It was like a test, to see how committed I was or not. Either way, I'd get up and keep with the routine. Running made sense, just like basketball, in a lot of ways it helped start my day and clear my head. Something I wanted to do especially after the previous evening with Cree.

I faced her. "What do you wanna do today?"

"I was thinking about sitting back and keeping up with annoying women who disrespect their mother."

It took a second to catch her drift. "Cree, you hate the Kardashians."

"And right now I hate my father just the same."

I gazed at Devonte, urging him to keep quiet with just one look.

"You don't really mean that," I said. There was no way she really felt that way when her father had always been there for her and raised her.

"I remember when he first saw me dance, it was there then. I remember the look in his eyes, it was instant disapproval. I never got it. I always thought it was because I wasn't good enough." Her eyes watered and she quickly wiped them. "I spent all this time trying to get better so that one day he'd look at me and say I was good. Little did I know that that day would never come and that the reason he doesn't approve of my dancing is because it's what killed her."

I could understand her angst and feelings of betrayal, but there had to be more to the story. It was obvious in his own way Mr. Jacobs wanted to protect Cree. Sure, he'd done it in the wrong way but he had his reasons. Reasons Cree needed to go and learn.

"Cree, you have to talk to him. Or else you'll never know the truth about your mother."

Cree sighed, hunching her shoulders and picking at her plate. "I guess you're right."

"I'm not forcing you to go, but—"

"No, I should just hear him out." Cree stood from the table and I stood too, in case she'd do something else emotional, like breakdown in the kitchen.

She met me on the way out of the room, stopping and starring up at me with glassy eyes. "Thanks, DeAndre, for last night and letting me stay here. I know it wasn't easy and I was a wreck, but it means a lot."

I reached out and smoothed some of her messy hair back out of her face, admiring its softness as I shrugged at her comment. "Would you have done the same for Troiann?"

"Of course."

"For Tremaine?"


"For me?"

She nodded.

"Then it's nothing." I returned my hands to my sides and stared down into her eyes.

Cree leaned up on her toes, going and kissing my cheek and wrapping her arms around me anyway. "Still, it means a lot."

All of the hugging was beginning to take a toll on me. I patted her back, wishing for things to go back to normal.

Cree pulled back and stared up at me, shaking her head. "God, Dre, you are awful at hugs."

"I thought I did okay last night."

Cree looked over towards Devonte. "Hey, can you come here for a sec?"

Devonte was confused as he came over to us. Cree disappeared behind me and soon I felt her breasts on my back as she was up against me, grabbing my arms and making me hug my brother.

Playin' HardWhere stories live. Discover now