I Won’t Cry Sneak Preview

Here’s a sneak preview of my upcoming novel I Won’t Cry which is part two of the Jaylen and Jessica series. Enjoy. 

Kayla holds up a light blue mid length dress to my neck and tilts her head to the side. “I think it looks cute,” she says not yet removing the dress. The hanger starts poking my face and I step back.

“I think it’s too short. Let’s find a dress that comes down to my knees at least,” I stress. This is the third store in the downtown Chicago area that we’ve been to searching for an outfit for my 24th birthday party tonight. My actual birthday isn’t until Wednesday but everyone wanted to celebrate it on a Saturday. Even though I’m very excited to spend time with everyone tonight minus Angela, I don’t think Kayla needs to make a big fuss about the outfit. Jaylen and Malcolm love me for who I am, so it doesn’t matter what I look like. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to walk in 5 Star Lanes looking like I just came out the chicken coop either.

I smile at Kayla when I notice her giving me a frowny pout. “You never like dressing up,” she groans plotting the dress back on its rack. “What kind of girl are you?”

I shrug. “A simple one?”

She rolls her eyes at me. “Girl, you far from simple,” she says then takes my wrist in a strong grip and leads me to the back of the maternity store where they stock the pants.

She holds up a pair of neon pink pants. “Try this on with the black top I picked out.”

I take the pants from her hand and head to the dressing room taking the black top Kayla had picked out early. “Also,”she calls, “We’re suppose to meet up with everyone at the bowling alley in an hour so this is going to be the last clothes you try on. Try to like them!”

I close the door to the dressing room and remove my boots and pants. I shove one heavy leg in after another until the pants are secure around my waist. The pants fit firm and snug but it makes my ass look bigger than I like. I take a deep breath and remove my own green shirt and replace it with the black blouse with the ruffles on the sleeves that Kayla picked out. I think the shirt looks fancy while the pants looks more wild and spontaneous, but surprisingly they compliment each other nicely. I reach up and finger comb my hair so I have a few strands hanging over both of my shoulders. My hair reaches midway to my curve of my back and has always been my best physical attribute. I look in the mirror and smile at my outfit. This looks nice and tonight is going to be fun. I smile even harder when thoughts of beating everyone by at least 60 points starts playing in my head.

I change back into my street clothes and meet up with Kayla who’s standing not two feet from my door. She frowns after glances at the clothes I’m wearing. “What the hell, Jess?” she says after scanning me from head to toe.  “You didn’t even let me see how the clothes looked on you. ”

I laugh. “They’re fine.”

“But what was the point of you trying them on if you wasn’t even gonna let me see them on you?”

“You’re the one who told me we were in a rush.”

“Not that much of a rush. Shit, we have reservations and it’s your party.”

I hold the clothes up and smile. “Let’s just check out and go have some fun.”

I can feel her eyes on my back as I walk away. “What got you so excited?” she asks. The sarcasm drips from her tongue like liquor.

I slide the clothes onto the counter towards the skinny fingered cashier. “Trying to think more positive in my life.”

She gives me a smile and wraps an arm around my shoulders. “Girl, don’t we all.”

#

Fives Star Lanes is one of the most popular bowling alleys in the city and on a Saturday night not even the 20 degree weather is shortening the lines. The building has a mature atmosphere with a strict no children after 5pm policy. The entire first floor light is dimmed low except for glow spots on the lanes. Even the food and bar in the back keep the lights low creating a the feel of a sexy night club more than a bowling alley. I inhaled deeply when the smell of their famous burgers hit my nose. Oh, I love this place.

Kayla nudges my arm and I turn my attention towards her. She had changed into dark blue boots to match the blue low cut dress she’s wearing. Even though I’m the one pregnant, her breast are fully plump and sticking out enough to cause every guy within ten feet to snap their heads around for a second look. After we walk inside she lets her coat open and takes off her wool hat. “Let’s go find them. They said they’d be on lane seven and eight.”

I scan the lanes until my eyes land on 30 multi-colored balloons covered seated on the benches opposite of land eight. “I think I see them,” I say. We walk up to the lanes and Jaylen, Malcolm and Angela are all standing and smiling.

“Happy Birthday!” they shout as soon as I’m within earshot. Malcolm and Jaylen wrap me in a hug and Kayla soon joins in. I squeeze them as close as I can get them and I’m so thankful they went through so much effort do pull this party together for me.

“You don’t have your bowling shoes on,” Angela says breaking off the hug in her annoying, high pitched voice.

I stare down at my boots and roll my eyes. “Oh. Yeah, I know. I’ll go get some.” Before I can turn I get a good look at lane 7 seats that holds the balloons. The seats are also filled with  gift boxes, cupcakes, a cake, party favors, plastic plates and silverware and pink and white decorations. “Wow,” I breathe.

“I got your shoes right here, Jess,” Malcolm says holding up a pair of torn 8 and a half red and blue shoes.

Angela’s eyebrows pitch together and I laugh. “Thanks, Malcolm,” I say sweetly as I take the shoes from his hands.

“Yeah, thanks…Malcolm was it?” Kayla says strolling up close to Malcolm.

Jaylen taps my arms and tilts his head at Malcolm’s frozen face staring at Kayla’s body in that dress. “I think his tongue is about to fall out,” Jaylen whispers in my ear. I laugh and Angela shoots us a look.

I clear my throat. “Let’s bowl.”

“Good idea,” Jaylen says then grabs Malcolm by the collar and drags him to the touch screen monitor to put our names in. “Do you want to go first Jessica?”

“Why you asking her? I’m your girlfriend,” Angela says fists clenched and eyes zoned in on Jaylen’s back. That was random.

Jaylen turns around with a look so deadly I think he’s going to curse her out or worse but he takes a deep breath, “Girl, if you don’t-”

“Cause it’s her birthday, why you think?” Kayla says stepping up to Angela fast. I see her ankle start to shake and I know Kayla is about ready to come out of those heels.

Malcolm arm snakes around her waist and pulls her back a couple feet. “Slow down, Ma. Don’t mess up your hair over that.”

Kayla stops struggling and turns to look at him. Then she laughs. “Trust me, I won’t.” She pats her hair a few times then mean mugs Angela before walking over to the chairs and taking a seat.

I turn back to Jaylen but he’s staring a bullet hole through Angela who’s just standing there with her lips tight and her eyes firm.

Malcolm nudges Jaylen out the way. “Well, I guess I’ll put the names in,” he says trying to break the tension. “I’ll be first. Jess, you’re second. Then Kayla, Jaylen and Angela.”

My eyes vert back to Angela to see if she would object to being last but she doesn’t say a word as her and Jaylen eyes stay locked. Jaylen walks closer to her and whisphers something in her ear. She rolls her eyes but Jaylen doesn’t stop talking. A few minutes pass and they’re still talking. My eyes can’t help but stay locked on them. Is he talking about me? About their relationship? Her attitude problem? Malcolm touches my arm and I jump up a full foot in the air. “Your turn to bowl, Jess,” he says.

I give him my hard eyes for scaring me and he laughs. I pick up a medium size ball and throw it towards the middle arrow. My arm has grown stronger since my pregnancy but it hasn’t improve my aim and I gutter the first ball. Oh, well. So much for beating every one by 60 points.

“You got to watch your feet, girl,” Kayla says from the seats. She’s seating next to Malcolm who has an arm across the back of her chair.

I try to focus on the ten remaining pins but my eyes sneak back to where Jaylen and Angela are standing. They’ve stopped talking now and Angela’s looking down at the floor. Jaylen nods at me and I nod back and face the pins again. This time I manage to knock down six with two pins remaining on both sides.

I turn back to my friends and Jaylen’s and Kayla are smiling. Malcolm walks up to me, takes my arm and swings it towards the lane. “Okay, do it just like this next time. You were so close. I think you got the aim, I just think the way you roll your ball is a little off. It’s all about the release,” he says still not letting go of my arm.

“Okay, I think I got it,” I say sliding my arm out of his grip.

“Watch me, girl,” Kayla says bouncing up and choosing a small size ball. “It’s all about focusing.”

All I hear is a hum because my eyes and ears have gone back to Jaylen and Angela who were now sitting down talking in a low voice. When Jaylen peaks up at me I quickly look down pretending to check out my shoes until I realize I can’t see my feet.

“So, Jess,” Angela asks rolling her tongue across her teeth. “How many months along are you again?”

Um. Hmmp. She’s actually trying to have a conversation with me know. “7 months.”

“You’re big for seven months. Are you sure you’re not having twins?” she asks. Jaylen gives her a horrifid look but it’s nothing compared to the frozen opened mouth look I have.

I clear my throat before answering, “I’m sure.”

Kayla peaks back at us, rolls her eyes at Angela’s comment then nods towards the monitor. “Your turn, Jaylen,” she says coming over to stand beside me.

“Aren’t you scared it’s going to hurt?” Angela asks scrunching up her face and her eyes locked on my belly. Her look makes me squirm inside but I try not to let it show. I also never paid a lot of thought to how it would feel giving birth to my first child. I figured it’s going to hurt but maybe I can handle the pain.

“Of course not,” I say dragging out each word.

Angela gives me her satisfied smirk and I groan. Jaylen stands up and pats my shoulder as he walks by. “You’ll be fine.”

“Yeah, girl. You got this,” Malcolm says. He’s sitting with two empty seats on either side of him and has his arms spread out behind both. Probably waiting for Kayla to come sit down. “Don’t believe the hype.”

I smile.

“So,” Angela says leaning forward and lacing her hands together. “Are you still claiming Chris as the father?”

Jaylen gutters. Kayla mouths falls open and Malcolm eyes gets wider than his hands. “Okay,” Malcolm says standing up. “Time for gifts.”

I didn’t think anyone would believe the rumors that Chris had been spreading around all summer about him not really being the father and I hate to wonder how it got back to Angela. Unless Jaylen had been talking to her about it. I shake my head and look at Jaylen. We lock eyes and he shakes his head. I look at Malcolm in the eye and all he does is shrug. Hmmp.

Kayla heads tilts to the side as she eyes Angela mildly. She leans down in my ear, “What that hoe mean by that?”

“Nothing.”

Kayla looks likes she wants to say more but doesn’t when Jaylen come back over. He looks at Angela sharply. “Bowl.”

Angela tosses her hands in the air like a guilty child proclaiming innocence and stands up. “It was just a question.”

Malcolm stands up and goes to lane 7 seats and picks up a long wide box wrapped in pink and white paper. “Here you go, Jess. This is from me.”

He hands me the box and I sit down in the he had previously occupied. Jaylen had stepped from the lane and stood a few feet away watching as I lift open the box to a blue cotton robe with matching house shoes. I smile wide. I needed this. “Thank you, Malcolm. I really appreciate it.”

Malcolm nods. “Your old one was pretty rough looking so yeah,” he laughs.

“Open mines!” Kayla says picking up two small boxes. “It’s a necklace and earring set. Open it and see if you like it.”

Everyone around gives her a curious glance. Probably wondering, like me, why she told me the surpirse. “Oh, whatever. It’s not like she can’t tell what it is from the long slender box and the small short one.”

I open the boxes and nod in approval at the blue and silver set. “Sexy and classy.”

“Just like me,” Kayla says laughing and fanning herself.

“Open mines,” Jaylen says smiling down at me.

Ours,” Angela stresses going over and retrieving the biggest box in the room. Whoa. She plops it down at me feet and smiles. “I pick these out. Open it.”

I look at Jaylen for reasurrance. It’s not that I thought something evil was going to crawl out of the box just because she claimed she picked out my gift but um…one can never be too careful of one’s enemy. She’s not my main enemy I know. Chris is my enemy but it’s just-I eye the box again-weird of her to be so nice.

Jaylen’s chuckle is so soft if it was not for his eyes shining with humor I’d think I imagined it. He places a hand on Angela’s shoulder and nods. “Go ahead.”

I tear the gold and white wrapper off and pull out the baby bag hidden beneath. It’s heavy and obviously full of more stuff. I tug the zipper back, exposing baby bottles, pacifiercs, diapers and toys. “Thank you both.” I say meaning every word.

“You’re welcome,” Jaylen says.

Angela’s face lights up. “I picked everything out. Jaylen paid for it of course. But I picked out everything  you would need. I figured since you’re going to be a single mother you’d need all the help you can get.”

“Ang-”

“What? We all know Chris isn’t going to lift a finger to help.”

“Just leave it along, Ang,” Jaylen says all traces of humor gone.

Angela sighs heavily. “It’s not like everybody’s not aware of her situation…” she nods towards me. “She doesn’t have an apartment, no job and she’s living off of Malcolm for crying out loud.”

Malcolm snaps his head towards her. “Um..excuse me?”

Kayla leans into Malcolm not even trying to whisper. “This bitch is really about to make me fight tonight.”

“Just because I don’t have a job doesn’t mean I’m not trying,” I find myself saying. The anger of her words keeps thumping in my ear. “And another thing, I appreciate everything that’s been given to me and at least I’m not some stuck up woman who takes everything in her life for granted, so learn some manners cause you never know what situation you may be in one day.”

“Damn,” Malcolm and Kayla say at the same time.

“Urg. Whatever,” Angela says rolling her eyes and stumps off closer to the other side of the lane.

Jaylen doesn’t follow her but remains staring at me with admiration in his eyes. Well, at least I think it’s admiration.

“Sorry,” I say low enough that only he can hear me. “I didn’t mean to latch out like that. I just got so angry.”

He shakes his head. “You good, Jess.” Then the corner of his mouth curls up. “I got another gift for you.”

Angela head snaps back in our direction with a fresh redness on her face. “What do you mean you got her another gift? You didn’t tell me about it?”

“Cause it didn’t cost money to buy. Well, not that much money.”

A staff worker walks up to our lane and gives us a sympatheic smile. “I’m sorry,” she says. “But my boss says that you have to continue your game because of the waitlist. You’ve went pass the twenty minute stand still.”

“A twenty minute what?” Malcolm asks looking at her with his famous Kevin Hart face.

The woman swallows hard. “It’s a rule we have here that requires active bowlers to be um..actively bowling.”

“Oh, no that’s fine,” Kayla says then turns to Angela and waves her off. “Your turn.”

“What’s the second gift?” Angela says completely ignoring Kayla’s comment.

Malcolm walks over to the lane and picks up a ball. “I’ll bowl her turn. It’s going to be my turn next anyway.”

The worker smiles polietly and walks away and Angela never took her eyes off Jaylen. “Well?” she asks.

Jaylen smiles at her. “Let me get it.” He walks over to the pile of gifts and picks up something hidden beneath his coat. It’s a thick box the size of a notebook but larger in height. He walks it over to me and motions for me to sit down. Everyone walks closer as Jaylen takes a seat beside me. “I’m not going to take all the credit on this one. Malcolm helped me decide on what it should be but everything else well..just open it.” He’s smiling proudly and part of me don’t want to look away from his handsome face but the pull of curiousity over takes me.

I glance down at the purple and white ties sealing the box and slide a hand across it. No wrapper paper this time, just a beautiful ribbon. I untie the ribbon and lift open the box. A cream colored baby photo album faces me and I pick it up and trace the pink and white loose fitting swirls that cover the trim of the book with my finger. Oh my god, he made this. He made this for me.

I turn to face him but can’t see him through blurry eyes. He reaches up and wipes a tear from my eye. “Don’t cry, Jess. It’s not that great.”

“I love it. I love it so much, Jaylen. Thank you,” I say clenching the book to my chest.

“That’s sweet,” Kayla coos. “You’re going to put all the pictures of the baby in their right.”

“Duh,” Malcolm says playfully nudging her.

“Figured since you’re a photographer that you’d be taking a lot of pictures of your baby and needed a place to put them in,” Jaylen says.

I was about to respond and say thank you again but an irritated groan from Angela’s direction stopped me. I turn to see catch her roll her eyes, groan again and march straight towards the exit sign. I look back to Jaylen and see him watching her. “You better talk go talk to her.”

Jaylen doesn’t say anything as he stands up shoves on his coat and follows her.

 

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About the Author

Shaquanda Dalton

Hello, my name is Shaquanda Dalton and welcome to Learnasyouwrite.com! A little about myself, I'm 20, I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and am a Sohomore at the University of Wisonsin-Milwaukee. I love writing and have written short stories and simple works since I was nine years old. I have a cute cate named Joey who loves to scratch and bite on his good days.

  • jah

    In love with it .. very good book , email me too. Oh and your doing a great job by the way 🙂 can’t wait for I won’t cry

  • Jackie

    I really love your book please email the date when I wont cry is coming out

    • Shaquanda Dalton

      It will be out before July. I’m working with my editor on it now.

  • Helen Richard

    Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. Girl that part right there is great and got me all worked up. I am more excited now than I was before. You did a great job on that part and I can’t wait to get that book. Angela won’t ever learn

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