Lesson Learned by Earl SewellLesson Learned by Earl Sewell

Lesson Learned

byEarl Sewell

Paperback | February 24, 2009

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Whoever said "family comes first" never met Keysha's mom, Justine. Fresh out of jail, Justine wants to reconnect with her daughter—despite abandoning her to a father she hardly knew. Keysha is sure Justine's troubled past is going to play havoc with her own present and future. To add more drama to the mix, her younger brother, Mike, is now a wannabe player, determined to get with a girl Keysha just knows is trouble.

For once, all of Keysha's hunches are right on target. And now it's up to her to untangle a dangerous messbefore the life and new family she's just begun to build come crashing down around her.

Title:Lesson LearnedFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:256 pages, 8 × 5.13 × 0.63 inShipping dimensions:8 × 5.13 × 0.63 inPublished:February 24, 2009Publisher:HarlequinLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0373831161

ISBN - 13:9780373831166

Appropriate for ages: 14 - 14


Read from the Book

KEYSHAFriday, November 2ndWesley, I'm still freaking out!" I said as I took a sip of my pink lemonade. It was Friday afternoon and we were sitting inside a Mr. Submarine restaurant eating lunch. Wesley wearing blue jeans with a black turtleneck looked scrumptious. I, on the other hand, looked like a bum. I had on an oversize gray jogging outfit and a black baseball cap to hide my messy hair, and the breakage around my hairline. The sudden loss of my hair was a sign of how stressed out I'd been over the past week. Just after I'd cleared up all of the mess that occured two months ago with my enemy Liz Lloyd, who planted drugs on me and the court case that could've put me behind bars, my mother, Justine, recently released from jail, decided to resurface. She was hell-bent on ruining my life by demanding that I pack my bags and move back to the hood with her. Wesley, the best boyfriend a girl could ever wish for, listened to my every word as I told him about the drama I went through with my deranged mother."Keysha, I can't believe that your mother actually showed up at your dad's house last weekend and demanded that you come live with her," Wesley said as he took a bite of his sandwich. "That's jacked up," he said trying to chew his food and talk at the same time. "How could she actually think that you wanted to go back and live with her after all she's done?""I don't know, but moving back into the house with her is the last thing that I want to do. I'd rather go to jail and be cell mates with Liz Lloyd before going back to live under the same roof with her," I said as I glanced out of the window noticing a cluster of Thornwood students bundling up to fight off the bitterly cold air as they moved hurriedly down South Park Boulevard. It wouldn't be long before we'd have to deal with subzero temperatures and heavy, wet snow. I turned my attention back to Wesley."I was so horrified when I opened the door and saw my mother's face. I literally froze up. I was completely speechless and you know it takes a lot for me to be at a loss for words. Then, before I could even process that it was really her, she started yelling at me and demanding that I pack my bags and leave with her and her ugly ex-convict boyfriend. That entire scene was just too much for my mind to process so I fainted right there at the door." I paused to brush away with my napkin the mustard that was at the corner of Wesley's mouth."Do I have anything else on me?" Wesley asked as he picked up a napkin and dabbed the other side of his mouth."No, you're good. Just stop chewing your food so fast," I said as I released a depressing sigh."Now, run it by me once again. How did she find you?" Wesley asked as he swirled a french fry in a small cup of ketchup."Her boyfriend, Simon, is my dad's cousin. I suppose I owe the guy a little bit of gratitude because he was one of the people who helped me find my father.""How did he help you find your dad?" Wesley asked, confused."It's a long story, boo. But the short and sweet story is that Simon introduced my dad, Jordan, to my mother when they were younger. My dad had a weird one-night encounter with my mother and produced me. My father never saw my mother again after that and pretty much didn't even know I existed. A lot of time passed, both my mom and Simon were on and off of drugs as well as in and out of jail. Then one day, Simon reentered my mom's life and I guess they started dating or something. Anyway, when Simon got a chance to see me again, he helped my mother make the connection as to who my father was. Blah, blah, blah and the rest is history. Keysha Kendall: A tragic life." I forced myself to laugh a little."Your dad must have been mad as hell when your mother showed up unannounced with his cousin." Wesley took a sip of his drink."Oh, Jordan blew his top and it wasn't a pretty sight. When he came to the door and saw me sprawled out on the floor, he thought that Simon and my mother had done something to me. He started yelling, "What did you do to her?" over and over again. All of Jordan's yelling snapped me out of my foggy state of mind. Jordan then helped me to my feet and escorted me back inside and over to the sofa. By that time, Barbara had gotten out of bed to see what all of the ruckus was about. Jordan had gone back to the door to deal with Simon and Justine."Is she okay?" I heard Simon ask. "Why did she fall out like that?""Simon, what are you doing here?" I heard my dad ask. I could hear intense anger in his voice."Is that any way to greet your long lost cousin, man?" Simon snapped back at him."Damn, you look good," I heard my mother say."Who is that at the door?" Barbara, my stepmother, asked as she exited from the nearby bathroom with a cold towel to place on my forehead."You don't want to know," I answered as she pressed the towel against my skin. I closed my eyes for a moment and tried to make sense of everything that was happening."I came by so that Justine could see the daughter you two share. You remember Justine, don't you? I know it's been a few years." It was no secret that my dad didn't like him. They had some kind of rivalry that dated back to their childhood."I vaguely remember her," Jordan said. I could tell that he was not feeling the fact that his past had shown up at his doorstep unannounced and unexpected."I just want to see my daughter and make sure she's okay," Justine said as if she were really concerned."You should have been thinking about her well-being when you abandoned her." Barbara moved toward the doorway. I could tell that she was supremely ticked off as well once she realized who was at her door. I was in a funny place at that moment, confused. I didn't like the fact that my mother had shown up but I also didn't want Jordan and Barbara snapping on her. Don't ask me why I felt that way. I just did."And who are you?" Justine's quick and ugly temper reared its repulsive head."I'm the woman who is about to slam the door in your face," Barbara said as she planted herself next to Jordan."Now hold on a minute, Barbara. Justine and I are like family. I know it would have been more proper to call and set something up, but Justine wanted to surprise Keysha. I wasn't thinking when I drove her over here. I made a mistake. I'm human, what can I say?" Simon tried to sound as if his unwanted visit was no big deal."Stop lying!" I finally stood up and moved toward the door. "You guys came here to take me away. Justine said it herself. She told me to pack my things.""Is that true, Simon? You were coming here to take Keysha away?" Jordan asked."Hey," Simon shrugged his shoulders and exposed the palms of his hands. "I don't know anything about that. I was just doing a favor for my old friend Justine.""Oh, now I'm just an old friend?" Justine snapped at Simon."Simon, I can see right through your bull," Jordan said. "Don't ever come to my house again unannounced and uninvited. Now leave, before I call the police and have you escorted off my property." Jordan slammed the door shut.I heard my mother's muffled voice through the closed door. From what I could tell, she was upset with Simon for referring to her as an old friend."Damn, that's messed up," said Wesley as he leaned back in his chair. "What do you think is going to happen?""What do you mean?" I asked confused."Well, how do you feel about your mother wanting you to come back and live with her?""I'm not going back to live with her. She's crazy if she thinks that I am," I said as I scratched my forearm, which immediately turned red. "What the hell—" I paused as I looked at my skin, wondering why I suddenly broke out with hives. "Look at this," I thrust my arm at Wesley."Dang, what do you have?" he asked, wrinkling his brow."What do you mean, what do I have? It flared up just now," I said as I continued to scratch. Wesley was silent and didn't say anything. I could tell that he didn't want to touch me and risk contracting hives."It's nothing. I'll be okay. I'll just put some hydrocor-tisone cream on it," I said trying to assure him."Are you sure? I'm worried about you, Keysha," Wesley admitted."For once in my life, I'd just like things to be normal, you know," I said wistfully as I willed myself to stop scratching."Why do you think your mom wants you back?" Wesley asked."I have no clue. But knowing my mother the way that I do, she doesn't want me back because she misses me. There is a reason." I laughed a little. "There's always a reason when it comes to my mom.""I know what you mean. My mom hasn't missed a beat either. Can you believe that she's still trying to get access to my dad's checking account? Just because she knows that I'm taking care of his affairs while he's recovering, she thinks she can strong-arm me into robbing my own father.""Why doesn't she just give up? I mean, can't she see that you're not going to cave in to her?" I asked. At that moment my other arm began to itch. I resisted temptation to scratch."Please. My mother is going to keep on trying until she gets what she wants." Wesley said."How is your dad doing?" I asked."Better." Wesley paused. "Keysha, there is something I need to tell you—""Ooh," I cut Wesley off and began scratching my other arm vigorously. I coiled back the sleeve on my sweater and saw that my other arm was covered with red hives."Come on. Let me walk you back home, Keysha. That rash doesn't look pretty and you're beginning to make me itch," he said as he started scratching the side of his neck."I'm not diseased, Wesley," I said because I could tell that my sudden outbreak had grossed him out."I know, but obviously something isn't right.""Fine." I said as I repositioned my cap and reached for my coat. Wesley picked up our trays and tossed our wrappers and empty soda cups in the garbage. As we stepped out into the chilly November air, my body began to shiver."Dang. I'm going to have to go in the house, turn on the oven and stand in front of it to get warm," I said as we walked faster. "Are the construction workers done with your house yet? Do you have heat in there?""No. They're not done yet. They've run into some problems and it's going to take longer than they anticipated.""What's the problem?" I asked."The fire melted a lot of the mechanicals and ventilation ducts in the house. They have to redo the heating and cooling vents in the house, replace the plumbing as well as the water heater, furnace and a lot of other stuff.""You can't stay in a house with no heat. You'll freeze to death. Chicago in the winter time is no joke. The wind chill can make it feel as if it's twenty degrees below zero." I was really concerned for Wesley. His house had caught on fire a few weeks ago after his father attempted to install a ceiling fan. Wesley's dad was injured pretty seriously and he was still recovering from his injuries."I know how bad the winter months can be. But I'm not going to freeze to death, I promise you that.""Then how are you going to make it through the winter in a house that doesn't have heat?" I asked.Wesley paused and looked at the ground. I immediately sensed that something was wrong."Wesley? What's going on? Is your dad okay? He's going to pull through, right?" I'd gotten nervous because I thought something terrible had happened to his dad who was still in the hospital."It's—" I held up my hand to interrupt him. "Don't tell me that Liz or her drug dealer boyfriend, Neophus, have threatened you or did something to your dad." I was running through a list of possible issues that Wesley might have."No. It's not that. I'm not worried about backlash from Liz or Neophus. I'm just glad all of that is over and we don't have to deal with them anymore.""Then, what is it?" I asked."Keysha. My dad is getting out soon and we won't be able to live in our house this winter. My dad and I are moving—to another state."I stopped walking and glared at him. At first, I thought he was just joking, but the sad look in his eyes told me that he wasn't. I felt as if my heart had stopped and I suddenly found it difficult to breathe.