The Eternal Engagementby Mary B. Morrison
"Betrayal, greed, and sex." Publishers Weekly
New York Times bestselling author Mary B. Morrison's thrilling tale of a love triangle, lives at a crossroads, and the price of secrets. . .
After her high school sweetheart joined the military, Mona Lisa Ellington thought she'd never love again. So she settled for a man who cherished/i>/i>… See more details below
"Betrayal, greed, and sex." Publishers Weekly
New York Times bestselling author Mary B. Morrison's thrilling tale of a love triangle, lives at a crossroads, and the price of secrets. . .
After her high school sweetheart joined the military, Mona Lisa Ellington thought she'd never love again. So she settled for a man who cherished herand made his living hurting others. Yet she prayed her fiancé would one day return.
Mona Lisa's classmate, Katherine Clinton, knew she'd marry her high school sweetheart and live happily ever after. But when he left for the military, she had to make new plans for her and their son. Still, Katherine dreamed of the day her fiancé would return.
William Lincoln joined the military to make his grandfather proud. He never imagined he would be gone so long. Or that his selfish proposal to two women would be the least of his problems. . .because all three would soon face the consequences of too much deception.. . .
"Mix dirty red drama, relationship scandals, suspense, love and you get my girl Mary B. Morrison." Vickie Stringer
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- 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Read an Excerpt
The Eternal Engagement
By Mary B. Morrison
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2011 Mary B. Morrison
All rights reserved.
"Promise me you won't get upset."
"Upset? About what?" she asked.
"I'll tell you in a minute, but first you have to promise me," he insisted.
Lincoln was in love with Katherine Clinton. When she strutted into his eleventh-grade homeroom class wearing a sleeveless dress and high heels, she instantly became the hottest girl in all of Selma, Alabama. He had to make her his girlfriend before any of his teammates got to her. His breakup with Mona Lisa was fast and to the point. He respected Mona too much to use her or string her along. Besides, two years of dating one girl in high school was not only commendable, but highly remarkable for an athlete with his stats.
Sitting on the sideline at the fifty-yard mark with Katherine brought tears to his eyes. Unlike being alone with Mona a half hour ago, Lincoln really felt like he and Katherine were the only two in the football stadium.
"Okay, I promise. Now tell me," she said.
Lincoln removed a gold band from his pocket, held it in his hand. He knew she expected a proposal and she was right. But first he had to tell her the bad news for her, good news for him.
"Katherine, I've joined the Marines."
Katherine hugged him tight. Her arms clamped around his shoulders as she cried uncontrollably. "Say it isn't so, William Lincoln. When did you decide this? What happened to all your scholarship offers? What about your going to USF in Tampa and my going to UFL in Miami? I was excited about us being in Florida together. That's all I've dreamt about since I got my acceptance letter. You know this."
That was one of the differences between Katherine and Mona that he really loved about Katherine. She always made him feel manly. As though he was the only guy in her world. Everything he did excited her. Nothing he'd done excited his parents. Not much of what he'd accomplished thrilled his grandparents until he agreed to enlist. His family's apathy was the main reason he refused to sign a letter of intent.
Lincoln stared over the field. He was trading a football field to fight in the field, as his sergeant called it. Truth be told, going into the military terrified him. The money he'd make excited him. He never had a steady income. His grandfather told him, "Football players come a dime a dozen, son. Only the few and proud can serve the greatest country on earth. What you gon' do if one of the big ole linebackers break your leg? When I was your age, I fought in World War II."
Grandpa was right about the potential injury. Several of his teammates had had offers, but once they were injured, the colleges didn't want them. Grandpa said, "The university will use you up, make money off of your talent, and not put a dime in your pocket for all your hard labor." But if the decision were Lincoln's alone, he'd take the full ride, go to college, and be the first in his family to graduate from a university.
Since joining "the few" would make his grandfather proud, he'd sacrifice his dreams. He doubted his mother and father would keep in touch with him after he walked across the stage. It might appear selfish on his part, but having the two women who loved him the most wait for him was better than returning home to no one who cared. He'd given up on going pro.
"I'm leaving today. Right after I get my diploma."
Tears drenched more tears as Katherine cried out loud. "What am I going to do without you?"
He was Katherine's first lover, first real boyfriend. With Mona, she said he was her first boyfriend, but it was hard to tell. He'd heard in the locker room that some loser named Steven Cunningham hit it first. Dude was a loner, a nerd, a weirdo.
Right now, Lincoln's priority was Katherine.
Handing her his high school championship jersey, he said, "You're going to go to UFL, major in journalism like you've always wanted to, and then you'll get that job anchoring the news. That way if there's cable TV where I'm stationed, hopefully I can see your beautiful face on the regular."
Katherine was ultrafeminine. Mona Lisa was a lady when she had to be, but mostly Mona was more of a mystery than the mysteries she loved solving. He understood why she'd started dating Steven after their breakup. They were both odd, but in different ways. Lincoln couldn't lie, Mona's spice and enthusiasm to explore the unknown excited him. If he could marry both Mona Lisa and Katherine, he would.
Sliding the gold band on Katherine's left ring finger, Lincoln said, "I need you to pray for me. Pray for me every day. Pray I don't get killed. Pray I return home safe. I love you, Katherine. I really do. And when I get out, promise you'll marry me."
He pressed his warm lips to hers. Gently dried her tears.
"I promise, William Lincoln. No matter how long it takes, I'll wait for you," Katherine said, then hesitated. Her voice trembled. "I was going to tell you after we got our diplomas ... I think I'm pregnant."
That was not what he wanted to hear. Instantly, her words made him regret having sexed Mona without protection. Lincoln held her tighter than he'd held Mona. Katherine made his leaving easier. Mona Lisa could keep the ring, but not answering his question gave him the answer he needed.
Katherine could keep her ring too. I think I'm pregnant? He thought she was different. Wrong. Katherine was a manipulator. Mona Lisa too. As long as they got what they wanted, they didn't care about him. Nobody cared about him.
To his parents in Chicago—who had come to his graduation as though they were visitors—he'd always be the thug/drug dealer/dummy kid they wished they'd never had. He wasn't any of those things. He was simply trying to fit in on the South Side of Chitown. The dealers and thugs in middle school loved and protected him because he was a great athlete. Plus, with a 4.0 GPA, how could his parents call him a dummy? He never understood why they'd sent him to Selma to live with his grandparents. Maybe he was his parents' insurance for them to remain his grandparents' beneficiaries.
To his grandparents in Selma, he'd given them a reason to get out of their house. They'd come to his football games. His grandfather would stand on his prosthetic legs and cheer each time he touched the ball. His grandmother's shaking hands spilled more popcorn than she ate each time she stood. They instilled in him a sense of pride. But his pride was not his passion. Maybe he could change his mind and go to college.
Neither his parents nor his grandparents cared about his scholarship offers or how he'd earned a slice of the American pie before it was done baking. If he stayed healthy, he could write his own ticket to the pros. That's what Katherine wanted. Not him. She wanted his money.
He stood, stared down at Katherine. "Let me know how that works out for you."
Lincoln trotted across the fifty-yard line, broke to the left, exited his high school stadium for the last time, and never looked back.CHAPTER 2
"Owwww! I can't push again, Mama. It hurts too much," she cried.
Sweat rolled from her eighteen-year-old forehead down her neck. The hospital gown, soaked throughout, stuck to her body like a wet rag. She collapsed onto the mattress that supported her back in an almost sitting position.
Until now, losing her virginity to Lincoln was the worst vaginal pain she'd experienced. Eight hours of sporadic stomach cramping made her feel as though she were dying. How could any teenager survive childbirth?
"I can't do this anymore. Get it out of me! Cut it out! Pull it ..." Her words faded into a sobbing cry.
"You're doing great, Katherine," the doctor said. "I can see the crown of your baby's head. Don't push until I tell you."
Three minutes later, Katherine snatched the sheet, balled it between her fingers, and hurled herself forward as far as her huge, round belly allowed.
"Owwww! This is awful," she said, flopping backward. "I need to push."
She didn't know which was worse, her labor pains or her not hearing from Lincoln in nine months. She needed him at the birth of their baby. Holding his hand would've eased the pain in her heart.
Abandonment. Dejection. Betrayal. Why?
All the times she'd been there for him. What was on his mind that made him not want to be there for her? What made him treat her this way? Her cell number and her mom's home phone number and address were the same. She wasn't mad at him for trying to please his grandfather, but why hadn't he called to find out whether she was pregnant with his baby? Didn't he care about her? About them? Did his grandfather tell him she was pregnant? Was his grandfather to blame for Lincoln's not calling?
"Ow ... oh, God, help me." Tears rolled into sweat that soaked the gown that clung to her tender breasts. Every part of her body ached.
Holding her hand, her mother said, "Nothing hurts more than making a bad decision that you have to live with the rest of your life. Unless you're married, Katherine, do not, I repeat, do not birth any more babies into this world."
Katherine prayed for a boy. Maybe her baby would give her the love Lincoln used to. The ring Lincoln gave her was in her dorm room. She didn't want to risk losing track of it at the hospital, so she'd taken it off. Soon as she was released, and back in the family dormitory, she was putting it back on.
"I'm engaged to be marri—" Katherine held her stomach. "Mama! I wanna push."
Calmly the doctor said, "Not yet. But we're close. I need you to dilate two more centimeters first. Hang in there. You're doing great, Katherine."
No, she wasn't doing great. She was doing horribly.
In two years, she'd had sex with Lincoln only twenty-three times because he abstained during football season. They'd started out using protection. Toward the end of their senior year, she'd gone to Planned Parenthood to get on the pill. College was a few months after their graduation, and the last thing they needed was a baby. She protected them by taking birth control.
"Owwww!" Leaning forward, then flopping backward—her movements became redundant.
Didn't take long for her to realize she should've listened to the counselor and still used condoms. Maybe their baby was God's way of giving her a piece of Lincoln. Wasn't the jersey he'd worn in the championship game, then gave to her on graduation day, good enough? Or the ring? Or his love?
"Mama isn't saying your baby is the bad decision. Your mistake was not using protection. And honey, that's a bad decision for more than one reason," her mother said, then kissed her forehead. "I wanted better for you, Katherine. That's why I moved us from Hollywood to Selma. I didn't want you to end up a single teenage mother like me."
"Owwww!" Katherine screamed, leaned back, then exhaled holding her stomach.
Her mother was her biggest advocate. Her mom made her go to UFL. Finish her first freshman semester, start her second. Katherine should've been studying with her group of new friends. Instead, she was in the delivery room in Gainesville, her friends were in the waiting room, and Lincoln was only God knew where, doing only God knew what. She feared he'd fallen in love with someone else. If he hadn't, why hadn't he called?
Tears for him blanketed her eyes. "I'm sorry, Mama. I'm so sorry I disappointed you. I promise I won't do this again."
At least she could make a promise she'd keep.
"Hush, honey. Having a baby is no reason for you to be sorry about anything. I'm going to stay here with you and watch our baby while you get your education. This baby is going to see its mother on television anchoring the news. That's always been your dream, Katherine. Don't ever let anyone take away your dream. We Clintons do not give up on anything, you hear me?"
Did that anything include Lincoln? He was a good man. An honest man. What made him tell her, "I hope that works out for you."
"Now look at me, baby." Her mother placed her palm against her cheek, then continued, "Your crown is crooked. Straighten it up."
Was her crown crooked because of Mona Lisa? Katherine hadn't seen Mona since last August, right before both of them left for college. Few people in Selma knew about her pregnancy. She'd hoped Mona was one of them.
"Owwww! This time might take a little longer, Ma. I can't help it. I love Lincoln."
Her mother had taught her, she was a queen, and a queen with a crooked crown was a wannabe. She'd say, "Katherine, always know your self-worth, baby. And for that, you don't need a man or anybody else cosigning for you."
"Forget about him," her mother said.
The doctor said, "Okay, it's time. Come on. One more strong push for us, Katherine. You're almost done."
She prayed that wasn't true. Being done with Lincoln. Her school break was three months away. He should use his leave and come home for a summer vacation.
Katherine screamed, cried, squeezed her mom's hand, then curled into the fetal position again. She squealed, then pushed with love and disappointment. Happy her mom was there. But she was still sad that Lincoln was not.
No address to send him a letter and pictures. She'd make sure Lincoln's grandparents got to see their baby often. She'd take lots of photos and videos, and when Lincoln did come back to them, he'd see what he'd missed.
Maybe Lincoln never wanted to have kids because his parents didn't want him. A Chicago kid born on the South Side, Lincoln didn't get the choice to live in Selma. Their meeting must've been fate because it wasn't her decision to move to Selma either. His parents sent him to Selma to keep him out of trouble. At least that was what he'd said. Maybe Lincoln hadn't joined the military. Maybe he had a girlfriend in Chicago.
Her mama shouted with joy, "It's a boy! I got myself a grandson."
And on February 14th, at eighteen years of age, Katherine Clinton had herself a beautiful baby. Her ability to do what she wanted would never be the same.
"Look at this bundle of joy," her mom said.
The doctor handed her mom the scissors. "Would you like to cut the cord?"
"Yes, Mama. It's okay."
"Thank you, Jesus, he's got all his fingers and all his toes."
"Let me see him, Mama."
Not caring about the slimy coating on his body, Katherine kissed her baby's big hands and feet. She uncurled one of his legs. He was really long. Dark curly hair framed his face. His large, light brown eyes were halfway open, full of love. He looked just like his daddy.
She might make the jersey Lincoln gave her into a receiving blanket for their baby if she could stop sleeping in it every night. Maybe one day their child would get a lot of scholarship offers like his dad. But unlike Lincoln, their son would get his college degree first. Then he could decide what he wanted to do.
"Mama, do you like the name Jeremiah?"
"Baby, Mama doesn't like it. Mama loves it. Hey, little Jeremiah Clinton. Grandmommy loves you. Yes, I do."
Katherine cried. What would she ever do without her mom? Her mother could call him whatever she wanted, but her baby's birth certificate would read Jeremiah Lincoln.CHAPTER 3
One year in, three to go.
Being in the military wasn't that bad. He'd been promoted from private to private first class, soon to become lance corporal. Physical workouts were easier than football practices. He'd packed on a few extra pounds, all muscle. Mostly his biceps and thighs were bigger. He liked his new body, but not more than the females he met when draped in his dress blue uniform. Being a Marine had its perks.
Lincoln became fascinated with all the weaponry in the Marine Corps arsenal, especially the M16 rifle. His quickness and precision on the football field—running, dropping, rolling—aided his ability to hit a moving target five hundred yards away while kneeling, crawling, or standing, in daylight and in darkness. During his basic training, he'd scored 220; that qualified him as an expert shooter. In some instances, he was more skilled at shooting than the E4 and E5 Marine gunners.
The sergeant major entered the room. They immediately stood, slapped their hands to their sides, and saluted. Sergeant Major held a stack of papers in his hands. He called out one name after another, then said, "Men, it's almost time for you to show what you're made of. In three weeks, you're all going to Saudi Arabia. I'm approving a one-week leave so each of you can go home and say good-bye to your families."
The way he'd said good-bye sounded permanent. In many ways, Lincoln's leaving Selma after graduation was his good-bye.
Excerpted from The Eternal Engagement by Mary B. Morrison. Copyright © 2011 Mary B. Morrison. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I was disappointed in this latest edition of Mary B. Morrison. I usually enjoy her books however, this time I was less than enthused. The characters were unrealistic and I thought she could've spent more time in their development. The storyline was not that aggressive therefore, I found myself daydreaming as I read. Hopefully her next book will be more creative
I love Mary B. Morrison! She creates great storylines and paints clear and vivid pictures. In this novel she does a wonderful job painting the pictures but the storyline was not that great. I wish there was more substance to this novel. I will continue to support her but I expect just a little bit more in the next novel.
I've read all of Mary B. Morrison's books and I must say this book really surprised me. I'm used to her books being more of a page turner than this one and definitely more interesting. I feel like there will be a sequel and maybe that will really get this series going. She's going to have to come stronger with the next book if she wants me to follow this series.
This book was just ok to me . It was rather boring at parts but i got thru it . Hopefully there will be a sequel and it will be better!
I am always amazed with the context this author chooses. Every book is new, very creative and refreshing. I have all of Ms. Morrison's books and can't wait wait to read the next.
The Eternal Engagement by Mary B. Morrison takes us on a walk where we glimpse upon the lives of four senior high school classmates where in facing graduation day, the results of their actions will lead them on a journey of life changing proportions. William Lincoln, all star football player and ultimate babe magnet; Mona Lisa Ellington William's first love; Katherine Clinton, William's second love; and Steven Cunningham the one left behind looking in. William, both girls want him, but both cannot have him. William has a chance at a full ride to college, the pros await, but he turns his back on all hope of fame and fortune to serve his country. He has a proposition for Mona Lisa; the one he says he loves the best, a promise for all time and a gift from his heart. Then there is Katherine, he loves her, too! An eternal promise leaves her holding his heart and much more. Time goes by, but life must go on. It is not what each expected, but there is no way to turn back. Life's fateful choices find them reunited once again, but the rules have changed. A story, heart wrenching at times, an emotional roller coaster, hot and sensual, that is not without its dangers twisting throughout the pages. Who will win this eternal battle of love and possession?
I didn't hate it I didn't love it it was an okay read seems like there is an sequel hopefully it gets better!
This book has no favorite character ... at least not for me .....both women were women I have no respect for..... they both deserve to be lonely if you ask me.... this book made me mad but Ms. Morrison is a great writer and has that gift to make all her characters come to life
I have read all of Mary B. Morrison's books. This book was very different. It started off slow, but I still enjoyed it. It seems like there will be a sequel. I would love to know what happens to the characters.