Published by Memoirs
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Copyright ÂŠDanielle Brand, November 2011 First published in England, November 2011 Book jacket design Ray Lipscombe
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Printed in England
Contents Dedication i Acknowledgements ii Preface iv Introduction v
PART ONE - MICHAELA’S STORY Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Every girl’s dream The chancer The ultimate player The dating game A love gone wrong Fighting depression The ladies’ man The strength within
Page 1 Page 14 Page 22 Page 112 Page 138 Page 167 Page 184 Page 198
PART TWO - PLAYING THE PLAYERS Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter
1 2 3 4
Playing the players Winning the game The outcome Making a change Further reading
Page Page Page Page Page
223 232 236 244 249
This book is dedicated to the four most important and inspirational people in my life: My great grandmother, who passed away on the 24th October 2009. My mother, Sandra. My sons, Armari and Odeiro.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank the following people for their loving support in helping me bring this book to life. To my publishers, Chris Newton and Tony Tingle at Memoirs Publishing. Thank you for making my dream come true. It was fantastic working with you both. To my grandma for recognising my talent as a writer and pointing me in the right direction to getting this book published. To my Nan, as you were the most influential person in my life whilst growing up. Although you are not here in person, I know you are watching over me. You will always remain in my heart and you are truly missed. To Cynthia, for all the support and belief you had in me as a person and for treating me like one of your own. To my family and close friends - you know who you are. I thank you for standing by me and going through every emotion I have had on the journey that I have travelled. To my mother Sandra - you are my rock. Without your support and help whenever I have needed it, I donâ€™t know what I would have done without you. I love you. To the Lord above, I thank you for giving me the strength when I was weak and for blessing me with this life I now have. Last of all, to anyone I have not mentioned who has comforted me over the years (or was there to lend a helping hand.) You are still significant in my life and I thank you.
PREFACE This book is in two halves. The first part, Michaela’s story, is based on some of the true-life experiences I have endured over the last fifteen years. I have given all the characters fictitious names, but what happened is real. By writing it in novel form, I hope I have made the experiences more vivid and dealt with them more objectively. Michaela’s story is about a young girl who was living life to the full. She felt good about herself and it gave her a sense of power. She was confident and ambitious, but then she met the wrong man and made the mistake of following her heart, because she thought she was in love and he was capable of loving her back. Her world fell down around her ears. She lost everything, including her love for herself and other people. She became vulnerable and deflated. So much so, she let it happen all over again with another man – and another. After years of struggling to get back on top, Michaela found her way to peace and happiness, but on the way she had to battle depression and listen to criticism from those who thought they had her best interests at heart. The second part, Playing the players, is a woman’s guide to detecting, avoiding and handling players. In it I have tried to convey an understanding of what it’s like to be in the hands of a player, and how to avoid getting drawn into their games. I have discussed self-esteem issues and the hurt and pain you carry with you through your life if you have ever been a victim. I have set out ways of winning the player’s game. Being on top and making yourself number one is very important, but first all a woman has to believe she deserves the best.
INTRODUCTION I believe every woman deserves to be happy. Many of us have experienced difficulties with men or have been rejected or abused by them, making us lose sight of what it is to feel normal again. We feel emotionally drained by their deception, and rather than dealing with the issue we continue to hope that one day things will get better. They don’t. For me, life growing up was very educational, but it was also hard knowing who to trust. The only person I could rely on was my mother, though we did have our ups and downs. What mother and daughter don’t? My father was not around, and I sometimes felt I was looking for that male role model in a man further down the line, because I felt I had missed out on a father’s support towards his child and on fatherly love. My mother did the best job any mother could do, and though I wanted to be, like her, a strong woman bringing up her children on her own, I didn’t want to share her bitter feelings towards men. To her they could not be trusted. Back then I found that view to be very harsh; we all know not every man is the same, but having gone through her experiences, who could blame her? I was aware that there were players around by the time I was 10, though of course the word itself had not been invented yet, mainly as my father had been one himself. I always wanted to make sure that no man was going to hurt me as he had hurt my mum. My awareness of the fact that I had absent brothers and sisters whom I didn’t know because of him made me confused and angry. How could any man have so many children all over the place and not even want to see them afterwards? It was even possible that his children could sleep with one another, not knowing they were related. My mother might not have produced me on her own, but in the
absence of my father it was she who made me into the woman I am today. Having a male role model never seemed that important to me in the beginning because as with every other aspect in life, you can't miss something you never had. I used to imagine what it would be like to have a father. Not having one didn't really bother me until I was surrounded by friends whose fathers played important roles in their lives, dropping them off at school, contributing to their school trips or buying them presents. I had the same love, the same gifts, from my mother, but I wanted them from both my parents. I wanted a mother and a father. I started dating at fifteen and by sixteen I began to be aware of my looks. I took pride with my hair, and started to wear dresses rather than jogging bottoms and T-shirts. I met the first boy I was to fall in love with in 1993, at a martial arts club in my local leisure centre. I was not really interested in boys, so I didnâ€™t give him a glance at first. Although my mother disapproved of our relationship at the time, I am glad he came into my life when he did. He made me feel special and I can remember all the girls at school saying how lucky I was to have him. He was my soulmate and every time I was with him, it was hard to break away from him. My love for him was unconditional, because he respected me as a person. We were together for three years, and in those days it seemed an eternity. It was important that we had the chance to find ourselves. To this day, I wonder what things would have been like if we had stayed together. Would the children I have today been his and would we have married? I do know I would not have gone through all the drama with him that I have had with other men over the years. Through making some changes within myself, I am not the same person he knew back then. I am still bubbly and outgoing, but I have had to adopt a whole new way of thinking for the best, because it took me a very long time to grasp the concept that players were taking
advantage and mistaking my kindness for weakness. I have become more assertive, more stubborn. Sometimes I can be hot headed, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. By my early twenties, I was beginning to fear the idea of growing old and being alone. I did not want to be the stereotypical single mum, struggling to make ends meet, nor did I want to change my boyfriends like my underwear. I just wanted to have a normal life. But what is normal? Most children these days have parents who have separated, and many of those who have been happily married have suffered infidelity at some point. From the age of 22 I was following my dream of studying for a degree, but love carried me into a world which not only broke me as a person but shattered my expectations of what it was like to have a man I could trust. I was pregnant at 25 and living as a single mother in a city far from my family and friends. I lost all my self-confidence and motivation to move on, and only my son kept me going. I came to realise that I had to rely on myself. When I became pregnant with my second son I thought everything was going to be OK, but again I was left with a broken heart, an empty soul and the title of single mother - all because I let another man fill me with hope and promises to get what he wanted from me. One morning at the age of 31, I woke up and realised that my life just wasn’t going to be as easy as I had thought. I had to face reality. That marked the beginning of a new era, and no one was going to stop me. I was going to become an unconventional woman. For me, being unconventional means being ambitious, independent and strong-willed. It means setting your own standards and refusing to lower them. If you can’t abide by the unconventional woman’s rules, you had better step in another direction. She is proud, loving and will not accept the rules that players feel are acceptable. For you to be on her wavelength, you have to prove that you can make an honest woman of her.
Why do some men insist on playing the field? Whatever the reason, itâ€™s better to be on your own than to depend on a man who insists on being a player. In the past I have let men who have hurt me drive me to drastic measures. My retaliation may have caused them the misery they deserved, but it affected me too. Rather than stopping to think and putting my energy into something positive, I allowed myself to get carried away, losing control and self-respect. Being a woman scorned can destroy you as a person, and affect your ability to think logically. Every obstacle I have overcome, every mistake I have made in my life, I can now look on as a blessing. Perhaps they will enable me one day to have all the things I ever dreamed of, through sheer hard work and determination. I was once caught up in a lifestyle that wasnâ€™t good for me, but I removed myself from it and focused on bettering my life, and that is what counts. Since having my two beautiful boys, I give thanks to the Lord above for giving me the chance to be a mother. I may no longer be with either of their fathers or be in a serious relationship, but I am on the road to feeling content. I know there have been times when I have sat at home after my children have gone to bed and I have felt lost or needed adult company, but it is so nice to be in my own environment doing what I want to do without having anyone else to answer to. If I want to go out I go, as long as my mother can babysit. If I need to have a laugh, I pick up my phone and call one of my true friends. I donâ€™t feel the need any more to be with someone who is not good for me, just because I am scared of being on my own. I aim to set my standards high and never lower them. I cannot give someone else the responsibility for my happiness. Every man who has passed through my life over the years has contributed to helping me learn more about myself and this world. Without them, I would not have been able to write this book.
What some men fail to realise is that we are a new generation of women. We don’t all stay at home and become housewives or study our partner’s every requirement. We make our own money, look after our own children, own our own cars, pay our own bills and express our own opinions. I aim to teach my boys to have respect for women, a respect which one day will help them to build their own relationships. I want them to have goals and to strive for whatever it is they want from life. I want them to understand the consequences of wrongdoing – and that includes having children they cannot provide for. I want them to learn that success means making sacrifices, whether it means studying hard instead of always hanging out with their friends, or focusing on a career rather than having children at a young age. I cannot force them to go down the right path, because as they get older they must make their own decisions, but whatever decisions they make I will do my very best to support them, protect them and keep them on the straight and narrow. People say it’s always best to forgive and forget those who have hurt you and in order for me to have found peace, I have done so. Those men tore my world apart, but they did not know the difference between right and wrong at the time. I want women of all ages to believe in themselves. I have tried my best to challenge common thoughts and perceptions. Writing this book was not easy, alongside working five days a week and being a mother to my boys, maintaining my home and having a social life. It put a vast amount of pressure on me, but I was determined to finish it. There were times when I felt exhausted and emotionally drained, but I have felt the fulfilment of what I have done. Some people may judge me for airing my business, but I feel it has been worth it, because I am using my experiences to achieve something. Not only can I now let go of the past I tried to bury without dealing with, I can smile. I wrote this book because I realised that my life experiences made
up a story others might want to read. I feel I could be of some help to women out there who have been in a situation where they have been hurt by men. Dating a player is like fighting a battle, which is the reason for my title, ‘Players versus the unconventional woman’. As women we see certain things and refuse to accept them. With a little help from someone else, we are capable of seeing more. I look back on some words I read just the other day in the book Acts of Faith, by Indira Mahindra: ‘Loving, wanting or being with someone else is absolutely no reason to abuse, neglect or disrespect yourself. In all of our relationships, we can only give what we have. When we have a sense of self, an honest consciousness of our needs, a clear concept of what we want, we can respect ourselves. We set the standard of how we want to be treated, it remains our responsibility to make sure that anyone and everyone who comes into our lives treats us as well or better than we treat ourselves. If we are not honest with ourselves, how can we expect others to be honest with us?’
PART 1 Michaelaâ€™s story
EVERY GIRL’S DREAM
Michaela Thompson was a seventeen-year-old girl studying for three A levels at college after having passed ten GCSEs at secondary school. She found it very different after having attended an all-girls’ school for five years. To her it was a whole new world, full of boys, entertainment and a lifestyle that meant she was hardly ever home. Michaela had always been ambitious. She craved fame. She dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, though she was warned it was a hard industry to get into. She didn’t care what they thought. It was her life, her dream. No one was going to stand in her way – or at least, that’s what she thought. Michaela became aware in her early teens that she was becoming a beautiful woman who would never be short of admirers. After splitting with her first love, Jay, who was two years younger, all that mattered to her was enjoying life to the full and spending time with her friends. She passed her driving test first time and bought a car with help from her mother. By the time she was eighteen she was ready to face the world as an adult. That was when life started to get more complicated. She went out with several men over the next few years. She found she couldn’t believe what they told her. They would lie about their age or their job, or tell her they were single when they weren’t. Sean was the first. They started meeting up every now and again. Michaela had every intention of telling Jay that she had met someone else and that the age difference between them was starting to become a problem, but she just didn’t know how to, so she kept quiet.
Michaela felt Jay couldn’t give her what she needed - a feeling of security, and his own place to put a roof over their heads. But how could he? He was only sixteen and still at school. Though she had love for him, she didn’t feel she was in love with him any more. The relationship felt as if it was going downhill. Jay had been hanging around with one of the girls in his class, which started to make Michaela question his loyalty to her. It had all seemed innocent, but she could tell from the expression on his face when she saw him with her one day that there was more to it than friendship. When she confronted him he admitted that he had had a brief encounter with Samira , but it wasn’t enough to stop him from wanting to be with Michaela. Although she was devastated, she couldn’t blame him. He was young - why wouldn’t he want to spread his wings? At school it had been OK, but with Michaela now finding her feet, it had messed everything up. Maybe the problem could have been avoided if they had spoken to each other more often, but his anger towards her new male friends didn’t help either. He was jealous of one guy in particular - Shane. Shane was from Brixton and had a way with the girls, and even though he and Michaela got on like a house on fire there was nothing more in it than friendship. They would talk over the phone, hang out after classes with all the other students and have fun. It was hard avoiding each other, especially as they were in the same classes. Michaela didn’t want to hurt Jay, but she couldn’t sacrifice her own happiness. So, when the time felt right, she told him. ‘Jay, it has nothing to do with not loving you, I’m just not in love with you any more. The age thing is really starting to annoy me and I’m kind of seeing Sean. Please don’t make this harder for me’ she blurted. ‘But I still want to be with you’ he pleaded. ‘Jay, please trust me, you will find someone else and she may make
you happier than I have. Don’t you think it would be better to spread our wings now and see if there is anyone else out there for us? We haven’t lived life yet and we’re too young to be in a serious relationship. You never know Jay, in a couple of months’ time we may get back together, who knows?’ ‘So you’re just locking me off.’ ‘No! I’m just saying that being in a serious relationship at such a young age is not what I want any more.’ They kept in touch, but it wasn’t the same. Gradually Jay faded into the background. It wouldn’t have been fair to rub any of her doings in his face, especially knowing how he still felt about her. Deep down she knew she had broken his heart. But no matter how much she said sorry, it wouldn’t have been fair to stay with him just for the sake of not hurting his feelings. Sean was everything she wanted in an older guy, and she wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity of having someone she had felt was a secure catch. He had a suave look about him and some people would have said he was more of a pretty boy than anything else, but she didn’t look on that as a bad thing. It was not his fault his parents had blessed him with good looks. He was light-skinned with short hair, with shaved lines in his eyebrows and a pierced nose. What made him so appealing was that he was four years older than her and gave her all the attention she wanted, which made her feel good. With the age gap, she expected everything to be different. She had never been out with someone who had their own flat - it had always been a case of asking parents if it was possible to stay over. Sean had his music system wired up to the speaker in his bathroom, so he could play slow jams and light candles around her while she was having a bath. She had always been in her element at his place. Being from Stratford in East London, he did have his East End ways, something she was not familiar with, having grown up in
West London. But he knew how to treat her. She knew he loved himself, but that didn’t bother her, especially as he seemed to love her too. It was only when she rang Sean’s phone one evening after they had not seen each other for about two weeks that she realised what he was really like. ‘Sean?’ ‘Yeah who’s this?’ Sean responded. ‘It’s Michaela!’ She was surprised that he didn’t seem to recognise her voice. ‘Oh, I’m busy you know,’ Sean said without a care in the world. ‘OK, I was just ringing to say hi. I’ll call you another time.’ ‘I really don’t think that’s going to be a good idea. I’m here with my girl.’ ‘He has a girl? What bloody girl? I swear the dickhead told me he was single’ Michaela was thinking. She put down the phone. Sean could only be telling her it was over. She rang Elliot and broke down in tears. Elliot had warned her about Sean. 'Michaela, I'm so sorry. I didn't even know you and Sean were seeing each other. You never said anything.' 'Why are you sorry? You haven't done anything wrong. I didn't say anything because there was nothing to tell. Besides, I had a feeling you would try and stop me from seeing him.' 'You’re a grown woman, Michaela. At the end of the day you would have seen Sean regardless of what I said. You have to learn from your own mistakes. I know Sean's my cousin, but he has a way of manipulating girls into wanting him.' 'I wish I had said something now.’ 'Don’t beat yourself up about it. What’s done is done. Sean obviously didn't tell me because he knows I know what he's like. Just
count yourself lucky you're out of it, before you got sucked into his lies and fell for him hook line and sinker'. It didn’t take Michaela long to get over it, because nothing had really gone on. She had never been in love with Sean - it was just lust. She felt even worse about breaking up with Jay now, because the grass had obviously not been greener on the other side. Maybe she was being punished for letting go of a decent boy, but that wasn’t going to stop her from living the rest of her life. Before long, she was back to her usual clubbing, studying for her mid-term A levels, trying to complete her Oxford and Cambridge Diploma and causing mischief with her friends. A year and a half later she met Malachi. He used to go for lunch regularly in the restaurant in the local superstore where she worked part time. She had noticed him a couple of times, but feeling very unattractive in her uniform and smelling like a frying pan full of grease, she never wanted to give him the impression she was interested - until the day he finally spoke to her. He was nice looking with a lovely smooth light-skinned complexion. He seemed somewhat nervous, but he was full of smiles, which made Michaela blush. She tried to show that she was not being distracted from her work, but she found it very hard not to smile back. After a few minutes of conversation, they exchanged numbers. He called that evening. ‘Hi, it’s Malachi; do you remember me from earlier? I just wanted to find out if you were free some time?’ he said shyly. Michaela chuckled and pulled the phone close to her face. She really didn’t know what to say. He seemed older than her. She said she would call him back, but in fact she waited until he called her again. About three days later they met up. He seemed a lot more relaxed than when she had first met him, and now that she wasn’t dressed for work he couldn’t take his eyes off her. She was wearing white skinny jeans and a fitted top.
They got on very well - until he told her that he had a child on the way with a girl he was no longer with. How could any man not be involved with a woman who was carrying his child? As they talked, Michaela realised that she knew who the woman was – a girl she’d been at school with called Claire. ‘Is there any possibility you could get back with her?’ Michaela was very curious. ‘I’m going to be there for my child, and that’s it. She is my baby’s mum, but she’s really young. I didn’t realise how young she was until it was too late. I swear she got pregnant to try and trap me.’ ‘It’s not that you were trapped. You should have taken precautions of your own.’ Why did every man she meet have a problem? She needed time to digest this news. To be fair, Malachi hadn’t lied. She could respect him for telling her the truth. The only way Michaela could see things going forward with Malachi was to deal with the situation when the time came. When Malachi’s baby was born, they would both know what to do, but for the time being she wasn’t actually doing anything wrong. If he and the other girl weren’t together, then there wasn’t really a problem to worry about. She wanted to enjoy what time she had with him. She tried to convince herself that his becoming a dad wouldn’t result in them breaking up. The first time Michaela had seen Malachi’s flat, she had been under the impression that he lived with his parents. The flat was spotless. He must be a very tidy guy, which, stupidly enough, excited her. She couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen and cook him a meal just simply give the place a woman’s touch, not that it needed it. ‘So I take it this is your place then?’ Michaela instigated. ‘Yeah, why?’ ‘It’s well nice and very tidy. I’m impressed.’
‘Well thanks. Why is it so hard to believe that a man can keep a tidy home?’ ‘No! It’s just that I don’t know many guys who even have their own places.’ ‘Well, it’s not always like this. I had a quick tidy before you came.’ Malachi chuckled. ‘Do you want anything to eat?’ ‘I’m cool for now, but if you don’t mind, could I get a glass of water?’ ‘Don’t you want anything stronger than that?’ Malachi asked as he walked over towards the kitchen. ‘No thank you, I’m driving. Besides, I wouldn’t want to get drunk and give you the wrong impression.’ Malachi laughed. ‘So what movies do you like? I’ll put on a DVD’ he said. ‘I really don’t mind. As long as it’s not a thriller, I’m cool. Have you got any comedy or action films?’ ‘I’ve got one.’ Malachi headed towards the stack of DVDs piled on the floor. ‘Oh, and before I put the DVD on, there’s something I need to tell you. My first name isn’t Malachi, it’s Jason. Everyone calls me by my middle name because I hate my first name. I really don’t know what my mother was doing when she called me Jason. I hate it.’ ‘I take it you still want me to call you Malachi then?’ ‘You can call me what you want - I answer to both.’ Malachi had treated Michaela with so much respect just by the way he acted towards her. For a while she kept calling him Malachi, but every now and again she would call him by his first name. After a few months, they were seeing each other often. She felt safe around him. If it wasn’t breakfast in bed, he would cook for her, and even though he wasn’t the world’s best cook, he tried. When she stayed over, they would just laze around, chill and watch TV. She loved the fact that she was free from all the house rules at home, but
most of all she could be herself and didn’t have to worry about anyone saying anything. He gave her the feeling that she didn’t want to leave. Young as she was however, she knew something would spoil it all. When the baby was born he might decide to go back to his daughter’s mum for the sake of his child. For Michaela’s birthday that year, they decided to go to Italy for a long weekend. As Malachi’s birthday had been two weeks before, they would make it a joint celebration. They put their money together and split the cost of the trip. Michaela booked a five star hotel in Milan, with a chauffeur-driven car to transport them to and from it. She intended to live her life out there like it was golden. ‘Babe, I’m really looking forward to this trip’ she told him. ‘You’re the first guy I’ve ever gone away with. Maybe it’s a good thing my friends didn’t get back to me about making this a group trip.’ Before Michaela knew it, the day had arrived and she was packed and ready to go. She said her goodbyes to her family and drove off to pick up Malachi for the trip to the airport. She loved flying and was so engrossed talking to him on the plane that the flight was over in no time. Their stay in the five-star hotel was as wonderful as she had hoped, but Malachi was not very well. He suffered a migraine which made him irritable for the first two days. It didn’t stop them touring the city, going out for meals, taking romantic walks along the canal and even trying a night club. Room service made them feel like royalty, and for once Michaela felt she was living in style with someone she really liked. Back in England she drove to Malachi’s flat. But then, as he went into the building, he signalled to her to wait downstairs. That was when Michaela knew something was wrong. When did he ever make her wait outside? Furious, she started to head back towards her car.
‘Who the hell is he leaving outside? I’m no bitch and I’m not going to be treated like one,’ she muttered under her breath. ‘Babe, where are you going? Come on, it’s cool’ Malachi called. ‘I’m sorry, I just had to check first who was in my flat.’ Why would anyone be in the flat – and who? And what would he have done if there had been someone there? In fact, she was welcomed by his older sister Cher and her two kids. Cher was lovely, so full of character, and she and Michaela got on like a house on fire. Cher spoke of her love for her brother and had a few stories to tell about Malachi as a youngster. Michaela really wanted to ask her whether she knew if anything had been still going on with Claire and Malachi, but she just couldn’t find the words to put it nicely without putting her nose into his business. ‘So how you feel about being an aunty then? Michaela was trying to pry and get some information. ‘Oh, so you know?’ ‘Yeah, Mal told me.’ ‘Well the fact that I’m going to be an aunty excites me, I’m just not sure about the girl that’s having the baby, that’s all.’ Michaela wanted to dig for more information, but Malachi was looking at her and she didn’t want to seem too bothered, so she left it at that. She didn’t stay very long, as she had her unpacking to do, and more importantly some studying to catch up on. Michaela’s birthday came and the fact that she had to go to college was not on the top of her list, but she knew she had to. Malachi had promised her he would call, but she couldn’t even get hold of him. Then at lunchtime she got a text. He was so sorry, but he had been in the hospital all night and all morning for the birth of his daughter. Michaela’s heart sank. The time had finally arrived, and she was going to have to deal with the fact that she was no longer a priority. So she just congratulated him and told him it was OK, and that he needed to stay where he was.
Deep down she was confused, because she hadn’t realised she was going to feel that way. She didn’t want to separate the bond with his child, nor did she want to be the other girl, the one who had prevented a family from being together. She started to think of ways to end it, but she didn’t know how to. To be honest she really didn’t want to. And what would he have thought of her, breaking it off over the phone or in a text - that was something little girls did. But she knew she wouldn’t have been able to face him to say anything in person. Later that evening her friend Tanya came round for a little celebration. She only lived across the road. They had a drink up in her bedroom at her grandparent’s house, and as always with the two of them, their idea of celebrating was a private rave. The windows were soon steamed up. ‘Open the window Tan, I can’t breathe’ she said. ‘I think we have taken the dancing too far this time.’ ‘Damn, why am I sweating like this?’ Tanya replied. ‘I swear we both look like we’ve been to the gym.’ She wiped her forehead with a tissue. Michaela had been trying to forget the sad feelings she had been having and enjoy what was left of her birthday. Then the doorbell went. It was Malachi and his friend Gary. ‘Babe, what are you doing here? I thought you were at the hospital with your baby’s mum?’ ‘Visiting hours over now. It’s your birthday, so I really wanted to see you.’ ‘Sorry I’m being so rude. Come in, come in. Are you all right Gary? Go upstairs to my room. Tanya and I are having little party on our own.’ All Michaela wanted to do was cry. The alcohol had made her emotional and she was not a drinker, so she felt quite tipsy. Even so, when Malachi leaned over to kiss her, she stiffened. She still had the new baby lurking at the back of her mind. Malachi making the effort to see her made it harder to think about breaking.
Things started to slow down afterwards, but it wasn’t as if she hadn’t expected it. He had to think about his child, and who was she to stop him? What began to anger her were the text messages and voicemails left on her own phone by Claire. She started to believe that there must be more to their relationship. No girl was going to call another girl’s phone continuously unless he was her man. Perhaps she believed they were still an item. After a few weeks she had had enough of Malachi’s absences, so she drove down to his workplace and confronted him. She told him to warn his baby’s mum to stop calling her phone. When he tried to tell her it wasn’t Claire, she played the voicemails to him. He looked as if he had been slapped in the face. That was when Michaela knew Malachi had been lying. What made it so ridiculous was that he tried to convince her that he really liked her and that he never intended to hurt anyone. It wasn’t long before the split came. She said goodbye and drove off down the road with tears streaming down her face. What had she done to deserve his dishonesty? He had been straight about the baby, so why couldn’t he have been straight about everything else? With Valentine’s Day round the corner, she was dreading being on her own again. Months went by and she still thought of Malachi. No matter how much she tried to put him out of her mind, he just kept popping up. The following Christmas she sent him a card, not because she wanted him back, but because she felt she had found it in her heart to forgive him. There was no reply, but it didn’t really matter, because what was really bugging her was the issue with Claire. If ever they turned up to the same rave, there was always hostility between them, but it wasn’t even on her behalf. On a few occasions Claire would give her dirty looks and they would exchange words, but it wasn’t anything she couldn’t handle.
She heard Claire trying to tell one of her friends something at one point, knowing that she would hear. She walked over to her. ‘I really would like to know what your problem is?’ Michaela said. ‘You’re the problem, bitch! Trying to take a girl’s man like you can’t find your own.’ ‘Your man was looking at me, and anyway I gave him back to you. I don’t fight over any man, so you’re welcome to him.’ They were right in each other’s faces and Michaela was feeling the need to punch her rival, but she persuaded herself to let it go. ‘I really haven’t got time for you. You’re a little girl to me. Why don’t you go and study how to look after your child or go and keep an eye on your man?’ Michaela couldn’t fault the girl for being angry, but at the same time she was blaming the wrong person. She should have been confronting Malachi. He was the one who had deceived her. Michaela could have avoided the situation blowing out of proportion by finishing with Malachi in the first place, but she wanted to hang on to him. There was no need for the constant drama now that they were finished. He still had his woman, his daughter, his family life, but what did she have? A broken heart, and no man. For months Michaela focused on her studies. She was doing a BTEC Foundation course in Art and Design, which involved a trip around Europe as part of her research for one of her assignments. Her class visited Barcelona, where they saw the Picasso Museum in the Ribera Gothic Quarter and the outstanding Barcelona Contemporary Art Gallery in El Raval. Their next destination was Amsterdam. The Van Gogh museum featured regular exhibitions highlighting art toward the end of the 19th Century and the Rijksmuseum exhibited paintings from the Netherlands' 17th-century Golden Age by Rembrandt. You could also find works from the Middle Ages and the 18th and 19th centuries. They were able to see Anne Frank’s house.
The trip was an amazing, educational insight into the art world. They were also able to enjoy some of the night life, when they were not working. It was about four months before Malachi was completely out of Michaela’s system. She never planned on meeting anyone else any time soon; she was at that point where she couldn’t be bothered with the hassle. That’s when she met Raymond.
Raymond was the new guy at Michaela’s local superstore, working in the music and entertainment department. He had a dark chocolate complexion, with smooth skin and a cheeky look. He made her laugh with his Eddie Murphy chuckle, and though he seemed shy in front of other people she knew there must be another side to him. He had a good heart deep down, but was let down by a childlike mentality; with him, everything was a big joke. When he was actually being serious, you could never tell whether he was still being facetious. The way he flirted with other girls spoke for itself. Raymond was one for exploring new things. However, their first date was to the cinema, which Michaela thoroughly enjoyed. Being walked home by a perfect gentleman was a bonus. The fact that he came back to her house afterwards and didn’t try anything impressed her. They began to spend a vast amount of time with each other and became close. Michaela loved it when Raymond took her out for romantic walks in the evenings or went out for something to eat. Occasionally they would venture out on little excursions. It didn't matter where to, or how far, they just wanted to be together. They enjoyed each other’s company and loved doing things on the spur of the moment. One evening they decided to drive to Harrow on the Hill. Michaela felt the fresh breeze hit her face, although it wasn't cold enough to make her shiver. Raymond was in high spirits and she could sense he was excited, but she didn’t know why.
'I want to show you something. Follow me' Raymond said. 'Follow you where? It's getting dark and I hate not knowing where I'm going.' Raymond took Michaela's hand and led her up a steep hill. Michaela was nervous. She was curious about what Raymond had planned, but she trusted him. 'Raymond, I'm getting a little scared now. We’re going into a forest and I can see a graveyard. Please tell me why you’re bringing me up here?' 'Don't be scared Michaela. I wouldn't do anything to hurt you. Just close your eyes and be patient.' He put his arm around her, and she felt safe, though her heart was racing. They had been walking on grass, but now she could feel gravel and pebbles beneath her feet. 'Open your eyes' said Raymond. She was surrounded by the most perfect view. It appeared they were standing on a high hill. The night sky twinkled with stars. In the distance the houses looked like tiny bright dots. They sat down silently and watched the sunset together. Within four months, Michaela and Raymond were pretty much a couple. If he needed Michaela’s assistance or help with anything, she was quick to go. One morning in the early hours, Michaela was woken by the sound of her mobile ringing. ‘Hello?’ she said in a sleepy voice. ‘Michaela, I’m really sorry to bother you at this time. I know it’s late, but I couldn’t think of anyone else to call.’ She sat up in bed, trying to wipe the sleep from her eyes. The clock read 2 am. ‘I was having such a good sleep’ she said. ‘This had better be urgent.’
‘I’ve lost my wallet. My friends and I are in the city and we have no way of getting home.’ Raymond said in a frantic voice. ‘Where are you?’ Michaela asked. ‘Outside a night club off Regent Street’ he replied. Being the kind-hearted person she was, Michaela got out of her bed, quickly freshened up and drove to the city. It didn’t take long, as the streets were quiet, and she was there before they knew it. When she saw Raymond, two girls were standing with him. One of them was his best friend Abena. ‘Thank you so much, Mich,’ Raymond said, hugging her. ‘It’s ok, but what happened? How did you lose your wallet?’ He said he thought someone had taken it, but he wasn’t sure. After all the alcohol he had drunk, his memory was a little blurred. Maybe he had just lost it. ‘Well, all I can say is, you’re lucky my phone was on.’ They all got into the car and she turned up the radio and headed for North West London. Back home in bed she wondered if Raymond had been up to any mischief that night, but really and truly she couldn’t be bothered to think about it. Michaela and Raymond dated for eight months. She couldn’t resist his charisma. He made her find the sense of adventure within herself. He gave her an interest in hip hop music, something he thoroughly enjoyed. Michaela only found out that he was dating someone else because one night he accidentally called her Stacey. It explained why he tended to blow hot and cold every now and then. He wasn’t one to just pick up the phone, so she always felt she was chasing him. He couldn’t tell her why he had been seeing two women at the same time. He just tried to reassure her that he wasn’t using her. He really did like her, he explained; it was just that he had fallen into a situation he couldn’t get out of, and being the person he was he had stuck to the easy option of keeping his mouth shut.
The drama didn’t end there though. Shortly after she ended the relationship, Raymond’s friend Lee came to tell Michaela at work that Raymond had also been seeing another girl Michaela had previously seen at his flat. ‘So have you and Ray finished for real?’ Lee questioned. ‘Yeah, but it’s not the end of the world. There’s plenty more fish in the sea and all that’ Michaela replied, not wanting to give him any details. ‘Well, you did know he was seeing China as well as Stacey while he was seeing you?’ ‘What? You’re joking!’ ‘Not at all. He’s been bragging to our friends how he had you so hooked on him that you were too blind to suspect anything. He said you nearly did one time, but he convinced you otherwise with his sweet words.’ ‘OK, so that’s what he’s up to. Watch when I get my hands on him. Trust me, he won’t be feeling sweet when I’ve finished with him.’ Lee left looking a bit concerned, but at the end of the day he had himself to blame. If he hadn’t wanted any repercussions, he should have kept his mouth shut. Lee seemed to know too much about what had gone on in their relationship, so she knew Ray had been discussing their business with him. She could feel the anger building inside her body. There was immense pressure in her head and she could feel tears trying to come out. But she was still at work, so she had to get through the next three hours. She knew who China must be. Michaela and her friend Efia had once driven up to Raymond’s university in Kent to take him his keys, and glimpsed a girl quickly disappearing into his bedroom. ‘Who the hell is that?’ Michaela had angrily asked, dropping the keys to the floor.
‘That’s my friend China.’ ‘Well why did she run into your room as soon as she saw us?’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘What do I mean? Please don’t make me start in here, because I will embarrass you in front of your flatmates. What exactly are you playing at, Raymond?’ ‘I’m not up to anything Michaela, why do you have to be so suspicious? Can’t I have friends come round and chill with me?’ ‘She didn’t look very innocent.’ Efia then jumped in. ‘He’s lying Michaela, look at the expression on his face! Tell your friend to come out here and face the music. What is she hiding for? If she has nothing to hide, she needs to have some manners and come say hello.’ China didn’t come out. In the end, Michaela and Efia just left. She put it in the back of her mind for the time being, although it was eating away at her for many days after. Now she knew she had been right all along. She wasn’t going to let Raymond get away with it. He was going to pay for what he had done. He had made her look like a fool and was no doubt laughing behind her back, thinking that he had got away with it. That same day, she rang Tanya to plan her revenge. ‘Tanya, what are you doing right now?’ ‘Nothing, why?’ ‘I really need your support with something.’ Michaela explained what had happened and what she was planning, and Tanya was more than willing to participate. They drove up to Raymond’s flat to confront him. Walking up the stairs seemed to take for ever, but knowing what she was about to do gave her extra energy. As soon as Raymond opened the door, she gave him a right hook across his face, then a lower kick to the groin, which caught him unawares. Raymond
struggled in bewilderment to dodge her punches. He tried to retreat and close the door, but Michaela wasn’t giving him any opportunity to get away. She was too angry and hurt. Tanya didn’t need to give her any help. Two days later, word had it that Raymond was still bragging to everyone and trying to make out Michaela didn’t mean anything to him. Now she was determined to destroy him. He only had himself to blame. Michaela sat at her computer typing and deleting until she had come up with the right text for the leaflet she was going to distribute. It read: ‘Raymond Fitzgerald from Block 12, flat 2 is a cheating, dirty dog who thinks he has got game. To all the girls who have been with him or want to be with him, beware, because he is a walking STD piece of shit.’ Raymond had never given her any sexual infections, but she didn’t care. She knew the whole idea was immature, but it amused her. If Raymond wanted a reputation with the ladies, she was going to give him one. Soon he would realise that he had cheated on the wrong girl. She called Tanya, and explained the risk they would be taking if they got caught by security on the campus cameras. She could have made the journey on her own, but it would be quicker with the two of them. Tanya backed her friend all the way. They agreed to meet in 20 minutes. She printed 300 leaflets and at midnight, Michaela and Tanya drove to Kent again and posted one through every door on the campus site, ducking the security cameras. They knew that if they got caught they would be in serious trouble. However Michaela’s adrenaline was running so fast that she couldn’t even think straight. She was a woman scorned, and she wanted revenge. Anyone would have thought she had better things to do with her time than run around late at night causing mayhem, but the idea of Raymond thinking he was the man getting all the attention from girls was enough to make her sick.
woman Michaela Thompson was a confident, attractive, ambitious young woman with a busy social life and a circle of devoted friends. After studying for a college diploma, she had big plans to set up her own business. Her life was going just fine - until she started getting involved with the wrong kind of men. Every guy who came her way seemed to be a ‘player’ – charming and irresistible, but willing to lie and cheat on her at the flick of a skirt. They all seemed to have girlfriends they hadn’t told her about, even illegitimate children. They stole her money and ‘borrowed’ her cars. Two of them left her pregnant with sons she had to raise on her own. The lying, the deceit and the abandonment wore down Michaela’s confidence and self-esteem to the point where she felt she couldn’t trust anyone in the world but her children and herself. Finally she managed to use the lessons of her past to move on and rebuild her life. Slowly she became her old self again. From now on she would set her own standards and refuse to get involved with any man who didn’t respect them.
About the author Danielle Brand was born in 1978 in West London and went on to technical college after leaving school. At the age of 24 she graduated from Britain's top fashion school, Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, with a BA Honours in Fashion Print. In 2010, after working in a fashion store as a sales assistant for some years, she used her knowledge of the clothing industry to set up her own children’s fashion label, Debrand Clothing, which creates fashions for children from birth to 14. Players and the Unconventional Woman is closely based on her life and the lessons she has learned from it.
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Lying and deceit wore down Michaela’s self-esteem to the point where she couldn’t trust anyone. Every guy who came her way was a ‘player’ –...