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Playing the Hand You're Dealt

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Overview

Sometimes the simple truth is the hardest to face. . .

From her old-fashioned name to her gentle nature, everyone in Emily Eloise Snow's Atlanta, Georgia, hometown knows her as a sweet young woman who always does what's right. That's how her widowed mother raised her. But when Emily's mother dies, her quiet life is shaken to its core, leaving her devastated--and ready for a fresh start. With the encouragement of her bolder, wilder best friend, Samantha, Emily moves to ...

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Overview

Sometimes the simple truth is the hardest to face. . .

From her old-fashioned name to her gentle nature, everyone in Emily Eloise Snow's Atlanta, Georgia, hometown knows her as a sweet young woman who always does what's right. That's how her widowed mother raised her. But when Emily's mother dies, her quiet life is shaken to its core, leaving her devastated--and ready for a fresh start. With the encouragement of her bolder, wilder best friend, Samantha, Emily moves to Washington, D.C. Samantha is sure D.C. will bring Emily her heart's desire. But that's exactly what Emily is afraid of. . .

Since she was eighteen, Emily has fought a fierce longing even Samantha doesn't know about--a love for a man that would break just about every rule she's spent her life following. And each step closer to D.C. is a step closer to him--and a choice that could destroy not just her life as she knows it, but the image of the woman, and the friend, everyone believes her to be. Now, facing the ultimate test, only Emily can decide if the losses will be worth the gains...

"Another wonderful, emotionally-charged page-turner by Trice Hickman." –Urban Reviews

"Will keep you guessing straight through to the explosive ending." –Victoria Christopher Murray

"I can't wait to see what Trice Hickman does next!" --Mary Monroe

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758294111
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 7/1/2014
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 637,339
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Playing the Hand You're Dealt


By Trice Hickman

DAFINA BOOKS

Copyright © 2010 Trice Hickman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-6908-9


Chapter One

Emily ...

What My Heart Desired

What do you do when you know right from wrong, and you know that what you're about to do is dead wrong, but you decide to do it anyway?

That was my predicament. My name is Emily Eloise Snow. It's an old-fashioned name for a young woman, and I guess that's the way my life had always been ... something that wasn't quite what it seemed.

Actually, I wasn't surprised that I was stuck in this conundrum because Ms. Marabelle had predicted it several months ago, before I set out on this journey.

"Emily, you been waitin' a mighty long spell, and now it's time fo' you to follow yo heart," Ms. Marabelle had said to me in her low, raspy voice. "It ain't gon' be easy, and the road ahead's gon' be rough in some spots,but you got to ride it out 'cause love is waitin' on you. You finally gon' be happy, chile."

Marabelle Jackson, by my estimation, was at least ninety years old, and the tiny, gray-haired woman's mystical powers were well known and trusted in my small, tight-knit community. Ms. Marabelle had what people called the gift. She foretold things that eventually would come to pass. She forecasted floods, tornados, and other natural disasters months and sometimes years before they happened, and accurately predicted prosperity as well as devastation for those who sought her out for personal readings. I had always tried to stay as far away from Ms. Marabelle as was humanly possible. She scared me with her haunting prophecies and cryptic visions, not because they were astonishingly accurate, but more so because they were usually full of gloom and doom—at least for me.

Now that Ms. Marabelle had finally told me that something good would unfold in my life, her prediction was tainted by the promise of hardship on the horizon, a rough road ahead, and I knew exactly what that meant. Her words sent me into a free fall of emotions that haven't stopped since they rang in my ears.

As I pondered my fate, I tried to concentrate on the road ahead because I was driving in unfamiliar territory, knowing that my final destination could very well be a place somewhere between virtual happiness and a living hell.

All my life, I had always tried to do the right things.

She's so nice. You can always count on Emily. She's a good girl. That was how people in my neighborhood, school, church, and hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, described me. Growing up, my mother used to say I was the kind of child that every parent wished for, smart, kind, obedient, and loving. As I matured, I grew into the kind of young woman who men wanted to take home to meet their mothers, and who mothers wanted their sons to marry. And as more years passed I became a responsible, levelheaded adult, dependable and solid in character—qualities that had been part blessing, part curse.

I tried to treat people with the same respect and courtesy I'd want in return because that was how I was raised. I put careful thought and consideration into my choices before I made them, and I pretty much played by the rules. But therein was my problem, presenting the troubling quandary that held me in its grip for the last few months. It was the delicate balance between exercising good judgment and throwing caution to the wind so I could finally have what I wanted, however risky it might be.

As I eased off the gas pedal, making a sharp right turn onto another busy street, my car sputtered and ambled along, just like my state of mind. I wasn't good at city driving, but like many things in my life, it was something I'd have to get used to. So I continued my course, navigating through the congested streets of northwest Washington, DC, my stomach rumbling and turning with the thought of what awaited me once I reached the red brick colonial on Sixteenth Street.

I kept telling myself that I couldn't give in to the warm sensation that had been keeping me up late at night because it was much too dangerous a proposition. But I couldn't help it. With each mile I traveled, I inched closer and closer to the man who'd been holding my heart hostage for the past eleven years. He was what I both passionately loved and desperately feared.

It had been seven months since I'd last seen him, and unfortunately, that occasion had been one of great sorrow. I'd been in a haze, barely able to enjoy the sweetness his presence usually brought when he was near. I had searched for him among the small gathering of friends and visitors who surrounded me that sad, dreary weekend.

"God will see you through this, Emily," mourners whispered to me in somber tones, offering hugs of condolence for the loss of my mother. I appreciated the kind words and genuine show of affection that friends and church members had offered, but I'd been much too numb to really absorb them. Those days whizzed by like blank flash cards. But when I looked up and saw him through the sea of faces gathered at the church, it was the first time in a week that I hadn't felt dead, too. And even though our encounter was brief, as most of them had been over the years, it was, as always, meaningful.

After my mother's funeral, my world moved slowly, limping along in a crooked groove. Losing her devastated me. I lost my father when I was ten years old. One evening he went to the corner store for a carton of milk, despite my mother repeatedly urging him not to go. "It's too late to be out this time of night," she had said. She told him that she and I could have toast and fruit for breakfast instead of the corn flakes we both loved to eat every morning.

But my father wouldn't hear of it. "I'm gonna get my two favorite girls what they want," he told my mother before heading out the door. He was standing at the counter, ready to make his purchase when two thugs shot and killed him for the $21.34 in his pocket. It was my indoctrination into shattered hopes and stolen dreams.

I was an only child, and both my parents had been as well. Mom and I were all each other had left. Even though I was blessed with a small but close circle of friends, nothing could replace the inviolable bond of maternal flesh and blood. To lose your mother, your first connection to the world, is a hard thing to wrap your mind around.

I thought about Mom and sighed as I came to a stoplight at yet another confusing intersection. "Where in the world am I?" I mumbled aloud, glancing down at my iPhone's screen. The GPS app I'd downloaded had frozen yet again. I tried to gather my bearings as I recalled what my mother used to say whenever she got turned around in an unfamiliar part of town. "I'm not lost, I'm just exploring," she would announce with conviction. I smiled, remembering her remarkable optimism. I could really use her help right now.

Although it had been seven months since I buried my mother, I still couldn't believe she was gone. I had braced myself for her death because she'd been sick for so long, and because like other sad things in my life, Ms. Marabelle had predicted it. Mom battled multiple sclerosis until the degenerative disease eventually won the long war it had raged against her body. But when death finally came to claim her, I hadn't expected the magnitude of grief and emptiness that followed.

Thank goodness I had my ace, my best friend, Samantha Baldwin. Samantha was the sister I'd never had, and she was a lifesaver. She comforted me and helped me to cope with the heartache and pain I suffered after Mom's funeral. Samantha was also part of the reason why I was driving through a maze of Friday-afternoon rush-hour traffic, headed straight toward what could either make me whole or tear me into tiny pieces.

Samantha had talked me into moving here to DC, which was her hometown; Chocolate City, as she affectionately called it. She said that DC would be good for me, that it was the perfect elixir I needed to help me get on with my life and make a new start. "DC will bring you your heart's desires," she told me just a week ago when I was packing boxes.

I literally shook in my sandals when I heard my best friend's words. I was petrified of what my new start could possibly bring, and I felt that way because I knew what Samantha didn't. I knew deep down that if I got what I wanted, what my heart truly desired, it could not only change the course of my life as I had known it, it stood to disrupt the foundation of loyalty and trust on which we had built our rock-solid friendship and sisterhood.

The raw, naked truth was simple. What my heart truly desired was the man I had been in love with for the better part of my adult life—and that man just happened to be Samantha's father.

Chapter Two

Samantha ...

The Pleasure Palace

I looked at my watch for what had to have been the one hundredth time in the last hour. Normally, I wasn't a time-conscious person—far from it. But I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my best friend, Emily. I was busy all day, running errands and making sure I had everything in place to welcome her to her temporary home.

Emily was staying here with my parents until her contractor finished renovating her new home, which I prayed, for her sake, wouldn't take much longer. Living under the same roof with my mother could make you want to slit your wrists. Let me tell you, that woman's a certified trip! A little bit of her went a hell of a long way, and trust me, that was a generous assessment. But if anyone could put up with my mother's bullshit, it was Emily. She had the patience of Job.

Actually, Mother probably won't give Emily as hard a time as she gives everyone else, and that's because Emily was one of the few people who just barely met her impossibly high standards—something I'd never be able to do. Mother was always telling me, "Emily is so responsible. Why can't you be more like your friend?" When she made comments like that, I'd just laugh and tell her it was because I was too much like her. That usually pissed her off because deep down, she knew there was a little truth in my words. Ironically, we were more alike than either of us cared to admit; she was just more refined about her shit than I was. But honestly, the real difference between my mother and me was that she was a genuine phony, and I wasn't. As you can tell, I've got issues with my mother, Brenda Justine Baldwin.

My mother and father married young, practically the day after they both graduated from Howard University. She claimed it was because they were so much in love that they didn't want to wait. Puh-leeze! She could save that lie for someone who'd believe it. I did the math, and my brother's birthday and their anniversary fell within five months of each other ... and my brother wasn't a preemie, okay?

Even though Mother had never worked at anybody's job a single day of her life, she had the nerve to tell me about my "unacceptable" work habits. She volunteered at every museum in town, was a member of every bourgeois black women's organization you could think of, and she acted like the elaborate parties she threw were the second coming of Christ. Oh, and did I mention that she was a drama queen for your ass? Some of the stunts she pulled could win her a Daytime Emmy. Seriously!

I was much closer to my father, Edward Curtis Baldwin. He was a great man, and I would say that even if he wasn't my daddy. He was handsome, smart as hell, understanding, and fair. He was also a well-respected attorney who made a shitload of money. But it wasn't about the paper for Daddy. The reward for him was going up against big corporations who didn't give a damn about the little guy, and frying their asses in court. My father was cool as hell, too. Even though I had disappointed him on many occasions, he still had faith in me.

Emily had faith in me, too. That was one of the many reasons why I loved her like she was my blood, and why I had gotten up early this morning, which was a major feat for me, and driven all over the city buying special treats to make a customized gift basket to properly welcome her to town.

I started out at Whole Foods, filling my small shopping cart with some of Emily's favorite herbal teas, fresh fruit, and snack bars. She was an avid reader, so after I checked off all the items on my shopping list, I headed across town to the bookstore and picked up a few novels by some of her favorite authors. And last but certainly not least on my agenda was my most important stop of the day—the Pleasure Palace, in Georgetown. That was my spot! You can never go wrong with gifts from a sex shop; after all, everybody's got to get their freak on, right? I hand-picked an assortment of special goodies that I hoped Emily would be able to put to good use, 'cause truth be told, my friend needed a little spice in her life!

After I returned home, I took my time putting together the huge wicker basket, filling it with treats. I reached into the box that arrived from California yesterday and removed the Drippin' Nectar all-natural bath and body products I had ordered, which were Emily's favorites, and added the sweet-smelling jars of whipped shea body butter and sugar body scrub to the hefty basket. I wrapped it all in clear cellophane and topped it off with a silk turquoise bow, Emily's favorite color. I walked down the hall and placed her welcome gift atop the large dresser in the guest room where she'll be staying.

I returned to my old bedroom where I stayed when I was in town. I lived and worked in New York City, but the minute that Emily finally decided to move here to DC, I put in my paperwork for a transfer. Right now, she needed a good friend by her side, and hey, I was the best. I was also Lancôme's best senior account manager in the area, and that's why my regional director eagerly approved my request. In thirty days I'd be back in my city, Chocolate City, moving into my new condo. And the ironic part was that even though we hadn't planned it, Emily and I would be living just ten minutes from each other.

As I stood in front of the mirror of my old dresser, lightly dabbing my forehead, nose, and chin with the honey-colored makeup in my compact, I thought about how much fun Emily and I were going to have now that we'd be in the same city again. We hadn't lived near each other since we graduated from Spelman College eight years ago. And even though we talked on the phone nearly every day, it didn't replace having the comfort of a best friend nearby.

I checked my watch again. It was nearly six o'clock, and Emily would be arriving any minute. Unlike me, the girl was a stickler for time. She was so damn punctual it was ridiculous, and if she said she was going to be somewhere at a certain time, you could bet cash money she'd be there.

Beep, beep, beep, my cell phone rang. I knew it had to be Emily, calling to let me know that she was on her way. I smiled with excitement, but when I looked at the caller ID, the corners of my mouth faded into a deep frown. There were only two people who could cause me to scowl in frustration: my mother, and the man on the other end of the line." What the hell does he want?" I huffed aloud as I stared at the digits, which seemed to jump out at me.

I hesitated for a few seconds, trying to decide if I should pick up. Beep, beep, beep, my phone chimed again. "Dammit!" I moaned. I knew I couldn't keep avoiding him, so I pressed the Talk button. "What do you want?" I said to Carl, hoping I sounded as pissed as I was at the moment.

"Why you always gotta step to a brothah wit' a attitude?" Carl snapped back at me.

I rolled my eyes so hard he probably felt it through the phone. I didn't have much patience for his drama. "Carl, I don't have time to fool with you today. I've got a ton of stuff to do before Emily gets here."

"First off, watch your tone," he piped up. "You always so hyper and shit. I was just callin' to check on you and see how you been."

"I'm fine," I responded in a flat tone.

"You been in town three days, why you ain't call a brothah?"

My eyebrows rose a notch. "How do you know how long I've been in town?"

"'Cause I just know."

I didn't like this one bit. I knew the type of things that Carl was capable of, and having me followed was just one of them. I was about to give him a piece of my mind when my son walked into the room. "Hold on," I said to Carl, quickly putting my phone on mute.

"Is Auntie Emee here yet?" CJ asked.

I looked into my son's hopeful eyes. He was so excited about seeing Emily ."No, CJ, but she's on her way. Why don't you go to your room and play until she gets here."

CJ looked disappointed and anxious at the same time. He'd been asking about Emily's arrival every ten minutes, and it was beginning to drive me crazy. But I couldn't get too frustrated with him because I understood how much he loved my best friend. In many ways, Emily was more of a mother to him than I was and probably ever would be.

CJ looked down at his feet, then back up at me. "I'm going downstairs with Gerti," he said. "She's cooking good food for Auntie Emee!"

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Playing the Hand You're Dealt by Trice Hickman Copyright © 2010 by Trice Hickman. Excerpted by permission of DAFINA BOOKS. 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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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(9)

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2013

    J

    This one was pretty good. If I changed anything it would have been the ending; that's the part that should have been more drawn out. & told instead of summarized.

    3.8 stars, 341 pages

    JaKai

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2013

    Great Book

    This was a great story, a real page turner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Highly Recommended!

    Wonderful read -- when I wasn't laughing, I was crying. I found myself unable to put he book down and reading until 3a in the morning. You won't regret your purchase.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    That tricky kind of love

    Samantha Baldwin is born with a platinum spoon but can't shake her attraction to the thug in her child's father. She used to the wild life of no responsibility despite the fact that she doesn't have to want for anything financially. She sabotages any chance of being truly happy because of self contempt.

    Emily Snow wasn't born with as many leisure's as her best friend but she has lived by the golden rule which has allowed her to live a safe life. When her mother passes away she decided to switch things up in her life and take chances that she normally wouldn't take. Like exploring her attraction to her best friend's father.

    This book was very entertaining. I loved the fact that the author was not afraid to step out of what was safe and comfortable and write a book that explored something that is just a little taboo. Almost everyone sees the attraction between Emily Snow and Ed Baldwin, that is everyone except for Samantha and her self absorbed mother who knows that something is going on but can place her finger on it. Feeling each person's emotions as they went through the same situations was priceless. The anxiety and sexual tension that built up between Ed and Emily intensified my reading pleasure. The only thing I wanted more from was the end. I felt like it just concluded without getting the opportunity to see how the two best friends came back together. I wanted to be a fly on the wall when that happened. Still, this book was still very well written and held my attention throughout.

    Reviewed by:
    Nikkea Smithers
    RWA Bookclub President

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Okay

    This was an okay read. I enojoyed her previous two novels much better.

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  • Posted December 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Sweep around your own backyard!

    Trice Hickman is a Phenomenal writer Playing the Hand Your Dealt will make you dig a little deeper into your own backyard! it's a test of trust, respect, and love I give Trice 5 stars a must read!!!!!!! Ellen Sudderth Of E.S.P.

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  • Posted September 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Engaging

    Best friends Emily and Samantha's relationship has withstood the joys and pains of life. Can their friendship, however, weather their largest storm ever? Emily is in love with Samantha's father and the feeling is mutual.

    On the premise alone, the story had me hook, line and sinker. Best friends, forbidden love...I was anxious to see where Trice Hickman would take this story. She doesn't disappoint. I loved the characters and the realness of their emotions. I really liked this story. "Playing the Hand You're Dealt" was well crafted and smartly executed. It's a book I'd easily recommend to others.

    This was my first read by Trice Hickman, but it certainly won't be my last.

    Reviewed by: Tracy

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  • Posted September 21, 2010

    Page Turner

    "Playing the Hand You're Dealt" is an enjoyable read. It brings to mind all the old sayings, Play with Fire and you'll get burned, Sleep in the bed you made, If you gonna play, play to win. Emily has a secret that she has been keeping from her best friend, Samantha. This secret will put their friendship to the test. Samantha is a girlfriend you would always want in your corner. She would have your back and be ready to fight for your honor. Will she be able to forgive Emily for what may be the worst betrayal ever.

    You will enjoy reading "Playing the Hand You're Dealt" and seeing how these friends play the cards their life has dealt them.

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  • Posted September 13, 2010

    Intriguing Story!

    I absolutely loved this story! Playing the Hand You're Dealt definitely gets 5 stars. I was immediately pulled into the story and couldn't wait to finish. I didn't know where Trice Hickman would go with the storyline, but the twists and turns make for an exciting read. Emily and Samantha have been friends since meeting in college and have shared so much. So when Emily relocates to Washington, D.C., the secret that she has been hiding all these years is sure to come out. Emily is in love with Samantha's father, Ed. Samantha has problems of her own in the love department but she reunites with her former love. Now she wants Emily to find someone of her own and be happy as well. Little does Sam know that Emily has someone and that someone is her own father. When the truth finally comes out, the initial outcome is not a pretty one, but as the years go by, all is forgiven and life goes on. I highly recommend this book for those looking for something a little different. --EbonyReader4Life (Circle of Color Book Club)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 22, 2010

    AAMBC Book Reviews

    When opening Playing the Hand You're Dealt I started to see that Trice Hickman was a great story teller. There wasn't any unnecessary descriptions and I loved the fact that her characters told the story. It was my first time reading a book that was told in first and third person and I liked the format. The story consists of a young woman in love with her best friends father. Now we all know that when we see a young women with a rich old man we instantly think gold digger. But in this book Hickman portrayed that in many cases it can be true love and with the characters Emily and Ed that's exactly what it was. Although I really yearned for more drama in the beginning overall this was a great read. Easy flow and I felt that nothing was left to my imagination. Hickman gave great description, she allowed me to see what was happening in the story verses telling me and this is a sign of a true story teller. The ending was just what I've hoped, we all love happy endings right.

    Tamika Newhouse
    AAMBC Reviewer

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2010

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