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I'd Rather Be With You
By Mary B. Morrison
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2013 Mary B. Morrison
All rights reserved.
Have you ever loved someone so much you could kill him? My signature was a heartbeat away from doing that. I'd signed the authorization to take my husband off life support. He was a good man. But there were times when being a good person wasn't enough. Some would say he did all the right things in our relationship, but he did them for the wrong woman. I'd disagree. Unlike most women, I knew my self-worth. The brilliant diamond wedding ring on my finger was there because I'd earned it.
"Mrs. DuBois," the doctor softly said. "I still have the paper in my hand. It's not too late to have a change of heart." He stood in front of me as though my time was up.
In a small private space, there was a desk, two chairs, a computer, the doctor, and me. The door with a large square windowpane was closed.
The room suddenly got colder as though someone had locked me in a morgue, alone, with the Grim Reaper. The chill penetrated me so deep I froze from the inside out. Reminded me of a trip I'd taken to New York City to celebrate New Year's Eve. I was in the midst of tens of thousands of people bundled in coats. Their faces were wrapped with scarves. My feet were stuffed in fur-lined boots. My hands were inside cashmere-coated gloves and I was in Times Square, freezing.
Tapered to my body, the sleeveless black dress I'd chosen to put on this morning was midthigh. The back of my legs stuck to the hard plastic chair. I hugged myself, then slid my hands up and down the chill bumps covering my arms. I wiggled my fingers; they were stiff. I pressed them together; then I rubbed them back and forth. I wanted to cry for my husband, for myself, but this was not the time to break down. There were too many what-ifs in my mind competing for attention; it felt like my head was going to explode. My unchanging heart was heavy and numb. I'd heard the doctor, but I didn't respond.
I sat staring at the beige tile beneath my four-inch black platform stilettos. What if my husband died before I made it to the hospital's exit? What if all of his football fans blamed me for his death? What if I hadn't had sex with that idiot, Granville? What if the baby growing inside me was the result of my infidelity? What if the tape Granville stole from my house of us having sex ended up online for millions to see? What if I continued to delay having surgery for my breast cancer? What if something went wrong with my operation and I ended up on life support? Would I want someone to take me off?
Gazing into the doctor's eyes, I told him, "My decision is final."
He remained quiet for several minutes, then said, "Okay. I'm pretty sure you don't want to be in the room when he's disconnected from the machine, but I have to—"
"Ask?" I paused, then continued, "No, you don't."
Already dressed for the possibility of becoming a grieving widow, I stood, with one foot in front of him, and opened my mouth. I wanted to ask how long did he think it would be before I received the call saying my husband was dead.
Don't do that, Madison. The doctor will think you're insensitive.
The truth was, I did care for Roosevelt. Hopefully, his transition would happen within twenty-four hours. Just in case he lingered more than a day, I'd already approved comfort care for him. The staff could insert an IV and administer morphine as often as needed to eliminate the pain I had caused.
In the end I'd done what was best for my husband. Now it was time to start focusing on my health. My father had made arrangements for my mother and me to leave the country. At his request I'd given my dad full power of attorney to handle my business. Papa didn't want me being constantly threatened by strangers, and Mama didn't want me to be in a foreign place all by myself.
How hundreds of thousands of my husband's fans could hate me, when they didn't know me, meant Papa had done the right thing. I wished people would tend to their own situations and leave me the hell alone.
Mama and I would stay gone for almost a year, until I had my baby and recovered from surgery. Southerners were accustomed to sending pregnant teens away, letting them give birth, putting the baby up for adoption, then allowing them to return home as if nothing had happened.
My circumstances were different. I was a grown woman. Regardless who the father was, I was bringing my child back to America. By the time we returned, Papa believed things would've calmed down and someone else would be media worthy of inexplicable hatred.
A woman's love for a dying man could make him want to live. Out of respect I should have wanted to say my last good-byes but I didn't want to encourage Roosevelt to live longer. Tears burned my eyes.
Was my husband scared? Was he tired of holding on and ready to let go? Without me by his side, my husband would soon exhale for the last time.
"Mrs. DuBois. Roosevelt is an icon in our community. Look, he's the youngest GM in football. He's on the league's ethics committee. He's brought our team back. He could possibly take us to the championship. More than just you love him. Are you absolutely sure you want to do this?" the doctor asked. His eyes watered with sadness. "It's not too late to rip this up," he said, waving the paper in my direction.
The doctor probably sensed I was torn, but it was my decision to make my life—make that our lives—easier. My husband wasn't strong enough to survive on his own, and I didn't want to spend our future taking care of him. I mean, what if I had to push him around in a wheelchair? Or hire someone to bathe and feed him? I was a beautiful, vibrant, sexy, thirty-five-years-young woman ready to share the spotlight of being an executive vice president/general manager's wife. I didn't sign a license to be his caretaker.
Oh, well. I'm convinced. A blissful marriage is never going to happen. At least not with Roosevelt "Chicago" DuBois. His professional administrative football career is over.
Letting Roosevelt go was easier than telling my husband the three-month-old baby inside me might not be his. There was a chance I could give birth to a child who would remind me every day that I'd cheated. Why? Because of the bet I'd made with my girlfriend.
Four weeks ago on my wedding day, I was the envy of all women—single and married—in Houston, including my so-called best friend, Loretta. Should've left her ass alone years ago. She was a real jealous bitch. If she wasn't trying so hard to impress my husband, she might have one of her own.
Sadly I said, "Please leave."
Soon as the doctor left the room, I cried out loud, "Dear God, what's the lesson here? I know I'm not perfect, but what did I do to deserve—" I stopped. I threw my hands up, then added, "Don't answer that." I touched my stomach. My only prayer was "Let Roosevelt be the father."
That way, I'd still have a piece of him to love. Our child needed a father, but not one who might be brain damaged. Roosevelt wasn't the first man who proposed to me. He was the ninth. But he was the first one who loved me enough for me to marry him. When he died, I would become a lonely woman, but not for long. I'd scatter his ashes over the Gulf of Mexico, then celebrate the great memories we shared. We didn't have a prenuptial, so legally I'd inherit his millions. Eventually another man would fall in love with me and help me raise my child.
Many would call me a bitch. Roosevelt's mother, Helen DuBois, would be first in line. His only brother, Chaz, would stand beside her.
What they didn't know was, I was not responsible for Roosevelt getting shot. My so-called Christian girlfriend was. She was the one who'd insisted that I not hire security, and she'd shown up at my wedding reception with a gun in her purse. That's what I'd heard from our friend Tisha.
In hindsight I realized Loretta could have pulled the trigger herself.
"Man, I keep telling y'all I was framed."
I wasn't completely innocent. They knew that. I did too. It wasn't 100 percent my fault, but the way it went down made me look like the bad guy. Now the government got my mama thinking I'm a freeloader.
The Feds putting a roof over my head and food in my stomach at the downtown detention center was okay for a lil while, since I'd paid into the system, after all. But Mama said since space was limited, they could give my bed to someone who deserved it.
No one could make Moms believe that her darling, adorable, precious son shot a man. No, siree. Mama was so sure I didn't do it, she'd convinced me.
During her visit last week, Mama told the guard, "I've fed my two boys all their lives till they was old enough to buy me tons of seafood. I like seafood. You like seafood? I'ma bring you some next time I come. Anyway, my sons ain't never needed no welfare of any kind, and they ain't never been in trouble with the law. You and nobody else gon' make me a liar. I know my boy didn't shoot nobody 'cause I raised him better than that."
Mama was right, but complaining to the guard wasn't going to free me. I was ready to have my day in court, get out of here, and go back to a construction job so I could resume paying taxes, like the law-abiding citizen that I was.
"Dude, you still hanging on to that not guilty plea. You been in here for four weeks," No Chainz said. "Be lucky they haven't found the gun, or your ass would be in the Texas state pen, sleeping with both eyes open just to keep your asshole shut."
Before the cops arrived, all the guests were running around like chickens with their heads cut off, so I kicked my gun into the swimming pool, hoping the chlorine would wash away my fingerprints. The fact that no one had found the gun, I guess that was luck.
They housed all kinds of criminals in this joint. Murderers. Thieves. Drunk drivers. The Latinos doing time were usually in for doing something illegal to feed their family. The brahs, they were different. Most were back for violating probation. Duh! Didn't they watch Parole Diaries? To me, coming back for doing some shit you know you're not supposed to do didn't make any sense.
Regardless of how I got a break and ended up at this location, I was happy to be downtown. This way, my brother didn't have to travel all the way to state (wherever that was). Heard it was hours away. Being in Houston, Beaux could easily see me once a week.
Precious, the broad I met before getting locked up, came to see me every week too. I thought about taking her off my visitors' list, but she'd promised to slip me a cell phone on her next visit. I needed that phone so I could call Madison and apologize for losing my temper and embarrassing her.
I sat at the table, adjusting my dick. "You see how big my shit is," I said; then I spoke louder. "If any man tries to rape me, he gon' regret it 'cause after I whup his ass, he's gonna get all of this dick down his throat, then up his butt."
Our one openly gay guy stood, snapped his fingers, then said, "Granville, don't tease me. You promise?"
Jacking off had become my thing. Kissing or having sex with a man wasn't. If I got life, I might have to change my mind on some things. I'd only been in for a month.
No Chainz, my cellmate at the federal detention center, said, "Damn, dude. I keep telling you that thing ain't natural. My females in Brazil would love your ass."
He called himself "No Chainz" after his favorite rapper, 2 Chainz. No Chainz believed no matter how long a man was behind bars, his mind was always free. He was up for parole in six months and would have to register as a sex offender.
My Madison had the same number of months before our baby was due. If Madison hadn't had my baby by the time my boy was out, and if I was still locked up, No Chainz said he'd stand in for me in the delivery room. Wasn't sure I wanted his freaky behind seeing what was between my woman's legs. A man doing time wanted to stick his dick deep in a pussy soon as he saw one. Didn't matter who she was. If shit went right, I'd be out before him.
When I first got to FDC, I remembered No Chainz telling me, "Why wait for some fucked-up dream to creep into your head, G, when you can fantasize at any time?" That boy had the wildest stories of traveling the world and sexing the most beautiful women in Rio, especially the girls from Ipanema. His shit about sexy, big-breasted women, with small waists and ridiculous humongous booties, flossing real shoestring bikinis, was so vivid it would make my dick hard as a rock. Sometimes it felt like I had sand in my mouth from going down on them females while they was laying with their legs open on the beach.
No Chainz had served two and a half of his three years for rape. Said the girl was sixteen; he'd just turned eighteen. She's white. He's black. She told her old man and the jury that they were dating and their sex was consensual. That girl had begged her father not to make her press charges and pleaded with the jury not to find No Chainz guilty. But her old man was one of those rifle-toting rednecks who was outraged that his little Lucy had been spoiled by one of us. Her daddy had claimed either the system was going to give him justice or he was going to shoot No Chainz dead. Sometimes prisons saved lives.
I boldly said, "Correction. I've been in here three weeks and five days."
"Shy forty-eight hours? Round up, nigga."
My dad, rest his soul, had told me and my brother, "Y'all too big and too black to be careless." If we wanted to go with a white woman, our daddy told us, "Go to the West."
People in California didn't so much mind that interracial dating thing. Same-sex thing. I heard they sat in trees to keep 'em from being chopped down. In the South, they might not lynch cha nowadays, but they sure won't hesitate to lock you up. I managed to stay a free man for forty-five years. Guess it was just my turn.
"Okay, so explain your position again, Granville, because every day your alibi changes." No Chainz turned sideways on his stool and faced me.
A new guy I hadn't seen before sat between us at our lunch table. He leaned over his tray and started eating slop. We got quiet. He didn't seem like he belonged in prison, so I didn't bother raising him up and making him move. That, and I didn't have anything to prove to any of these guys.
My wrestling skills from back in my high-school days came in handy when I had to pin a fool to the floor for challenging me. I only hammered the ones who refused to surrender. Act too big of a fool and off you go to unit seven, on the seventh floor, to be housed with the worst criminals in here. That was where solitary was too. I wasn't trying to be in a small room twenty-three hours a day by myself. I liked to talk too much.
"What you in for?" I asked the new guy.
He swallowed his soupy mashed potatoes. Kept staring at his tray. "Life, maybe. Nothing, maybe. Depends on how the jury view my situation."
The new guy spoke slowly, like Ving Rhames did in the movie Baby Boy. Some said I favored the way that dude looked. Wish I had his fame. That way, Madison would be chasing me.
This new guy had a smooth New Yorkish swag that I liked, but he was white. I frowned as I listened.
"Depends on whether or not I represent myself."
Whoa. Represent himself? That's it! Why hadn't I consider that?
"Dude, what makes you think you can present your own case? The jury won't take you serious. Isn't that like admitting you're guilty?" I asked, more curious than anything.
Some guys in my unit had done that, but they'd all lost. But we couldn't all lose. Somebody had to be smart enough to beat the law.
"It's my right. Yours too. That, and I'm an attorney."
Slapping the table, I accidentally made his potatoes shoot in the air, then plop on his plate. I laughed. He didn't.
No Chainz said, "Stop playing with dude's food."
"Well, obviously he's not a good one. Or he wouldn't be breaking bread with us," I said, clearing my scratchy throat.
Raising his brows, he rubbed his hand over his blond hair, staring at me with his dark brown eyes, which sank far behind his forehead. He said, "Well, I can tell you're not a lawyer. You're the type that's accustomed to using your hands and not your head. A real Mandingo, dick-slinging African American who thinks his johnson defines him, huh, Shrek?"
No Chainz laughed. I didn't.
No, that Herman Munster-looking dude didn't call me "Shrek."
"You don't have to respond. I can tell you're not in here because you're a criminal. You're in here because you're ignorant."
My mouth curved down. Above, my lip started sweating. I slid the back of my hand over my skinny mustache, then dried it on my pants. I should've wiped it on him. I didn't know whether to be flattered, pissed off, or beat his ass.
He was about five feet ten inches, and weighed around the same as No Chainz, 190, definitely under two hundred. Even behind bars a white man had more rights than me. I'd show him that I was smart. I focused on the part where he said he might represent himself. It was kind of hard, damn near impossible for him to insult me. My mom loved and sang my praises all the time. Women, they cursed me out almost every day.
Excerpted from I'd Rather Be With You by Mary B. Morrison. Copyright © 2013 by Mary B. Morrison. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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