Kim McKenzie was determined to get her ex-fling, Darius Price, out of her system once and for all. Her decision to break it off with him was hard, but she knew it was the right thing to do. Darius was a ruthless drug dealer with women and children throughout the city of Savannah. His charm, power, and spontaneity were irresistible. Now, Kim wanted to make things right. She thought about her friends, Angel Simmons, Lynn Williams, Michelle Spencer, and Wanda Boyd. She appreciated them for helping her see how senseless it was to date a thug.

Although she’d been unfaithful, Kim had remained engaged to Troy Mason, an established and caring man. She trusted the romantic evening she had planned would be their perfect new beginning. Kim was ready to give Troy her all, and she felt really good about it.

Anticipating his arrival, she sashayed around her apartment wearing a Vera Wang soft pleated gown. The sheer, ecru-colored fabric cradled her full-sized breasts, flaring down and ending slightly above her knees. She wore black strap-up heels, showing off her smooth legs and defined calves.

Kim glanced down at her watch. He should be here any minute, she thought.

After placing a small bouquet of flowers in the center of the dining room table, she lit the two long-stemmed candles sitting on each side. Kim was making last-minute adjustments when the doorbell rang. She smiled. Tonight is the night, she thought. Troy is going to be thrilled when I tell him I’m ready to set our wedding date. I’ve had him on hold for too long, and not once has he complained. That man must really love me.

Kim admired how gorgeous the dinner table looked then ran to take a quick peek in the mirror before hurrying over to the front door. She took in a deep breath, then opened it with a smile. “Hi there,” she sang. “Come on in.”

Troy spoke as he walked passed, but he didn’t return Kim’s smile.

She immediately recognized something was wrong. Baffled, she closed the door and followed him inside. Troy went into the formal dining room and stood with his hand propped on the back of the chair he normally sat in. He didn’t acknowledge the dim lighting, the candles, or the dinner on the table.

“What’s wrong?” Kim asked, moving closer to him. She put her hand on Troy’s forearm, but he snatched it away.

“Tell me about Darius, Kim,” he said sternly, looking her directly in the eye.

“Who? What are you talking about?” Kim asked, trying to figure out what Troy knew and how he’d found out.

“Darius. Tell me what’s going on with you and your ex-boyfriend,” Troy demanded.

“Wait a minute. I don’t know—”

“Stop lying, please! Don’t play games with me, Kim. I read your journal,” Troy said, tossing the book at her from where he’d tucked it in the back of his pants, underneath his shirt.

“How in the hell did you get this? What are you doing going through my things, Troy?”

“I didn’t go through your things. I found it stuffed in the corner of your sofa last night.”

“What?” Kim remembered putting her journal there the night before when Troy had arrived at her apartment. She lowered her head. Kim felt violated. She couldn’t believe Troy had read the details of her most private and intimate thoughts. “You don’t find stuff in other folks’ house. How could you?” she asked, furious with his actions.

“I knew you were hiding something. I knew it,” Troy rambled, slamming his hand against the wall.

“You went about this all wrong. If you had questions, you should’ve asked me. How would you feel if I went rambling through your—”

“Unlike you, I don’t have anything to hide. It may have been wrong for me to read your journal, but I do think I have a right to know that my fiancée is in love with another man. I knew there was a reason you hadn’t said anything about setting a wedding date. I can’t believe how stupid I’ve been.”

Disgusted, Troy hit the wall again.

“Hey! You need to calm down and stop banging on my wall before you put a hole in it,” Kim insisted.

“Calm down? Calm down?” Troy rushed up to Kim, frowning, with his fists tightened. “You’ve betrayed me, you’ve manipulated me, and you’ve lied to me. Be glad I’m redirecting my anger right now,” he shouted through gritted teeth.

Troy and Kim fixed their gazes on each other for a few moments before Troy began to pace. “I don’t know what to say about you women,” he mumbled. “When a real man comes along and tries to treat you like a woman should be treated, you can’t handle it. Y’all want somebody who’ll go upside your head or sleep with your friends. I don’t understand it.”

“Hold up, Troy. Darius is a part of my past. I broke it off with him. I’m sure you read that, too.”

Troy stopped pacing and stood in front of Kim. Looking down at her, he said, “Yeah, I did, but that doesn’t matter now. What matters is the fact that you’ve lied and cheated on me for months.”

“I apologize, Troy. I’m really sorry,” Kim said, taking him by the hand.

Troy stepped back. “Don’t be,” he said. “Things happen for a reason. Now I can clearly see the type of woman I’ve been dealing with.”

“What in the hell is that supposed to mean?” Kim asked, frowning.

“I can’t trust you. The engagement is off,” Troy said.

“The engagement is off?” Kim stood with her mouth open. “Troy, please. Don’t do this. I want our relationship to work. I really, really do. I love you,” she said.

“No, you love Darius. Now go get him.”

Troy turned to walk away, but Kim tugged on his arm. With pleading eyes she asked him not to leave.

“I broke it off with Darius,” she said. “He and I aren’t compatible. It took me a while to realize that, but I did. Now, I’m ready to move forward with you.”

With no remorse, Troy replied, “That will never happen. I wish your betrayal was as simple as you’re making it seem.”

“So, this is it? You’re just going to walk away?” Kim asked, shrugging.

“Yes. I’m going to walk away. My business here is done. It’s over.”

“Come on, Troy. Don’t shut me out. We can get past this. I know we can.”

“Let it go, Kim. There’s nothing—nothing—you can say right now to make me see you as the classy woman I once thought you were.”

Kim took in a deep breath, trying to remain calm. “Look, Troy, yes, I was wrong—I admit it,—but I don’t appreciate you talking down to me,” she said, cutting her eyes at him.

“Talking down to you?” Troy chuckled, shaking his head at Kim’s response. Seconds later, he looked her in the eye and said, “You’re a slut—always have been, always will be.”

Kim stood stuck in her tracks, unable to speak as Troy made his way out the door, slamming it shut.

It Ain't Easy - Chapter 1