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Dusk Before Dawn.

I sat quietly in the living room, on the floor, listening to the walls sway in our strangled apartment complex. I looked at the clock near the couch. Almost four. I should finish dinner. I stood up, and headed toward the kitchen, catching a glimpse of myself in the reflection of a photograph hanging on the wall. I stopped and stared for a moment, putting my finger to my lip. My eyes swelled, but I made the tears retreat back to their hiding places. There was no room for them here. I went into the kitchen and discovered another leak beneath the sink. I scurried to find another empty pot to catch the water. I’d tell him. But I couldn’t. He’d blame it on me. I closed the cabinet and went into the refrigerator, retrieving the steaks I’d let marinate throughout the day, while I cleaned the apartment ruthlessly. Not a speck on the carpet. I moved quickly, placing the steaks in to broil and heating up the mashed potatoes. I went to the table and put our plates down. I shined the forks and knives with my t-shirt and placed them parallel to the plates. I looked at the clock. 4:24. My heartbeat quickened. I took another look at the living room before I scurried down the hall to the bedroom to make sure that everything was in its place.

I went back into the living room, just as I heard the door click and saw the knob turn. He entered the house and his eyes fell upon mine. My breath scurried away and I smiled a little, hoping he was in a good mood. He shut the door behind him, ignoring me, and began to take off his shoes. I should say something. Ask him how his day is. Do it!

“H-how was your day, babe?” I asked.

“Dinner ready?” He responded, loosening his tie.

“The steaks are in the oven right now. Mashed potatoes and broccoli is done.” I said quickly.

He stared at me for a moment before he walked past me. I exhaled and stood there, before I felt a blow to my lower back. I fell to my knees – asking God, “Why?” the entire way down.


We sat on his couch enveloped by the haze of too much wine for our bodies to get rid of at the moment. Tru handled his better than I, as I marveled over an artist I’d chosen to share with him. “What Did You Say” by Marie Dahlstrom played, as my head lied in his lap. He rested his arm across the back of the couch, and the other sat on the crown of my head.

“Why aren’t you attached, Tru?” I asked him, looking up at him.

“Personal choice.” He responded.

“The reasons for that choice?” I asked.

“…A lot of levels to that answer.” He responded.
“I’m listening,” I said.

“…I’ve been through a lot of s***.” He said.

“That’s no excuse for choosing to be alone.” I said.

“I’m not alone,” He responded.

I wet my lips with my tongue.

“You know what I mean,” I said.

“I don’t know if I’m ready for a mature relationship. I have a lot to work though.” He said.

“We all do.” I responded.

“Alright then why aren’t you attached?” He asked.

“Love hasn’t been good to me,” I said, shrugging.

“Explain.” He said.

“You’re always looking for an explanation!” I exclaimed, covering my face with my hands.

“Dude what? So are you.” He said, chuckling and pulling my hands away from my face.

He rested is forehead on mine, “Will you tell me?” He whispered.

I adjusted in his lap, my back now facing him. “One day,” I said.

“Why not today?” He asked.

“…There are levels to that answer.” I said.

“…I’m always listening.” He responded softly.

I turned over and looked at his stomach, which sat directly in front of me. He ran his finger along my hairline.

“Well it started with my father…” I said softly.

Carter’s strength took on a different light after Danielle’s disclosure about his battle with himself. He was a young Avery – manipulative and handsome. I worried about Lela. Older than I was when my mother got beat, I understood how images could become more than images for her. How they could eventually lead to emulation. Danielle said that it wasn’t often that Carter hurt her, and made her the seed of his anger. She was fearful of telling her ex, who was still protective of her and his daughter.

Tru invited me over for dinner one Friday evening so I went and brought wine with me. <a href=>He</a> opened the door and smiled, leaning up against the door frame.

“Hi,” He said.

“Hi,” I responded, smiling up at him.

He moved enough for me to come in, but not enough, so I brushed past him as I entered. He shut the door and I looked around the apartment. It hadn’t changed since I last saw it but the aura was different. Tru took the bottle of wine from me as I tried to decipher the atmosphere that he’d created. The word came to mind as he tossed me another smile. Intimate.

“I hope you like Italian.” He said.

“It’s new for me.” I said, smiling up at him, appreciative of his diverse tastes.

“Then I hope you like new,” He responded, chuckling.

I followed him into the kitchen, where he let me taste what he was making and we engaged in small talk as I drank a glass of wine. At the table, Tru refilled our glasses before he put his fork down and looked over at me.

“I want to make a toast,” He said.

I grabbed my glass and looked across the table at him. His face glimmered, from the flickering candle in the middle of the table. His eyes searched the table as his mind searched for words.

“To…your insight and, the honesty of friendship.” He said. “I have…started the process of removal from Alpha Phi Alpha. Had it not been for reassurance that I’d find belonging elsewhere, I don’t think that I would’ve ever let it go but…people are placed in your life for a reason right? Sometimes that purpose is unwritten, sometimes it confuses us… and it’s all part of our process of becoming. So, I toast to you and thank you…for simply being. You make me want to fill myself up.”

My eyes watered at Tru’s words. I tapped his glass with my own before I took a sip.

“Thank you, Tru.” I whispered.

“No, thank you.” He said.

Carter and Danielle were having a spat, and I could feel it in the way that she acted during dinner Saturday evening. It was eating away at her. She put some pasta in her mouth and sighed, cutting into her chicken. I watched her behind my glass of wine.

“Things okay with Lela?” I asked.

She nodded, “Yeah she’s with her father.” She stated.

“…Carter?” I asked.

Danielle shrugged and looked over at me. “Just going through a rough patch.” She said softly.

“Anything I can help with?” I asked, searching her face.

“Maybe.” She said, putting her fork down. “Can you explain to me how a man who has my heart because he asked for it, could throw it back in my face?”

I sat speechless. “No, I guess I can’t.”

“Then you can’t help. Sorry.” She said, tearfully.

I sat quietly eating for a little while longer before Danielle dropped her fork and began weeping at the table. I put my hand over hers.

“Hey,” I said, rubbing her hand. “I’m here.”

“It hurts so bad, Joy.” She said, sniffling.

“I know,” I said, nodding.

“Do you?” She asked.

“Sure,” I chuckled. “My longest relationship was a big ass slap in the face…literally and figuratively, at the hands of a man that asked for my heart, too.”

Danielle’s tears stopped mid-cheek. “He hit you?” She asked.

I nodded, “Yes.” I said, steady.

While I read and listened to music and went to art museums, I’d also learned to accept Avery as part of me. My pain was more than past – it was present and it was future. But it was also the beginning of something much more beautiful – it was all in the process of my becoming.

Danielle’s tears dried up there on her face and her lips regained color before my eyes. Her hair seemed to grow fuller, and her fingers curled around mine like vines on a tree stump. Our eyes locked, and it was then that I saw the mirror in Danielle’s cheekbones. A woman battered to another, I’d found a sister in an unlikely place.

I did things to fill myself up. I read books – fiction and nonfiction – about interesting things. I listened to music more than I had before and I went to the art museum for the first time, where I sat pondering the meaning of a piece that made me cry. I reflected on my growth and realized, that although he had no idea, Tru was the reason. He was full, and I wanted to be too. I’d developed a silent admiration for him, in a short amount of time.

“Do anything interesting this weekend?” He asked, his arm draped over his knee, as he sat across from me in the lobby of McPherson hall.

He’d just left a class and I was headed to one, but we had a few moments to spare. I nodded a little and smiled.

“I went to the art museum.” I said softly.

Tru smirked. “Oh yeah? See anything you liked?” He asked.

I nodded, “Yes.”

“…And?” He asked. “What was it?”

“The Confused Process of Becoming, by Emerson Burkhart.” I responded confidently.

“Why?” He challenged with sincere wonder.

“I can relate. Although the painting appears to be of a simple man, I imagine his problems are bigger. Sort of like me.” I said.

“Sort of like me too.” He responded.

He looked at his watch before he sighed, “Got a chapter meeting in a few.” He said.

“You always dread those.” I said.

He looked over at me, “You think so?” He asked.

I nodded, “You never seem happy about them…or being part it at all. Why are you an Alpha, Tru?” I asked.

He shrugged, “Why wouldn’t I be?” He asked. “My values align with theirs.”

“But your values don’t have to be theirs.” I said, searching his eyes. “Why don’t you drop your letters?”

“Worked too hard to be part of something to let it go.” He said. “I’ll be selfish and say that being an Alpha provides belonging for me.”

“No it doesn’t,” I contested.

Tru raised his eyebrows. “Oh? Explain.”

“You don’t belong with them and you know it. As if I don’t see how you turn the other way when they’re coming, or completely ignore them in conversation about things you have no interest in. Tru you’re nothing like them. Your values align with the organization, not with its members. It’s not about belonging. It’s comfort.” I stated.

Tru took my words in stride. I knew that I’d said more than he expected…and I even wondered if I crossed some boundaries. He bounced back with a smile.

“Don’t want to be late to chapter. I’ll call you later, Joy.” He said, standing up and putting his bag over his shoulder.

I watched as he left, before I stood up and walked down the hall to class.

So some of you may know, I sometimes bring my playlist into the stories. I have mentioned a few songs in the next add, and suggest that you listen to them when they are mentioned in the add.

Specifically the Jesse Boykins III song... that one was my favorite to write to.

<a href=>What's It Gonna Be - Marie Dahlstrom</a>

<a href=>Woods - Marie Dahlstrom</a>

<a href=>Sparks - Jesse Boykins III</a>

Add coming now! I think you will enjoy it.

PLEASE run this!!! I'm loving June and Tru's relationship and I'm ready to see where it goes!!


Ohh I love them together hmm potential.
Run it!


I'm really digging Tru he seems different. But then they all start out different. I wonder where this will lead?

love it!!!!run it

run it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun IT!!

Run It...

Please run for an add.


awww thatz cute

Wow his real name is Trupayne? That is deep and says a lot geez. But Tru and Joy are cute together. I don't want to get my hopes up with him though because Joy and the men in this story just don't always work out how I want it to lol. Can't wait for more!! RUN IT!!

They are too cute! lol.
His name definitely says alot.
Run IT!!

run it!!!!

Run it

I like them together. That's an interesting name: Trupayne. Hmmmm, that's cool. RUN IT!

Run it!!!

I love the potential for something between Tru and Joy. Trupayne. Whoo. Name says a lot. I can't wait for more between these two!! Love. Run it!!

I see a potential lol run it

that was cute run it

They're cute lol


Run please.

I woke up the next morning on Tru’s couch, with a blanket draped across my lower half and a pillow placed delicately beneath my head. It was then that I noticed the absence of Alpha Phi Alpha paraphernalia. Strange. Every frat boy I knew had an obnoxious amount of emblems hanging in their homes. The plush blanket was the color of coffee beans, and it coordinated with the mocha colored couch I lie on. Tru walked out into the living room, shirtless, rubbing his eyes and yawning. I reflexively smirked at the way his basketball shorts hung loosely on his hips.

“You knocked out at the table. Had to carry you.” He said, his voice hoarse, as he sat down on the floor and rubbed his legs. “Sleep okay?”

I nodded. “Yeah,” I said softly.

We held each other’s glanced before he smiled and looked down at the floor. “Don’t you have a boyfriend to worry about you staying out all night?” He asked, before he looked back at me.

“Too old for boyfriends.” I responded, turning over and putting the cover over my head.

Tru stood up and yanked the cover off of me. I covered my head with the pillow and he snatched it, before he slapped my thigh, leaving his handprint.

“OW!” I shrieked.

“Sorry, got carried away.” He said, chuckling, before he grabbed my wrists and pulled my upper half from the couch.

I dangled in the air, smiling up at him. “20 more minutes.”

“You’re already running late.” He said.

“For what?” I asked.

“…Your History midterm.” He said.

“s***!” I yelled, hopping up and grabbing my bag from the floor.

I went to the door and Tru cleared his throat.

“Huh?” I asked, turning and looking at him.

He pointed down at the floor. My pants lie there. I raised an eyebrow at him. He tossed his hands up.

“When I put you on the couch, you had on pants.” He said, laughing.

I walked back and jumped into my pants, before I slipped into my shoes. I turned and smiled.

“Thanks for…the coffee and the couch.” I said.

“You’re welcome.” He said, tossing me a warm smile. “I’ll see you soon.”

<a href=>He</a> answered the door in a hoodie and some basketball shorts, smelling of Polo Black and night time. I smiled a little and walked in without a hello. He shut the door behind me and I studied his bachelor pad, my bag draped over my shoulder.

“Started some coffee,” He said.

It was midterms, so we had plenty of studying to do. I planned on being here for a while. I stood near the door a little while, feeling the room out. Tru looked at me as he came out of the kitchen.

“…You’re making me feel extremely uncomfortable.” He said.

I smiled and dropped my bag, before I sat down on the floor, near the coffee table.

“I don’t know anyone that goes for the floor first,” He said, his voice slightly muffled as he lied down on the couch, looking over at me.

The couch looked relatively new, but worn in areas most frequented. I wondered what it’d seen. I could smell the coffee brewing and looked around his living room. Everything was intentionally placed for comfort. The oversized television, the convenient placement of the coffee table and side tables and the plush rug – you could stay here all day. Tru’s eyes didn’t leave me as I sat there.

“I know I’m not supposed to ask, but how old are you?” He asked.

“You first.” I responded, planning to give a math equation once he gave me his.

“22.” He responded, his face still nestled into his elbow, as his arm lay bent on the couch.

“Add 11, multiply by 2, divide by 3, add 1.” I responded.

“23.” He responded at the conclusion of my problem. He smiled. “An older woman.” He said, raising his eyebrows.

“Shush.” I said, springing to my feet and walking to the mantel.

He sat up and stood up, coming next to me. I studied the photos of his family, before I ran my fingers over the last one – a picture of he and an older woman.

“This your grandma?” I asked him.

“Yeah.” He said, standing behind me now. “…Saved me from myself. You know anybody like that?” He asked softly.

I nodded, “Yeah…yeah I do.” I said, turning around and looking up at him. “Your real name Tru?” I asked.

I expected a small smirk to emerge. He stood still, our breaths colliding, with our being so close. He nodded.

“It’s shortened.” He said, studying me.

“For?” I asked.

He grabbed the end of one of my strands of hair, still damp from my shower. He curled it around his finger.

“Trupayne.” He said, looking me in the eye now.

The name rang in my ears. “…What’s that like?” I asked.

He smiled a little. “Mom knew what she was doing.” He said, before he let go of my hair and turned away.

It had gotten so thick then. I took a deep breath and smiled. “So coffee?”

“Yeah it should be done,” He said, regrouping. I watched as he walked to the kitchen and came back with mugs.

I sat down at the table he had placed adjacent to the living room furniture. He turned on a small lamp and grabbed his reading glasses. I sipped the coffee appreciatively, and opened my History book.