Chapter One

Who ever knew love could find you while you were hiding. I wasn't hiding out of fear or anything, it was ambivalence really. I did not hide in books, or in the darkness of my room. Empty relationships were my secret dwelling. I flirted with the idea of true intimacy with Noah but it would never stick. I was always loving him when he was with another or hating him when he loved me in those times I wanted to be left alone. It didn't work between us because it was never meant to but knowing him changed my life.

Back to love finding you… well the best stories tell themselves.

Cecelia knocked on the door and waited for what seemed like entirely too long. She heard a very loud, sad love song playing so she knocked louder. Winston answered the door with wide eyes, as if the knocking was possibly his imagining. His features softened when he saw Cece and he let her in. "Hey Winnie.. where's um Jess?" She asked trying not to show her confusion. There were at least nine candles of various scent burning in very close proximity all around the living room. Winston mood was so blue. Every time he tried to speak he just sighed. Cece was going back and forth between pity and annoyance.

"What's wrong Bishop?" She said pushing him down to the sofa and sitting next to him. She put her purse in her lap and crossed her legs. She leaned in letting him know she was truly concerned. "Come on, spit it out, you're acting stranger than usual. What happened?" She asked. He held his chest through his fluffy blue robe. "Shelby is engaged." He told her. Cece eyes widened and nodded." Oh I remember Shelby. Didn't you break up with her though?" Winston nodded." I was so petty. I had no real reason to dump her. I never treated that girl right Cece! She was a treasure. An American treasure. And I lost her. "He said.

"If you still love her, fight for her." She said. "Her fiancée is a Laker." He confessed. Cece flinched and imitated the effects of an injury. "And his name is Winton." He added, relaying the further insult to injury to her. "I deserve this I guess. I have nothing, and he can give her everything." He said. "Excuse you? You have nothing? What about Ferguson? What about that sweet career you got at the po-po? And let us not forget this fresh Mohawk. You are killing the game Winnie." She said running her hand through his hair.

He cracked a smile, finally. Cece giggled and finally rested on the couch. "So you listen to Boys II Men when you are romantically troubled?" She asked. He nodded and rubbed his head. "Jess and Nick went grocery shopping. Schmidt is still working." He told her. "Did I ask where Schmidt was?" She asked rolling her eyes and eating some of his snacks. "I just assumed you know you still have this thing for him. And he'll never be over you." He smirked. Cece did not like that observation. "I am done with that rollercoaster. I'm too old to be doing things like …. Like Schmidt. I just want us to be friends. He is so high maintenance, and loving him was always this confusing thing. I don't think it should be like that. My dad loved my mom and she knew, and vice-versa. We didn't have that." She said. "Your dad loved your mom that much?" He asked. She nodded and smiled. "He did, and they had an arranged marriage but he always told her he couldn't have chosen anyone more perfect himself. Then he got sick, and she never hesitated to do anything he needed. She watched her love die and her only thought was his comfort." Cece began to use her fingers to wipe the tears out of her eyes. "I'm sorry Winston. Today's his birthday and I keep thinking about him, and now I'm bringing him up in random conversation. Forget I said anything." She begged.

Winston brought her into his embrace." What's your dad's name Cece?" He asked, disregard her apology as it was not needed her. "Dr. Sanjay Parkeh." She said proudly. Winston didn't have to ask her to go on. Cece spoke fondly of her father and how the day of his birth and the day he died always hit her hard. "Okay now I get it. The candles distract from the smell of the tears and snot then the music drown out the sobs. You my man have mastered crying alone." She laughed into his shoulder. "You like that huh? That is from years of heartbreak and being told black men don't cry. Cece nodded and that made her sad for him, being told that because of his race and sex he was not entitled to a genuine emotion.

"Did your dad tell you not to cry?" She asked. "I never met the guy. I was the man of the house, there was no time to cry. Everyone had their position to play and I was my mom's rock. All my friends would give me hell if I shed a tear, so I just learned to do it alone." He told her. She shook her head and pointed to her shoulder. "As long as I alive, you'll never have to cry alone, this shoulder is yours." Cece announced. Winston's cheek touched his eyes because her kindness made him smile so big. Hee gave her a hug and accepted her offer with another smile. "Thanks Cece." He said. "Thank you Winston." She said as she sat the crisscross apple sauce listening to more, sad R&B. Her heart didn't feel so heavy anymore.