I know, it's been a while since I was on here. I've gotten married since the last time I was on. I hope that everyone likes this story as much as I do. I also hope that you will continue to send reviews. Much thanks to my critique partner. Now, on with the story!

Chapter 1

She really did hate Wednesdays. Even though they were hump days, and you were supposed to feel like the week was half over, it always felt like she was sliding backwards by the time the day came.

Candace gave a huff of impatience as she waited in line at the registrar's office. As soon as she finished paying for her classes, it was going to be a race across town to get to her job. Looking at her watch again, she shifted her purse to her other shoulder and leaned against the wall. She'd gotten to N.O.V.A, the local community college at 8:30 that morning, only to find that everyone else had gotten there earlier than she had. The line had been down the hallway and at times seemed to be barely moving. She began to look around and observe the people around her, needing something to take her mind off the fact that she'd been standing in line for half an hour.

She raised her eyebrow at the girl in front of her. The girl was wearing a short white tennis skirt, with a stomach bearing baby tee and black 3-inch pumps. She had to give the girl props for having the body to carry it off. Candace wrapped her arms around her stomach, self-consciously trying to hide. Having concluded years ago that she was always going to be "plus sized" at a size 16, she had come to grips with it, at least while fully clothed. For the most part she was happy with her body, but at times like these when skinner girls showed off their toned bodies, Candace got insecure.

She cleared her head of her self-conscious thoughts, turning her attention to the people behind her. A tall, well built man near the back of the line caught her interest and she paused to admire him. She couldn't tell what his face looked like, but from her angle, he had a nice package. He was looking down at a book in his hands, unconcerned with the line in front of him. Taking a moment to admire the line of his nose and his high cheekbones, she thought he might be somewhere in his mid thirties, with the gray that was just starting to show in his hair. There was something intriguing about him, in the relaxed way he was standing, the way he was able to block out everything around him. Candace was so engrossed in looking at him that she didn't even notice when he looked up and stared back at her.

When she saw him grin at her, flashing bright white teeth, she jerked her eyes away, hiding her embarrassment at being caught. As she was turning her head back to the front of the line, her eyes caught a pair of leaf green eyes looking at her. Candace ducked her head down quickly, her heart racing wildly she tried to hide the flush on her face. It was the same guy from earlier. Candace decided that perhaps she should keep her eyes forward, until it was her turn to register.

At about 10 a.m., Candace was finally at the front of the line paying for her classes. She always hated to pay for courses, since it seemed like she had nothing to show for all the money she was putting out. At least it was the last class she needed, psychology. As she was turning to head down the stairs to buy her books, her eyes collided with a pair of familiar leaf green eyes looking at her. She dipped her head, hurrying down the stairs.

As she soon as she got downstairs, she checked her watch again, giving a sigh of dismay. Her shift started at noon and judging by the line outside the bookstore, it was going to take that long to get her books. She trudged over to the line, propping herself up against the wall. She wondered yet again why the bookstore didn't just let the students pick out their own books, rather than having someone run and get them. To her it made no sense at all. She shifted, so that her back was to the wall and stared out the huge glass windowpanes in front of her. Lost in thought, she felt someone come up and stand next to her. She felt the hairs on her arms stand up, letting her know that person was looking at her.

Out the corner of her eye, she could see that it was the same guy from earlier. She gave an inward groan, embarrassed beyond all belief. Why did these things happen to her? She felt him shift and knew that he was about to say something. Gritting her teeth, she prepared for whatever happened, when her phone rang. Candace had never been so happy to have her phone ring. The number that flashed on her screen quickly had her groaning in frustration; her freaking ex-boyfriend.

"Yes Damon?" Candace asked wearily.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm getting registered for classes. What do you want?" that came out harsher than she'd intended, but she really wished that he would stop calling her. She was trying to get over him.

"I just wanted to see if you wanted to hang out later." his voice was irritable, angry at the way she was talking to him.

Candace had to bit her tongue to keep what she really wanted to say at bay. "I can't, I have to work." Before he could say anything else, Candace butted in, "Look, I have to go, the line is moving. Bye" She hung up before he could say anything else to her.

She gave a sigh as she dropped her phone back into her purse and leaned her head against the wall, her eyes closed. Talking to Damon was always a draining experience. She wondered how she ever got caught up with him. After the little incident with her 'friend', she'd been sure that he wouldn't call again. She forgot all about the guy that was next to her, instead concentrating on keeping the headache that was forming at bay. After about an hour, Candace was finally at the front of the line. She handed over her schedule and waited for the clerk to get her supplies. Once she paid for her supplies, she walked off, careful not to look behind her. She was eager to get away from the guy she'd been ogling.

Candace raced down Route 1 toward Quantico, hoping that she would be on time and that she didn't get another speeding ticket. She couldn't afford another one now that she was in school and only had half an income. Thinking about the past made her think of Damon and his recent phone call. Candace's hands tightened on the steering wheel. He had some nerve calling her! After catching him with another girl, in her bed to boot, she'd kicked him out of her house. She hadn't told her parents exactly what had happened, not wanting to hear them say 'I told you so'. It had been humiliating to be in that position and it hadn't helped matters that the girl had been a 'friend' of hers. That had been two weeks ago.

Since then, Damon had been calling her every day, trying to get back with her. So far, she'd held firm in her avoidance of him, but she wasn't sure how much longer she was going to be able to hold out. He was charmer when he wanted to be and she had a feeling that he was going to be pulling out the big guns soon. Right now he was playing the victim, but he'd switch tactics till he found one that worked. Candace pulled into the parking lot of the commissary and rushed in.

By nine o'clock that night, Candace was more than ready to go home. Having been on her feet since eight that morning, all she wanted to do was go home and sleep. Having to deal with people and their condescending attitudes was always exhausting. An hour later after cleaning up, the cashiers were allowed to go home and Candace was all too happy to leave. She was hurrying towards her S.U.V when she heard her cell phone ringing. Giving a groan, she dug it out her purse and flipped it open. Her face broke into a grin when she saw who it was.

"T, what's up?" Candace asked, happy to hear from her friend after a long day at work. She unlocked her Explorer and got in. Candace gave a sigh of relief as she settled into her seat. It always felt great after a long shift to sit down and rest her feet. She wiggled them a little, trying to get some feeling back into them.

"I was hoping that you would be off now. Guess what tonight is?" Her friend asked, an excited spark in her voice.

Candace gave a grin, looking at her watch. "Oh, I don't know. Laundry night?" Candace grinned, flinching at her friend's shriek of horror.

"I don't think so. It's ladies night at Geckos' and we are going. So get ready and pick me up in an hour." T's tone left no argument.

Candace wasn't really in the mood to go out, but she figured once classes started, she wouldn't really have time to go out. "Alright, I'll see you then."

"And that does not mean show up 2 hours later! I mean an hour!" her friend chided before hanging up. Candace chuckled, before starting her S.U.V and heading home.

Candace was standing in front of her closet 10 minutes later, trying to figure out what she was going to wear. She really did need to update her closet she thought to herself as she bypassed another shirt. Things were getting desperate in there. She finally settled on a red silk tank with overlapping shirred front panels that buttoned at the waist, black sequin harem pants and red 4-inch ruffle wedge shoes. Satisfied with her outfit, she headed to the bathroom to do her makeup and hair. Thirty minutes later, Candace was ready. Hurrying down the stairs, she turned off all the lights and set the alarm. She waited for the cars to pass her before she got into her S.U.V. That was one of the things she hated about living in a townhome; you had to park in the street if you didn't get home early enough. Tuning her radio to a local R&B station, Candace pulled into traffic. She gave a grimace when she saw what time it was. T was going to kill her for being late.

Exactly an hour and a half later, Candace pulled up in front of T's house. She gave a sheepish grin at the look her friend gave her, shrugging her shoulders in a helpless gesture. She gave a low whistle at the outfit her friend was wearing. It was a short red mini, and a black shirt that hung low in the back. The colors complimented her almond colored skin. Candace had to admit, her friend was a striking woman. She was about 5"2, with a short bob that had her curly hair bouncing all over the place when she talked. Her eyes were the color of cinnamon sticks and her body was petite with curves all in the right places.

"At least it wasn't two hours."

T gave a huff, hopping into the front seat, fastening her seat belt. She swung around to look at her; "You used Armor All on these seats again didn't you?" she accused, wagging a finger at Candace.

Candace gave a laugh, pulling away from her friend's house. "It was time to clean the seats again. You know how leather is."

T crossed her arms, trying hard to stay angry. "Yes, but you don't have to use it on the front seat. You know this is where I sit."

Candace looked at her friend, sticking her lip out in a pout. "I'm sorry. Don't be mad." She gave her friend the best puppy dog look she had in her repertoire, knowing that it would make her friend laugh.

Sure enough, T was laughing and giggling in no time. The pair talked about what T had missed at work. The two worked together, but today had been T's day off so she'd missed the "excitement" of the commissary and their boss, whom they'd not so affectionately nicknamed "Sappy Sally" for her ability to cry at the drop of a dime.

A short time later, the two pulled onto the side of the road that led into Gecko's parking lot. The main parking lot was packed and Candace gave a groan of annoyance as she slid out of her seat. She hated parking so far from the club. It was fine going in, but coming out, it was a nightmare; All the guys driving past, hollering out the window about taking her home, having to stumble around in the dark trying to find her S.U.V. It was just not the best way to end a night.

T came around the vehicle, linking her arm with Candace's, leading the way to the club. For it to be a Wednesday night, the club was packed. Candace stepped in and took a moment to look around, gauging the club and the crowd. To the right of the front door, was the first of two dance floors. She walked past the dance floor; her head bobbing along to some pop song the DJ was playing. The bar was packed with people shouting at the bartenders, trying to be heard over the music that pumping out of the speakers. The twosome kept going, ignoring most of the guys that tried to get their attention, heading to the back of the club. They kept going, passing by pool tables that were occupied with muscular, attractive marines. T had to tug Candace's arm to keep her from stopping and staring. On the other side of the pool tables, was a pair of French doors.

"Why do we always go to this side?" Candace asked as they passed through the doors, the sounds of rap and R&B washing over them.

"Because this is where all the hot guys are!" T responded, enthusiastically tugging Candace behind in her wake. Candace had to agree with her friend's statement. Most of the guys on this side were hot, with baggy pants and angry attitudes.

After taking a walk around the room, scoping out the guys and taking note of the ones that looked like they had potential, the women headed to the dance floor, intending to show off their assets and have a good time. The two were dancing up a storm in no time, having the time of their lives.

Candace loved to dance and the feeling of the music coursing through her body was enough to make her forget her troubles. During the day she had so many responsibilities and duties, that at times it felt like she was drowning in them. The only time she ever really felt good was when she was dancing.

After working up a sweat, the girls decided to head to the bar to get a drink. Turning from the bar, Candace looked out over the crowd, bringing the glass to her lips. She was just taking her first sip when she gave a start, her eyes growing wide. She'd know that face anywhere. It was Damon. She had to admit, he looked good tonight. He was wearing a pair of baggy jeans, an oversized polo shirt and white Nike's on. At 6'0, he seemed to tower over the other guys there. It probably had to with the fact that he was heavily built, with a broad chest and bulging biceps.

T noticed her friend's hesitation, shooting her friend a questioning look. "What's wrong?" T asked her brow creased in concern.

Candace looked over at her friend, her mouth set in a thin line, her eyes narrowed. "Damon is here."

Candace gave a groan when she realized that Damon had seen her. She looked around for a quick exit; panicking a bit when she realized that there was none. She braced herself for an unhappy scene.

T turned to look out over the crowd; her eyes squinted as she tried to see him. She looked back at her friend, "Are you sure?"

Candace nodded, her body rigid with anger. "He's headed right towards us."

"I thought you were going to be working?" Damon snapped, throwing his hands up in anger.

Candace had to fight the urge to laugh at the childish behavior that Damon was showing. She knew that if she did, he'd just go off on another rant.

"Look, I got off and I wanted to hang out." Candace gave an angry shake of her head, "Why am I even explaining myself to you?!" This was one of the reasons that they'd broken up; Damon's need to be in control. Before she knew what was happening, Damon had reached out and grabbed her arm, his grip painful.

"Don't talk to me like that." Damon growled, his eyes darkening in anger.

Candace tried to pull her arm free, giving a gasp of pain when Damon's grip on her arm tightened. She braced her body, preparing herself for a fight.

T chose that moment to step between them, her face darkened with anger.

"I suggest you let her go before I call security over here." She nodded towards the burly guys off in the corner that were watching them closely, their bodies tensed, ready to jump in.

Damon glared at T a moment, before dropping Candace's arm, sparing her a scalding look. He looked back at the bouncers, obviously debating whether it was worth it or not to continue. Deciding that it wasn't, he turned and marched away, pushing people aside as he moved through the crowd. Candace gave a sigh of relief, absently rubbing her arm as T turned to look at her, her face creased with worry.

"That guy is not right in the head." she motioned towards Damon with her thumb.

Candace gave a snort of hysterical laughter at the obvious statement her friend made. She could feel her hands start to shake as the adrenaline left her body.

"I think that I need to go home now." Candace gave T a shaky smile, knowing that her friend was having fun and would probably not want to leave.

T rubbed her friends shoulder softly, a tense smile straining her lips. "That's cool. I'm not in the mood to party anymore anyway."

Candace gave her friend a grateful look and linking their arms together, headed to the front doors. As they neared the S.U.V., Candace could tell that something was wrong. As they came closer to the vehicle, Candace gave a shout of anger as she took in exactly what was wrong. The driver's side of her car had been kicked in, a huge footprint visible in the lamplight.

"That bastard!" Candace shrieked, her hands clenched in a tight fist. She couldn't believe that Damon would do this. Actually she could, but seeing it just made it real. She ignored the spurt of fear that had her heart tripling speed. She didn't want to think of what else he was capable of.

T could only stare at the truck in horrified awe, unsure of what to say.

"Just…get in." Candace's voice was tight with rage as was her body as she got into the vehicle.

The two girls didn't speak as Candace drove T home. Candace gave a curt nod to her friend as she dropped her off, before pulling away from the house.

'How dare he do this!' Candace fumed in her head. It was going to cost her a whole paycheck to get the door fixed.

Candace slammed her hands against the steering wheel in frustration. What she'd ever seen in that prick, she'd never know. She pulled into a parking space a few feet from her town home, a sad sigh escaping her lips when she saw the lights out. For once, she was glad that her parents had left her the house and gone R. . It meant they weren't here for her to explain what had happened to the explorer. Candace gave a silent prayer as she got out of the car that she wouldn't have to see Damon again.