<I>KEYSHA</i><P>I swear my life should be turned into a movie or at a minimum a mini drama series. I just know one of the cable stations would leap at the chance to produce my life story. Over the past several months I've been dealing with more drama than any celebrity who has made tabloid headlines. Just when I think everything is settling down and some type of normality is taking shape, another major catastrophe explodes in my path and tosses my world back into a chaotic spin. I'm surprised I haven't completely lost my marbles yet because I certainly have enough stress.<P>I came up with a brilliant idea, like two seconds ago, to start keeping an electronic diary. I figure that if I can just express how I feel about all of the madness that's going on in my life, it would help. I once heard Tyra Banks say that writing can be therapeutic. I'm not saying that I'm crazy or need therapy, because I don't. I just heard that writing your thoughts can help you cope with a lot of crap. Right now I'm sitting at the desk in my bedroom waiting for my computer to boot up. I have on my pink pajama pants, matching Tweety Bird top and my hair is tied up. Behind me on the floor are my blue jeans with the image of Tinker Bell spray-painted on the right leg, my Tinker Bell top and gym shoes. My room is a total mess, but I don't feel like cleaning it up right now.<P>"I have no clue what to write or where to even start," I muttered aloud to myself as I placed the palm of my right hand against my cheek. As I thought about my troubles, I got emotional and felt tears welling up in my eyes. I just learned that the love of my life, my boyfriend, Wesley, had been shot. Tears began trickling down my cheeks and onto my keyboard. I took a few deep breaths before I stood and walked over to my dresser and pulled a few Kleenex tissues. I then got into bed, positioned myself on my stomach and let out the sadness. When there were no more tears left to shed, I gathered myself and went back to my computer and stared at the blank screen.<P>"This writing stuff is so lame," I whispered and then exhaled a sigh of frustration. The silence in the room was pierced when I heard my brother, Mike, thundering up the stairs. I quickly sprang to my feet and shut my bedroom door because I wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone right now. I just wanted to be alone. After locking my bedroom door, I walked back over to my computer, placed my fingers on the keyboard and began to type.<P>It's been almost a year since I left the group home for at-risk teens. I moved from the south side of Chicago to the suburbs with my father, Jordan. I actually didn't have a choice in the matter at the time. I ended up at the group home when my mom, Justine, got arrested and subsequently detained until her court date. My father and I had never met until the day he came to visit me at the group home in order to verify that I was actually his child. That was a real interesting day to say the least. Once he got over the shock and surprise that I was his daughter, we had to try and figure out how I'd fit into his family. At the time, his wife, Barbara, was suspicious of me and my younger half brother, Mike, hated my guts. I didn't care much for them, either, but I was trapped in a situation that I couldn't get out of.<P>Eventually we were able to work through our differences and all get along. And then I met Wesley, the best boyfriend a girl could ask for. He helped me through some major issues in my life, especially one that involved a backstabbing girl named Liz Lloyd, who I thought was my friend. Wesley has always been there for me and for that I'll always be grateful.<P>A few weeks ago, Wesley and his father moved from South Holland, Illinois, to Indianapolis, Indiana, to live with Wesley's grandmother after his father got injured in an electrical fire that destroyed their house. Wesley hated leaving me, and loathed his new neighborhood. He was constantly getting picked on by the local gang members because he was new to the area. Now my worst fears have come true.<P>At that moment I heard someone knock on my door. I saved my diary entry and closed the page before walking over to my bedroom door.<P>"Mike, I don't want to talk right now," I said loudly.<P>"It's me, Barbara. Open up." I glanced down at the rotating gold doorknob and saw that Barbara was already trying to enter my room. I reluctantly unlocked the door and let her in. Glumly, I walked back over to my desk and sat down.<P>"Are you okay?" I could tell she was concerned, but I didn't want her sympathy right now. I was still feeling resentful about her refusal to let me see Wesley.<P>"No, I'm not okay. Would you be okay if Jordan was lying in some hospital half a world away?" I gave her a sarcastic glare. Although it was ten o'clock, I noticed Barbara still had on blue jeans and a black, long-sleeved sweater top. She usually slipped into her loungewear around nine. Barbara let out a frustrated sigh and ran her hands through her silky black shoulder-length hair. She had recently grown out her chic cropped cut, and her new style looked good. I think she was going through a phase where she wanted to look hip and younger. Especially now since there was another female in the house. I think she quietly wanted to step up her game. She didn't look bad or anything, it's just something I've noticed about her lately. As she entered my room, she stared at my clothes on the floor.<P>"You need to come pick this stuff up and—"<P>"Ugh!" I grumbled as I picked up my belongings and hung them up.<P>"I understand how you feel, Keysha, but look at it from our point of view. Jordan and I have just been through a lot with you and Mike. I mean, you guys literally had us pulling out our hair when we heard the police had picked you two up. The crap that you and Mike put us through is the kind of stuff that gives people heart attacks." Barbara folded her arms across her chest and glared at me. I wondered when Barbara was going to let that go. She was still angry about the incident where Mike took Jordan's car without permission to see Toya, a hood chick who lived in my old neighborhood. Things wouldn't have been so bad if the car hadn't gotten stolen by some thugs, who took it to an illegal chop shop. Mike and I got caught up in a police sting when we tried to get the car back. We were hauled off to the precinct for questioning, and didn't get released until Barbara and Jordan picked us up.<P>"But this has nothing to do with me and Mike being in trouble. This is Wesley, the boy who saved my life. The boy who cleared my name, the boy who came to my rescue and took action when no one else would. The least I can do is be by his side during his time of need." I pleaded my case then stopped to blow my nose and wipe away my tears.<P>"I know it's tough, Keysha," Barbara said, now trying to console me, but it wasn't helping. "But right now is not a good time. I'm sure Wesley will be fine. He's a tough kid and I'm sure he'll pull through." It felt like Barbara was feeding me a line of bullcrap.<P>"How can you sit here and say that? You don't even know if he was shot in the head or the chest." My temper quickly flared up because I didn't like for one minute how she was trying to glaze over the situation.<P>"And neither do you, Keysha. And don't use that tone of voice with me," Barbara snapped. "It won't do any good to jump to conclusions until we get all the details."<P>"Please, I'm begging you. I need to go see Wesley. I need to be with him. I love him. Don't you understand how badly my heart is hurting? Can't you see that I can't live without him?" I looked deeply into her eyes, hoping my pitiful look would melt her heart.<P>"The answer is still no. Allow Wesley and his family to work through this crisis. They're going through a traumatic experience and we should—"<P>"Whatever!" I interrupted Barbara. I didn't want to hear anything else she had to say.<P>"Keysha, this is the last time I'm going to tell you about that tone of voice. I'm not playing with you, little girl. Don't make me lose my temper." I gave Barbara a defiant glare, but said nothing more.<P>"You have to stay focused on your schoolwork. You can't take a bunch of days off in the middle of the semester to sit by his side, so just get that thought out of your head." Barbara crossed her arms. "Now in the meantime both you and Mike need to be thankful that Jordan and I were able to get you out of the mess you were in without it going on your record." Barbara raised her voice at me and that upset me even more than I already was.<P>"Where is Jordan at?" I raised my voice at her, completely dismissing what she'd just said to me. I thought I could probably win him over if I really tried.<P>"He's in his damn skin!" Barbara screeched. Her eyes reflected the stress and aggravation Mike and I had put her through.<P>"I know you don't think you're going to make Jordan feel guilty with your pitiful eyes and sob story. It doesn't work like that. You cannot lay a guilt trip on Jordan about this. I guarantee you that," Barbara said, pausing and awaiting my response. I didn't say anything because my rising anger had placed a vise on my voice.<P>"We'll pray for Wesley's speedy recovery and send him some flowers, but you are not going to see him. Plus Jordan and I have decided to ground both of you."<P>"Ground me for what? I didn't do anything." I snarled back at Barbara. I didn't see any justification for me being grounded.<P>"Keysha, you tried to help Mike cover up that fact that he'd—"<P>"I wasn't trying to cover up anything." I was about to say more, but I paused for a moment. "You know what. Just forget it. My life is so screwed up it isn't even funny. I just want to be left alone."<P>"Okay. Have it your way. I'll leave you alone for now, but you're still not going to see Wesley," Barbara said in a firm tone as she made her way out the door.<P>"That's what you think," I uttered to myself. "I've been taking care of myself and doing my own thing long before I got here. And right now I'm damn sure not going to allow you to control me and run my life. I'm going to go see Wesley one way or another." A few seconds after Barbara left I got up, closed my door and rested my back against it. I stood there working out a plan in my mind about how I was going to run away to be with Wesley.<P><I>WESLEY</i><P>I heard muffled voices all around me. My brain was in a fog and I felt as if my mind was stuck somewhere between sleep and reality. I wasn't exactly sure where I was or who was around me because I had a difficult time getting my eyes to open. I tried to raise my right arm to get the attention of whoever was in the room, but my limb was stiff and immobile. I raised my left arm and cleared away the sleep debris between the bridge of my nose and the corner of my eyes. That simple act felt unusually difficult and I knew I'd been sleeping for a very long time. I finally opened my eyes, but couldn't focus on anything. Everything was hazy, cloudy and indistinguishable. I became very nervous and feared that somehow I'd become blind and paralyzed. I immediately did a quick body check. I wiggled my toes, moved my left arm, then craned my neck from right to left. Feeling confident I wasn't powerless, I opened my mouth and attempted to speak. It was then I realized my tongue and throat were as dry as desert sand. I tried to say something, but it was too painful.<P>"Wesley?" I heard a voice call to me from what seemed like a great distance away. "Wesley, if you can hear me, squeeze my hand." I felt the warmth of my father's hand in my own.<P>"Wesley," he spoke again. "Squeeze my hand." It seemed to take every bit of strength I had to grip him. <I>What's going on? </i>I thought as I willed myself to focus on the blurry silhouette of my father.<P>"Are you awake?" I squeezed my dad's hand again to signal I was conscious.<P>"The nurse is about to give you some pain medicine," my dad said. <I>Pain medicine? I can't feel a thing as it is. Why do I need pain medicine? </i>I wondered.<P>Then without warning, I felt myself slipping away from reality and drifting back into a very deep sleep.<P>I opened my eyes again. This time I knew I was fully awake because I was able to focus on objects like the bed curtain, the nightstand and the telephone. I slowly craned my neck to the left and saw the blinds on the window were drawn shut. I glanced over to my right and saw my father slumped down in a chair. I attempted to say something, but my lips, tongue and throat were so devoid of natural moisture, I felt as if dry sand had been poured down my throat. I raised my head and glanced down at my body and tried to recall what happened to me. My right arm was in a sling and strapped to my body. My shoulder was burning, as if my skin was ablaze with searing heat. I reached up to touch my shoulder, but it was covered with a bandage. I glanced out the door and noticed a nurse wearing blue scrubs rushing past my bedroom door.<P>"I'm in a hospital," I mumbled as I tried to recall how I'd gotten there.<P>"Hey, champ. I see that you're awake now." My dad had risen to his feet and was now hovering above me. I tried to speak. <BR><BR><i>Continues...</i> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>Decision Time</b> by <b>Earl Sewell</b> Copyright © 2009 by Earl Sewell. Excerpted by permission.<br> All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.