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Scream My Name
By KIMBERLY KAYE TERRY
Copyright © 2009
Kimberly Kaye Terry
All right reserved.
Chapter One "You're on the line with Carmelicious-what's on your mind?" The smooth, husky-timbered voice poured like milk chocolate into Leila's Jeep.
Leila uttered a mild curse, coming to a near halt in the bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-35N, due to an accident further up the highway.
Just her luck. Of course there would be an accident, when she needed-desperately needed-to make good time.
Her eyes darted to the flashing numbers on the clock on her dashboard. She couldn't be late for the appointment she had scheduled with the investor. Too much was riding on this meeting.
She blew out a frustrated breath of air, smoothed one of her locs behind her ear, and turned up the volume on the radio.
"Yeah, yeah-hey, Carmelicious, this is your boy, Andre."
"Hello, Andre, I'm listening ... what's on your mind?"
"Well, now see, this is my first time listenin' to your show, and girl, I don't know what you women are thinkin' saying it's a man's job to take care of the financial end and whatnot of a relationship! Y'all done got it twisted!"
"Oh, yeah, Andre? And how have we 'done got it ... twisted?'" There was only a small change in inflection in her softly accented southern voice, a change Leila knew good and well boded ill for the hapless caller-one he was too dense to pick up on.
Andre continued, "Yeah, that's right, this is the new millennium and last time I checked, it was women who started all this equal rights stuff way back in the day. If y'all want equal rights on jobs and thangs, why stop there? Why get all hot around the collar if a man expects the woman to chip in, you know, to-"
"Earn her keep, Andre?" Carmelicious smoothly supplied.
"Yeah! You know what I'm sayin', girl! That's it, that's it! Earn her keep! Ain't nothin' for free these days, is what I'm sayin'. So, if a woman expects a man to do for her, well now she damn sure needs to do somethin' for him. Remember that song from back in the day: 'If you do for me, I'll do for you?' Yeah, that's what time it is!"
"And just what is she supposed to do for him?" Carmelicious asked, and despite her frustration, Leila smiled at the DJ's oh-so-innocent voice.
"Like that last caller, asking if it's wrong for a woman to want a man to take her out to a five-star restaurant-to wine and dine her. Hell, yeah, there's something wrong wit it! Women been gettin' a free ride for too long! Why a man gotta bleed his pockets dry to show a woman a good time in order to get a little sniff of that kitty cat? See here, I can make that cat purr, baby, I can make it purr ... groowwl ... you hear me?" Andre asked, warming to his topic, now on a roll.
"Uh huh, I hear you, Andre, I hear you! You're even giving Carmelicious sound effects! So no, I ain't mad at you! Go on, Andre."
The caller laughed, foolishly encouraged by Carmelicious's antics as she egged him on further, thinking she was on board with his craziness. Leila shook her head and inched along in the mad rush-hour traffic, checking the clock on her dashboard, for the third time in the last five minutes.
She had less than twenty minutes to get to her appointment with the investor.
Or with the man she hoped would be an investor. God, she needed some serious cash pouring in right about now if she planned on landing a lucrative account with a local fundraising group, catering all their special events, including all their deliciously lucrative political dinners. Leila visualized her near future with a nearly orgasmic shudder of anticipation.
Landing the account would mean bumping up Aunt Sadie's Café, and its new catering side to the next level. Taking Aunt Sadie's to a higher level would mean she could stop working night and day at the café, and hire more people to work for her. She'd be able to enjoy life for the first time in years.
She didn't know the last time she'd gone out and had fun, just a day of shopping without worrying about a check not clearing, or charging one credit card to pay another, robbing Peter to pay Paul. And then there was Mary, with her hand out constantly, asking where her money was. She'd be able to stop playing a juggling act with her food distributors in order to get the supplies she needed to run her business.
And the latest bit of information, that a land developer wanted to buy out the entire two blocks of land where Aunt Sadie's Café had resided for forty years, along with the other small neighboring businesses, was a headache she most definitely didn't need.
Just the thought of her last exchange with Brandan Walters created an instant knot of tension at the back of her head. Damn him.
Leila blew a tired breath of air, and blindly reached for the ever ready bottle of Motrin in the middle of her console near the gear shift.
She couldn't let Aunt Sadie's fold, and she was damned if she'd sell it out to the highest bidder. That was not going to happen. She had to make Aunt Sadie's a success; it was all she had left of her great-aunt.
The memories of the two of them working side by side for years, from the time she was a small child and then came to live with Sadie were ones Leila cherished, and no amount of money would lure her into selling the property.
She'd worked day in and day out at the business, along with her small, overworked staff, in order keep the business afloat after Aunt Sadie died. Leila had let things slide then, but felt guilty when she'd climbed out of her grief long enough to see what had happened to the business. She became more determined than ever to see it successful.
And damn if she was going to allow another greedy, self-absorbed conglomeration steal her dreams for the café.
Her great-aunt, the indomitable Aunt Sadie the café was named for, started the business forty years ago, and had lovingly created such delicious meals that the small diner had grown and prospered. When Leila graduated from culinary school, she'd joined her great-aunt, and the two expanded the café to include a catering business.
Her great-aunt was not only a great chef, but was also an astute businesswoman. Leila had been excited about their new ideas, and the pair began to make plans for expansion. They started talks with the shop owner next door, Mr. Gomez, who was ready to retire, about buying his shop. Plans included remodeling the café and adding to the menu some of the more exotic dishes that Leila had become expert at creating, as well as teaching their small staff some of the culinary skills she'd learned in school.
All of that had come to a screeching halt when Sadie had suffered a stroke. After her stroke, she'd had rehab, and although she had to take it easier, she'd rebounded and joined Leila back in the business. Then, everything had been going fine until her great-aunt had suffered more back-to-back strokes that had ultimately proved fatal.
Leila had been lost without Sadie.
Her great-aunt had raised her from infancy after her parents died in a car accident. Sadie had been the only mother, the only family, she'd ever known. Without her, Leila was alone and grief stricken, and the business had suffered.
It had taken reading one of her aunt's old notes she'd found folded in her favorite Bible while clearing out the old dusty attic, to finally allow the pain of her loss to be relieved.
Sadie had always had some quip, always said the right thing at the right time to make Leila feel better. Leila had been going through her things when she'd found her personal black Bible, and opening it, she found a letter Sadie had written to her. In the note she'd written a simple passage that had allowed the tears to flow from Leila's eyes, the pent-up emotions she'd held in check for so long to have free reign, and in doing so, her healing had begun.
Leila, baby, you've been my joy. Without you my life would not have been as rich or as blessed as it has been. Now I know you're probably sad, crying, and carrying on, girl ... stop those tears. I still want my grandbabies and won't no man want to look at you all red in the face, eyes all swollen, snot running down your nose, if you keep on with all that!
Through her tears, Leila had laughed out loud at Sadie's words. Swallowing her tears and wiping her face with the back of her sleeve, she'd continued reading.
There is "a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance." I'm not going to quote the rest, because I raised you right and I know you know the passage. Baby, the best thing you can do for your auntie is live and enjoy your life, make Aunt Sadie's all we knew it could be, and find a good man! You do all that, and know that your mama-cause you know you're like my very own baby, the child of my heart-is smiling down at you, happy that her baby is living her life the way I taught her to. And don't forget my grandbabies!
By the end of the note, the tears had gradually come to an end, and Leila was smiling. She'd groaned and laughed when she read the last line, carefully refolded the note, and tucked it back into the worn old Bible, determined to honor her great-aunt's request.
"All except that last line," Leila murmured out loud as she maneuvered in the heavy traffic. "I don't see that happening anytime soon. Auntie Sadie, I need a man for that, and the ones I've come across lately definitely don't bring out any maternal longings in me."
When she noticed the traffic easing, she sighed in relief, downshifted her gears, and switched lanes, seeing her exit coming up ahead.
"Hell, I once took a woman to a lake for a good time with a sack lunch and a smile, and when it was time to get down with it ... let's just say that the young lady was nice and wet ... and not from the lake, if you catchin' what I'm throwin' you, girl," the caller Andre guffawed, still on the air with Carmelicious.
Leila put her thoughts of Aunt Sadie and the woes of her business out of her mind, a small grin stretching her mouth as she listened to Carmelicious's caller.
"Oh, God ... no, he didn't," Leila groaned, her attention divided between the hellacious traffic and the nut job on the radio who didn't know Carmelicious was about to serve him his balls on the proverbial platter.
"Oh, yeah, Andre, I do indeed get what you throwing me, playa," the disc jockey laughed lightly. "Tell me more." Carmelicious encouraged the man, her voice still low, sexy, and totally in control.
As though what the caller was saying didn't bother her in the least.
As though she wasn't about to lower the boom. As though she wasn't seconds away from letting him have it.
"You're about to get schooled, dude," Leila murmured out loud. The traffic eased and she pressed her foot on the accelerator and shifted the gear stick, finally able to pass the accident, and sped along the highway.
The man didn't know what he had coming, had no idea what he'd gotten himself into. Leila picked up the remote and tapped one of her short nail tips on the small button to raise the volume on her car radio.
"What would you call a nice time? Hmmm ... why don't you tell Carmelicious about this park date, about what you did to get her all nice and wet. Hmmm? I'm listening, Boo." Her voice practically oozed sugar and sweetness as she handed poor Andre the rope to hang himself.
And she called him Boo.
Leila made a tsk sound and shook her head.
Whenever Carmelicious called one of the hapless males that called into the show Boo, it wasn't an endearment.
This was going to get ugly.
Leila reached down and moved the lever on the side of the seat, and eased herself back. Might as well get comfortable and watch-or listen, as the case may be-to the upcoming train wreck. She lightly rested her hands on her Jeep Cherokee's leathered-covered steering wheel, and relaxed.
"Okay, well ... after I picked her up, I noticed she was all dressed up, real fancy like, you know?"
"I could imagine," Carmelicious said.
"Yeah, well, uh, then," Andre paused, hesitant, no longer feeling so confident. But he plowed through anyway: "I told her, I said, 'Girl, you might as well change clothes now. Where we're going don't require all that fancy stuff you got on.' Told her there was a change in plans. I was taking her to the lake for a nice moonlit picnic."
"And she was okay with that, Andre? The change in plans, I mean?"
"Yeah, she was cool. Got real excited in fact. So we got to the lake and swam for a while. At first she acted all sididy when the lake I took her to didn't have nobody there. Hell, I thought she'd 'preciate that it was so cozy, with nobody around, just me and her."
"Maybe she was expecting something a little less ... destitute?" Carmelicious piped in, and if the man had had any sense he would have noticed that her smooth voice had a distinctly sharp edge to it.
Instead, he went on as though he was the wronged party.
"Desti-what? Anyways, I spread out a blanket. It was kind of itchy, was one of my green army blankets, so I made sure I put my T-shirt on top of the spot she was sitting so she wouldn't get itchy."
He went on to explain how when the time came for him to make his move, after they'd eaten the authentic Philly steak sandwiches he'd bought back from Austin from the barbeque joint his cousin Melford owned, the young lady refused him.
"Come talkin' 'bout how she don't roll like that! I told her ass she better roll like somethin' cause I didn't go all the way to Austin for them sammiches for nothing!" The more he got into his story of how she was unappreciative of his moonlit picnic at the abandoned lake, the more animated his voice was, the more boisterous he became, until he became downright indignant.
"Umm, hmmm," Carmelicious replied.
"I was 'bout ready to take her unappreciating ass home when she stripped out of her clothes. And oooh wee! Girly had it going on! Apple Bottoms all the way, if you know what I'm sayin'!" He chuckled. "Well, you know, I thought it was time to make that move, yanno? I mean, it was time to get down to the dirty, dirty!" Andre's voice, as he was now fully into his story, was high-pitched. So much so that Leila had to adjust the volume on her radio.
"So after she gets all wet, swimming and whatnot, it's time for Andre to show baby girl how I make a girl wet. Don't need no water, no swimmin', the only strokin' she'd be gettin' was from Daddy Long Stroke, if you get what I'm sayin'." He laughed again at his lame attempt at witticism.
There was a full five second pause after he spoke.
"You still there, Carmelicious?" he asked.
"Yeah, I'm here, Boo."
"Oh. Okay. So what you think about all that?"
"Do you really want to know what I think about you and your Philly steak sammiches, your cheap-ass dating practices, and your Daddy Long Strokes? I think you need to buy a clue, sweetheart. Now. Do not walk. Do not amble. Do not skip. Run. Run to your nearest clue dealer, barefoot and naked if you need to, and buy your ass a clue. If you really want to get a woman nice and wet, treat her with respect. Dignity. Take her to a restaurant where you don't talk into the head of a big-ass clown to take your order. Pull out her chair. Compliment her if she's looking fly when you pick her up for a date instead of telling her to change clothes. If she needs you to help her out, not just with the financial, but with whatever, if you call yourself her man, do it. Hell, take out the trash for her without her having to ask your rusty ass. See, Boo, that's what really gets us women nice and wet."
With that, a very loud dial tone hummed, before Carmelicious continued. "Maybe I should change the name of the show to Nice and Wet. What do you all think?" the DJ laughed. "Alright now, ladies, after educating the latest booga boo for the day, it's time for your honey-colored, self-proclaiiimed doctor of love and 'lationships-and yeah, y'all know I stole that line from Babyface-to roll out!"
Leila, still chuckling over the latest "booga boo" that Carmelicious ministered the long hand of justice to, eased over into the next lane. The road had cleared and she was finally able to pick up speed and maneuver out of the early morning rush.
"I'll catch you all tomorrow. Now it's time for Mr. Clancy O'Neil to take over and start your workday off right with the R&B that gets your heart thumping, your feet tapping, and your booty moving ... on your number one smooth R&B station, from yesterday and today, the one the only KLJS. But I'll see you here bright and early Monday morning. Now it's time for Mr. Clancy O'Neil to take over and start your Friday workday. And ladies, if you run across a man with a greasy-assed sack lunch with a Philly steak sammich and a smile ... run, do not walk, in the opposite direction from that fool as fast as your two feet will carry you! Your girl is out of here for the day, but remember Carmelicious's three S's: always play it sexy, smart, and safe. Y'all be good, but if you can't be good, be delicious in your naughty!" (Continues...)
Excerpted from Scream My Name by KIMBERLY KAYE TERRY Copyright © 2009 by Kimberly Kaye Terry. Excerpted by permission.
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