Chapter Five

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"What is love if you're not here with me? What is love if it's not guaranteed?" — V. Bozeman

Jelissa

Amber, Emone, and I sat on the school steps practicing that song What Is Love? from Empire. I was ready for Emone's cousin to tell us what he thought or what we could do differently that could change the outcome of our audition. Since I've been singing and modeling I've learned that the key to success was definitely accepting constructive criticism.

As I sang my solo I saw a jet black Infiniti Q60 pull up and stop right in front of us and beep the horn. I rolled my eyes and continued singing and Mason just kept beeping the horn and I flipped the bird and kept singing with my girls. Mason rolled down the window and beeped and leaned over before hollering, "Girl you better getcho ass in this car." I sighed as both Amber and Emone turned to look at me.

"This dude bothering y'all?" We looked back to see August standing behind us. I kissed my teeth, "You must be following us." I said and a small smirk appeared on his face. "Naw ma I'm on my way home."

"Jelissa ion have all day to wait on yo ass, get in this fuckin car!" Mason snapped and I stood up as if on command. "Jelissa what about singing for my cousin?" Emone whined and I looked at her as she sat on the step, "Don't worry, I'll get Mason to drop me off at your place. Text me," I said before wasting no more time and ducking into the car and Mason sped off quickly.

"You working?" I asked leaning as closely to the window as possible. "Nah," Mason reclined his seat a little. "You done with work for the day?" I asked.

Mason looked over at me furrowing his brow, "Yeah why you asking all these weird questions?" I buckled my seatbelt, "I mean I'm just making sure..." I stated, "Cause you never know with you." I mumbled the last part a little more to myself. Mason glanced at me a couple times trying to keep his eyes on the road.

"You don't remember last night?" I shook my head no, "Yeah yo drunk ass." He chuckled, "We had a talk last night and we're supposed to be cool now. Even though you were trynna be a little more than cool." He looked over at me again, "Where's my necklace?" He looked toward the street again as I noticed the vein in his jaw begin to flex a little more than usual.

"Just drive please Mason," I requested. It was a ten minute drive from my school to his place and I took a seat on his couch pulling off my school shoes and he laid his head in my lap like he used to. I bit down on the inside of my bottom lip before speaking.

"Mason we can't do this no more. Come on haven't you had enough?" He sat up with a concerned look on his face, "Whatchu mean? Enough of what?" He asked and I sighed walking over to the window looking over the streets of downtown. "Enough of the back and forth?" I turned to look at him, "I'm so tired of coming back to you just to get my ass whooped again. Somedays you make everything seem so unreal and like you want to make our relationship work. And then other days I have to tip toe around you, watch your triggers, and babysit you! You nearly a grown ass man putting ya hands on me and I'm just like your little fucking puppy dog chasing after you everywhere you go. You don't get tired of this? Mason I'm tired."

"Jelissa I can't apologize enough okay? I wish I hadn't done any of the things I did before but in life we make mistakes and I'm trying to learn how to fix mine. I don't want to lose you... I really do love you girl."

"Well what am I supposed to do the next time something goes wrong with your work and I ask how ya day was? Cause you beat my ass over that one too many times. You don't understand that you get mad over things so small and I have to suffer because of your anger issues." I snapped as he placed his hands on my hips. "Baby that's never going to happen again. I told you last night I'm in therapy. I'm taking steps toward changing this time. And anything you want me to do I'll do. I ain't playin girl what Imma do without you?"

I shook my head, "I don't know what you're gonna do without me, you already lost your fucking mind." I poked his forehead with my long fingernail and he chuckled. "I'm serious Mason. Put your hands on me again and I'm not looking back. Imma let my uncle deal witchu. Real rap nigga." Mason kissed my cheek as he moved me towards the back of the apartment, "Real rap huh ma?" I nodded as he felt me up.

"Chill I have to meet at Emone's soon. We're auditioning for her cousin." I told him as I watched him undo the buttons on my uniform skirt. "You'll be there. But I got somethin' to give you." He said as my skirt fell to the floor and he picked me up, carrying me with my legs wrapped around his waist, "Something to give me, hmm?"

"Yeah. A little more than I gave you last night..."

5:30 P.M.

Mason pulled up in front of Emone's and parked, turning my face toward him. "You left your car at the school?" I nodded. "Give me your keys, I'll get your cousin to bring it here before you leave." I handed my keys to Mason and took his lips into mine. "You staying the night with me?" I shrugged my shoulders, "We'll see Mason. I gotta get in there they're probably waiting for me." He kissed me again.

"Go do ya thing ma." I got out of the car with all of my things and ran inside to see Emone and Amber practicing on the couch. Emone watched me sit next to her.

"Hey y'all. I really hope I didn't miss your cousin Mone." Emone shook her head, "No he's supposed to be here in like a half an hour. What happened with that dirtball?" I started chuckling, "Gosh you can be so mean sometimes," I said taking off my backpack and unbuttoning the top button on my uniform shirt.

Emone shook her head reaching for my chest and pulled the thin gold necklace with 9-10-16 on it out of my shirt, "So you didn't give this back and I take it y'all are back together." I shrugged a little, "Emone I really think he's changing this time..."

"Like you thought he was changing all of those other times? I'm not by any means trying to throw this in your face but you have to look at his history and see how he keeps telling you the same things and repeating the same mistakes." "I know Mone but he's getting help this time and... I think it's gonna work."

"Okay girl fine... But you know when you need me I'm gonna be right there. Electrolytes and all." She pulled out her taser and all I could do was chuckle.

"Can we get back to practicing please?" Amber asked seemingly annoyed, "Ew what's wrong with you?" I asked.

"You coming in here late after spending our rehearsal time with the nigga that's been beating ya ass for the last year and you want to know what's wrong with me? You think this group runs on your time Jelissa."

I looked over both of my shoulders to see if there was anyone standing behind me, "Who you talking to Amber? Cause I know you ain't talkin' to me boo. Don't worry about what I'm doin, you're the one who thinks that the fucking sun, moon, and stars revolve around you." I snapped.

"Will both of y'all shut the hell up and apologize already?" Emone spoke up as she laid back into the sofa.

I bit my tongue before taking a deep sigh and speaking, "I'm sorry for coming in here late and... waisting our rehearsal time."

Amber sat up, "Sorry for the things I said. I shouldn't have said what I said about you and Mason."

We slapped hands back and forth and blew air kisses before erupting into a small giggle. It was our corny little handshake from first grade but it was the one thing that could remind Amber and I of why we were still friends. Friends get into fights but our memories mattered most to us. To take our minds off of our argument, we practiced our rendition of What is Love? for the next fifteen minutes.

Emone's cousin Darnell showed up just as we'd finished practicing and had us sing for him again. Thankfully, he liked us a lot and thought we deserved a shot. He told us he'd definitely be reaching out to his friend at Atlantic to see if we were what they're looking for. After waiting around for a while my cousin finally dropped my car off and I made my way home too excited about the current state of the group.

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