Unlike Me

Bittersweet Series  |  Book 1


Love is love. Managing it is the problem…

Adjusting to a recent promotion and newly separated from her husband, Sabrena Moore is taking everything one day at a time. A stroll down memory lane with her ex is the very last thing she needs but, as the days turn into weeks, the urge to reconnect becomes impossible to ignore…

Rowan Washington is as determined to right his wrongs with Sabrena as she is determined to keep their resurrected relationship platonic. So when he is asked to partner with Sabrena to help mentor a troubled young boy through their company’s youth mentorship program, Rowan doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of the quality time that naturally comes along with the task…

As Sabrena and Rowan grow closer, others do their best to disrupt their reunion but, in the end, everyone’s fates are sealed when Sabrena is forced to choose between what seems best and what feels right…

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“You trying to lose or something?”

“Not at all.” Changing direction, I cued the ball. Three strokes. Potted the six.

His eyebrows rose. “Not bad.”

But not good either. I stepped back for Rowe to take his next shot. The game started off in his favor. He sunk two stripes off the break, and it was downhill from there. With seven balls now left on the table, only four were mine with the eight ball up for grabs. Rowe was clearing up with the exception of his last shot. As badly as I was losing, I took great pleasure in watching him play.

I let my eyes wander as he chalked the cue. The hall was a far cry from what I was expecting when we left the club. There was no smoke, no foul-smelling drunks or high-rolling hustlers of any kind. Watching the mostly twenty-somethings strolling around, I began to reminisce about my not-so-distant college years. We were directly across the street from several dorms at a modest entertainment complex that looked more like a miniature, make-shift Barnacles. A full-service bar was centered in the massive room with games of pool and spades scattered on all sides. Flat screens dotted every corner surrounded by oversized sofas and ottomans full of couples and cliques relaxing and enjoying a night off from studying while snacking on finger foods from the full-service kitchen. Gazing over at the lounge in the rear of the room, I listened as Rowe explained it was owned and operated by a few former graduates who had capitalized on the need for such a student-friendly space near campus.

My phone buzzed.

A text from Tashi. She was home. Alone.

I looked up and found Rowe watching me.

“Phone check?”

“No,” I replied. “Just Tashi. Tone just dropped her off.” He chuckled, and I couldn’t help but grin. “Stop. My girl ain’t that loose.”

“Never said that.”

He lined up the next shot, and I asked him how things were going at Weiston. I secretly hoped things were good, but I wanted to be sure.

“They got a brotha set up kinda nice, so I’m planning on sticking around a while.”

I nodded, taking my next shot. “Good. There’s quite a bit ahead for your department, so you have your work cut out for you.”

“I’ll manage.” He leaned low with his cue in hand. Eyes on me. “So, where your man at?”

“Huh? Oh…he’s at home.”

He missed. My turn. I called the pocket when Rowe stepped back to lean against an empty pool table behind him. Picking up his Corona, he took a long, slow sip. A second before I hit the cue ball, I heard him say, “Tell me about him.”

My grip slipped, and the ball bounced off the edge of the table. Nothing. Not sure what to say, how much I wanted to share. Rowe sat his beer in the side pocket and rounded the table.

“Well, he’s an architect.” I paused. “He’s a good person. Very laid back, loves sports and just likes to have a good time. I think you’d like him if you ever met him.” Another pause. My summary sounded unaffected, as if I was speaking about a man I just met last week and not the man I committed to spending the rest of my life with. Rowe caught my eyes, and I looked away. That observation hadn’t gone unnoticed on his end either.

“You married to this dude and that’s the best you can do?” He shook his head and leaned low, angling to take another shot. “You should be all in love and shit. You happy, right?” He potted the ten and fourteen.

I ignored him and stepped back to sit on the bar stool behind me, resting my legs on the bottom ring, both hands on my pool stick as I balanced it on the floor. “You’re making me look bad in here.”

He closed the distance between us and tweaked my nose. “Sorry baby, but you better step your game up. I don’t want to take that twenty from you, but a bet’s a bet.” Moving my cue, he positioned himself between my legs.

“What if I don’t want to give you twenty dollars?

“Then you have to give me more time.”

“I can handle that.”

“I might have to take you home with me.”

I slid my arms around his waist. “I’m game.”

“You’re drunk.” He pulled away, took another shot. The thirteen sank, leaving the table void of all stripes. To delay the game, he decided to give me another chance, so I chalked the cue and leaned low.

“Guess you not trying to answer my question…”

Frowning, I took the shot, the cue ball crashing through three balls at the other end of the table. Luckily, two went in. I wasn’t expecting that. “Of course, I’m happy. But marriage is work just like everything else.” I looked up, immediately irritated with the expression I saw on his face. I angled to take another shot. “You know what? It’s none of your business. And stop trying to rattle me so you can win. I don’t expect you to understand my situation anyway.” Another shot, another miss.

Rowe’s turn.

He cued only once. “You’re right. Your marriage is none of my business, but I think I basically got the gist. Honeymoon’s over. Because if it wasn’t, would you still be here with me?”

The eight ball dropped. He won.

“What’s with the interrogation?” I snapped.

After a brief pause at the change in my tone, Rowe continued racking up for the next game. “They’re just questions, Bree.”

He was right. It wasn’t his fault I didn’t like the answers. My anger was directed at the wrong person.

Taking a deep breath, I tucked my drama away. “Please. You’re an instigator. Always have been, but I’m not in the mood. I just want to enjoy what’s left of tonight, all right? We’re having so much fun, and I didn’t know how much I’ve missed all this. Missed us. Until now.”

He observed me before before grabbing the sticks and laying them on the table. “This place closes in half an hour. What next?”

“Let’s watch a movie or something. I’m not ready to go home.”

“Babe, the theaters closed a couple of hours ago.”

“No, I mean watch a movie at your place.”

He caught my eyes, and I smiled. He was surprised. To be honest, so was I.

Fuck it. It’s out now.

Tilting my head, I propped a hand on my hip. “So…am I going home with you or what?”

He drained his Corona and left the bottle on the table. “Let’s go.”