Blessings in Disguise

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2007-01-09
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
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The second book in an exciting and inspiring new series from national bestselling author ReShonda Tate Billingsley They share a precious gift. . . . Joining Rachel Jackson's church youth group has been a lifesaver for Camille, Alexis, Jasmine, and Angel. The fabulous four share everything from juicy gossip to mentoring school kids. But their loyalty is put to the test when two of the girls get caught up in problems of their own -- and may drag their girlfriends down with them. Will they forget who their friends are? Wealthy Alexis seems to have the perfect life -- but no one can see her fear as her parents head for divorce. Meanwhile, Jasmine is tired of being the glue that holds her mother and siblings together, and she escapes by moving in with her father. Both girls are tempted to do something drastic to get the attention they crave, and both need to hear Rachel's hard-won advice on why stealing will only get them more trouble. But when it comes to winning back Camille and Angel's trust, Alexis and Jasmine will have to find the answers in their own hearts.



It oughta be a crime for somebody to talk so much.

"I mean, can you believe she had on panty hose with sandals? She looked like a country bumpkin." Trina rambled on like she was in a marathon talking contest.

I needed to get away from this girl before I killed her. Or myself. Well, not literally. But trust me when I say the way that Trina King was working my nerves, I sure thought about it.

"Aren't you glad you came to the mall with us?" Trina said, in that high-pitched Daffy Duck voice of hers.

I glared at her but didn't say anything. Shoot, I was still trying to figure out how I ended up at the mall with Alexis and her bourgie friend, Trina. If you looked up the wordTrinain the dictionary, they'd probably haveannoyingnext to it. Because that girl was the most annoying person I'd ever met.

"What, cat got your tongue?" Trina laughed like that cornball stuff was even funny. When I didn't laugh with her she turned toward Alexis. "Where did you find this sourpuss?"

Alexis laughed. "I told you, that's just how Jasmine is." She playfully hit my arm. I rolled my eyes.

Trina turned to say something to me again. I shot her a look to say don't bother.

I didn't even think it was the fact that Trina thought she was all that that made me sick. I think it was that high-pitched Daffy Duck voice and the way she was always swinging her long "top-of-the-line weave," as she called it, back and forth. Horsehair was horsehair, but she swore hers was imported from India so that made her special or something. I didn't think so.

"I think she's just jealous because we've been friends for so long," Trina said as she put her arm through Alexis's. "She doesn't want anyone messing up y'all little Good Girlz circle. But tell her, Alexis. We've been friends since junior high school. She can't compete with that."

Trina flashed a wide smile. I wanted to tell her that nobody was trying to compete with her funky behind. And no, I didn't like her being in the Good Girlz, but it wasn't like I had a choice. Trina had joined the Good Girlz a month ago after getting into some trouble at her school. Like the rest of us, she had come reluctantly. After all, the Good Girlz was a community service group for teens who had been in minor trouble. The group was sponsored by a Houston-area church called Zion Hill. Even though none of us really wanted to be in the group in the beginning, we'd come to love it. And now, it looked like Trina had, too.

"Jazzy, don't get all sensitive on me," Trina playfully said. "I'm just playing with you, girl."

I still couldn't do anything but look at her crazy. I knew I was probably being a butthole, but try as I might, I just couldn't click with that girl. Neither could Camille or Angel, the other original members of the group. Trina was rich and uppity. Alexis was a little bit, too, but I had gotten used to Alexis. She'd rubbed me the wrong way when we first met a year ago. But now that I knew her, I just ignored her bourgie comments because I knew she had a good heart.

Trina, on the other hand, could work a nerve!

"Jazzy-Jo, why you all quiet?" Trina asked me as we made our way into yet another department store. She swung her hair back as she sashayed her tiny frame into the store.

"For the one-trillionth time, my name is Jasmine Jones. Not Jaz, not Jazzy, not Jazzy-Jo. Just Jasmine, a'ight?" I rolled my eyes and stuffed my hands in my pockets as I followed her and Alexis inside.

Trina stopped and turned toward me. "Dang, girl. Chill. Why are you such a grouch?"

Alexis smiled at me. "Jasmine is always a grouch," she said playfully.

"Whatever," I replied.

"Well, if you gon' be walking around here acting all funny, why'd you even bother to come?" Trina said.

I stared at Trina. WhyhadI come? While I liked Alexis, as soon as she said Trina was with her I should've said forget it. But my brothers were driving me insane; I was just about to hurt the youngest one when Alexis called and asked if I wanted to go to the mall. I'd seen it as the lesser of two evils.

I sighed. "I'm not being a grouch. But we've been at the mall for two hours and we haven't bought anything. Or y'all haven't bought anything, 'cause you know I ain't got no money today." Shoot, who was I kidding? I never had any money. My family put thepoinpoor. I couldn't tell you the last time I went shopping.

"Oh, chill out," Trina said as she made her way out of the store and into another one. "We're window-shopping, right, Alexis?"

Alexis looked uncomfortable for a minute. But she quickly snapped out of it and said, "Right. Window-shopping."

I ignored the funny look and followed them both into the store. I was surprised when they didn't start in on me about buying some new clothes. They were always trying to make me over. They claimed I looked like a tomboy because I was almost six feet tall, wore warm-ups all the time, and didn't see any purpose in makeup.

After ten minutes, I leaned against the wall and took in the sights while Trina and Alexis browsed around. Right about now I wished Camille and Angel were around. They'd at least keep me company. I people-watched for several more minutes before looking around for Alexis and Trina. I spotted them coming out of the dressing room.

"Are you all ready to go?" I asked.

"Yeah, I'm done," Trina and Alexis said in unison.

We hurried out of the store, then out of the mall. We had barely closed the doors on the car when both of them busted out laughing.

"Oh my God!" Alexis exclaimed. "That was too easy."

"I told you," Trina said. "Piece of cake."

I was sitting in the backseat and had no idea what they were talking about. "What was a piece of cake?" I asked, leaning up in the seat.

Trina looked all sneaky and stuff. "This," she said as she pulled clothes out from under her shirt.

My eyes almost jumped out of their sockets. Trina was holding up three pink Baby Phat T-shirts, all with the price tags still hanging on them.

"Trina, tell me you did not steal those," I said.

Trina smiled. "Okay, I won't tell you, then." She tossed the shirts at Alexis and turned around and started up the car.

I looked at Alexis, waiting to see the shock register on her face as well. Instead, she held the shirt up to her chest and said, "Girl, I'm going to look cute in this."

"I can't believe this," I said as I stared at the T-shirts.

"What? Girl, I got one for you," Trina said.

I looked at Trina like she'd lost her mind. "You are insane." I turned back to Alexis. "And you knew about this? You know my grandma is crazy. You trying to get me killed?"

"What's the big deal? We didn't get caught," Alexis said as Trina navigated onto the freeway. This really shocked me because the Alexis I'd come to know over the last year was sweet and straitlaced. Forget the fact that her family was loaded, stealing was just something I never thought she'd be down with.

"Plus, Alexis didn't take them. I did," Trina added, pulling me out of my thoughts. "She's too good to take things without paying for them anymore," she joked.

Anymore? I couldn't believe my ears. Judging from the designer jeans, top, and rhinestone belt that Trina had on, she could have bought plenty of T-shirts. And God knew Alexis could've bought the whole dang factory. I mean, her daddy owned a hotel and everybody knew he was loaded.

"Alexis, this is totally crazy," I said. "You have money. You have it made. And you gon' put my life in jeopardy? We could go to jail, and for what? Some stupid T-shirts?"

"You can go to jail for jaywalking but people still do it," Trina said as she switched lanes.

Alexis shrugged. "Don't worry about it. The stores have insurance. They're covered. Plus, they overcharge for this stuff anyway."

I sat back in my seat, dumbfounded. Don't get me wrong. I'm from the hood. I know some thieves. But they're hood rats, or people who steal to survive, or they steal to feed their kids. Alexis and Trina had to be the richest girls I'd ever met in my life. Their stealing made no sense to me.

Alexis turned around to face me in the backseat. "Jasmine, it's really no big . . . oh my God!" Alexis said with a look of horror across her face as she stared out of the back window. I turned to see what she was looking at.

I swear I thought I was going to pass out when I saw the flashing lights pull up behind us. Trina looked back, too, then seemed to quickly lose that confidence she'd had just a minute ago.

"I cannot believe you two are so stupid," I hissed as I turned back around and folded my arms across my chest.

"Shut up," Trina said, suddenly looking all nervous. She pulled the car over.

Alexis didn't say anything. She just sat in the front seat with a terrified look across her face.

The officer walked up to the car. "Evening, ladies. License and registration, please."

I think that had to be the closest I'd ever come to peeing on myself.

"Hello, Officer. Do you mind telling me what I was doing wrong?" Trina said with a fake smile as she reached into the glove compartment.

"I think you know what you did," the officer said.

I wanted to throw myself on his mercy and tell him I had nothing to do with the theft. I wanted to cry and beg him not to take me to jail. I just knew it was all over. They were going to throw me in a cell with someone named Big Sexy. Maybe I'd get lucky and get a cell with my cousin, Shanae, who was in jail for stabbing her husband's girlfriend. Shanae would watch my back. Oh, who was I kidding? I wasn't ready to go to jail. Everyone thought I was hard, but I'd just learned to keep my guard up because people were always giving me a hard time.

"You were going eighty in a sixty-mile-an-hour zone."

The police officer's words snapped me out of my thoughts. He took the papers Trina handed him.

I don't know about Trina and Alexis, but I wanted to turn backflips when he said that. He was stopping us for speeding.

"I am so sorry," Trina purred. "I didn't realize I was going that fast."

"Well, you were," the officer said as he looked over her insurance and registration. After a minute, he looked back up. "I see you're a 100 Club member," he said, pointing to the police support organization sticker on the back of her car.

Trina's smile grew wider. "Actually, my father is one of your biggest supporters."

The officer smiled. "Yeah, the 100 Club is a great organization. They help a lot of officers who have been hurt in the line of duty."

"I definitely agree."

It was a good thing the officer was wearing boots because Trina was shoveling it out good.

"Well, Miss King," the officer said, handing her back her license and registration. "You slow it down now, you hear?"

Trina took her stuff and smiled again. "Thank you, Officer."

I think we all held our breath until he got back to his car.

"You'd better be glad I don't carry a gun, because I would shoot you in the head right now," I growled to Trina.

"You are so violent, Jasmine." She laughed.

I sat up in the seat. "Ain't nothing funny," I said. "Do you know how close we came to going to jail? And for what, some freakin' T-shirts?"

Trina looked at me in the rearview mirror. "Stop being a Goody Two-shoes. It's just clothes. Besides, we thought you'd want in."

I looked at her like she was crazy. "Well, you thought wrong."

Trina just laughed as she pulled back into traffic. "Oh, well, more money for us," she told Alexis.

I looked at Alexis. "What is she talking about, more money?"

Alexis bit down on her lip like she didn't know what to say.

"Darling," Trina said in her best British accent, "we're about to open shop, selling the latest fashions at prices the competition just can't beat. And we're about to get paid!"

She high-fived Alexis while I continued to sit in the backseat with my mouth hanging open. Just what their little entrepreneurial plan entailed, I didn't even want to know.

Copyright © 2007 by ReShonda Tate Billingsley

Excerpted from Blessings in Disguise by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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