Solid Soul(8)

By: Brenda Jackson



“That’s my understanding as well.” A soft chuckle erupted from his throat. There was a cloud hanging over his head that refused to go away and he had to find amusement anywhere he could to keep his sanity. But he had to believe this was just one part of parenthood that he would get through, and for some reason it was important to him for Kylie Hagan to believe that as well.

“Things are going to be all right, Ms. Hagan,” he said soothingly. “That’s why we’re meeting today, to make sure of it.” He flashed her a smile.

She glanced up and met his gaze. “I want to believe that,” she said quietly. “Under the circumstances I think we should forgo formality. Please call me Kylie.”

“Okay, and I’m Chance.” After a pause he said, “Kylie, I want you to believe things will work out. We have to think positively that we’ll get through this particular episode in our children’s lives. We have good kids—they’re just a little headstrong and stubborn. But I believe with some parental guidance they’ll be fine.”

“I hope so. Otherwise if they continue with the route they’re going, they’re bound to make a mistake.”

Chance raised a brow. “By mistake you mean…?”

“Taking their relationship to a level they aren’t ready for, Chance.”

He liked the way his name easily flowed from her lips. “I take it you mean sex.”

“Yes, that’s precisely what I’m talking about. Over the years, I’ve had the mother-daughter talks with Tiffany, but when teenagers are in love, or think they’re in love, they believe that sex is just another way to show how much they care.”

They paused in their conversation when a waitress came to give Chance his beer, hand them menus and fill their water glasses.

“And you think that’s going to be on their minds?” he asked.

“Of course. Raging teenage hormones are the worst kind.”

He picked up his glass to take a sip of beer. “Are they?”

“Yes, trust me, I know. I had Tiffany when I was sixteen.”

Chance’s glass stopped midway to his lips. His mouth opened in surprise. “Sixteen?”

“Yes. So I hope you can understand why I’m upset with all of this. I don’t want Tiffany to make the same mistake I made as a teenager.”

Chance nodded. That explained the reason Kylie didn’t look old enough to have a fifteen-year-old daughter. That meant she was around thirty-one, but still she didn’t look a day over twenty-five. “Did you and Tiffany’s father get married?”

Her laugh was bitter. “Are you kidding? He had to make a choice between me and a football scholarship to Hampton University. He chose college.”

“I didn’t.”

Kylie glanced up from studying her water glass. “You didn’t what?”

“I was faced with the same decision as Tiffany’s father. My girlfriend, Marcus’s mother, got pregnant when we were seniors in high school. We were both eighteen and had plans for college. We acknowledged our mistake and felt that no matter what, we loved each other and loved the child we had made. Instead of going to college, we got married, remained here in Charlotte and made the best of things. I later went to college at night. My wife died of cancer when Marcus was nine.”

Chance finished his beer. A part of him regretted that the man who had gotten Kylie pregnant hadn’t done the responsible thing. “It must have been hard for you, pregnant at sixteen,” he said.

“It was.” He could tell by the way her lips were quivering their conversation was bringing back painful memories for her. “I disappointed my parents tremendously, embarrassed them. When it was determined that the father didn’t want me or his child as part of his future, my parents tried talking me into giving up my baby for adoption, but I refused. That caused friction between us the entire nine months. Things got so bad at home that I had to go live with my best friend and her mother the last couple months of my pregnancy.”

After taking a sip of water, she said, “The day the nurse brought Tiffany to me for the first time after I’d given birth to her, I gazed down at my beautiful daughter and knew I had made the right decision, no matter how my parents felt.”

“Did they eventually come around to your way of thinking?”

“Years later when they realized they were denying themselves the chance to get to know their granddaughter. But at first they wanted me to know what a mistake I’d made in keeping her. They’d intended to teach me a lesson. I couldn’t move back home so I continued to live with my friend’s family until I was able to get an apartment at seventeen. I finished high school at night while working at a grocery store as a cashier during the day. My best friend, who also became Tiffany’s godmother, kept her at night so I could finish school. It was hard but I was determined to make it work. After high school, I went to college and I struggled for years as a single parent before I finally earned a degree. I got a management position and later purchased a modest home for me and Tiffany.”

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