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       Love Me, p.1

           Phylicia Joannis
 
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Love Me
Love Me

  The Logoria Series Book 4

  Copyright 2008

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  Table of Contents

  Chapter One Devon

  Chapter Two Grandma

  Chapter Three Temptation

  Chapter Four Diner Dash

  Chapter Five Kicked Out

  Chapter Six Maxie

  Chapter Seven Lovesick

  Chapter Eight Confessions

  Chapter Nine Mistakes

  Chapter Ten Bad Decisions

  Chapter Eleven Lovers & Friends

  Chapter Twelve The Spirit of Error

  Chapter Thirteen Now or Never

  Chapter Fourteen Redemption

  Epilogue

  Chapter One

  Devon

  “Have you spoken to Tammie?” Martin asks Jennifer as they sit together at lunch.

  “No, she won’t take my calls,” Jen replies glumly. “I hope she’s doing okay.”

  “What’s wrong with Tammie?” Max asks as he sits down with his tray. Martin nods a greeting and Jennifer waves briefly. She and Max have formed a truce agreeing to remain civil to one another, if not friends. Jen shakes her head at Martin who, understanding her meaning, responds to Max’s question.

  “Tammie hasn’t been coming to church, and Jen’s worried about her.”

  “Not going to church is something to worry about?” Max raises an eyebrow.

  “Well,” Martin looks at Jen, who again shakes her head.

  “Tammie’s been going through some personal struggles,” Jen finishes for Martin. “It’s not my place to say, but I said some harsh things to her about it, and now she won’t speak to me. It’s my own fault.”

  Jen bites her lip and swallows the lump in her throat. Harsh is a nice way of putting it. Truthfully, Jennifer had been self-righteous and merciless with her tongue. Since then she’s repented, but the damage is already done.

  “Hey, just keep at it,” Martin tries to sound upbeat as he encourages Jennifer.

  Jen gives him a half-hearted smile before returning to the tray in front of her. Max watches as Martin gets up from his seat and makes his way to Jen’s side of the table, bringing his tray with him. After setting down his tray, Martin begins scooping Jennifer’s food from her plate to his. Jen gives Martin a shocked look.

  “What are you doing?” she asks.

  “Eating. Why?” Martin sticks a spoonful of food in his mouth and quickly grabs a roll from Jen’s tray.

  “You do realize you’re eating my food?” Jen grabs Martin’s fork and begins scooping food back into her tray. Martin feigns a hurt look.

  “Jen, those are my mashed potatoes!”

  “No, they’re mine!” she scowls. Despite herself, Jen giggles. Martin grins at her and slides his tray back to its original spot.

  “Mission accomplished,” he states matter-of-factly as he returns to his original seat. Max gives them both a wide-eyed stare, but says nothing.

  “Thanks, Martin,” Jen smiles at him.

  Martin smiles back, and Max rolls his eyes.

  •••

  Tammie wipes the steamy condensation from the mirror and studies her reflection. The skin around her lips is drawn. Her eyes, a rich dark brown, look dull and feel heavy.

  Her cheekbones are more pronounced than before, thanks to her new exercise routine and a restrictive diet. She’s lost at least ten pounds since meeting Devon, more than she ever dreamed she could lose in such a short time, but she wants to be attractive to him. Her body from the waist down is still several pounds heavier than she’d like, but he doesn’t seem to mind. He actually likes the way her body is shaped. He says she has a beautiful figure and shouldn’t hide it.

  Tammie looks down at the rest of her body, now wrapped in a towel. Her toenails are manicured to perfection, sporting a deep, dark blue polish. Her skin is as brown as her eyes. She keeps her legs shaved smooth, a habit her mother taught her as soon as she began growing hair.

  Her legs are thick and shapely; her hips and thighs are wide. Her mother calls it the McLeod Heritage. She says it is the only inheritance Tammie can expect from her family, so she’d better put it to good use.

  Tammie chokes back a sob. Has she taken her mother’s advice? Devon makes her feel like a real, worthwhile person. He brings out emotions in her that she never knew were there. Is this what her mother meant? Is she using her body to win Devon’s heart?

  Tammie shakes her head. That can’t be it. Devon loves her. He told her he loved her. Even now, with so many things unclear, she knows he does. There’s no way he would touch her the way he did if he didn’t love her. It wasn’t the way they’d been taught in church, but they couldn’t help it. Besides, it wasn’t as if they’d planned to take things that far.

  Tammie sets her head on the mirror and shuts her eyes tight. Who is she kidding? Devon is attractive, funny, popular, and very smooth. He can have any girl he wants. Sure, he likes her now, but once she tells him, then what?

  Tammie watches a tear fall from her left eye into the sink. She is going to end up just like her mother; something she’s feared her whole life. She’s no longer an independent young woman with her whole life ahead of her. She’s a statistic; another pregnant, black teen brought up by a single mother of four.

  Tammie sniffs and wipes at her eyes, but she can’t stop the tears from flowing. They come in great waves, threatening to overwhelm her. Knowing she is the only one in the house, Tammie shrieks at the top of her lungs, banging her hands on the sink as she cries.

  How could she let this happen? She is supposed to be a Christian. She knows better. She made a promise never to end up like her mother.

  Tammie looks at her reflection again in the mirror. The sight makes her sick to her stomach. Her eyes are bleary, unloading and refilling with heavy tears. She hates the girl looking back at her. She let herself down.

  Her dull brown eyes keep turning down in shame. She can’t look herself in the eye, let alone anyone else. She lets out a pain-filled sob as she flings her fist at the mirror. Small blades of glass hit the sink with a chink, and Tammie lets out a yelp. She pulls her hand back quickly but it’s too late. The mirror is broken and a tiny shard of glass is stuck in her hand. Tammie looks at her broken reflection in the mirror once more.

  “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” she sobs. She reaches down underneath the sink and pulls out a bottle of peroxide. She fumbles to remove the cap and then pours the peroxide over her hand. It stings briefly, then fizzes and disappears.

  Tammie frowns as she replaces the cap and then the bottle and slides into a corner by the bathtub. She whimpers in desperation as she holds herself tight. “I’m so sorry,” she cries. “I’m so sorry.”

  •••

  Tammie was eight years old when she found out just how low men could make her feel. Her mother had gone to the store to pick up extra items she forgot for dinner, leaving her boyfriend at the house. She left Tammie with instructions to begin cutting vegetables and mind Bill. Whatever Bill said, Tammie had better do, or else she would have to answer to her. Tammie didn’t especially like Bill, but she didn’t like any man her mother brought home. Tammie nodded in quiet obedience and her mother left without another word.

  It wasn’t long before Tammie felt an odd prickling of her spine and sensed she was being watched. Her body tensed with the presence of another person in the kitchen.

  “You’re not a very pretty little thing, are you?” Bill sloshed. Tammie had seen Bill and her mother drinking before she left, and she knew he was drunk. Her
grandmother told her once that people say things they don’t mean sometimes when they’re drunk. She tried to apply that knowledge to Bill and told herself he didn’t mean anything by it.

  When she didn’t respond, Bill repeated himself, this time much louder. “I said, you’re an ugly little girl. Did you hear me?”

  That stung, despite Tammie’s best efforts to make excuses for him. “I don’t know what you mean,” she replied nervously.

  Bill smiled, glad that he got a reaction out of her. “So she talks.” He came closer, which made Tammie very uncomfortable, but she said nothing. “How about making me a sandwich, little girl?”

  Tammie turned around and raised her eyebrows at him. “Can’t you see I’m making dinner?” Bill frowned and Tammie realized her mistake. She turned back to her task quickly and put her head down. She shouldn’t sass adults. Her mother would be upset when she found out.

  “You’ve got a big mouth for a little girl,” Bill growled. “What else can you do ‘sides talk?” Bill moved closer, and Tammie began to shake.

  “I don’t know what you mean,” she stammered. “But I didn’t mean to be sassy.”

  “Turn around, girl,” Bill commanded her, and she obeyed. She slowly turned toward him and he placed his hand on her face.

  “You look better close up than you do far away,” he chuckled. His breath smelled like brandy and cigarettes, and his hand felt clammy on Tammie’s cheek. “Would you like to sit with me a minute?” he asked sweetly.

  Tammie was confused. He hadn’t seemed happy a moment ago, and now he was asking her to sit with him? “I have to finish cutting these vegetables,” she stammered.

  “Sit with me a minute and I’ll help you cut them. Two people will be twice as fast,” Bill smiled. His grin made Tammie sick to her stomach. “C’mon and sit with Uncle Bill.” He winked at her as he spoke.

  “Okay,” she replied cautiously.

  Bill smiled again and pulled her toward him. They went to the couch and sat.

  “Wanna watch TV?” Tammie offered. Bill only smiled, so Tammie shrugged and turned on the television. She sat next to Bill on the couch, flipping channels. She finally found a show that caught her attention and left it there. She saw Bill watching her out of the corner of her eye, and she felt her stomach become queasy again.

  Tammie looked down at her hands nervously before returning her eyes to the TV screen. She stared intensely at the television, not wanting to see Bill watching her. After a few minutes she nearly forgot he was in the room.

  She was reminded of his presence when she felt his hand begin to rub her leg.

  “What are you doing?” she tried to ask him casually, but it came out in a low whisper.

  “Just giving you a massage,” Bill replied. “Don’t you like it?” Tammie wished he would stop touching her, but she didn’t want to hurt his feelings. He was just trying to be nice, wasn’t he?

  To her relief, he stopped. “You don’t like that much, do you?” he asked her. She shook her head, glad that he noticed. He removed his hand from her leg and grabbed her hand, placing it in his lap. “How about giving me one?” he asked casually.

  Alarms went off in Tammie’s mind as he moved her hand back and forth on his lap. He stopped briefly to put her hand inside his pants and continued as before. The queasiness in Tammie’s stomach was building, and tears began forming in her eyes. He was making her very uncomfortable, and she didn’t know why.

  Bill let out a loud moan, startling Tammie. Her stomach could no longer handle the anxiety building within her. She placed a hand over her mouth, but that didn’t stop her from vomiting on Bill, who quickly jumped to his feet. He slapped her hard across the face and cussed at her.

  “You stupid, stupid girl!” he exclaimed. “No man will ever want a woman who doesn’t know how to touch him!”

  “I’m sorry,” she sobbed. Bill rushed to the kitchen to find a paper towel, and Tammie ran to her room.

  She cried herself to sleep in a corner of the room. She heard her mother come into the room at some point, but she didn’t say anything.

  Her mother picked her up from the floor and gave her a hug. She rocked her for a long time before kissing her forehead and putting her in her bed. Bill never came back after that, and her mother never spoke of it.

 
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