The following is an excerpt from my re-released novel, "Livin' Just Enough: SistaGirlz, Book # 1 ~ Rachael's Story"
After his mother's funeral, Aaron moved in with his grandmother. He promised me that on his 18th birthday, he would get us a place so we could be together. In the meantime, even though he finished paying all of his mother's overdue bills, Aaron continued to sell drugs the entire time he lived with Big Mama.
Since my mom couldn't afford to get me nice things and Aaron wanted his lady in nothing but the best, my man's criminal occupation afforded him the ability to spoil me with everything I ever wanted. Louis Vuitton. Prada. Gucci. Coach. La Perla. Anything I asked for, Aaron bought it for me. Unfortunately, bringing my gifts home was no easy task as I was constantly under the watchful eye of Bianca Wallace, which made things go from a bit difficult to damn near impossible. To explain where the gifts came from, Aaron suggested that I tell my mom that I "got a job" at an upscale retail store. When she first questioned my bags and bags of clothes, I simply told my mother that I was getting an employee discount, which she believed and that lie allowed me to bring Aaron's gifts home with much less scrutiny.
The summer before my senior year in high school, just as he promised, Aaron got an apartment. He loved when I came over to cook dinner for him and he kept the fridge and pantry stocked with everything we wanted to eat. The most difficult part of my visits was when I had to go back home because Aaron would always ask me to move in.
One late summer evening, he started our evening with his request.
"We'll have to wait until I turn eighteen. Then she can't say anything because I'll be an adult," I explained while rinsing chicken in Aaron's kitchen.
"You keep saying that but you're going to be a senior this year, Rachael," Aaron said as he entered the kitchen, pulling his trademark move of slipping his arms around my waist and kissing the nape of my neck. "How many of your girls have their own apartment? How many of them are livin' with their man? None. Just think how jealous they'll be when you move in!"
"Baby, I don't care about what my friends think and have. But I would love to make it to my next birthday which is only a few months away and I can't do that if I move out of my mama's house and in with you," I pointed out as I began to season the chicken. "You waited for me this long. A couple more months won't hurt you, will it?"
"No, but I hate waiting until you sneak over to see me. Once you move in, it'll be easier to surprise you with stuff like this." Aaron reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring box.
By now, I was used to Aaron buying me clothes and jewelry but this time felt different. I stopped seasoning the chicken to wash my hands. As I dried my hands and turned to face my boyfriend, I said, "What is it?"
"It wouldn't be a surprise if I told you. Gon' an' open it," he coaxed with a devilish grin.
Aaron talked about marriage more and more each day but I never took him seriously. "That better not be what I think it is," I said as I took the box. Inside was a key. I have to admit that I was a little bit disappointed. "Boy! I thought this was an..."
"An engagement ring?" Aaron smiled. "Not until you graduate from school. But this," he said as he took the key out of the box, "is your key to OUR apartment."
"Aaron..." I huffed in exasperation, expecting to explain again why I couldn't move in with him yet.
"That way you can come and go when you want to without waiting until I come home," he hinted. "And I would love for you to be here waiting for me when I do."
You know how you see the angel and the devil on a cartoon character's shoulders when they have to make a decision about something? This was one of those times for me.
The angel said, "Rachael, he's a drug dealer. If he wants to be with you, he has to give up that lifestyle!"
Then the devil said, "Girl, you betta take that key and move your happy hips in here! Ever since you gave it up to him, he's been breakin' yo' back on a regular and if you're sleepin' right next to him every night, you can have it that much more! MOVE IN GIRL!"
"Rachael?" Aaron asked bringing me back to reality. "Do you wanna do it?"
"Move in with me?" Aaron looked at me with expectant eyes.
Considering the fact that my mom and I hadn't been getting along too well ever since she discovered that I never stopped seeing Aaron, I was leaning toward taking him up on his offer. As I looked down at the key, Aaron knelt down on his knees in front of me.