About 'On the Avenue': When I was a teen, well it started when I was a child actually, I formed these families in my head who all lived in the same neighborhood and I and started writing stories about them. As I matured, the stories matured. I want to condense it into a single tale, but there were so many characters I couldn't do it. So instead of following a straight plotline, I focused on a different character in this "imaginary" neighborhood so I dealing with the same set of characters at different points in time and I try to reveal different sides to any given character in each story.

TITLE: Revealing Secrets
AUTHOR: D.M. Kelley
RATING: PG-13
WEBSITE: silentbard.net

Summary: Her boyfriend says his relationship with Sharice is just a friendship, her friends say it's more. who should Karen believe?

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Not intended to represent any real persons, places, events, or things. All rights to these characters belong to me.

Feedback, always appreciated.

ON THE AVENUE: Revealing Secrets

Karen was angry as she walked into her living room tossing down her schoolbooks. Her twin sister had cut out of school early again. Their parents would be furious. She heard some giggling in their bedroom and burst through the door. All too quickly she realized her mistake. Kim was not alone. Lying there with her on white sheets, was a totally nude Harold.

"Oh my god, " she gasped. Harold and Kim looked at her and laughed. She ran embarrassed from the room. In the kitchen she tried to recapture her breath; she had never caught her sister in the act before.

Kim joined her minutes later wrapped in a robe. She was amused by her twin's nervous state. "Did the little virgin get the shock of her life?"

"Kim, I'm a virgin by choice." She shook her head in disgust. "What is Harold doing here, in your bed? I thought he was seeing Sharice."

"He is. She wasn't available at the moment. Let me tell you something about your friend Sharice, worshipped on high by all our hormone driven guys. She's a freak. And once Harold realized that, he realized he could do anything he wanted."

Harold walked into the room then, still naked. Karen gasped and covered her eyes. "For God sakes Harold, put on some clothes. Have some modesty."

"I ain't got nothing to hide," Harold said placing a soft kiss on Kim's cheek. Then whispering something in her ear that made her giggle. Harold grabbed a piece of fruit from the table, brushing past Karen and causing a nervous shiver to run up her spine. He smiled at both girls then and left the room.

"What if mom or dad had come home early from work. What if they had been the ones to catch you?"

"They didn't, OK. Sharice was busy with her "friend" your boyfriend. And Harold got a little -- you know."

"So you serviced him," Karen said sarcastically.

Kim gave her a harsh stare. "You just better hope Sharice isn't servicing your man"

"Kim don't start--"

Harold returned, clothed this time. He gave Kim a good-bye kiss and he blew a kiss toward Karen. "Hopefully, you'll join us next time," he smiled.

"In your dreams," Karen replied as he left through the front door. Harold was a handsome guy, but he had one too many notches on his bedpost for her taste. More than a few girls had been convinced they could take the playboy out of him. Kim wasn't one of them, Harold was a status symbol to her. She nearly died when Harold attached himself to Sharice for the same reason. Ever since, she'd been looking for a reason to break them up. Unfortunately, the easiest reason was Karen's boyfriend.

"I'm not joking about Sharice and your boy," Kim began again. "Have you ever seen the way she looks at him? There is more than friendship there."

"Shut up, Kim. You're not worried about my man, you're worried about yours."

"Maybe," Kim said as she lounged on the couch. "But your little boyfriend, he got hormones too. So don't tell me, when Sharice sways toward him and calls him that cute little nickname that only she and his mother use, he isn't turned on." Karen rolled her eyes. "Face it," Kim continued, "A couple of plain brown girls like us just can't compare to the ebony goddess." Kim smiled and left the room.

Sharice was a beauty, all the guys agreed on that. She was the color of smooth dark chocolate. Her hair was a flowing mane of silken Ebony. And her long shapely legs folded neatly into her hips and together they made a set of magical curves that hypnotized any male on sight. All the girls turned green when she walked into a room. She was a sixteen-year-old dream package that happened to be her man's best friend. Of course, she didn't look like that when she'd left town so many years ago. Back then she had been an awkward, tall, skinny girl, with two long ponytails swinging on both sides of her face.

Francisco, Karen's boyfriend, and Sharice had been friends since they were eight. It was a friendship born out of need. Sharice was a loner and Francisco was mourning his best friend, Michael's death. Michael's death was a sad event for many in their circle of friends, but Francisco couldn't get over it. Then he met Sharice. He said it was the first time he'd seen someone truly sadder than himself. His goal in life became keeping her happy. It wasn't easy since Harold led the group of teasing boys that made the two children's friendship a solitary one. Karen had admired him from afar in those days. She thought it was cute the way he cared for the shy shell of a girl. Even then she knew there was some hidden secret between them.

When Francisco turned eleven, tragedy struck again. Sharice's father decided to move. Francisco had run from his own birthday party just to say god-bye to her. Once again isolating himself as he mourned his lost friend. Karen had stepped in then. Friendship evolved into love when as they came of age. So far their relationship had only minor faults. They'd never even had a serious argument.

Things hadn't changed that much on the surface since Sharice's arrival a few months ago. Not between them anyway, but Francisco got a new light the day Sharice moved back into town. She invoked something in him that had lain dormant during their separation. There was some bond between them that was hidden to her. A bond that had only been hardened and sealed in the few years they spent apart.

****************

The next day, books in hand, Karen walked to the Carr household for a study session with her boyfriend. Sharice was also supposed to be joining them. Karen was again debating the issue of Sharice in her head. Against the advice of her sister and friends, she had initiated a friendship with Sharice. Behind the hype and the rumors was a wonderful person. She knew if the other girls got to know her, they would love her too. Karen wasn't going to make her boyfriend choose between his girlfriend and his best friend.

Besides, it wasn't their fault the break in their friendship came during the bridge between childhood and adulthood. Could Sharice be blamed for leaving a geek and returning a goddess? Of course, what most considered a gift, Sharice considered a curse. A curse she flaunted in short skirts and revealing tops, she countered for a moment, but then erased it from her mind. Maybe she was slightly intimidated by Sharice, but she wouldn't stoop to the level of her female compatriots by condemning the girl for her beauty.

She arrived at the Carr house and knocked on the door. Dawn, her boyfriend's mother, came to the door holding her two-year-old.

"Hi Karen"

"Hi Miss Dawn, is Francisco here?"

"In his room," Dawn began as Karen entered. "He's with Sharice ."

Karen stopped. "How long has she been here?"

"Since last night. She was drunk, slept it off in his bed. I nearly flipped when I saw her. I swear I don't know why my son fools with that girl."

"In his bed?"

"He was in the chair asleep the whole time and the twins were in the room of course. Nothing happened. I may have actually raised a good man."

Karen smiled and went up the steps. Dawn hardly worried about the traffic in and out of the children's rooms. She had ten children between the ages of eighteen and two months; there was no privacy.

As Karen approached the closed door, she heard crying. Slowly she cracked the door and peeked in. Francisco sat on his bed holding the tear streaked Sharice. She must have been crying for hours; her eyes were all puffy, her usual bubbly visage had disappeared, and she was nervously shaking. It seemed to be the end; the shaking was subsiding and she was wiping the tears from her face. She and Francisco talked some and then he softly caressed her face. The chemistry at that moment was so obvious it shook Karen. Their faces slowly began to close in on each other, and Karen felt a lump in her throat.

Swoosh, two four-year-old boy/girl twins sped past Karen, causing the bedroom door to open all the way. The friends on the bed jumped apart as the twins argued about some trivial argument they wanted there big brother to solve. Sharice was the first of the two to notice Karen standing at the door. Their eyes met. Francisco glanced at her briefly before turning his attention to the arguing siblings. The two girls studied each other's eyes. Sharice knew Karen had seen more than she wanted to.

Karen ran from the house on the brink of tears. She should have listened to her sister. Kim was right, they wanted each other. Karen stopped running a block away from the house. She sat down on a nearby bench trying to regain her composure. It was then that she noticed Sharice running toward her.

"Karen, Karen wait," she was shouting. She had run behind her while Francisco took care of the twins. Karen wanted to run, but she knew she had to face her eventually. Face whatever was happening between Francisco and Sharice.

Sharice joined Karen on the bench. "I don't know what you saw, but-"

"Are you in love with him?" Karen asked.

"I love him, yes, but not in that way," Sharice sighed. "We are girl/guy best friends and that sexual tension thing sometimes happens. I mean we're close, I used to sleep beside him in his bed, for God sakes." Sharice stopped for a second and dropped her head into her hands. "The only friends I have are you and Francisco. The girls at school hate me and all the guys--well, you know how they are."

"I don't know if I can handle this," Karen sighed. "It's more than today, it's everything since you showed up. I feel like there is some part of him you touch that I don't and never will."

"I guess that's because there is something we have kept from you."

"I knew it."

"He's protecting me, Karen, the way he always has, ever since he was a little boy." Sharice smiled, "He never broke the promise we made. I guess a blood promise is pretty important. Anyway, that's why he didn't tell you."

"You were only a little girl, what could have required so much secrecy?" Karen asked.

"Malcolm, my father," Sharice sighed. "He, well he--." Sharice stopped and took a breath. "Malcolm molested me. Has for as long as I can remember. And what you saw in there was because I found out he is doing the same thing to my little sister and god-brother. I was upset, more than upset, I don't know what the right word would be. But I do know if we had kissed, it wouldn't have led to anything."

"Oh my God Sharice, I'm so sorry."

"For what?" Sharice sighed. "You didn't do anything."

"Poor Francisco, to hold that in this long."

"Karen, About Francisco, he is the only pure thing I have in my life. With or without you in the picture I couldn't change that. I need the friend, not another boyfriend."

"Then why Harold?"

"I don't know, maybe it all started with David. He was eighteen, I was thirteen, and I had finally given my father enough of a fight that he left me alone. I was deluded then and foolish enough to believe David loved me. When I found out he was sleeping with another girl, I resorted to sex. It was what my father always wanted. Anyway, I eventually found out sex didn't get you love, but it did keep a guy's attention. So when David left me, I started seeing guys like him, like Harold. Thanks to Malcolm I know what to expect from them."

"But you can stop it. You need someone who appreciates you for everything," Karen said.

"Harold does appreciate me. Maybe he's not in love with me, but he loves me."

"He was sleeping with my sister yesterday."

"I don't care about Kim or Stacy or any of the other girls. They're not what I am to him."

"You're a status symbol to him," Karen argued. "Nothing more."

"He holds me Karen," Sharice said. "Sometimes he holds me afterward and he told me he doesn't do it for anyone else, only for me. May all I am to him is how I look, but Harold appreciates that and it doesn't bother me."

"But you can--"

"I need him right now Karen."

"Sharice I'm so sorry you feel that way, but I suppose--. I'm so sorry about the way things are," Karen said embracing her. "I'm so sorry I wasn't more sympathetic. How could I have been so petty about your relationship with Francisco?"

Sharice returned the embrace. "You weren't petty," She said. "If I had lil' Biscuit, I'd try to protect him from girls like me too."

The two teens sat there hugging. Kim was wrong, Karen thought, what else was new? Then again, what would Kim and the others who hated Sharice do with this knowledge? Would Harold stop using her as a sex toy? Did he have that much sense? Whatever happened, she'd be there for Sharice.

"Is everything OK," Francisco asked as he appeared.

"Yeah," Karen said as they broke the embrace.

"I told her," Sharice said to him. "I guess it won't be long before everyone knows."

"I'm not gonna spread it around," Karen said

"It'll get out," Sharice assured her.

"First things first," Francisco said. "We gotta tell my mom so she won't send those kids home to your dad."

"Then the law, and it's all out. No return."

"It's time Sharice," Karen said as they rose from the bench. "Secrets like these are meant to be revealed."