Nina pulled her creme sheer curtains back, opened her window and looked outside at her newly planted garden. Orchids were her favorite flower, and she promised herself that if she ever got a place of her own the first thing she would do is plant some, right outside of her bedroom window. The aroma immediately drifted in, a scent she yearned for the last few years of her life.
She had one hour to get dressed, and make it across town to her first session of the morning. Nina was a Family Therapist for the Seattle Department of Social Services, and during her "spare" time, she spoke with the women at the State Penitentiary. She attended Howard University right out of High School, and obtained her BA in Human Services. It wasn’t until recently that she was able to go back to school locally and continue her education. She received her Masters in Family Therapy, and was now pursuing her PH.D in Counseling. Nina loved working with people, women particularly. She felt that it was her obligation to "give back", especially knowing how greatly she herself had been blessed.
She walked up the stairs to the conference room. She opened the door, flicked on the lights, and frowned at the dullness of the place. She hated the gray paint on the walls and could never imagine how the state expected people to "feel good" in such a cold atmosphere.
"Oh Well," she thought. "It's just a matter of time before I get my own center. Hold On Girl." She smiled to herself.
She had about 20 minutes to spare before her first family came in, so she decided to familiarize herself with the file first. Her stomach dropped as she read it. It was ridiculously similar to her own life. She put the file down, and reminisced about the last 10 years of her life.
She met Kevin during her first year of college at Howard University. There was a local bar that the students attended, and Kevin was a "regular" there. Not a "regular" student, but a 25-year-old “regular" Club attendee. The minute she saw him, she knew this was a man she wanted to pursue. She was only 19 years old, but always felt and appeared older than her true years. She could tell he was older, by not only the midnight black, perfectly filled goat tee that he rocked, but his demeanor as well. He was "Cool" and didn't talk too much. He smiled at her when he caught her looking; flashing the most beautiful set of dimples, she had ever laid eyes on. She knew before the end of the week she would be in his bed, with her legs wrapped around his broad, chocolate back. Hell, if she had it her way, by the end of the night.
He walked over to her, and she damn near fainted. “
I would hate to impede on someone's territory, but I couldn't help but come over to you. Can I have your number?" She immediately wrote her number down and handed it to him. He Continued.” My name is Kevin. And now that I got what I came for, I can go home. I'll call you baby girl." He smiled, and walked out. She had no idea how costly that number exchange would end up being.
The first year Nina dated Kevin, she loved every minute of it. Although she came from an extremely stable family, there was something about dysfunctional shit that kept her blood flowing. Kevin's background was as screwed up as his credit. His mother had him at 15, he didn’t know his father, and he had been in and out of Y.A since he was 12.
She will never forget their second date. He cried to her, and said that he was so blessed to have met her, and all he needed was "a woman like her" to help him do "right". Nina knew that Kevin had great potential, and wanted nothing more than to show him how to live up to that. She loved Kevin from the moment she saw him, and was determined to help him become the man SHE KNEW he could be.
Nina knew Kevin hustled, but didn't mind as long as he kept it away from their place. She never knew EXACTLY what he did. All she knew was that whatever it was, it was enough to keep her in the flyest gear, driving the hottest whips, and a full refrigerator in the apartment HE paid for. She was able to focus on her education at Howard University, without the distraction of a job.
Everyone in the street knew Kevin as "K-Smooth". Even the bitches. I think they gave him the name because of his skin. It was smooth like melted Hershey's chocolate. The dark kind. Nina always suspected that Kevin messed with other women, but that was the least of her concerns. SHE was the one getting her bills paid. SHE was the one getting a full ticket to school, and most of all SHE was the one he was coming home to every night. Isn’t that all that mattered?
Nina can remember coming home one day early from school and finding her "good friend Rhonda's" car parked outside. She knew that Kevin used alot of her friends to help with his "business", so she figured it must have had something to do with that. She checked the mail on the way to the door. Once inside, she immediately saw Rhonda butt-ass naked riding Kevin on HER living room sofa!
"Rhonda! Bitch how dare you!” Rhonda jumped up screaming, and ran outside. leaving her clothes and purse sprawled out on the floor. Kevin spent the next four hours pleading for Nina's forgiveness, telling her how the feds had questioned Rhonda and that he "Had to" fuck her or she would tell the police everything. Nina loved him even more after that. She knew in her heart that Rhonda wasn't the prettiest bitch and Kevin wouldn't dare jeopardize their relationship for HER unless he had to. Two days later, Kevin took her away to Vegas and married her.
The day of their honeymoon Nina expressed to Kevin that she wanted him to get a "real job" and stop whatever he was doing to make money.
"Kevin, I'm just not comfortable with all of this, and I think I'm ready to have a baby. After all, I finish school in 6 months."
Kevin looked at Nina and replied simply. "You like all the things I buy you baby girl, don't you? Don't you like being able to buy stuff without having to look at the price tag?" He kissed her passionately and walked toward the door. "I'll be back, Gotta make some phone calls."
Nina loved when he called her "baby girl". It made her heart melt, and her juices flow all at the same time. Nina pushed all of the doubts she had about Kevin to the back of her mind. She knew he loved her, and would do anything he asked of her. Especially now that he was her HUSBAND.
The next six months Kevin kept bringing in the money, while Nina finished school. Immediately after graduation, she landed a job as a Human Resources Rep for the Department of Social Services in D.C. She liked the job, but knew that she wanted to do something that involved helping people. She just wasn’t satisfied babysitting a bunch of angry and bitter county workers for 8 hours a day. She knew though, that this was her foot in the door with Social Services, and reminded herself of that regularly.
Nina began to grow tired of the lifestyle her and Kevin were living. It was as if they had become "roommates", simply sharing a common space. While she worked, he ran the streets "making money". She barely spoke with him during the day, and if she did, it was just for a minute when he would call to "Check in". By the time she got home during the evenings, he was either in the garage with a group of friends smoking and talking about NOTHING, or in the house passed out. She decided that they needed to talk. She was fed up with the way things were going.
"Kevin, I'm sick of living this way. You are never here. You don't pay any attention to me. I'm sick of not knowing what you do, it scares me. I don't care about the money anymore. Please this needs to stop."
Kevin looked at her and decided to comply. "Ok, baby girl. You're right. This hustling thing isn’t working anymore anyway. If you really want me to get out of the streets and be "right", I need you to help me. I'll get a job and maybe even go back to school." Nina grinned from ear to ear. She would do anything to help her man. "Ok baby. What is it? Of course I will help you." Kevin explained to her that he had some "people" who were in the loan business, and all they needed was some information to help get the loans "funded."
Nina was confused. "Kevin, I'm not exactly sure how I can help with that. What does that even have to do with anything?"
Kevin continued telling her that by her having access to EVERYONE'S information in the county, all she needed to do was provide their personal information to him, and he would handle the rest.
"Kevin!!! NO! I could lose my job for that. I will not! Are you crazy?", Nina exclaimed!
Before she could continue with her questions, Kevin covered her mouth with his hand, and motioned for her silence. "Maybe we can work on that baby now." He grabbed her hand and led her to their bedroom. That night, he made love to her like never before.
Nina got to work early the next morning. She wanted to make sure no one was in the office when she arrived. Nina can remember the one time she stole something. It was a blow pop from Woolworth's, and her mother tore her ass up for 2 days following the incident. She was terrified to steal, and her stomach was in knots. She logged in to her computer, and began printing a list of profile information from the database. She filtered through the lists, only selecting the ones that lived in "decent neighborhoods", and had no children. She would rather victimize the ones who had money to pay for a credit clean up, and she would never forgive herself if children were impacted by her foolishness.
That night, she took the list home to Kevin. "Baby Girl, I knew you were down for your man. I love you baby. Just a few more months of this, and we'll be sitting pretty."
Nina couldn’t fathom the thought of reliving the fear and anxiety she felt this morning. "Kevin, I can't keep doing this. Please, you said one time."
Kevin's smile turned to a look of pure disgust. "Listen, if you want to make me happy, do what the fuck I said. Fuck you Nina. You never cared about me. I don't have a family to turn to when I need something like you do. I paid for you to go to school, and gave you everything. Now you do me like this? I’m leaving."
The thought of Kevin leaving Nina, made her sick. Who was going to take care of him? Where would he go? "Ok Kevin. But only a few more times. After that, I'm done."
The next few weeks, Nina continued going in early, and pulling profiles for Kevin, carefully choosing the ones that were "Suitable." Kevin began bringing in so much money it was unreal. Valentines Day, he bought her a 2-carat tennis bracelet, and a matching pair of diamond earrings. A month later, they were signing escrow papers on their dream house. Before Nina knew it, 5 months had passed, and her paychecks now included enough overtime hours to cover one full paycheck. She knew she had to stop, but figured she would continue until Christmas. After all, it was only a month away, and she knew Kevin needed the extra money to give to his mother for the Holidays.
December 12th, Nina woke up early, and arrived at work 45 minutes before her shift started, as she always did. She walked into her office and was surprised to find two men, dressed in suits sitting at her desk. Nina felt nauseous and new something wasn’t right.
"Can I help you?" she asked.
"Yes, we are with the Washington DC Police Department. Are you Nina Thompson?"
"Yes", Nina replied. "Again, how can I help you?"
"Do you know Kevin Thompson?"
"Yes", Nina replied again.
"He was arrested this morning on suspicion of Identity Theft, and money laundering. He took a deal and advised us that you were providing the information to major loan companies throughout the DC area. You are under arrest. Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law...................."
Two days later Nina was sentenced.
"Ms. Thompson, because you have always been an upstanding member of society, I find it more appalling that you would engage in such horrendous acts. You work for an organization that is designed to help and uplift its members. I am disgusted by your actions. Therefore, I am sentencing you to two years in Salinas State Prison for Woman."
Nina spent the first 3 months in a state of severe depression. She tried several times to contact Kevin, but was unsuccessful in her efforts. She lost 15 pounds and had gotten so thin, her parents refused to come see her until she got her "mind right". It was killing her mother to see her in this state, and her father couldn’t afford to miss any more days of work tending to her. It wasn’t until she was served with the divorce papers from Kevin that she realized she needed to get her life together.
She spent the last year of her incarceration reading, and preparing for her "second life".
Immediately upon her release, she moved away to Seattle. Her grandmother always told her to keep a "just in case" stash. That was the one piece of advice she is thankful she adhered to. She enrolled in school, and applied for a job as a Family Therapist at the Department of Social Services in Seattle. She was ecstatic when she received the call for an interview.
"Ms. Thompson, you have a felony, and you are currently on probation? Is that correct?" The interviewer looked old enough to be Nina's mother, but had a softness about her that made Nina comfortable.
"Yes, I do. However, I believe that my journey is what will help those I provide a service to. I have been there. I know what it's about". They spoke for hours, and before Nina left her office, she was offered the job.
Nina was snapped back into reality by a knock on the conference door. Her first family had arrived. A slender, sad looking black woman walked in followed by two teenager girls and a toddler son.
"Hello. You must be Ms. Johnson. Please have a seat." Nina said.
The woman frowned. "I don’t know why in the hell they always give me these stuck up, high sadity counselors who don’t know shit about what I'm going through". "I have lost everything behind a nigga, and I need someone who can help me get over this anger and get back on my feet. I have three damn kids. I damn sure don’t need a bitch like you looking down on me."
Nina smiled. She walked over and placed her hand on Ms. Thompsons shoulder.
"Ms. Thompson, I understand you’re hurt. You know whoever said "Love don’t cost a thing...LIED. And believe it or not, I wasn't always this high sadity bitch you think I am. Let me share something with you before we begin our session."
Nina started from the beginning.
"I was 19 years old when I met the nigga who cost me everything..................."