Losing Romeo
November 1, 2010
ISBN-10: 0373831382
ISBN-13: 978-0373831388
buy at amazon.com
buy at barnes&noble.com

Best Friends Forever—that's Anjenai, Kierra and Tyler. Growing up together in an Atlanta housing project, the girls have always been there for each other. But high school is a whole new world, and the drama is just beginning.

New guys, new gossip, new rivals—Anjenai, Kierra and Tyler have plenty to occupy their time now that Romeo, the football star who almost cost them their friendship, is out of the picture. Or is he?

Straight-A student Anjenai's edgy new makeover is getting the attention of cool, hip-hop stylin' Kwan—and from Romeo, whose girlfriend, Phoenix, will do anything to keep him. Kierra's hectic schedule tempts her to try a dangerous pick-me-up. And Tyler's street-tough image is challenged by some real hardcore girls. Once, the BFFs vowed to stick together through anything. But can they still count on a bond of trust that's been broken before?

Phoenix—By Any Means Necessary

I have my man back. At least in theory. It's been two weeks since I dropped the news that he's about to become a father, and most times he looks at me as if he wishes that I'd never been born. I'm still sure that once he gets adjusted to the idea of becoming a father, things will go back to how they used to be. At least I hope so.

I just wish that Romeo hadn't blabbed it out to everyone when that hood rat, Anjenai, came at me. I could've handled her ass. Pregnant or not. Now all the kids at the school are tossing their two cents into our business, and I'm starting to feel more and more like I just announced I have an STD or something. Pregnancy is not contagious, I want to shout at their ignorant asses. But is Romeo catching hell about knocking me up? Hell no.

In fact, his boys elevated his ass to playa status and keep referring to me as his future baby mama. Baby mama? I ain't having that shit. Romeo is going to put a ring on this.

Believe that. So he might as well wipe off that long face of his and just get with the program.

At exactly five-thirty my alarm clock starts to blare my ear off, and I quickly reach over and smack the snooze button for a few more minutes. I don't know why. It's not like I got any sleep last night—or any night for the past few weeks, for that matter. Between morning sickness, stress and nerves, the last thing I've been able to do is turn my brain off and catch some Zs.

The number one thing that keeps circling in my mind? Anjenai. Lord knows I can't stand the bitch. Her or that pathetic crew she rolls with, which includes my traitorous half sister, Nicole. But clearly, in the short amount of time Anjenai and Romeo have been creeping together, she's managed to get inside of Romeo's head and undo years of my hard work. What happened to the Romeo who used to hang on to my every word? The Romeo who used to blow my phone up five or six times a day or offer to pick me up and drive me home from school? I swear, sometimes I don't even recognize the boy I'm dealing with now.

It's going to get better.

The minute that affirmation whispers from that small voice in the back of my head, my heart fills with doubt. Mainly because I'm too afraid to call what I see flowing between Anjenai and Romeo by its name: love. Tears burn the backs of my eyes, but I close them and the tears go away before they roll down and burn a hole in my pillow.

The alarm goes off for a second time and of course I hit the snooze button again. Maybe I shouldn't even bother going to school today. I'm not really in the mood to put up with all the BS people are shoveling my way. That includes from my own two best friends, Raven and Bianca. The three of us are known as the Redbones at school. Contrary to popular opinion, it wasn't a name that we selected, but one that was thrust on us by a bunch of haters who, deep down, wanted to be like us: beautiful.

But here's something that most of those wannabes don't know about my clique. The last people we trust is each other. For all the years that we've been friends, I know for a fact those heifers aren't any better than those project hoes spilling out of Oak Hill. At the first opportunity, either one of them will stab me in the back if it means that she can be on top—which is why I don't tell them everything.

They learned about the pregnancy the same time everyone at the party did. That didn't go over so well, and now they have about as much of an attitude as Romeo. Whatever. They can all just kiss my ass.

Now they think I don't notice that every time I walk up on them they stop whispering and just flash me those robotic smiles. I'm not dumb. I taught them that slick-ass move. Whatever. If need be they can take a time-out and stay the hell up out of my face like the rest of the school's haters. All that matters is that I got my man back.

Another wave of tears threatens to spill just as my alarm clock goes off for the third time. I finally turn the alarm off and find the strength to climb out of bed. The moment I do, this unbelievable sharp pain first hits me in my lower back but then quickly wraps around my entire abdomen. "Aah."

I reach over and grab hold of my chest of drawers because my knees are, like, two seconds from buckling and dropping me to the floor. "What the…?"

There's a knock on my door before I hear my mother's chipper voice, "Phoenix, honey. It's time to get up."

I can barely breathe, but somehow I manage to croak out, "I'm up," in order to make her get away from my door. Panting profusely I wait for her to walk away. When she does, it's just a small measure of relief because this pain is now making me see a mobile of stars circling around my head. I struggle to get to the bathroom, but it's sort of like an inchworm traveling from Georgia to Texas.

A couple of lifetimes later, I make it, huffing and puffing. Seconds later, I feel something wet leaking down between my legs. I look down and I'm horrified at the sight of brownish red blood spotting the pink-tiled floor.

"Oh, my God. No." Another stab of pain hits, and my mouth drops open but I can't even manage to get any sound past my lips this time. I'm miscarrying or dying—one or both. Honestly, I'm hoping it's the latter because losing this baby will throw a big monkey wrench into my plans.

I get to the toilet and peel off my soaked panties only to hear clots of blood hit the water with sickening splashes. I can no longer hold back my tears, now that it's clear to me exactly what's happening.

No baby.

No Romeo.

The very idea of losing him again causes my abdomen to lock up even tighter. He'll leave me. I know he will. Hell, it's clear that he wants to leave now, when he thinks I'm having his baby. It's just his word that he's going to man up and be here for me and our child. That's all that's binding him to me. And if there's one thing I know well about the love of my life, it's that he always does what he says he's going to do.

An hour later, I'm sitting in a tub of hot water and I'm just trying to think. But all I'm successful in doing is crying. No way I'm going to school just so that I can act like everything is fine—especially since everything is far from being fine. At a time like this, I wish more than anything that there was someone I could really talk to. Someone I could trust to keep their damn mouth shut. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone like that.

Fleetingly, I think about how it would be nice to talk to my mother about this. But let's face it. My mother is many things, but deep ain't one of them. Shopping, brunches and gossiping is the extent of her expertise. My mom's main job is to be beautiful. Why? Because my father loves beautiful things.

Growing up, my father would always joke about how lucky I am because he's rich and my mother is good-looking. I grew up believing that I was an honest-to-God princess. Daddy dearest bought me everything he thought I wanted and made sure that everyone respected the pedestal he perched me on. Of course, the one thing I truly wanted, to spend more time with him, he made it clear a long time ago that I simply couldn't have.

Why? Work. The excuse of the century. Let him tell it, he works 24/7. I don't buy it, and I don't think my mother does, either. But at least he hasn't brought home any more brothers and sisters. My brain finally stops at Nicole, my pain-in-the-ass half sister. We may share the same dad, but we're nothing alike. For one thing, the girl has to be twice my size, fashion challenged and always showing up at the most embarrassing time. Bottom line: I hate her.

I shouldn't be surprised that she sided with Anjenai last night, but in a strange way I am and I'm a little hurt, too. I draw in a deep breath and notice for the first time that the water is starting to cool. I'm cramping, but at least the bleeding has stopped. I still have to clean up the mess before the maid sees it and reports it to my mother. But not right now. I still need a plan.

It's hours later, after I've cleaned up and spent most of the time ignoring phone calls and text messages, that the answer starts staring me in the face. I run the idea through my head again, checking for loopholes or ways this miracle plan could backfire or blow up in my face. Honestly, there's a few possible ways that either or both could happen, but hell, I'm a desperate girl, here.

An image of Romeo and Anjenai together again floats across my mind. This plan has to work. "It will work," I reaffirm aloud. Keeping Romeo is worth any risk coming my way.

Anjenai—Un-Break My Heart

I hate Romeo. I hate that I ever met him. I hate that I ever trusted him. And I hate that I was stupid enough to allow my seeing him to come between me and my two best friends in the whole world, Kierra and Tyler. For God's sake, we've been together for, like, forever. We went to day care together. Through thick and thin, we've always had each other's backs. The three chains around our necks, B-F-F, are supposed to remind us of that fact every day.

I lost track of that.

But it'll never happen again.

Romeo Blackwell is dead to me. So he may as well stop trying to stare a hole into the side of my head in Spanish class and in gym. Besides, I don't know why he's looking like he wants to talk to me so bad. He's the one who dumped me in the middle of my first high school party. He's the one who had my friends and me looking like a bunch of loud project hood rats who dared to show up in their rich kids' suburban paradise.

The truth of the matter is that my side of town was re-zoned and we were forced to go to Maynard Jackson High complete with all these stuck-up divas and wannabe ballers. They are all so tired that it's not even funny.

"Ms. Legend?" Ms. Lopez inquires.

I quickly jar back to my second-period class and realize that all eyes in the classroom are focused on me. "Yes?"

Ms. Lopez looks annoyed. "I called on you to recite the days of the week in Spanish."

Now I'm annoyed and quickly rattle off, "Lune...