SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘Mother’

Betty2flatFrom ‘Mother’:

Jay turned in search of Rob again and instead his eyes met Betty’s. She was alone, so he went to her.

“You’re such a man,” she said when he was directly in front of her.

“Thank you?”

Betty laughed. “No, I mean you were standing there looking so oppressed for having to be here at this party in your honor. It’s funny.”

Jay grinned. “Yeah. This isn’t my thing.”

“What is your thing?” She let her head fall to one side.

Tonight she was in a white lace dress with long sleeves and wore small pearl earrings. Her makeup was scant, but she was wearing a very soft, pleasant scent that made Jay want to inhale deeply.

“Being outside, taking pictures, hanging out at home with my wife. I’m a simple kind of guy that way.”

“And your wife …” Betty shook her head. “She’s far from simple. She’s … stunning.”

“Thank you. I like her too.”

For a few beats, they both said nothing.

“So …” Jay broke the long silence. “Braxton …” He lowered his voice and mimicked her date’s baritone.

Betty smothered a giggle. “Yes. He’s very …”

“Braxton,” Jay supplied.

“It’s only our first date. I can’t decide whether there’ll be a second.”

“There shouldn’t be,” Jay said.

Betty’s eyebrows lifted. “Oh, is that right? And why not?”

“Because he left you all alone,” Jay said. “To be preyed on by other men.”

Betty stared at him, her smile slipping from her face. “But surely I’m safe with you,” she said.

Before he could formulate his response, there was a hand on Jay’s arm, the soft hold immediately familiar.

“Jay, Chloe and I need you over here for a moment,” Keisha said, gently tugging.

“Oh. Yeah … I’ll see you later, Betty.”

She nodded, and smiled at Keisha before turning away.

“Chloe wants to know whether you want to say something,” Keisha said as they walked. “Like give a toast or anything during dinner. I told her I don’t want to, so if you don’t …”

“Yeah, I’ll give a toast to my wife. Of course I will,” Jay said. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that Rob had arrived with his wife Allison.

“You will?”

Keisha sounded so surprised he stopped walking and looked at her. She gazed up at him, her large doe-eyes liquid and full of feeling.

“Baby,” he said, putting a hand at the nape of her neck and pulling her closer. “C’mere.”

Keisha leaned into his chest. He didn’t know what else to say. Sometimes he was so focused on how much he loved her, he forgot how much she loved him. He’d never really doubted it. Even with the tough things they’d been through, the tough time they were having now over this baby business, he didn’t doubt for a moment that Keisha loved him.

She loved him like a flower turning toward the sun—naturally, instinctively and without reason. Of all the dumb-ass things they would each say and do to each other—and had—that truth remained immutable: she loved him, and he damn sure loved her back.

“So I can tell her that. You’re sure?” she asked, looking up at him. “That you want to give a toast.”

“Yeah. You want to go ahead and do that? Tell her I said it’s fine. It’s just that …” He pointed in Rob’s direction. “I got something I gotta take care of right away.”

“Okay.” Keisha moved out of his arms and gave him one last smile, her head falling back.

Recognizing that look, Jay absentmindedly leaned in to receive her kiss just before she headed off to find Chloe. When he raised his head, looking in Rob’s direction once again, he instead met Betty’s gaze. She quickly smiled at him, and took a sip of her wine. It was a wry smile, not a seductive or inviting one; but it seemed to be saying something to him, sending Jay a message that he knew he was better off not receiving.

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COMING DECEMBER 15th: ‘MOTHER’

The final part of the trilogy, ‘Mistress’, ‘Wife’, ‘Mother’ …

Keisha final excerpt

Excerpt:

A couple months after Jay and Keisha were married, when the Friday lunches were still a new thing, Chloe suggested they go somewhere “nice” for lunch and that Keisha should dress up. She’d found someone to babysit Gabby for the afternoon and said she was eager to get out of ‘Mommy-mode” so Keisha was happy to indulge her. But then they’d both shown up in dramatically different outfits. Comically different, in fact.

Keisha had worn high heels and very skinny jeans with a similarly close-fitting blouse. Dramatically made up with penciled-in brows and a dark lip-stain, she thought she looked pretty damn fierce when she left the house. Chloe on the other hand wore khakis and loafers; with a pink button-down and a dark brown fitted blazer, the look was tasteful, minimalist. Barely wearing lipstick and a little blush, her hair was tied back in a chaste knot and she looked like she was ready to lunch at a country club.

As she surveyed herself in the ladies room mirror later that afternoon, Keisha reflected that she on the other hand looked like someone trying to look sophisticated rather than someone who truly was. A phrase as simple as “dress up” meant completely different things to her than it had to Chloe. Keisha thought, as she looked at her reflection, that she looked like … trash.

Back home, she found Jay, reclining on their sofa having left the store early to work out and kick back for a Friday night in. When he looked up to ask how the afternoon date had gone, all Keisha could do was lift his arm, wedge herself in next to him, bury her face in his still damp chest and cry, hot and silent tears. He’d asked her over and over what was wrong, but she couldn’t even form the right words to explain, only finding the energy to reassure him that his sister hadn’t been mean to her or anything. Eventually, he’d stopped asking; and she finally stopped crying, but only once Jay had spent long minutes kissing her forehead, stroking her back and saying, “shh, baby, shh, shh.”

COMING FROM NIA FORRESTER

comeup cover absolute final (1)THE COME UP

Jamal Turner is near the top of his game. Widely-known as the trusted right-hand man to music mogul Chris Scaife, he’s poised to become chief operating officer of his friend and mentor’s international recording conglomerate. But while his career prospects have never been better, Jamal is still plagued by the remnants of his humble beginnings, threatening to pull him back down just as he’s on the come up.

Makayla Hughes knows who she is and where she comes from, and she flat out refuses to allow working in the high-powered recording industry to change her. Just a simple girl from the South Bronx, she doesn’t care who knows it. But when she’s thrown into close quarters, working on a project with the notorious Jamal Turner, she begins to wonder whether her determination to ‘keep it real’ is also keeping her world very, very small.

Jamal is drawn to Makayla, but he can’t let the man he used to be stand in the way of the man he’s becoming. There’s no doubt she fits into the life Jamal used to have, but what’s not as clear is whether she belongs in the life he wants.


Mother cover mistress FINALMOTHER

The final part of the ‘Mistress’ Trilogy.

Married to Jayson Holmes, and managing school, an emerging interest in a fashion career, extended family and new friends, Keisha’s life has changed well beyond anything she ever imagined. But Jayson has even more changes on his mind–he wants to be a father.

But how can Keisha, who never believed she would even be a wife, come to terms with an even more challenging role? Will she rise to the occasion and embrace the joy, fear and uncertainty of motherhood? Or will she allow old habits–and old friends–to threaten the fragile peace she’s finally found?

SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘MOTHER’

Mother promo1From ‘MOTHER’:

Watching as she scooped up her hair and fastened it at her nape while opening the container of Singapore rice noodles, Jay smiled at his wife’s perfect double-cantaloupe ass. Wife. He rarely thought of her that way. She was still his girl—in all senses of the word, that was the way Jay tended to see her, something less than a grown woman, his homegirl, his lover, holding it down, and putting it down. His girl.

Walking directly into her backside, Jay pressed Keisha into the kitchen counter, loving the way she instinctively let her head fall to one side so he could kiss her shoulder and the length of her neck. Even as he did that, Keisha reached for the chopsticks and filled her mouth with the curried noodles.

“You don’t want to heat that up?” Jay asked against her skin.

“Nope. Too hungry. Too tired,” Keisha said, over a mouthful.

“Too tired, huh?” Jay reached around in front of her and slid his hand down into the front of her underwear.

“Uh huh.” Keisha widened her stance, making way for him and pressing backward a little.

She ate as he stroked her, eating and moaning, moaning and chewing. Jay laughed into her hair.

“You want to eat after, maybe?” he suggested.

“No. I’m going to sleep right after. So we have to multi-task.”

“Uh uh. I need your undivided attention.”

Jay reached around and took the chopsticks from between her fingers, dropping them on the counter and unzipping himself. He dropped his jeans and underwear only as low as was absolutely necessary and crouched slightly, angling so he could press himself between Keisha’s legs. Arching her back, she gave a sudden gasp as he entered her. She was already wet. It didn’t take much with them.

“You’re so full of it,” Keisha teased. “All you need is for me to open my legs and you’re good.”

“Nah,” Jay said tonguing the back of her neck and wrapping an arm about her waist. “I don’t just need your body. I want your mind … your … soul.”

Keisha gasped as he gave her a deep upward thrust. “You have all that,” she said.

You have me.

That was what she’d said to him one night when Jay had gotten into his head the dumb idea that he needed to take her out for a night on the town in the city. They’d been married only a few months, and he’d been concerned about her adjustment to small town life. The club excursion was a disaster. The minute she’d come downstairs in that halter top and tight jeans looking the way she looked when she dressed up, Jay should have torpedoed the whole plan.

As any idiot could have predicted, once they got there, dudes kept hitting on her. If Jay was more than five feet away, it only took a second and they descended like hyenas. He never had to step in because Keisha immediately rejected all advances, proudly displaying her simple gold wedding band. But it still bothered him in a way that was much more pronounced than it had before they were married.

Jay thought he’d contained his discomfort pretty well, and planned to hang in there for the rest of the miserable evening, not wanting to ruin Keisha’s fun with his irrationality. But before long, she was the one who was suggesting they go home.

In the truck, just as they’d pulled onto West Side Highway, she grabbed his arm without turning to look at him.

I don’t need all that anymore, she said, her voice loud in the silent cab. Nightclubs and parties and stuff? I don’t need it. I’d much rather stay at home with you.

And Jay had glanced at her then, wanting to see her eyes and assure himself of her sincerity. She’d smiled at him, and nodded.

Really, she said. And as for all those fools who try to talk to me? Jay, you don’t never have to worry about that. You have me. You have me.

SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘Mother’

 

Mother cover mistress FINAL

From ‘MOTHER’ coming Summer 2014

No.”

The word was out before Keisha could stop it. Before she’d even completely thought it. And from the look on Jayson’s face, it surprised him, too.

“No?”

“I mean …”

“You don’t want to?”

“I meant not now,” Keisha amended. “Just not now, that’s all.”

Ignoring the hints had been simple enough, especially since she was sure he couldn’t possibly be serious. They’d been married less than a year, and things were still up in the air, with his new business, her new career.

“I don’t mean now either,” Jay said. “I meant maybe in a year or so. But you’re taking those shots and that’s for like, three months, right? What if we decide to do it sooner?”

And so there it was.

He might say he didn’t want babies now. He might think he didn’t want babies now. But once she wasn’t taking her Depo shots, all bets would be off.

Keisha lifted her eyes from her plate and focused instead on her husband. Standing in front of the fridge, reaching in for orange juice turning to pour them both glasses, he had no clue that he’d just dropped an atom bomb.

Having babies was not something Keisha was willing to contemplate. They were something she hadn’t been forced to discuss before they were married and she’d been operating under the vain and foolish hope that somehow, she could avoid the subject for, say, the next thirty or more years ‘til she was too old to have them. But that wasn’t true either, because even before the ‘I do’s’ Jay had mentioned wanting sons and she’d easily avoided talking about it because neither of them had been confident about taking care of themselves let alone children.

“Tea or a cappuccino?”

Jay had moved on to making the hot breakfast beverages. Following their Saturday morning routine of eating early at their kitchen table and talking about their week, Keisha was going with him to the store.

Almost a year ago, Jay had acquired a small photo business in town, a modest place that was barely enough for him to eke out a living at. But now it was taking off, because he’d turned it into a photo studio where he took family portraits and vanity shots, booked events and did natural light photography of engaged couples and women seeking glamorous headshots for dating sites.

“Cappuccino.”

It was the only way Keisha was able to have caffeine—with frothy, warm milk that almost masked the taste. Jay had gotten her a machine for her twenty-sixth birthday, his attempt at a joke about her past as a barista in a Brooklyn coffee shop. The real gift had been four days in South Beach, a belated honeymoon in a resort where all their needs were taken care of from sun up to sundown. Hands down, those days had been the happiest of Keisha’s life—just her and her man, thinking about no one and nothing else, wrapped up in the newness of being married, and in each other. The way it was supposed to be.

After eleven months of marriage, Jayson Holmes was still the most incredible stroke of luck to have happened to her in her entire life. Every day began with her staring at him, and wondering at the cosmic mistake had led to her finding him, and having him fall in love with her, of all the women in the world who might have had him.

“So what d’you think?” Jay asked looking over his shoulder. “You stop taking the shots and then take the Pill instead so that if we want to get pregnant sooner, it’ll only be a month before we can try for real.”

“I don’t know,” Keisha said, shoveling a piece of toast in her mouth to avoid giving a full answer.

“Or,” Jay said, “we could just … roll the dice.”

At that, Keisha almost choked on her bread. She swallowed hard, now eager to get some words out, because that ridiculous suggestion could not go unanswered.

“We’re nowhere near ready for something like that. Your business just got off the ground, I’m going to …”

“But you’re assuming it would happen right away. Sometimes it takes a while. And I read that when you’ve been on the shots, it sometimes takes longer.”

“Where have you been reading stuff like that?”

“The internet. I looked it up.”

He’d been looking up stuff about going off birth control and conception times? Holy shit.