“You okay, boo?” Tonya asked Brenda, as she turned off her car and helped Brenda carry the sleeping twins in the house.” The girls were still awake. Brenda unlocked the door, and she and Tonya laid the boys in their beds. “She kissed them goodnight, and then kissed the girls. “Girls, don’t forget to brush your teeth before going to bed,” she said. “Okay, mom. Goodnight,” they said. Brenda walked back to the kitchen and leaned on the island. “I just never thought he’d do this to me,” Brenda said. “I’m sorry for disturbing your date, but I didn’t want to call my parents to come and get us.” “Oh, bestie, you know you good! It gave me an excuse to leave anyway. The conversation was so dry, I couldn’t hardly breathe. The only thing that was keeping me there, was the crab legs. They were banging,” Tonya said. “You so silly,” Brenda said. “No girl, I’m serious,” she said with a chuckle. “Girl, what happened exactly?” Tonya said. Brenda told her everything, including the weird text from Eric. “Girl, do you think Eric has something to do with this?” Tonya said. “I wouldn’t be surprised, honey. I don’t put anything past him,” Brenda said. “Well, do you want me to stay? Are you going to be okay?” Tonya said. “I’ll be fine. Give me a hug,” Brenda said before holding her arms out for a warm embrace. “I don’t know what I would do without you, best friend,” she said. “Same here,” Tonya said. “Anyway, what are you going to do about that mansion he just bought you and the kids? Are y’all still moving in?” “Girl,” Brenda said with a sigh. “I really don’t know.” “Dang, this is messed up,” Tonya said with a sigh. “Girl, tell me about it. Anyway, I have to try and get some sleep, I have a twelve hour shift tomorrow,” Brenda said. “Okay. Call me tomorrow,” Tonya said as she left out the door. “I will,” Brenda said. “Thanks again,” she said as she waved Tonya goodbye, and closed the door. Brenda locked the doors and cut off the lights. She turned on her bedroom light and sat in her bed, thinking about the day. All of the kids came into her room. “Mommy, can we sleep with you tonight?” the youngest twin said. Clearly the kids were also upset and saddened about Marcus being arrested. “Sure guys, pile in,” she said scooting over and giving them all pillows. She asked her oldest to turn off the bedroom light. They all cuddled up with their mom. “God, I never wanted to go through this again,” she thought. Tears began to fall down her face, as she cried silently. “God, am I cursed? Why every time I get a chance at love, somehow it all falls apart? I’m trying to do the right thing this time. I’m doing my best to live right. Why does it feels like I’m still being punished. I really don’t understand.” After an hour of being lost in her thoughts, she finally found sleep. The next day when she picked the kids up from her parents house, they’d told their grandparents about everything that had happened the day before. Their grandad was helping the boys find their shoes and put on their coats. “Hey y’all,” Brenda said to everyone in a tired voice. “Oh, no. Dad, they’ve lost their shoes again?” Brenda said. “Yeah, they’re boys. We’ll find them,” he said. “Brenda, let me talk to you for a minute,” her mother said, walking towards the kitchen. “What is going on with this man? Listen, I knew something wasn’t right about him because he’s a man that has secrets, and anyone with secrets, can’t be trusted. You’ve been through this before with Eric. If you accept a liar, you get lies. If you accept a cheater, you get cheated. If you accept a thief, you get robbed. Plain and simple. People are who they are, don’t make the mistake of thinking they won’t be who they are, with you. He may not have meant to hurt you, but it happened. His truth is coming out, and it’s better for God to show you this now, than later. You may love this man, but you have to think about your four kids. Is this the right example you want to set for them? You know where this type of lifestyle ends. He’ll either end up dead or in jail for the rest of his life.” “Momma, I appreciate your concern, but I don’t even know why he was locked up. So, let’s not assume. He’s innocent until proven guilty. “Brenda, wake up and listen to yourself. The man is in jail, and it’s been two days. Has he even called you? It doesn’t matter why he was locked up. What matters is, he was locked up, and he’s keeping secrets from you. You need to take heed of these red flags God is trying to send you, or you’re going to find yourself in a world of trouble.” “Okay momma. I hear you, and appreciate you and dad picking the kids up from school everyday and making sure they’re fed and taken care of until I get off work, but what goes on in… You know what. Never mind. I’m tired, and we gotta go. Love you,” she said as she gave her mom a kiss on the cheek. “Kids,” she yelled. As they began to follow her to the car. Her dad came outside to help her strap the twins in their booster seats. “Bye, kids. Grandpa love y’all,” he said, as he waved. “Bye, grandpa,” they said. He came over to the driver’s side and kissed Brenda on the cheek. “Keep your head up baby girl, everything’s going to be alright. Remember, all things are working for your good,” he said. “Thanks, dad. I love you. Goodnight,” she said, before driving off. Brenda knew the Word, but she couldn’t see how this situation was working for her good. How could something good come out of something she didn’t even understand. She had a headache. She massaged the left side of her forehead with her right hand as she sat at the stop sign. After a minute she drove off and went home. That night, Brenda took a nice long bubble bath, and enjoyed some soft jazz to quiet her thoughts. Just as she was about to go to bed, there was a knock on the door. It was Marcus. She opened the door. “Hey, baby,” he said, as he walked in. They sat in the living room and talked quietly, careful not to wake the kids. Brenda wanted the truth, and Marcus didn’t hold back anything. Brenda stood up from the couch with her hands on top of her head and looking up to the ceiling. “Oh my God. I knew that you were too good to be true. I can’t believe you? So, you’re saying that everything I know about you is a lie,” she said in a loud tone. “Shhh, baby. You’re going to wake the kids,” Marcus said. “Oh, so now you’re thinking about the kids,” she said lowering her tone. “What about when they cried as they seen you being hauled off by the police. Or, what about when they couldn’t sleep because they were all concerned about you.” “Baby, I’m so sorry. I love you and the kids too. The last job was supposed to be my ticket out, but clearly someone doesn’t want me to walk away and they’re trying to take me out,” he said. “Marcus, love doesn’t keep secrets, and please, nobody’s trying to take you out. You reap what you sow. You’re basically telling me that you’re some sort of professional thief!” “Baby, I know it’s a lot to take in, but I’m done with that life. You and the kids made me want to be a better man. I no longer want that type of life. I know in my heart that there’s something better to live for, and that’s y’all. You all are my family, and I would do anything for any one of y’all. That’s why I’ve walked away. I didn’t want to marry you into this lifestyle. Babe, you gotta trust me,” he said. “But you lied to me, Marcus. How can I trust you? Had this never happened, I would’ve never known this about you. When were you going to tell me the truth? This type of lifestyle is putting not only you, but me and the kids lives in danger. I love you Marcus, but right now, please,” she cried, “just go.” Marcus stood up, hugged her, and kissed her on the forehead. She couldn’t even hug him back. “I love you,” he said. “Please, just go,” she said.