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.”

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.

SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘Wife’

KeishamorningKeisha loved snow.

It hadn’t stopped since late the previous afternoon, coming down in determined curtains, making it difficult to see even the buildings across the street. Around six p.m., the storm almost seemed to be losing strength, though the sky remained gray, and Jay had gone out to clean off his truck, preparing to get on the road so he wouldn’t have too bad a time of it later. Keisha remained inside, crossing her fingers and toes, hoping for more snowfall. Her wish was mercifully granted, and Jay returned only a half hour later when a new round made it impossible for him to remove snow as quickly as it took for the truck to become covered once again.

And so their evening had been spent watching television, eating take-out from one intrepid pizza place that was still doing deliveries, and playing cards. Keisha remained on alert, waiting for him to say he had to at least try to get home. But she knew he’d given up when around eight-thirty he took off his boots and shrugged his long-sleeved shirt over his head, leaving only his undershirt, and tormenting her with the view of his strong, tattooed arms and hard, broad chest.

Watching three movies one after the other, it was almost two in the morning when Jay finally helped her pull the sofa-bed back out, and Keisha showered and changed into a long tank, for sleep. Jay showered as well, emerged from the bathroom with a towel wrapped about his waist, apologizing for having to sleep naked, because he couldn’t put on what he called “stale drawers” after getting clean. He kept the towel on while he watched yet another movie, lying atop the covers while Keisha snuggled beneath them, trying to stay awake in case he decided he wanted to touch her.

She didn’t know what time it was when she finally fell asleep but it was very late, the snow was still falling and Jay still hadn’t touched her.

As the sun rose in the horizon now, casting a pale light into the room, Keisha was up with it.

Next to her under the covers, Jay slept on. All night he had remained carefully on one side of the bed, his back turned to her. Keisha knew because she woke intermittently, tired though she was, just to make sure he was still there. But now he was facing her. She liked this new haircut, the Mohawk that faded so his hair was low on both sides, but peaking in the center.

Wanting more than anything to lie there and stare at him, Keisha realized her bladder had other plans and slid out to go pee. She hoped he would remain asleep while she was gone, and stay asleep for many more hours. If he did, she wouldn’t wake him, and when he got up she would use as an excuse the fact that he had been up late, and she didn’t want him to be too tired to drive back upstate in bad weather.

But no such luck. As she was brushing her teeth, she heard the television come on in the other room, and the sound of changing channels.

“You up?” she called, trying to sound less disappointed than she felt.

“Yup,” Jay’s voice was hoarse. “Hurry up in there unless you want me to wet your bed, or piss in your kitchen sink.”

“God, Jay that’s disgusting.” Keisha emerged from the bathroom and almost swallowed her tongue.

Overnight, Jay appeared to have abandoned his modesty and was standing in the middle of her studio apartment stark naked, the indisputable evidence of his manhood straining to point due north, but bowing under its own weight.

“Sorry,” he said, putting down the TV remote and pushing past her. “Gotta go.”

Keisha stood stock still for a moment, trying to regain some semblance of composure.

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SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘Wife’

MarcuspromoAThe building was quiet. As she made her way down to the ground floor, the chill seemed to enter Keisha’s very bones. Supposedly, it got slightly warmer once it snowed, but it sure didn’t feel like it.

“Hey, Miss Crawford, what you doin’ up so early?”

Keisha stiffened at the sound of the familiar voice, and the sardonic way in which, ‘Miss Crawford’ had been pronounced.

Marcus lived on the third floor. Tall, and brown-skinned with a trim, slender physique and a suave manner, he’d moved in a few months after Keisha had. All the women in the building, most of them married Moms, had gossiped about how much he looked like Blair Underwood. He looked nothing like Blair Underwood, but Keisha understood the comparison—he had the same kind of cool, that same quiet charm. And he exercised that charm very liberally, though usually not on her. With her, he was sarcastic.

Right now, he was standing at the mailboxes, wearing a suit, jacket in hand, shirt unbuttoned at the neck, tie hanging open. He’d clearly spent the night elsewhere and was just making it back. Smiling at Keisha, he looked her over from head to toe, the way he always did when he saw her, like he could see through her clothes, like he could see through her.

“Good morning,” she said. Glancing at him, she paused at the door to pull on her knit hat.

“Better pull that zipper all the way up to the neck as well,” he cautioned. “That Hudson Hawk is whipping up out there like nobody’s business.”

Keisha looked at him. Her father, Rey, called it that as well—the Hudson Hawk—the wind that came off the Hudson River during the cold months and made New York feel like Little Antarctica on the worst days.

“I’m just going across the street,” she said. “I think I’ll make it.”

“I’m sure you will,” Marcus said. “I got a feeling about you. That you’ve survived a lot worse.”

Marcus said things like this all the time. Like he knew her or something. It was among the many reasons Keisha didn’t like him. He looked at her, talked to her like he knew. Occasionally she wondered whether he’d heard something. But in New York, girls with pasts like hers were a dime a dozen, so she was probably being paranoid. Most of the time, she ignored Marcus’ tone if she couldn’t avoid him altogether.

Janine, who lived on the top floor, told her Marcus was a promoter or something like that. Wasn’t everybody? New York was positively overflowing with people who wanted to sing, dance, act, promote or manage celebrity clients. That was a world Keisha had tasted, and her memories of it were quite bitter.

“I didn’t see your man’s truck out there,” Marcus continued. “Snow kept him away? Wouldn’t keep me away.”

A few times—a few times too many for Keisha’s taste—she’d run into Marcus as she was entering or leaving her building with Jay and the two men had exchanged greetings the way men do. During those exchanges Marcus never looked at her the way he did when he ran into her alone. Probably because he worried that if he did, Jay would kick his ass.

“He’s not my man,” Keisha said.

As much as she didn’t like him, she always allowed herself to be dragged into these little verbal sparring matches with dude for some reason. And the minute she said it, she regretted telling him that she and Jay weren’t involved like that. Her new habit of telling the truth was often inconvenient.

“Is he gay?”

“No,” Keisha almost laughed. “He’s not gay. But he’s just not my …”

“Yeah? Good to know,” Marcus started up the stairs toward his floor. “Y’all look like a couple in a Macy’s ad, so naturally I thought … Anyway, good to know, Miss Crawford.”

Release Day for ‘Wife’ is here!

Wife cover

It’s way too soon for me to get all philosophical about this book, so let me just say that I hope you read it, like it and leave a review. And if it’s not your thing, please still do drop a line letting me know why.

On Sunday, I’ll blog about my continuing journey with Jayson and Keisha, but for now . . . Happy Reading!

Get yours here:

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SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘Wife’

Fiona promo2The day from Hell.

There was no other way to describe it.

Getting all dolled-up and heading out to Tramps seemed like the best way to lift her spirits and remind herself of her post-divorce resolution to be bold, brash and fearless. Earlier that evening, Fiona resolved that while the encounter with Jayson and Keisha in Target was a blow, she could get some male attention in the dimly-lit nightclub, drink a bit, get tipsy and dance a little, then go home having spent all of her negative emotions on the dance floor.

And then, the cruelest joke to end all cruel jokes—she spotted Jayson with his girlfriend making out on the dance floor. First they were barely able to keep their eyes off each other, not to mention their hands. Then he kissed her, and in doing so, Jayson seemed to be in some kind of frenzy, like he couldn’t get enough of the girl.

Fiona recalled only too well what that felt like, having Jayson kiss her. It made her wet; just one kiss from him could do that. It wasn’t just his skill—which was considerable—it was his enthusiasm. Like kissing was the pinnacle of pleasure for him. He never made Fiona feel like the kissing was just foreplay. He treated it like it was the climax —ha, ha— of what they might do together. So by the time he undressed her, which he always took his time doing, she was already moaning and squirming, grabbing his hand to lead his fingers to her clit, and simultaneously reaching for the hard bulge at his crotch.

Jesus Christ life was unfair. Of all the things to happen . . .

Turning and pushing her way toward the exit, Fiona felt the bitter taste of humiliation rise from the pit of her stomach. She could not let him see her here, all dressed up and desperate, searching in vain for his replacement. As though he could be replaced.

No, he couldn’t. He couldn’t be replaced.

A man like Jayson Holmes did not happen every day—beautiful enough to make you weep, an accomplished and considerate lover, a good and thoughtful friend. And with just enough of a past, and just enough damage that he didn’t realize he was way out of her league. It was then, as she left Tramps with her head down, that Fiona made her decision.

She wasn’t going to roll over this time. This Keisha person was not going to take Jayson from her. She would retreat now, but only so she could regroup and come back in fighting form another day. Keisha may have beauty on her side, but Fiona had other assets—proximity for one, and history. She already knew that Jayson was pining for the time before he went to prison, and for the life he might have had, so she would use those things to her advantage. She knew his family, was cordial with his sister; she knew all about his glory days in high school and had even attended his mother’s funeral.

So what if Keisha had a pretty face, a tight little body and possibly some personality trait Jayson thought he was attracted to? That, in comparison to what Fiona had at her disposal, was next to nothing.

By the time she was at her car, she was smiling. She was the type of person who always felt better when she had a plan. And this time, the plan was clear: get Jayson back.