The Sisters of Theta Phi Kappaby Kayla Perrin
Jessica, Ellie, Shereen, and Yolanda were the brightest stars of the Theta Phi Kappa Sorority at Howard University. Now, ten years later, they seem to have it all. Jessica is in the limelight, a TV personality whose star is on the rise. Ellie is an optimist, happily engaged in the quest for love. Shereen is a stunning and powerful executive, and Yolanda, the… See more details below
Jessica, Ellie, Shereen, and Yolanda were the brightest stars of the Theta Phi Kappa Sorority at Howard University. Now, ten years later, they seem to have it all. Jessica is in the limelight, a TV personality whose star is on the rise. Ellie is an optimist, happily engaged in the quest for love. Shereen is a stunning and powerful executive, and Yolanda, the strong-willed leader of the group, has defied her roots to capture her vision of the American dream. But years before, these four women banded together to keep a devastating secret-and now, ten years later, someone will do anything to see the secret brought to light. None of them anticipated the consequences of keeping the secret-and now, someone is trying to shatter all their lives. Intense, powerful, page-turning, and emotional, The Sisters of Theta Phi Kappa will keep you guessing and will make you think about the depths of friendship, the price of loyalty, and the bonds of sisterhood.
Author Biography: Kayla Perrin is the author of nine novels. She has received an Arts Acclaim Award for her writing from the city of Brampton, Ontario. Her novel Sweet Honesty was optioned for a television movie. Kayla spends her time between Toronto and Miami, Florida.
- St. Martin's Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- First Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 5.94(w) x 10.18(h) x 1.18(d)
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The Sisters of Theta Phi Kappa
By Kayla Perrin
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2001 Kayla Perrin
All rights reserved.
IT CREEPS LIKE A PREDATOR in the night, lurking in the shadows, waiting.
It deceives like a con artist, making you believe it's dead and buried, when it's really alive, watching your every move.
It bides its time like your opponent, deftly calculating its strategy, waiting for the best time to strike.
It struck Jessica Bedford on a cool but bright day in early February, a day that held the promise of spring. There was nothing different about the day it returned with a vengeance, not a different feel in her bones, a different scent in the air, a different energy around her. Nothing at all that would have prepared her for its arrival.
So when the couriered letter arrived, the one marked PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL in big, bold letters on both sides, Jessica had no reason to suspect that she was about to open a bomb.
"What's this?" she asked Julie, the blond-haired production assistant who'd handed her the package.
"I don't know."
Jessica flipped it over and reached for the tab.
"But," Julie interjected quickly, and Jessica's hand stilled. "It will still be here at the end of the day. Right now, we need to get you to hair and makeup ASAP."
Jessica's hand lingered over the tab, but she finally pulled it back. "All right. Just let me get rid of my stuff, grab a coffee, and I'll head straight to Redmond after that."
"Oh, I can take your coat for you," Julie offered. "Even bring you a coffee."
Her smile was sweet and she sounded genuine, but that was her job — to get Jessica ready for the show as quickly as possible. But Jessica wasn't about to be pressured out of the few minutes of solitude she so cherished each morning. "That's okay. I do like seeing my dressing room on occasion."
Julie flicked her wrist forward and looked at her watch. "Okay. But please hurry. We're on a tight schedule."
When weren't they? Life at the network was always hectic. "I will."
The letter was too big to stuff into her purse, so Jessica slipped it beneath her arm as she continued down the brightly lit hallway. She hoped it wasn't another bizarre letter from some loser declaring his undying love for her.
"For crying out loud!" That was Redmond's desperate bellow. "Where's the coffee?"
Damn, there was no coffee. And she needed some badly, like an addict needing an injection of heroin. Her morning jog had failed to give her the daily boost it usually did. She was just plain exhausted this morning, but at least she was smiling. Douglas, her husband of eighteen months and a producer at the network, had kept her up most of the night with the hottest sex they'd had in weeks. She hadn't minded, but had known she would pay the price in the morning.
"Hey, sweetie," Jessica said to Redmond as she rounded the corner and peered into the small kitchen. He was dressed in all black, except for his beret, which was a myriad of colors. Despite his dark complexion, he could wear black well.
At the sight of her, his scowl turned into a smile. "Hey, baby." He opened his arms to her, and she walked into his embrace. He squeezed her hard, as he did every morning, then pulled away. "Mmm. Do you ever smell good. But that head of yours, we have to do something about it."
"I know." Suddenly self-conscious, Jessica ran a hand through her thick, tightly curled hair. It was always frizzy after she washed it. "You think you can do me something soft and nice, maybe some drop curls? It looked so flat yesterday."
"Girl, you know I can do anything." The scowl returned. "As long as I have me some coffee. I'm gonna try the newsroom kitchen. Give me ten minutes to wake up, then come see me so I can fix that hair."
Jessica headed to her dressing room, where she'd dump her purse and coat. Then she'd do like Redmond and make her way to the newsroom kitchen for a strong cappuccino.
"Ms. Bedford!" she heard before she even had a chance to flip the light switch in her dressing room. She cringed. Couldn't she even get her coat off before everyone expected her to be someplace, do something?
She hit the lights, then dropped the letter and her purse on the love seat. Before she could completely slip out of her long cashmere coat, Denise was in the doorway. The poor girl was out of breath, like she'd just run a marathon. "Morning, Denise."
"Morning, Ms. Bedford."
"Jessica," Jessica corrected, as she did every morning, wondering when Denise would ever call her by the name her mama gave her. Probably around the time Denise stopped acting like a nervous wreck. And Jessica didn't see that happening any time soon, not while the intern continued to work for Phillip, who no doubt gave her endless grief.
"Jessica." Denise seemed to say her name with difficulty. "This is for you." She handed Jessica a clipboard with a stack of papers, on top of which was a copy of a book. "Phillip wanted you to see the new notes as soon as possible, considering the change in plans."
"I know." Without even glancing at the material, Jessica placed the pile on the love seat with her purse and coat. "He faxed them to me before I left this morning."
"Yes. Bright and early." She hadn't bothered to read the notes then, preferring to do so once she was in the studio.
"Oh." Denise's expression said that if Phillip had faxed her the changes, she couldn't understand why he'd sent her to deliver them.
"That's Phillip. Always making sure he has every avenue covered."
"I guess so."
"Look, I need a coffee."
Taking the hint, the young black woman moved past her to the corridor, and Jessica followed her out, closing the door behind them. She headed in the direction of the newsroom.
"Uh, Phillip wanted to make sure you understand everything."
"Mmm-hmm," she replied, not breaking her stride as she marched down the hallway.
Denise scrambled to keep up with her. "So, do you?" Her voice was soft and tentative. "Understand everything?"
"There's not a lot to understand. The guy I was supposed to interview was in a car accident, so I have to interview this other person."
"Right." Jessica brushed her hair off her face, but when the unruly curls fell back over her forehead, she pushed her sunglasses upward and into her hair to act as a hair band. "And her book is called?"
"Mama Says: 101 Ways to Heal Your Battered Soul. It's a self-help book geared for African-American women."
Stopping, Jessica faced Denise. "Is Ms. Green here yet?"
"Yes. She's in the green room."
"All right." She'd have to fake her way through this interview, but it wasn't like she hadn't done that before. And she had no doubt it would go smoothly. All the authors she'd ever interviewed couldn't say enough about their books. If LaTonya was anything like the others, she'd barely have to say a word. "I'll look over the notes as soon as I'm settled." When Denise opened her mouth in protest, Jessica added, "I've done this before. Tell Phillip everything will be fine."
"Yes, Ms. Bedford."
Jessica knew her words wouldn't comfort Phillip. In fact, he was probably popping antacids as they spoke. The man lived for crises, yet when they happened, he acted like he didn't know how he'd survive them. You'd think he hadn't weathered a million storms, that every crisis was the first one he'd had to deal with.
It wouldn't be long before he sought her out, just to make sure she'd really gotten the information. She'd never known a man so wound up before. Truly, Phillip needed to relax. He'd already had one ulcer this year, and with his constant worrying was bound to have another one.
She couldn't deal with Phillip, not before she got some caffeine into her system.
She turned down yet another hallway; this one led to another hallway that led to the large kitchen outside the newsroom. The smell of coffee filled the air, and Jessica breathed in the rich aroma, feeling as though she'd died and gone to heaven. She reached for a paper cup.
The stack of cups went flying as Jessica's hand knocked it over. Damn, didn't Phillip know that he shouldn't sneak up on people?
She bent to retrieve the cups.
"Jessica, the shit's hit the fan here."
She glanced up at him then, a little peeved that he wasn't crouched beside her, helping to pick up the strewn paper cups. "Good morning to you, too, Phillip."
"Morning," he grunted, the firm set of his lips clearly telling her that it wasn't a good morning. He had just turned forty-seven, yet he looked like he was going on sixty. If only he'd smile more, he might actually be attractive. "Look, we've got major problems."
"I know. I got your message."
"Yeah, well, we won't have much of an interview since the main player is in a coma."
"How awful. I pray he'll be all right." She hoped what she hadn't said, that it was lousy of Phillip to be concerned only with the show when a man's life was at stake, wasn't lost on him.
"So do I." He paused. "But in the meantime, I have a show to run."
"This author sounds interesting." Scooping up the last of the cups, Jessica stood, then dropped them into the garbage.
"You haven't had a chance to read the book, figure out the questions you want to ask." He blew out a breath that sounded like a pitiful moan.
"It's not like I haven't been in this situation before."
"I know you're good at what you do. That's not what I'm saying. It's just that ... what if this woman is the type to clam up when the cameras are rolling?"
"Then I'll ask her questions."
"When you haven't read the book?"
Realizing that nothing would appease Phillip, Jessica reached for a clean paper cup. She stuck it beneath the cappuccino machine, hit a button, then listened as the machine whirred. "I'm sure this woman will be just great."
"Yeah, well, she better be. One bad interview and people will turn to another network."
Did he really believe that, or did he just say that because he was a perpetual worrier? If he was anything like this at home, it was no wonder his wife had walked out on him.
She placed a hand on his arm and gave it a squeeze. You'd think he was the one about to risk making a fool of himself by asking an author questions about a book he hadn't read.
Jessica turned back to the cappuccino machine, lifted the cup, then took a quick sip. It tasted divine, and she sure hoped it would do the trick. "I'm going to go see the author now, get a feel for what the book is about."
While she had the opportunity, she stepped past him and into the hallway. "Don't worry," she added as she walked away. "Things will work out — as they always do."
Phillip muttered something behind her, but she didn't hear what he said. She didn't want to hear. She just wanted to get back to her dressing room, sink into the sofa, and drink her coffee.
Before the real chaos began.
* * *
"Fascinating," Jessica said, animated as she spoke before the camera.
"So you find that the daily affirmations into the mirror really work?"
"Absolutely." LaTonya Green sat opposite her on a love seat, one leg crossed over the other. "If you can't look yourself in the eye and tell your image that you believe in you, who else will?" "Good point." Jessica chuckled.
"And if you do it often enough, you'll believe it. But like I said earlier, I think it's also important to surround yourself with images of your dreams, your goals. That's why I like collages. That's something I encourage my young daughters to do. If you visualize your dreams in a very real way as children, I see no reason why you can't achieve them as adults."
LaTonya was an attractive woman in her late thirties. She sounded confident, and as a result, believable. Her book was a combination of tips passed down the generations to her, as well as some she'd created on her own to pass on to her daughters.
"Now," Jessica began, taking the interview in another direction, "a lot of this book deals with relationships, how women can find and be happy with a man."
Jessica opened the book to a page that had been marked with a yellow sticky note. "You've got a chapter here called 'The Fidelity Test: How to Figure Out If Your Man Will Cheat on You.' How does that work, exactly?"
"Actually, it's really simple. Now, we all know that looks can be deceiving, that you might meet a man who seems too good to be true. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. But don't you want to find out for sure before you invest months or even years with him?"
"Well, what my mama always told me, and what I found worked for me and my sisters, is to give your man a three-part test. Of course, you don't let him know you're testing him. That would defeat the purpose," she added, and both women laughed.
"Now, the first part of the test is really simple. Offer to take him to a movie, but you choose it. Make sure you see something that deals with relationships. You can learn a lot about a man by watching how he responds to such a movie. For example, if the story involves a man who's cheated on his wife, and he shows sympathy for that man, then kick him to the curb and don't look back."
"Just like that?" Jessica asked, snapping her fingers.
"Just like that," LaTonya replied. "Trust me, he's a man who will give you grief later."
"Okay," Jessica conceded, not entirely sure she believed that such a reaction to a movie should make or break a relationship. "And the second part of the test?"
"Invite your boyfriend to dinner at a your place. Now, make sure you have your sister there, or your best friend — a woman you can trust. And when your man arrives, tell him that you need to pick something up but invite him to stay with your friend. Disappear for a while. Long enough to give him time to get comfortable with your girl friend. Later, get the lowdown from your friend. Did he hit on her? Did she feel comfortable around him? Did he ask about you? If he made the moves on her or even flirted too much, then you know you've got a dog and you need to kick him to the curb."
That sounded very much like entrapment, but Jessica was sure it wasn't against the law. "Now, aren't you assuming the worst when you do this — that your boyfriend is going to fail the test?" LaTonya shrugged. "Maybe, but the truth is, women can't trust most men these days. It's a scary world out there for the single woman."
In her peripheral vision, Jessica saw Julie give her the two-minute warning. "True," she said, suddenly wondering if this test would have worked for her all those years ago. Just as quickly, she dismissed that thought. "And what's the third thing?"
"Ask questions. Men love to talk, and they love it when women listen, so ask questions about his family — his mother, his sisters. By asking a lot of questions, you'll see how he views the significant women in his life, and you can learn what kind of man he is. If he loves his mama to death and would do anything for her, then you can be pretty sure that this is the kind of man who will treat you right."
"Isn't this a lot of common sense?"
"Maybe, but how many women do you know who use their common sense these days?" She paused and gave Jessica a wry smile. "We tend to get caught up in the emotions of falling in love, and too late realize we made a big mistake. You have to look at finding a mate the same way you'd look at any other investment ... check out all your options carefully before you jump right into a relationship."
"And it's worked for you?"
"I've been happily married for seven years."
For her sake, Jessica hoped she truly knew her husband. "Thank you so much, LaTonya. It's been a pleasure talking with you."
Jessica faced the camera, lifting the book as she did. "The book is called Mama Says: 101 Ways to Heal Your Battered Soul and is available everywhere books are sold. Until next time, that's The Scoop."
"Thank you," Jessica said when the cameras had stopped rolling, leaning forward to shake LaTonya's hand. "The book sounds great."
"You can have that copy."
"Oh, excellent. Will you autograph it for me?"
Minutes later, her book was signed, LaTonya was on her way, and Phillip was back to breathing normally. "Not bad," he said. "At least women will enjoy it."
"It's a good thing more women watch this show than men."
"I told you it'd be fine." Though she knew the interview would go smoothly, Jessica was proud of how well she'd pulled it off.
Excerpted from The Sisters of Theta Phi Kappa by Kayla Perrin. Copyright © 2001 Kayla Perrin. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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