“Hi dad. Can the kids spend the night with you and mom, tonight? I have to work later than I thought. The other CNA, called in sick today,” Brenda said to her dad, who was on the other end of the call, about to go pick the kids up from school. “Sure, baby. You know we don’t mind, keeping our grandkids,” he said. “Thanks, dad. You’re the best.” “No problem,” he said. “I love you.” “Love you too, dad,” she said before ending the call. Later on that night, Marcus met Brenda at her house. They sat on the couch to talk. “Baby, I think Eric was the one who tried to set me up. I never told you this, but he came to the office, basically telling me that he knew that I was responsible for robbing his plug, and he told me to my face that if I didn’t leave you, I’d regret it later,” Marcus said. “What? When was this?” Brenda asked. “It was some time ago,” he said. “Did you rob his plug, and how would he even know that?” she said. “I guess when the security team went to do the install, he noticed the company van. You know he’s seen the van parked here before, when he came to pick up the kids. He told me that it wasn’t a coincidence that his plug was robbed days after we did a security install, that didn’t work by the way… His words.” He continued to tell Brenda the story. Brenda believed everything that Marcus said, except she wasn’t convinced that Eric had snitched. That just wasn’t his style. He wouldn’t work with the cops, just to keep her and Marcus apart. “Well, I have some interesting news of my own,” Brenda said. “I seen one of your co workers, the lady. I forgot her name. She was speaking with the cop who arrested you,” she said. “I know,” Marcus said. “She told me. She tells me everything, and that cop is crooked.” “What do you mean, she tells you everything, and that cop is crooked?” Brenda said. “I’m their boss, baby. I set up the jobs, so she’s going to report to me. She was handling business on my behalf,” he said. Brenda didn’t like the sound of that. This meant, this woman knew more about Marcus than Brenda knew. Why was she handling his personal affairs as if she’s his woman? Brenda did not like this, not one little bit. Why couldn’t one of the dudes he “works” with handle business for him? She sat there thinking about all of this while Marcus was babbling on about things she no longer wanted to hear. “I feel like something’s not right about that woman, Marcus. How did the cop even find out about any of this in the first place? Anyway, after I seen her and the cop outside the courthouse, I get to work and received a text, telling me to watch my back,” Brenda said. “What? Let me see your phone,” Marcus said. Brenda handed the phone to him. “I can trace it to find out who sent the text,” he said. “I tried calling it back, but it’s no longer in service,” Brenda said. “Don’t worry. I’ll handle it, and as far as Amanda, you can trust her. I’ve been knowing her for a very long time, baby. She’s loyal,” he said, with a smile, and rubbing Brenda’s arm trying to reassure her. “You speak very highly of this Amanda,” Brenda said. “The two of you must’ve dated?” she said as a joke, as she got up from the couch to go into the kitchen to grab a bottled water. “Something like that,” Marcus turned, and said.“That’s in the past though,” he said, as he got off the couch to follow Brenda into the kitchen. Brenda had taken a sip of bottled water, and almost choked, after Marcus’s response. She put the cap on the bottled water and sat it down on the kitchen table. “How long ago in the past, Marcus? And why I never knew about this?” she said. “Baby, it’s complicated. I mean, it was complicated, and as I’ve said before, it’s in the past,” Marcus said. “How long ago, Marcus?” Brenda said with her arms crossed. She wasn’t budging.“We stopped messing around, like a month before I met you. We were never ‘dating, dating’ but we were friends with benefits, for like ten years,” he said. “Really, Marcus? And you never thought to tell me this, because? Wow. Aren’t you just full of surprises,” she said. “Baby, why are you getting so upset about my past? Leave it alone,” Marcus said. “Damn it, Marcus. She began to yell. “Because, I’m basically telling you that this woman can’t be trusted, and you’re telling me that she’s loyal, because y’all were ‘friends’, for ten years! Do you love her?” she asked. “Okay, you know what. I’m about to leave. You’re beginning to sound ridiculous,” Marcus said. “It’s not ridiculous. Answer me. You’re claiming that she’s out here paying off cops to keep you clean,” she began to mock him in an irritated voice. “AmAndA’s sO lOyaL… I want to know if you love her?” she said. “Woman you’re out here accusing people with no proof, and expect me to believe a hunch? And I did, love her. So what? That was the past,” he yelled back. Why does my past even matter?” he said. “Because your past affects not only your future, but me and my kids future as well, Marcus. When you do certain things, it not only affects you, but the people around you. Give me my phone, Marcus.” she said, before holding out her hand. Marcus gave her the phone. “You know what? I keep ignoring these red flags and things keep getting worse and worse. I’m tired of the secrets, Marcus. What else have you been keeping from me? Huh? Do you have secret kids that I should know about? A secret wife? Is Marcus even your real name? Because clearly, I don’t know you like I think I do, and you got your ex out here taking care of business for you?” she said. Marcus didn’t want to argue anymore. “You know what, I’m going to go, because you’re upset, and I have some business I need to attend to,” Marcus said. “I love you, and I’m going to find out where that text came from,” he said, before walking out of the door. Usually he gives Brenda a kiss before leaving. He didn’t this time. Maybe Brenda had struck a nerve. Brenda went to her bedroom and screamed in her pillow, then she said. “God, if you don’t make it plain soon, I’m going to lose my mind. I don’t want to walk away just because it’s hard. So, if this is a test to see if I’m ready for love and marriage, then, help me to past it. If it’s not your will for us to be together, then please God, give me the strength to let this man go, completely. He said he’s a changed man. I don’t know what to believe. Is this his past sins finally catching up with him? Has he really changed, and I need to be more patient, and weather this storm? Or, is this an introduction to the rest of my life, if I choose to say, I do. Don’t let me be blinded by the fact that I love him, and end up heartbroken or worse. Brenda turned on the T.V. There was a Pastor preaching about, “The teacher is always silent during the test.” “Ain’t that the truth,” she said.