so good. Alena didn’t think she’d ever seen a blemish on his chocolate brown skin. As she wrapped her arms around him, she marveled at how muscular he was underneath the baggy clothes he usually wore.
“Hey Lena, can I tell you something?” Marcus whispered in her ear.
Most teenagers who were slow dancing acted either overly erotic or awkward. But Alena and Marcus were compatible and fluid in every way.
“Of course, you can. I am your best friend, aren’t I?” Right now, there’s no one or nothing else around, besides her and Marcus. Alena gazed at him, she always loved Marcus’ eyes. They were like a window to his good soul. She could see the beauty there of the man he was going to be
“That’s just it. I don’t want to be your friend,” Marcus admitted.
Alena pulled back shocked and terrified that she might be about to lose the man she loved and her best friend, all in the same conversation.
“WHAT?” she said
“I like you…a lot. Not just as my friend. I want you to be my girl.” He shyly looked down and slid his hands into his pockets.
In her head, Alena was doing the Toyota leap into the air. She’d never been so happy and depressed at the speed of light in her whole life. “Uhh—I—Marcus, you know my parents won’t let me date.”
“I know. And I would never think of asking you to betray your parents. I have a plan, but I first needed to talk to you about it.”
Alena took his hand and walked across the gym, pulling Marcus along. When she got to the side exit, she opened the door and pulled him with her. “What do you mean you have a plan?” she said crossing her arms over her breasts. She almost couldn’t breathe, let alone contemplate what he meant.
“Don’t worry about it, let’s talk about if you like me that way or not, for right now.” He said leaning down, so he could look her in the eye.
There’d always been something between Alena and Marcus, an unspoken communication, a soul connection. “I do like you. A lot actually, but I can’t disobey my parents I can’t. I would even struggle going to church if I did. I don’t want to do anything I should be ashamed of, if I can help it.” Alena said pacing back and forth while wringing her hands.
“Okay, first I am just as saved as you. I am not out, having sex. I have never had sex. Just because I dance close and people think I’m having sex. Then females for some stupid reason, want people to think we are having sex and I don’t humiliate them by making the correction. It doesn’t mean I’m actually doing it. Secondly—”
“Wait a minute, hold up! You’re a Virgin?” she yelled in shock.
Marcus laughed as he looked around to see if anyone heard her. “Well, just tell everybody all my business.”
“Oh, sorry!” Alena put her hand over her mouth.
They both knew in the back of their minds with all the music blaring and teenagers partying, there wasn’t any way someone heard what she said.
“Yes, to answer your question, I am a virgin and I would like to wait until I get married.” Marcus said winking at her. “You’re not the only person who wants to make their mother and father proud,” he finished while running his thumb over her cheek.
Alena leaned her head into his hand, feeling like her world had been turned upside down to find out Marcus liked her. He wanted her, to be his girlfriend and not only that, he was willing to not have sex! This feeling was better than her sweet sixteen or her early admittance to Stanford, better than sex. Well, at least she thought so. “So, what do we do about my parent’s rules?”
Marcus wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into a hug as he leaned down and whispered, “You, my lady, are going to have to trust me. I promise I will take care of it.”
Peering up into his eyes, Alena knew from that day on, Marcus would always keep his promises to her.
Two days later, Marcus, his mother and father knocked on her parent’s front door and asked to talk with Alena and her parents.
They’d all adjourned into the family room where Marcus formally asked her mother and father to date her, one year early. He’d promised to never be a distraction to her studies but to be a help if he could, to treat her with nothing but love, respect and kindness. To take her on real dates where he came to the door to pick her up with flowers and take her to a meal and maybe a movie if she would like.
After about an hour of discussion, where Alena’s mother and father grilled him like he was a member of Al- Qaeda, they agreed to let them date on a probationary basis for the rest of the school year. But if there were any issues at all, they would be forced to break up and Alena would be placed in an all-girls school.
That’d been the start of the most magical love affair any two people could have.
* * * *
A month before their wedding…
“Ugh! I can’t take this wedding stuff anymore Marcus!” Alena said slamming the sharpie she’d been using down on the table. She’d been working for the last two hours on their seating chart for the wedding planner. She needed to have it ready for her by tomorrow. This would be the simplest of tasks, if not for both of their families.
Both of their mothers wanted to take control and neither of them knew what the word compromise meant.
She’d been trying her hardest to make both of them happy, wanting to make their wedding a blessed event, merging their two families.
Instead, it’d been fight after fight over everything, the location, the flowers and the bridesmaid’s dresses…all of it.
“What seems to be the problem baby?” Marcus asked walking up behind and Alena putting his arms around her.
“I can’t deal with all of this who is more important nonsense our parents are pulling. This wedding is supposed to be about us and our love. Instead, they have managed to make it about them. I just wish we could go to the court house, get married and move on.”
Turning Alena around in his arms, so he could look into her eyes, he asked, “Why don’t we?”
“Why don’t we what?” She peered up at him like he’d lost his mind.
“Why don’t we go to the courthouse tomorrow and get married?”
“What? Have you lost your mind?” she asked him while feeling shocked. “First of all, BOTH our mothers will kill us. Next, our families won’t get to share in our joy! I don’t want to sneak off like I’m ashamed of us Marcus.”
“No baby, that’s not what it means.” He took her hand leading her to the couch. “Listen, I’m with you, this has all become about them and not us. This isn’t the memory I want us to have of the day we become a family. So, why don’t we go to the courthouse and get married, just you and me? Then we can still let our family have their wedding but we will have the memory of the day we actually got married. So, no matter how truly ignorant our families act, it won’t faze us at all”
“Really? You would do that for me?” she said surprised. She knew he wanted to please his family just as much as she wanted to please hers, only she’d finally gotten to the point she didn’t care what made her family happy, mostly because it was next to impossible. She needed to do what gave her a peace of mind. Marcus however, was a pleaser to his core.
Unfortunately, with trying to please everyone, most times, someone always got the short end of the stick. In his case, it was always him. Just like with his brother, he was always setting aside his life to go and help Jeffery with his problems.
As if Marcus knew her thoughts, he shook his head. “Baby, I know it frustrates you how my mom is always calling on me to fix Jeff’s problems. He is my brother and I don’t know how to just abandon him. But YOU, you are going to be my wife. The mother of my children and there is no one in this world more important to me than you are. I absolutely would do anything to make you happy!”
Jumping out of his lap while clapping a squealing Alena shouted, “Yes, Yes!” to his proposal of getting married at the courthouse.
After spending the next three hours making love in front of the fireplace cementing their love for one another. Alena and Marcus started making calls to set up their wedding day.
Four days later, Alena, Marcus, Jeffrey and Vanessa stood in the Lesko County courthouse and said their vows. Marcus wore a Steel Gray oxford suit with a satin yellow tie and his grandfather’s cufflinks.
Vanessa got Alena a bouquet of yellow and white roses, then a yellow rose boutonniere for Marcus. Jeffrey showed up high and tried to get Marcus to smoke some marijuana with him before the ceremony.
Alena expected it to be a cold and impersonal experience, but it’d been anything but. Her father played golf with the mayor, so Vanessa called him and told him what they wanted to do and he agreed to marry them in his office, rather than them waiting in a long line of people who would be trying to get married by the judge
Mayor Ted Bennett office was warm and inviting. His executive assistant got several bouquets of sunflowers and strategically placed them around the room.
Alena and Marcus stood facing each other, holding hands as they recited their vows. Promising to love, honor and protect each other until death did them part.
After the ceremony Alena was so happy, she started to cry.
“Baby what’s wrong?” Marcus asked her. He wanted this day to be one she cherished for the rest of her life. Now, they’d said there vows and she was crying. He hoped they were tears of happiness.
“Nothing, Nothing,” she said shaking her head and swiping at tears.
“Well, I may be high, but I’m pretty sure tears are bad!” Jeffrey said.
“Come on Cheech, let’s give them a minute in private,” Vanessa said grabbing Jeffrey’s arm and pulling him into the hall.
“What’s wrong?” Marcus asked her again.
“Nothing! I’m so happy I’m your wife. Today, I married the man of my dreams. I am so happy I could burst!” She smiled as she jumped into his arms. “Thank you so much for doing this for me,” she whispered as she kissed him.
“Anything for my…wife,” he said kissing her back. “Come on Mrs. Banner, let’s go eat.”