Autumn's Five Seasons: The Men

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Overview

For years, Autumn Braxter has wondered what happened to her best friend, Lem. The two grew up together in Brooklyn and were rarely apart. She last saw him the night Lem's family was killed. One day, while in church, Autumn spots him sitting in one of the pews. They pick up where they left off , and Lem soon asks her to marry him.

What Autumn thought might be the life with the love of her dreams quickly turns to ashes. Lem lied to her about his job, and dangerous lifestyle; he ...

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Overview

For years, Autumn Braxter has wondered what happened to her best friend, Lem. The two grew up together in Brooklyn and were rarely apart. She last saw him the night Lem's family was killed. One day, while in church, Autumn spots him sitting in one of the pews. They pick up where they left off , and Lem soon asks her to marry him.

What Autumn thought might be the life with the love of her dreams quickly turns to ashes. Lem lied to her about his job, and dangerous lifestyle; he does anything to make money. Reluctantly, Autumn tries to fit in with the new lifestyle, yet eventually gives into the inevitable and leaves Lem.

On her own and desperate to find love, Autumn enters into a series of bad relationships, putting her trust in men that don't deserve it. The more she continues, the more she loses her identity. Breaking the cycle of self-abuse will take courage, strength, and incredible faith. Can Autumn turn her life around and find the man she deserves?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781469793146
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/16/2012
  • Pages: 164
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Autumn's Five Seasons

The Men
By Alice V. Benton

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 Alice V. Benton
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4697-9312-2


Chapter One

Lem and I were the best of friends growing up. We both lived on the same block in Brooklyn and our mothers were best friends too. Thank God we liked each other because we were forced to do everything together.

Lem's parents were originally from South Carolina and always dreamed of moving to New York City and raising a family. When they found out they were expecting Lem, plans were quickly made to move to the "Big Apple."

Lem's grandmother continuously complained about the move, she said, "I won't talk to you anymore if you go."

"Oh momma, you'll talk to me. You know Melvin got a good job waiting for him there," Melissa said, kissing her on the forehead, as her mother continued.

"I mean it, Melissa. I'll never forgive you if you take my grandchild away from me!" She yelled, "Most people pack up and leave big cities when they have children! Why do you always have to be so contrary, Melissa? Huh? Answer me!"

Melissa smirked and said, "Because you know what they say about making it there and I want my baby to be able to make it anywhere momma."

That's why Lem was born and raised a resident of Brooklyn, New York. He and his parents moved onto my block in Bedford Stuyvesant right before Lem was born. They lived in the brownstone directly across the street from my family. That's actually how our families became so tight.

One day, my mother noticed his mom and crossed the street to talk. Mom said, "I hate to bother people, but I noticed you have this sweet little girl next to you and another one on the way. You look like you're ready to pop. If you do and you need help, I'm right across the street."

Melissa said, "That about to pop business would be funny if it wasn't true, but I'm due any second so I may take you up on that offer. This little lady is Gail and we hope the popper is a boy named Lem."

Our mothers were inseparable from that moment. They also relived the "ready to pop" joke one year later when Lem's mom was pregnant with his brother, Lamar. It showed up again another year later when my mom became pregnant with me. And, the joke was told once again when his mom had another girl years later.

From the time I was born, Lem and I were always attached at the hip. We were always friends and became just as inseparable as our mothers. Through our adolescent years, Lem continued to be my best friend, but we began to develop a crush on each other.

We acted more like we were dating, even though we weren't. I started acting jealous when he would talk to other girls. He noticed and started treating me like I was special. Lem began acting like the perfect gentleman that would never leave my side. That is, at least until the night of the fire.

I remember staring outside of my bedroom window at Lem. I wanted to go outside, but my mom wouldn't let me.

Lem was screaming and crying. He was standing in front of my house with his brother, oldest sister, and uncle. He was locked inside a hysterical huddle watching his house burn down. He waited for his parents and little sister to surface, but that never happened. They died in the fire.

I've thought about that night repeatedly because that's the night I lost him. I always wondered about my best friend and his family. I wanted to know if he ever thought about me too. That was the last time I saw Lem until we were adults.

Chapter Two

It was almost the end of Sunday mass, when Father Collin made an announcement. He said, "The church needs volunteers to help out with various tasks. Please contact the rectory office if you're interested in assisting." He continued, "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen. The mass has ended, go in peace to love and serve the Lord."

A man seated in the front of the church jumped up, as if in a hurry. He exited his pew and stepped into the aisle headed towards the main doors. That's when I saw him; it was Lem.

From the moment Lem walked back in my life it should have been obvious that he was trouble. His very essence was like music to my senses. His strides were accompanied by music in my mind. Lem's approach was like an unbelievably sexy musical. I couldn't believe it was him. Lem's rapture was immediately captivating. Had I been aware of anything other than his poetic body flow, especially being in church, I might have deemed this ravenous feeling a sacrilege and condemned it from the start.

Lem walked pass me, but not before making eye contact and displaying a faint smile.

Hmmm, I remember those hazel eyes.

He looked like the teen I once knew, yet he was an entirely different person. Lem was all grown up. He appeared a little over six feet tall and muscular.

I quickly thought what was that? Is that it? Did he recognize me? And what happened to the music? I wanted to run after him or at least watch him leave, but I refused to turn my head. I didn't want to seem desperate.

* * *

It didn't take long for the church to call the volunteers. I received my phone call quickly within the next two weeks. I was told a meeting had been arranged in the church basement during the next month.

A small group of twelve assembled. It included Lem and Father Collin. The rest of the volunteers were women.

Father Collin said, "Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for coming. The first thing I want to do is get you into groups of two. So, pair up and I'll take the left over person."

Lem stood up and the crowd anxiously stared to see where he was going.

I thought, There's that music again, so rhythmic and inviting. I have to say something to him.

A lady yelled, from the back of the room, "Over here, sugar!"

I glanced backwards in disbelief. When I turned back around the music came to a scratchy halt. It was as if I was back in the day and a DJ just messed up the jam at a party.

Lem was standing right in front of me.

Slowly, his sexy theme song started in my head again. Apparently, it was one of those songs that rubbed you right at any speed. I was trying hard not to sway back and forth the way I do at a party when I want to dance with a guy. It was a difficult job, but I managed.

He asked, "Would you like to be my partner?"

I blurted, "Yes," way too fast, "well, sure, if you want."

Lem stated, "Yes, I want," as he smiled and sat down next to me.

Father Collin continued, "Your partner is the one you will work with the most. If one of you is not present for future meetings, the other will inform you of what was discussed."

Lem leaned over and whispered, "I always thought we'd become an official couple, Autumn. You were always cute, but you're a really attractive woman."

I smiled and thought, he remembers me, then said, "Thanks, I didn't think you recognized me."

"How could I forget my best friend?"

"Nice."

Father Collin glared at us as he continued, but I couldn't stop smiling.

Lem leaned in again saying, "And that name. I remember that unique story you told me over and over about your parents love. Then you'd laugh at me and say mine wasn't special."

"Yeah, I'm sorry about that. You know how kids can be."

Lem said, "It didn't bother me."

I replied, "Good because the truth is, I always loved your name and its simplicity."

Father Collin stared directly at us both, although he was talking to the group, when he said, "Everyone, please refrain from talking until I'm finished. It won't be much longer. Come to the front and pick what you'll be doing from the jar and then you can go, but before you leave, exchange numbers."

We left the church with an assignment to gather donated items for the upcoming church flea market and a promise to speak soon.

* * *

The first time we spoke, Lem called me and quickly established that he wasn't a phone person. So, we agreed to handle all church business in person and got off the telephone.

Our initial meeting was a little strange. We decided to meet in Manhattan. We agreed on a Starbucks in the Columbus Circle Lincoln Center area.

I arrived very early because getting a table at this locale was always tricky. Sometimes it was impossible because of the writers and loafers that would arrive when the shop opened and literally drink all day to continually occupy a table. They aggravated me sitting there all day with their laptops and iPads like the store was their living room.

I had just looked up from my kindle when Lem walked through the door. The music in Starbucks switched from playful to serious on Lem's approach. I thought I have to be responsible for this music. Oh, he's sexier than I remembered.

"Hi, fall, spring, summer? No, it was winter, wasn't it?" He laughed at his own joke while sitting down in the chair in front of me.

"Cute, glad you know them," I said, extremely annoyed at Lem's seasons roll call. I hoped this display of bad taste was not a precedent for how the rest of the day would be.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" Lem questioned.

I immediately asked, "Like what?"

"It's the jeans isn't it?" he continued, "I usually wear jeans, but in church, a brotha has to look right when dressing for the Lord."

"Lem, can we just get down to, business?"

"Oh no, I've upset you. Lighten up, I'm sorry."

"I'm light, you ready?"

"Autumn, calm down, I'm sorry. Let me buy you a cup of coffee."

"Nah, that's alright. I already got my own."

"Okay."

"You know what? Actually, you can get me a venti extra caramel macchiato and sprinkle some vanilla and cinnamon on top of it, no sugar."

"A wha"

"Ma-cchi-a-to."

Lem said, "Got it." He stood up to go order, but stopped because I began to speak.

I said, "And for the record, you may be my handsome old friend, but you have a lot to learn about women. Nobody ever calms the fuck down when told to be calm. Hell, sometimes we're not even mad until that point and then it's time to set it off!"

Lem replied, "Noted, but since we're creating records, you shouldn't curse. It's not ladylike. A man will treat you according to how you present yourself to him."

Strangely, his music calmed me down as Lem walked away and got on line. I felt like I was going crazy.

* * *

Lem returned to the table with my coffee and some biscotti. He said, "The biscotti are a peace offering. Okay?"

I caught a whiff of his luscious scent in the air. It was just a trace, but it was enough to happily refocus so I agreed by saying, "okay."

"So, you think I'm handsome." Lem said

I blushed then asked, "Can we just pretend like all of that never happened?"

He said, "I don't know if I can forget that, but yeah, let's start again. We have a lot of catching up to do."

I happily said, "Alright, I'd like that."

Lem said, "I'll start. I have a business degree." Lem appeared to pause for affect.

"Nice, but what about our church business?"

"We'll get to it, but I want you to feel comfortable with me."

"Alright, what college did you attend?"

Lem responded, "Ah, I went to Hunter College for a while; anyway, I was an entrepreneur. I loved working for myself and couldn't imagine living life any other way at first. It was a hard transition, but I needed more money so I went to work on Wall Street."

"What kind of business do you do?"

"Well, I'm diversified, but enough about where I'm at. Let's talk about where I want to go."

I began to wonder what Lem was really doing. Is it me? Or is he trying to get at me?

It took a while to get to it, but we created two schedules. One was to pick up donations and the other was to meet, organize things, and do inventory. Our friendship seemed to be getting back to where it was. It felt good.

* * *

Lem and I got together about three times a week, although it wasn't necessary. The work could've been done once a week over the course of a month, but we managed to stretch it out. We were getting to know each other all over again.

I hoped it was more than that. I was just so happy to have him back in my life. I really missed Lem. Originally, I suggested that we split up the list of names Father Collin gave us. I said, "You take half and I'll take half."

Lem automatically said, "No."

"No?" I questioned.

"No, Autumn."

"Lem, that way we can evenly distribute the work and finish the job quicker."

He said, "I can't have you approaching strange houses with God knows who inside."

"I'm a big girl, Lem."

He smiled and said, "I know, but what if something happened to you? I just found you again. Let's do it together."

I wanted to stay together. I said, "Fine."

We went to each collection spot together. The times varied depending on the person's schedule who donated. We were told to be accommodating since they are helping the church.

Our interaction was a little crazy, but that seemed to be how we were with each other. Lem would piss me off by telling one of his not so funny jokes and then do his best to make it up to me.

After each night, Lem would insist on taking me home. He would say, "I don't feel right leaving you in the street."

Once I replied, "We're not on a date you know."

He said, "I know, but I've missed you."

When Lem said those words I felt chills run through my body. I never resisted again.

Every night that we fulfilled our volunteer requirement ended the same. While standing in front of my door, I would say, "Thank you" and kiss him on the cheek.

"You're welcome, anytime, but can I use the bathroom?"

I thought, either he's in to me or he has a really weak bladder.

When he came out of the bathroom he would ask, "Do you mind if I sit down? All the packages and walking have gotten to me." Then Lem would always comment on church once inside.

Normally, that would turn me off, but not with Lem. In fact, I came to expect that type of conversation from him. If I was happy, he would lead the praise for the Lord. When I was sad he would remind me to praise Him anyway. Then Lem would stop everything and make sure we prayed.

I don't know why I was shocked that he was such a holy roller, but it did draw me closer to him. He seemed determined to preach the gospel to me and I loved it.

One night, Lem said, "I'll give you a little gospel break. What would you like to talk about?"

I said, "You."

"Me?"

"Yeah, I have a lot of questions."

"Like what?" he asked.

"Like, what happened to you after the fire? Where have you been? Why didn't you call me?"

Lem asked, "Wow, is that all, Autumn?"

I responded, "No, when did you start going to my church? I'm sorry, you don't have to answer."

"I know, but I will and in my mind, that's my church too. We grew up in it. Just know that I have some questions for you too."

I said, "Fair enough, but mine first."

Lem said, "Why don't you ask one then I'll get one."

"Okay, I'll start. What happened?"

Lem said, "You know what happened. My parents and little sister died."

Lem and I filled in all of our missing gaps. We told each other everything about our lives. Well, I did. Lem learned that I was an administrative assistant with big dreams. He acted like an "open book", but clearly wasn't. There were holes in just about every story of his life that was told, but I didn't care. Lem was that missing piece of my childhood that I always wanted back.

I had always loved him. I was sure I would always love him. I also was very quickly falling in love with him. In my mind, although we were so young, Lem was the one that got away. I knew he felt the same way. I just needed to be reassured.

Our last scheduled night together Lem and I found ourselves together on my couch once again. We barely talked.

Lem would look at me and begin to speak, but couldn't really get the words out of his mouth. He kept rambling. It was very odd because he never sounds confused when speaking. His words flowed to the same beat he walked to in my head. He would start speaking, stumble then stop.

He said, "Ya know, Autumn, I've been wanting to change my life." He continued, "I'm looking for someone ... no, I mean, I found someone to share my life with."

I thought, no wonder things were so awkward tonight, he has a wife. I should have known he has never once invited me to his place.

Lem started again saying, "You know about Adam's rib, right?"

"Here we go," I said agitated, "I can't take that Bible stuff right now. You have an Eve. I get it. Why didn't you just say that?"

"No, Autumn, well ... yeah, you're my Eve."

I smiled instantly. I was happy and amazed all at once. I'm his rib.

Chapter Three

Lem and I quickly became attached to each other once again. We were always at each other's side. It didn't matter where we were or why, as long as we were sharing time and space. Things were perfect.

One night after a movie, I asked, "Why don't you ever take me home?"

"Because I often work out of my apartment and it's a mess, but you can come over, look around and stay a while. I'm in Bed-Stuy, not far from you." He asked, "When would you like to visit?"

I was excited when I asked, "Really? How's next Saturday?"

Lem confirmed our plans for next Saturday by saying, "Fine, it's a date."

Saturday came fast and I was eager to see Lem's apartment. I would have liked a warning about the four flight walk-up, but I was so enthusiastic it didn't matter. I just wanted to be a part of his world.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Autumn's Five Seasons by Alice V. Benton Copyright © 2012 by Alice V. Benton. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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