Authors: Tajuana Butler
TABLE OF CONTENTS
To the four:
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
To all my sorors worldwide,
especially the ladies who grew through
Beta Epsilon and were known to exemplify
intelligence, beauty, charm, class,
leadership, and service to all mankind.
Ladies, I am privileged to be linked to your history.
To my blood sisters and sorors, Kim and Tracy.
I love you two.
To Caren, my third sister. May you forever
share your beautiful voice with the world.
And of course, to my sands,
Angela, Kim, Elisa, Crystal, Monique, and Melissa.
It was inevitable that we would meet.
May we always remain close
and share a sisterhood sincere and rare.
To Rebecca, the Little Sister I gained through
Big Brothers Big Sisters.
My prayers are always with you.
Special thanks to God for guiding me as I make my way through life’s course.
Abundant appreciation to my family and friends. To my grandmother Rachel Mack for her love and her prayers. To my parents Raymond and Linda for believing in me. To the “Atlanta Crew”: Lanetia, Melinda, Keisha, Margaret, Jerry, Jeremy, Eric, Andrea, Ron, Ricky, and Regina for their support and encouraging words. To everyone at Butler’s Antiques: Francis, Suzette, Reggie, and anyone else who was ever drafted to move boxes. I can never repay you. To Mary and Cleotis Westons for your advice. To Martha, Delmar, Rita, and Howard: I love you much. Also, thanks to Bianca Cockram, Ron and Suzanne Akers, Keisha Tillman, Ellis Schaffer, Ed Hebert, and the Reeses: Athena, Alberta, and Alonzo. To Kevin Williams, Phillip Ghee, Angela and Gerald Stephens, Lorenzo A. Works, Eddie DeLeon, Byron Hueston, Cordele Rolle, Marlon Woods, Rodney Carson, Mitch Drone, Allison Moolenar, Linda Marks, and Bill Watson. And to my L.A. family: Roger Lewis, Joe Wilson, Jocelyn Easley, Jamila Hunter, and the Reeds, especially Ernestine and Doran, thanks for being so welcoming. May God continue to bless your family.
To those who have continued to actively support the promotion of
and who have contributed to my growth: Feona Huff (you are awesome!), Alfreda Vaughn (blessings to you and Tyler), Cheryl Blazej, Thomas Dye, Lisa Frederick, Deborah Jones, Norman Payne, Franklin McGruder, Pam Ragland, Carlton Brevard, Greg O’Kafor, Mike Austin, Alfred Vaughn, Lavonia Smiley, Soror Tanya Watkins, Tony Friarson, Denese Love, Ron Hulmes, McNealy Printing & Associates, Dot Siler (and Alison), Harold Boyd, Thomas Flowers, Ellis Liddell, Kerensa Jackson, Terry Bankston, Dawn Jones. Terry Robinson, Soror Ebony Brown, Wilfred Lee, Larry Scott, Detrick Garvin, Soror LaWanda Page, Ayana Davis, Lynn Ware, Nicole Bailey-Williams, my wonderful editor Melody Guy, Mary Bahr, Bill Green, Dupree, Miller & Associates, and William A. Green. Also to my former interns: Rashauna Crenshaw, Latosha Campbell, Kejar Butler, and Tiffany Batiste-Gilmore.
Also to the writers and small publishers who have inspired and taught me to remain positive and focused, including, but not limited to: Michael Baisden, Breggie James, Eric Jerome Dickey, Thomas Green, Sheneska Jackson, Mel Banks, James Clingman, Camika Spencer, and Jessie Brown.
Best wishes to all the African-American booksellers who gave an “unknown” a chance, including, but not limited to: Clara Villarosa, Emma Rogers, Antoine and Teresa Coffer, Janet Mosley, Amir Tibbs, Carrie Cole, Jackie Perkins, James Muhammad, Charles Muhammad, Janice Doctor, Renecia Glass, Pius Eze, Tariq and Geneva Jones, Jim Rogers, Vera Warren, Jennifer Turner, William and Stephana Clark, Ernestine Carreathers, Rasheed Ali, Mututa, Carla Allison, Robyn Robinson, Michele Lewis, Richard Beasley, Luther Warner, Larry Cunningham, Felicia Wintons, Bill Hart, Tyrone Cousins, Sherri McGee, and Ashraf Tazibo. Keep promoting good literature.
Thanks to all the groups and organizations who have presented me with such thoughtful gifts. Also a special thank you to everyone who supported
The Desires of a Woman: Poems Celebrating Womanhood.
Because my heart knows what my mind sometimes forgets, insert your name here if I forgot: ________________________
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for developing me into a beautiful
and talented woman.
Thank you for being my protector and my guide.
And as I make my way along my journey,
bless me with the wisdom to make
“You know how much I care about you,” Jason whispered in Cajen’s ear. “All of those months I worked so hard just to get your phone number, and now you’re gonna question how I feel about you?” Cajen didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t help but wonder if he was running a game on her, or if he was feeding her the same lines he had apparently used to get with all the other girls on campus he was rumored to be spending time with.
“Why should I believe you?” she asked. “We both know about your reputation, and I can’t overlook that.” Although she tried to remain strong and not let her guard down, Cajen’s heart was racing so fast she knew her effort wasn’t working. She hoped her question would not lead to an answer that would break the spell he had her under. She had never been so captivated, and clung to the emotional rush she was experiencing.
“Baby, I ain’t thinkin’ about nobody else. Right now, you’re the only thing on my mind. Believe me, I don’t usually work this hard to get to know someone, especially if she’s not interested. And you know I couldn’t get a decent hello from you about a month ago . . . now I know you’re worth the effort,” he said, then lightly kissed every inch of her lips, as if they were the most precious possessions he’d ever encountered.
Jason always knew what to say to keep her enchanted. He had a way of touching her just by looking into her eyes. She didn’t want to fall for his charm, but it was too late. He was so suave, so smooth. Cajen was hooked, and there was nothing she could do about it. She wanted so much to believe he really cared about her, but he had quite a reputation for being a ladies’ man, and he belonged to a fraternity on their school’s campus whose members took pride in being known as “nasty,” “freaky,” and “able to handle more than their share of women.”
Jason had been very persistent in trying to get Cajen to notice him. He often showed up outside of her classes and insisted on walking her back to her dorm room. He’d call and leave the cutest little messages on her answering machine. And when they did talk on the phone, he was charming, witty, and never once seemed only to want sex from her. Although the topic did come up, it was never the main focus of their brief telephone conversations.
Once he even had the fraternity’s pledges sing “You Are So Beautiful” outside her dorm room window and ask if their big brother “Shaky Jason” could have the honor of taking her to the movies. After that incident and their date, during which Jason was a complete gentleman, Cajen found it easier to ignore the rumors around campus about him being seen with some girl in the student activity center, or seen leaving various girls’ dorm rooms at all hours of the morning. But she felt that even if the rumors were true, they would soon stop, because Jason convinced her that she was truly special to him and somehow different from all those other girls with whom he was simply passing time.
Yeah, she thought, I guess Jason really does care for me. She snuggled close and allowed him to hold her tightly as they lay in his dorm bed. Cajen was overwhelmed by Jason. Sometimes she’d feel so emotional when she was with him that she’d lose the ability to hold an intelligent conversation. But conversing was never important because when they were together they spent most of their time being close, with Jason finding new places and new ways to lavish her with kisses.
She had never been in his dorm room this late. It was two a.m. on a Saturday, and Jason’s dark room was lit by a purple light that dimly shined out of a lamp on his desk, surrounded by books, folders, and scattered papers, most of which were party flyers. Cajen thought, if he’s trying to create an intimate atmosphere, the light is definitely working. She almost forgot she was in a dorm room; it felt more like they were in a secluded, faraway place. Although they were under the covers, Cajen was fully dressed except for her sandals, which were neatly placed by the side of his bed.
Jason worked to intensify the mood. He lifted up her white shirt and attempted to unfasten her bra, but Cajen moved his hands away. She didn’t feel comfortable—she felt like they were on one of those TV shows where a boy and girl are in the front room making out while her parents are in their bedroom sleeping. Only their scene was a little different. Cajen and Jason were sharing their intimate space with Ken, Jason’s nerdy roommate, who was sleeping in the bed just across the room.
“Why did you stop me?” he asked.
“I want the timing to be right for us. You know what I mean. Ken is right there, and he might hear us.” Cajen pulled her shirt down and pulled away. She did want to be with Jason—badly—but this wasn’t how she envisioned it. She hoped their first time together would be as special as her first sexual experience. It had been her prom night, and Chris, her first love and former boyfriend of three years, was just as nervous as she was, because it was his first time too. They were in a nice hotel and had champagne and soft music. She would never forget that night, or how “right” it was. But now she was in a musty dorm room with a man she couldn’t honestly say she trusted, and she hoped his roommate wouldn’t wake up to their intimate, yet not-so-intimate love scene. Jason, on the other hand, didn’t seem to be concerned by Ken’s presence, because he continued to pull her close and kiss her in such a way that it distracted her from his hands, which worked steadily to undress her.
“Don’t you worry your beautiful self about Ken. He won’t hear us,” Jason promised. “That boy sleeps like a rock, and besides, you and me, we can make slow love and whisper how good it feels into each other’s ears,” he said, and lightly stroked her ear with his tongue. Hypnotized, she almost didn’t notice that her bra was unfastened and that Jason’s smooth hands were cupping her breasts. Although her body shivered with desire for him to continue, she asked herself, Why am I doing this? Not yet, not yet.
“Cajen, I want you so bad!” he whispered in her ear. He rubbed her cheeks and looked deep into her eyes. “I need to be with you.”
When Jason said that, she couldn’t imagine stopping what was about to happen between them. And even though she thought he was moving fast, she didn’t know
to stop him. She didn’t want to stop him. She had no control—it was lost in Jason’s charm. As Jason entered Cajen, it didn’t matter to her that they weren’t in a committed relationship or that his roommate was in the next bed. It didn’t even matter that Jason wasn’t using a condom.
When Cajen woke up the next morning, she immediately looked across the room to see if Ken was still asleep. Luckily his bed was empty, because she was not ready to face him. He probably went to the campus library, she said to herself, which is exactly where I need to be going today, but I’d rather stay right here. She turned her undivided attention to Jason, who was still sleeping. He was gorgeous, with dark skin, a bald head, sexy, long eyelashes, and the muscular body of a god. She felt safe being close to him. Entranced by his masculinity, she wasn’t too mad at herself for breaking her number one rule last night, and assured herself she would make Jason use a condom the next time they slept together.
Cajen couldn’t believe she even had a first time with Jason. The only other guy she connected with on campus was her good friend Eric. Eric reminded her a lot of Chris, her first love, which is what attracted her to him. He was a nice guy who would do anything to make her smile. They met when Cajen came to the campus the previous summer, for freshman orientation. They were in the same campus tour group, and hit it off instantly. They exchanged telephone numbers and addresses and kept in touch until school started. Once the fall semester began, they spent every weekend together going to football games, movies, and just hanging out, until she started seeing Jason. Cajen knew that she and Eric would only ever be platonic friends. They never talked about their relationship being more than it already was, and he never tried to kiss her. When they discussed sex, it was different from how she and Jason talked about it. It was more like talking about sex with her girlfriends. But Eric always wanted to spend time with her, and they always had interesting conversations. Sometimes they’d waste valuable study time discussing their favorite foods, religious beliefs, or dreams for the future.
She didn’t feel that way with Jason. They communicated in a different way. She felt intimidated by him, as if he were on some sophisticated level for which she wasn’t quite ready. It was that mysterious side of him that attracted her and made her feel so vulnerable whenever they were together. Last night was so intimate, and she hoped such a big step would bring them closer.
Maybe Jason really does care about me and isn’t the player everyone says he is. And just maybe he will tell me he wants a commitment, soon. Carried away with her dreaming, she continued. Who knows, maybe we’ll get married after he graduates, and we’ll have one kid and a dog. Jason would probably want a Doberman or something ferocious like that. I haven’t even met his parents yet. I wonder when I’ll get the opportunity to meet them. And after I pledge all of my sorors will get to be my bridesmaids, and his fraternity brothers will be groomsmen.
Jason awoke to Cajen staring at him. He looked into her eyes, then kissed her on the cheek. “Good morning, sexy,” he said in a deep morning voice, then hopped over, got out of bed, and put on his robe and shower shoes. “I’ve got a busy day, baby. We’re going into Hell Week, you know, and we have to make sure the pledges know their stuff!”
Her daydream interrupted, she reluctantly came back to reality and responded, “Good morning to you too. So why are y’all so hard on the pledges?” she asked. “They are going to be your brothers one day. How can anybody be so hard on somebody they will one day call brother?”
“They might be our brothers one day. Might, that’s the key word. No one is guaranteed to cross over into the Greek world. Cajen, everybody, with no exceptions, has to prove themselves to somebody else in order to get what they want. I had to prove myself to you before you let me be with you, and the pledges have to prove themselves to the frat in order to become our brothers.”
Cajen half listened to Jason’s speech, because she was trying to figure out how she was going to get from his dormitory to hers, which was just across the walkway, without anybody noticing her so as not to feed the rumor mill. She decided the best plan would be to just go for it; to not get too excited about it, and to just walk toward her dorm as quickly as possible. She got out of bed, stretched, and began to put back on the clothes she had worn last night. Cajen Myers had an adorable figure, which complemented every outfit she wore, and was “cute as a button,” as she was often told. She wore her hair in a bob that hung above her shoulders, and her bangs were cut just above her eyebrows, which were naturally arched. She had high cheekbones and deep brown eyes that were as warm as her personality. Most of the college men could not help but stare as she walked by on her way to class. She was unofficially declared one of the most desirable girls on campus by unanimous vote of the basketball players, the football players, and all the fraternities. And although women envied her beauty, they couldn’t help but like her. Her attitude and personality were addictive. She was smart, witty, and always made a special effort to make everyone she met feel special and good about themselves.
After dressing, she watched Jason prepare for his day and couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking and why he was in such a hurry to get his day started. After all, it was a Saturday. Focused on setting up his ironing board, he didn’t look up once. He got out a T-shirt with his fraternity’s letters on it and some ripped jean shorts and socks, all the while not saying anything. He pulled out his boots, then paused and looked over at Cajen while shaking his head and smiling. She didn’t speak either. Watching him move around, she became paralyzed with disturbing thoughts. What is he thinking? Did he enjoy being with me last night? Does he still feel the same? Will we ever share another night like last night? At a loss for words, she hoped he would break the ice and save her from her troubling thoughts.
Rescuing her unknowingly, he spoke. “Girl, you know something?”
“You are so fine . . . and last night was so good!” He walked over to her and without touching her, pecked her cheek. “So, I’ll see you later,” he whispered in her ear in that sexy deep voice that drove her crazy. He was so cool about the whole thing. He seemed distant.
Maybe I’m overreacting, she thought. Cajen wasn’t sure how she was supposed to react. A myriad questions raced through her mind. Does he really care about me like he said? Is he having second thoughts about what we did last night? She decided to act cool as well and not let on how deeply she felt about him and about what had happened between them, because she was sure that’s what he was doing—trying to play it cool.
“Yeah, I’ll call you later,” she responded. “I know you’ll be busy with the pledges, so if you’re not here, I’ll leave a message on your machine. But if you find some free time outside of your big brotherly duties, give me a ring.”
Jason flashed her another smile. “All right, sexy!” He grabbed his purple pail that contained soap, shampoo, toothbrush, and toothpaste, and walked toward the door. Cajen grabbed her purse and followed him out. He turned left and headed for the showers, and she went right, to the stairwell and out the door toward her dorm.