Loretha, I know you feel like I'm being tough on you girls probably you more so than your sisters it's because when I look at you girls I see bits and pieces of your mother and myself our drive ambitious nature all of you have it but you have it the most Loretha.
"If I'm hard on you it's because I know you and your sisters will get places your mother and I have only dreamed about. "John said.
"Daddy, you put so much pressure on us on me especially it's like we're lined up in a vice grip and your turning the crank tighter and tighter. "Cookie said.
"A parent who doesn't want their children to succeed to have a better life then them isn't a good parent.
"I want more for all of you. I think Barry will get you into a life better than this. "John replied.
"I know you mean well Daddy, I just wish you wouldn't be so hard about it. "Cookie said.
"I'm just doing what I'm supposed to be doing as your father. Lucifer Lyons or whatever that boy's name is, gonna lead you into a world of trouble. Barry has a bright future all that Lucifer boy has is a future in prison. I don't want you mixed up in drugs Loretha. "John said.
"Daddy, I don't have anything to do with drugs.
"All we ever talk about is music something we both really love. "Cookie replied.
"Your the one who can really have a bright future as a doctor that plan hasn't changed or you getting into to Howard. I don't want you out here skipping school running these streets hanging with Lucifer. "John said sternly.
John dropped her off at home while he left to handle his next plumbing calls.
Hours later Candace and Carol walk in the door.
"Didn't think you'd be home thought you might be with Barry or Lucious . "Candace said.
"I was with Barry, Ms. Nosey and Daddy, brought me home the school called him. "Cookie replied.
"So how long you grounded for? "Carol asked.
"I'm not grounded he just told me to stay away from Lucious and I better not skip anymore school. "Cookie replied.
"Daddy, is wasting his breath telling you to stay away from Lucious Lyons you two have your ways of being around each other regardless. "Candace said.
"Look Candace, I didn't seek Lucious out and he didn't seek me out you and Carol saw how we met the music drew us together not his rep as a dealer. "Cookie replied.
"Loretha, your gonna get yourself in prison or killed dealing with Lucius. "Candace said.
"Whatever Candace, "Cookie replied as she went upstairs to her room.
"Grr, it's stressful being the oldest I'm surprised it's her acting like this usually it's supposed to be the youngest who's the wild child. "Candace said.
"OH, stop Candace, you and Loretha got boy's on you like Y'all the piped Piper's of West Philly."Carol replied.
"I have standards I can't speak on Loretha, but you have boy's flocking to you as well your not exactly the ugly duckling of the family. "Candace said.
"We've got homework to do if you can manage to get yourself off your high horse to do it. "Carol replied.
"Yeah and we got to see about dinner to. "Candace said.
"Don't we always? "Carol replied.
Cookie sat on her bed writing in her diary listening to the conversation Candace and Carol were having as they came up the stairs headed to their rooms.
She turned and stared out her window debating on her life.
It's true Barry was a safe bet but he couldn't compare to Lucious the way he could make her feel like the most beautiful girl in the world.
And how Lucious gave her butterflies and electric sparks fourth of July fireworks.
Where as Barry was sweet kind a gentleman but didn't give her that rush of butterflies and fireworks that she was starting to need that feeling was becoming a drug to her and every time it made her high she felt the freest she's ever felt.
Lucious music filled her with that rush the way his voice floated like fine silk on bare skin.
Cookie knew her father Candace and Carol in her way didn't understand it wasn't drug dealer Lucious that she was attracted to it was the music lover Lucious that won his way into her heart.
Cookie didn't notice Carol had brought in her homework or the plate of food on her dresser until her mind cleared enough for her to start on her homework and eat her dinner.
When John, returned home he kissed Candace, and Carol, on the tops of their heads and sat down to eat his dinner he didn't ask about Loretha or if she was at home he gave her space because when he dropped her off earlier he said all that was needed to be said about the matter.
"Dinner was good girls it was just like your mom used to make. "John said.
"Mama, was a wonderful cook if anyone of us reached her skill level in the kitchen it's because she taught us well. "Candace replied.
"Your mom, was a great cook because she learned from her mom, when your mom, and I first started dating she told me how her mom believed the way to a man's heart was through his stomach that's how the woman on her side of the family all got themselves husbands.
"Your mom, wanted to make me dinner one night so she asked me what my favorite dish was and I told her about your grandma Holloway's stuffed pork chops black eye peas and onions and cornbread imagine my surprise when there was a candle light dinner set up for us. "John said.
"It turned out good because you did end up marrying her. "Candace replied.
They didn't know Cookie was in the kitchen hearing them talk.
"That's true, we would talk for hours about what we wanted to build together her one wish was that our children got to experience a love like she and I had. "John said.
As Cookie listened to her father speak so lovingly about their mother she had to wonder who between Barry and Lucious would truly feel that way about her.
Cleaning her plate she went back up to her room the storm within crashed so harshly she couldn't help but feel overcome by it.
She went to her dresser pulling out her night clothes heading to the bathroom she prepared for bed all the while having taunting thoughts.
As she laid in bed her last thoughts were of Lucious and what she saw in him the first day she met him.
Before she knew it Cookie was woken by the subtle tapping on her bedroom door.
"Loretha, come on time to get up. "Candace said.
"I'm up. I'm up. Give me five minutes. "Cookie replied.
"Well hurry up, then you still got to eat so we can leave. "Candace said.
"I'll be done in a minute. "Cookie replied.
Cookie heard Candace leave her door heading down stairs dressed in her school uniform she was ready yet not ready to go to school yet she knew her father would be on her worse if she missed anymore time at school.
A few minutes later Cookie emerged with her stuff ready to go quickly eating her food she didn't speak Candace and Carol looked at her confused but brushed it off as they got their things to leave.
Lucious meanwhile was hanging with his crew they watched as he mixed his beats with skill.
Ever sense that day on the street corner where he saw something else he wanted just as bad as his music.
The girl with the beautiful smile and hypnotic eyes and they way she moved. He couldn't get her off his mind no matter what he did.
He could have kicked himself for not asking her name and admittedly he was a little mad at himself for not finding out.
But he was determined to see her again no matter what he had to do.
Not just see her but to make her his queen to their empire.
Today something was changing a storm was preparing to change two people's lives forever.
John Holloway could feel it though he did everything in his power to stop Loretha from going down a road she couldn't come back from something told him in spite of his best laid plans for all his daughters Loretha would prove to be the most challenging.
He hadn't talked to her since yesterday and hadn't seen her before he left for work that morning apart of him wished he woke her up to explain better his point of few but he knew he hurt her by pushing her to hard.
He was young once he understood what it was to be young black and want more for himself. Being a plumber wasn't in his plans but when he couldn't make his dreams come true which was part of why he pushed Candace Loretha and Carol to study hard.
When John was a teenager he was good at many different things he played basketball he excelled in shop class he tried to be the jack of all trades.
He lost his chance with basketball due to a car accident leaving him with six broken bones in his back and a shattered knee.
And it was because of that Holloway plumbing was born.
John didn't want his daughters to be forced to settle he wanted them to fight for more.
Putting his family worries on the back burner for now he continued his work he had a busy day of clogs broken pipes and other plumbing issues needing to be dealt with.
Meanwhile in class Cookie did her work but still distracted by her personal issues Barry Lucious her father it was enough to drive a person insane.
When the bell rang Candace Cookie and Carol sat at their usual table. Cookie picked at her food taking bites of her food.
"Loretha what's with you today? you seem off. "Candace asked.
"I've got a lot on my mind. "Cookie replied.
"Your love triangle I'm sure. "Candace said.
"Candace, something is really bugging Loretha bringing this situation up won't change anything. "Carol replied.
"Does it bother you? "Cookie asked.
"Does what bother us? "Candace asked.
"Does Daddy's, pressure bother you? "Cookie asked.
"I'll admit, sometimes it's tough but he does it out of love only a parent who wants what's best for their children would do that. "Candace said.
"Yeah, sometimes it can be overwhelming we all do the very best we can yet Daddy, seems to push us for better then that. "Carol replied.
"It just feels like I can't breathe sometimes like I'm breathing smog and it's choking me and no matter how much I try to fill my lungs with clean air the smog chokes me more. "Cookie said.
"And your saying Daddy, is the smog but who's the fresh air Barry or Lucious? "Candace asked.
"I don't know but I do know that when I'm with either one I am not thinking about a mountain of homework getting into Howard or becoming a doctor when I'm with them.
You saw when I met Lucious I saw the fire in his eyes the passion for music oozes from his pores and it's thrilling like being on that rollercoaster we used to always go on. "Cookie said
"And what about Barry? "Carol asked.
"You guys remember when we went to the movies and saw dirty dancing? "Cookie asked.
"Yeah what about it? "Candace asked.
"Before meeting Lucious, I was settling for what Daddy, wanted by going to Howard and becoming a doctor and marrying Barry, I was getting ready to except that as what future was going to be even though my gut is telling me I'm meant for more.
"Barry is like that guy's grandson sure he's nice and sweet and a gentleman there is nothing wrong with that but he acts like a senior citizen.
"But Lucious, is like the other guy he's fun energetic kind sweet and has so much passion about what he wants in life. "Cookie said.
"I don't know what to tell you Loretha, but you've seen what happens on these streets you can't turn the tv on without hearing about a shooting robbery drug bust's gang violence that's an everyday reality in the hood which is why Daddy, wants us to get out.
"You know that saying? the road to hell is paved with good intentions Lucious is using the only means he has at his disposal to get himself out of the hood he's taking a dangerous risk that he could be on the news as a victim or a criminal and I'm not saying that there hasn't been people before him that took to crime as a means to get out of bad neighborhood's because I know he wasn't the first and he wont be the last.
"But the way he's doing it puts his life on the line and those who have anything to do with him. Is that the excitement you want in your life? "Candace asked.
"Of course I don't want my life in danger, who in their right mind does? "Cookie replied.
"From what I saw that day Lucious was like an orbiting planet and Loretha got caught in his gravitational pull. "Carol said.
"That's what it feels like, I can't help it when I look into his eyes it's like they reach inside my soul calling me to him. "Cookie replied.
"He's arrogant smooth and he isn't ugly but that too can be a danger to you because he can pull you in."Candace said.
"He's special he just... there's just something about his passion for music and more. "Cookie replied.
"If he's as special as you think he is then why does he sell drugs? Loretha. "Candace asked.
"Candace, you know out here in these streets people who are truly trying to make it make money anyway they can. "Carol replied.
The bell rang and the sisters went their separate ways headed to their classes.
Cookie sat in each of her classes anticipation eating at her because she hoped to run into Lucious but she didn't realize he was also hoping to run into her.
Cookie and her sister's walked home like usual stopping off at the corner store Lucious and his crew just happened to be across the street when something told him to look up.
Barry was talking to Candace and Carol not facing the direction they could see Lucious.
Cookie walks out the store not seeing Barry until she nearly knocked him down.
"Whoa Loretha you, okay? "Barry asked.
"Yeah I'm fine, "Cookie replied.
"Listen Loretha, it's Friday and I was wondering if I could take you out tonight? "Barry asked.
"Yeah sure. "Cookie replied.
"I'll pick you up at 8:00."Barry said.
"Okay, I'll be ready. "Cookie replied.
Lucious watched the exchange more determined then ever to get his girl.
Lucious and his crew watched Cookie and her sister's walk away from the store and Lucious mind raced on figuring how to win his girl.
The sisters made it home in time to do chores and homework by the time their father gets home Cookie is preparing for her date with Barry.
Cookie walks down the stairs just as her father greets Barry and he takes Cookie's hand kissing her knuckles as they turn to leave.
Barry opens her door for her and they head off toward the diner.
The date went as it usually did with Barry when suddenly Lucious and his crew came in laughing and talking they locked eyes for a moment but didn't say anything.
"Loretha, do you know that guy from somewhere? "Barry asked.
"I've seen him around, but I don't know him. "Cookie replied.
"He's sure acting like he knows you the way he stares at you. "Barry said.
"Don't let him ruin this for us you invited me on this date I wanna have a good time. "Cookie replied.
Lucious saw the looks Barry gave him and he was tempted to go over and get his woman but he wasn't trying to upset her before he even knew her name.
Lucious sat and watched her for a few minutes before the waitress brought their food.
"So Lucious, you still going to that rap party tomorrow? "One of the Lyon Crew asked.
"Yes, I'm going to perform my new song I've been working on. "Lucious said.
"You think your girl gonna be there? "Tyrell asked.
"I'm counting on it. "Lucious said.
Lucious ate his food all the while watching Cookie on her date.
Cookie could feel Lucious watching her and it caused the butterflies to work overtime in her stomach.
She could feel the goosebumps rise on her arms as Lucius's heated stare watched her.
"Come on Loretha, the evening isn't over yet. "Barry said.
Barry wrapped his arms around Cookie's shoulder out of the corner of his eye he looked to see if Lucious would do anything.
Lucious wasn't afraid of Barry but Lucious was smart he knew Barry was challenging him but he wasn't about to wreck his chance with his woman.
He could see the way she looked at Barry there was no spark in her end of things.
Not like how it was when they first saw each other.
Tomorrow if he saw her at the rap party he was going to make his move.
As Cookie walked out of the diner she didn't feel comfortable with Barry's arm wrapped around her but they were kind of dating so he would find it strange if he acted funny around him after seeing Lucious.
Her nerves were rattled and all she wanted to do was think but that had to wait. For now she would enjoy her date as best as she could.