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When a battle of wills threatens to tear a family apart, a child shall lead them--straight to a shocking secret. Will they betray their faith--and each other--to keep it buried?
After seven years of marriage, Paris Simmons-Holyfield and her husband, Andrew, are still childless. Now Paris is determined to adopt orphaned nine-year-old Jasmine Noble. Trouble is, Jasmine's in the custody of ex-stripper Gabrielle Mercedes. Worse, Andrew is vehemently against the idea--and he's not ...
When a battle of wills threatens to tear a family apart, a child shall lead them--straight to a shocking secret. Will they betray their faith--and each other--to keep it buried?
After seven years of marriage, Paris Simmons-Holyfield and her husband, Andrew, are still childless. Now Paris is determined to adopt orphaned nine-year-old Jasmine Noble. Trouble is, Jasmine's in the custody of ex-stripper Gabrielle Mercedes. Worse, Andrew is vehemently against the idea--and he's not alone. Paris's father, Lawrence Simmons, a powerful politician, has vowed to shut his daughter down. The only man to even dare be on Paris's side is shady Darius Connors. Unemployed and not quite out of the dog house with his wife, Darius is more than happy to help the beautiful, vulnerable, yet undeterred Paris. . .
Paris has her suspicions about why her husband and her father are so opposed to the adoption. But the reality is far more scandalous than she imagines. To get to the bottom of it, she'll have to deal with blackmail from the last person she ever expected--and battle Gabrielle, who'll fight with everything she's got--including the truth. Soon, all involved will learn just what's on the other side of dare. . .
"I absolutely love Vanessa's unique writing style." --Mary Monroe
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
"The devil sure is busy. That's really a lot going on." Tiffany Connors paced from one end of the couch to the other as she talked on the phone. "Yes, I definitely know that God is busier. Pastor Landris reminds us of that enough. But in my thirty years on this earth, I don't believe I've ever seen the devil as busy as he seems to be right now. It's like he's messing with pretty much everyone we know, all at the same time. Poor Gabrielle. She's dealing with some stuff these days, that's for sure."
Thirty-three-year-old Darius Connors sat in the den at his computer listening intently to his wife's conversation about Gabrielle Mercedes while trying to pretend that he wasn't. She was talking to Fatima Adams, a fellow dancer in the church's dance ministry. Oddly, he wasn't listening so closely because he'd once had a three-year-long affair with the now thirty-six-year-old Fatima that consequently ended about five years ago. He thought for a second. Today was April 29, 2010. He counted back to 2005, the year Fatima ended things. Yes, May 14, her birthday, it would be five years.
He felt pretty confident Fatima wouldn't tell his wife about them, not at this point anyway. Not since Tiffany and Fatima had become friends through the dance ministry. If Fatima was going to spill the Kool-Aid, he figured she would have done it already. Telling Tiffany now would most certainly put their friendship in jeopardy with questions like why Fatima didn't tell her in the beginning, and why she'd gone a whole year with them knowing each other on a friendly basis and she still hadn't said anything. It would cause more than just mere tension and not just in the dance ministry, but in church. Knowing Fatima like he had, he knew she wouldn't want to be responsible for anything like that. Not little pristine Fatima.
Tiffany glanced over at him and flashed him a big smile, then winked. He quickly realized he must have been staring harder than he'd intended. He really wanted her to think he wasn't listening at all. Generally, that's what she accused him of: not listening to her at all. He quickly began to tap on the keys on the computer to give the impression he hadn't been staring down her throat, trying to capture every word that was coming out of her mouth, but instead purely absentmindedly thinking.
"Well, it's now the end of April, and I know you were looking forward to Gabrielle's return from her leave of absence and fully taking back her position as the director over the dance ministry. But you've been doing a fabulous job in her absence these past few months. Fabulous. You have. Everybody in the ministry is saying so. And I've told you that if you need my help with anything, I'm merely a phone call away." Tiffany walked over to the end table where the base of the phone resided.
"All right, Fatima. Well, keep me informed. You know how much I love Gabrielle. Yes, we all love her. And we've all been praying for her and that precious little girl. You know what they say: If it's not one thing, it's another." Tiffany shook her head. "I don't know why things happen to good people, either. But one thing we do know, and that is that God is still on the throne. What Satan may mean for bad, God will use it for good. Yes, He will."
Tiffany listened, then nodded. "Okay. I'll talk to you later. Call me if you need me now. All right. Bye now." Tiffany carefully placed the cordless phone back into its base.
Darius continued to type as he looked out of the side of his eye. He didn't want to give Tiffany the impression that he was waiting for her to get off the phone to pounce on her. But he was definitely anxious to find out what had been said on the other end of his wife's conversation.
Tiffany walked over to Darius and placed her hand on his shoulder. "What'cha doing?" There was a touch of sweetness in the low register of her voice.
Darius stopped and turned fully toward his wife whose straight, jet-black hair was hanging down to her shoulders. "What I've been doing for the past seven months now: looking for a job. You know I need to hurry up and find something. I need a job so I can take care of my family." Darius got up from the computer, grabbed Tiffany's hand, led her over to the couch, and pulled her down onto his lap.
Tiffany let out a quick yelp, then giggled like a schoolgirl. "Now what are you doing?"
Darius smiled. "Well, according to Pastor Landris: If you have to ask, then that means I haven't been properly taking care of my business at home."
"We've both been so busy, especially lately. Me working all the time at my job, coming home and taking care of the children, cooking and taking care of our house; and you searching hard for a job. So how's the job hunt coming?"
Darius wrinkled his nose, then smiled. "About the same. But don't you worry your pretty little head about it. I'm working on something that, if I play my cards just right, I believe is going to come through. I can feel it. If it does, then financially we'll be sitting pretty, maybe even finally able to catch up on these past-due bills that are dogging us like pit bulls. And at least we can be thankful that I get an unemployment check. I know some folks who can't even get that. For now, there's something coming into our household from my end to help out so I'm not completely hating. Looking for a job these days is no joke though. It's hard out here; I ain't gonna lie."
"Darius, your unemployment check is a blessing, but we both know it's not close to being enough. We were barely making it when you were bringing in a full check with overtime." She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Listen and hear me out: I saw an ad for a part-time job I'd be perfect for. It would take some doing, with me working full-time already, but if you would take care of the children while I'm not here, I could—"
Darius placed his index finger over her lips, effectively quieting her. "Woman, what have I told you already about that? Didn't I just tell you not to worry? I'm going to take care of us. Haven't I been hitting the streets almost every single day trying to secure something? I'm applying for jobs over the Internet, which apparently is the new way of putting in applications no matter who's hiring. I've been networking when and where I can, which is still fashionable no matter how high tech the world gets. There's nothing like getting out there mingling with folks, meeting someone who knows someone who knows someone who can hook you up. I'm working on it. Okay? I got this." He smiled and nodded his head with the words, "I got this."
Tiffany smiled back, her lips going from what looked like a line drawn slightly downward to an upturned curve. "If you're sure? Because you are good at getting people to do what you want. I do have to give you that much."
"Oooh! Ouch! I'm not sure if that was an openhanded front slap or a backhanded compliment."
Tiffany placed her hand on his chest. "Don't try to play me, Darius. You and I both know you can be a little slickster when you want to be. You have a gift of luring folks over to your side before they even know what hit them. If there's something locked in your targeted scope, you're going to keep at it until you bag it."
"So, was that Fatima you were talking to on the phone?" Darius wanted to get around to what he really wanted to know. Talking about job hunting was depressing, to say the least.
"Yeah." Tiffany slid out of his lap, sitting beside him now.
"So, what is she talking about? Besides, of course, dance stuff."
"Like you really care about what we talk about," Tiffany said with a sideways, playful glance.
"I care," Darius said with a full grin and true conviction. "You know I care. What matters to you, matters to me. That's why I'm out there doing whatever it takes to ensure you and our kids are taken care of. You and I are a team. We roll like that."
"Is that right? So we roll like that, huh? And here I was thinking you were merely looking for any old excuse you can find to get out of the house and away from us as much and as often as is permissible and possible."
Darius didn't care for that remark, mostly because it hit so close to home. He wasn't going to holler though. His grandmother used to say when you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that hollers is usually the one that was hit. No, he wasn't a homebody sort of guy. He didn't like much being cooped up in the house. But he didn't want to get off the subject at hand to argue the point and convince her otherwise. "Okay, so back to Fatima and you: What were the two of you talking about? Seriously."
Tiffany sighed. "You remember I told you about our dance director, Gabrielle Mercedes, taking a leave of absence several months back when she was helping that woman whose child had that bone marrow transplant?"
"Yeah. You're talking about Jessica Noble and her daughter, Jasmine."
"Yes." Tiffany smiled as she pulled back her head a little. "Wow, I'm impressed. You remember both of their names. Well, when the mother died last month, her nine-year-old little girl, Jasmine, effectively became an orphan. I told you all about that and how Gabrielle took her into her home with fast-track plans to adopt her." Tiffany looked at Darius.
"You know, I still don't get that. I mean: I don't get how Gabrielle ended up so deep in all of that in the first place. Did Gabrielle know them before all of this took place or something? I'm talking about even before the little girl needed the bone marrow transplant. I just can't see a mother turning over her child to a complete stranger the way she seemed to have done with Gabrielle. Especially with some of the things we know about Gabrielle and her past. I'm not gossiping, just stating a fact."
"Darius, you of all people know that God works in mysterious ways. God knows what's ahead for us before we ever get there. I believe He places people in our paths even when we don't know the purpose or the reason. But God knows. He's omniscient—all knowing. And if we'll just follow His lead, He'll order our steps every single time."
Darius shook his head. "There you go again: spouting off something Pastor Landris has said. But I don't know that I'd say God is really the one working here, not in this case. Not that I'm trying to tell God how to handle His business. But the best thing, if you ask me, would have been to not let the mother die in the first place, especially with the father having died earlier. Then the child wouldn't be orphaned. But when it comes to Gabrielle, it just feels like there's more to this story than what we're privy to. I keep telling you that you should talk to Gabrielle yourself and see what more she might tell you. She likes you. I'm sure she'd tell you, especially if you were to ask."
Tiffany chuckled. "You're such a cynic when it comes to things. It's obvious that you don't care much for Gabrielle at all."
"I'm not trying to be cynical. And I don't dislike Gabrielle; I don't really know the woman. She used to be a stripper, she gave her life to Christ, and now she's not a stripper. But come on, Tiff, you have to admit: It feels like there's a lot more to this story. There's a lot being left out that apparently no one knows, or if they know, they're not saying." Darius looked at Tiffany. "So what did Fatima tell you?"
"She was just telling me that even though Gabrielle had planned and even told us last week that she'd be returning as director this week from her leave, she's not going to right now. Fatima didn't fill me in on everything, but it appears Gabrielle is running into some obstacles in gaining complete custody of little Jasmine. Gabrielle has decided to direct her energies toward that fight, for now. So she'll continue to be on leave until further notice."
"Obstacles?" Darius tried to set his face just right. He didn't want to overplay his hand and appear too interested. Tiffany would definitely know something was up if he seemed too anxious to know. "Obstacles like what?"
"She didn't tell me much. Just that someone was threatening to challenge or is already challenging her rights to adopt the little girl, even though that was the mother's expressed dying wish."
"Did Fatima say who that someone is or why that person might be doing something like that?"
Tiffany shook her head. "No. I don't know if Fatima didn't tell me because she doesn't know, or if she didn't want to feel like she was gossiping—basically divulging too much of Gabrielle's business. Fatima and Gabrielle are really sort of close. She was merely calling to let me know, as well as the others in the dance ministry, that Gabrielle wasn't coming back full time yet as she'd said. Fatima was also soliciting prayers for them. According to her, Gabrielle has vowed she's not going to let anyone take Jasmine from her, not without a fight. And I'm telling you, Darius: I feel sorry for anyone who tries to get in Gabrielle's way when it comes to that child. There's a bond there for sure. Anybody with eyes can see that. And I believe Gabrielle will fight with all that she has if she's forced to."
"I can't believe someone would be doing something like that," Darius said. "Trying to stop her from the adoption, I mean. Unless there's something in Gabrielle's life, past or present, that's causing someone in a higher position to give pause. Like I said, we do know that Gabrielle was once a stripper. I'm just saying. Maybe that's where the problem's arising."
"I don't know. I just know it looks like everyone we know is dealing with something these days. You lost your job when they shipped the company's operation overseas. We were already struggling financially before all of this. And now—"
"And now, baby, I told you we're going to be all right." Darius took his hand and lifted Tiffany's chin higher. "You trust me, don't you?"
Darius drew back in a dramatic way and cocked his head to the side. "You suppose?" He smiled and squinted his eyes halfway. "What do you mean, you suppose?"
Tiffany twisted her mouth. "Okay, I guess I do." She smiled. "All right, I do."
"Now, that's my baby." He made a smacking sound. "Listen, I need to go out for a little while."
Tiffany looked down at her wristwatch. "Now? You have to go somewhere now? But it's already after six."
"Yes, now. Didn't I just tell you that I have to network? Well, I have a lead on this job I'd love to get. There's someone I need to hook up with to prove just how interested I am in getting it, and that I'm the perfect man for the job." Darius kissed his wife on her slightly pouted out lips. "When it comes to my family, I'm going to do whatever I have to do. If it means going outside of the norm, then so be it. And if I can't get something here in Alabama, well, I hear things are booming in North Dakota. Something called fracking, which has to do with oil, has companies begging for workers. If you don't want me to have to go there to get a job, then you need to work with me here. All right?"
"Okay. Because I definitely don't want to move. And I sure don't want to move to someplace like North Dakota. Are there any black folks even in North Dakota?"
He ignored her question about North Dakota. "Believe me: I don't really want to leave you right now. You know I'd rather be here with you and the kids instead of out there sucking up to a bunch of bougie folks, begging someone to give me a shot. But a man's got to do what a man's got to do." He tapped her on the nose.
Tiffany stood up. "How long do you think you'll be this time? I have dinner cooking; it will be ready in about an hour. You know I like for you to be able to eat while it's hot and fresh out of the oven."
Darius stood and wrapped Tiffany up in his arms. "I promise I won't stay one minute longer than I have to. But don't worry about me. I'll just heat mine up in the microwave when I get back. No biggie. And if I get this job, that means I can take you out to dinner and make up for all our lost time together. You know I love you, don't you?"
"What's the frown about?"
"I don't know, Darius. I want to believe you love me, but—"
"But you're still tripping about that nonsense of me having gone to that strip joint those times." Darius turned his head away from Tiffany before turning back with slightly moistened eyes. "Clarence Walker had no business ever letting you know that. But that's all water under the bridge. I told you I was sorry. I told you I didn't even want to go there in the first place. I was merely trying to hang with some of the fellows from work so I could move up on the job. That was all there was to it. You know how it is. It was dumb of me, but it wasn't even something I wanted to do." He wrapped his arms even tighter around Tiffany. "Do you really think I care about other women when I have all of this"—he leaned back a little and slowly scanned her body, mainly for dramatic effect, then back up to her eyes—"at home waiting on me? Do you?" He broke into a huge grin.
Excerpted from THE OTHER SIDE OF DARE by VANESSA DAVIS GRIGGS Copyright © 2013 by Vanessa Davis Griggs. 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.
Posted January 1, 2013
Mrs. Griggs is a wonderful writer and in this book she tells a wonderful story of love, forgiveness, and reaping what one has sown. You will not want to stop reading once you start reading. The twist and turns that bring this story together are well written and keep you wanting to know more. If you have not done so I would suggest that your read the entire series ( Blessed Trinity).
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 30, 2013
Another great book by Griggs. Excellent story line. I would highly recommend this book. Great addition to the series. I strongly recommend reading the entire Blessed Trinity series as well. Great author. You will be truly blessed.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 15, 2013
This book continues the story of Gabrielle Mercedes and her everlasting struggle with Paris Simmons-Holyfield. Ms. Vanessa has done it again. She truly has a way of spinning a tale! She is certainly gifted! The story unfolds and truth comes to the light throughout this book. Folks don't know what to think about how their business is getting out! It is fantastically awesome! If you THINK you know what is likely to happen, you'll NEVER guess this. Some stuff goes down...and you are NOT ready for the who! But I love the story. I can't wait until the next book The Other Side of Divine comes out. I believe there is some more truth to be unveiled!
What I love about Ms. Vanessa's books is that there is ALWAYS a good message in them. With The Other Side of Dare, she does not disappoint! Pastor Landris makes some appearances in this book. Listen to what he says! My favorite line in the book is when he tells his wife why he is not worried about her and another....it was cute!
Bottom line: If you've read any book by Vanessa Davis Griggs, you need to read this one. It is certainly one worth the money.
Posted February 8, 2013
This series takes you through spiritual highs and lows, which gives your heart joy when God gets the glory no matter what the situation you face be challenge with. I've read every book to this series and was waiting on pins and needles for this novel and was very please beyond my imagination and looking forward to the next book. I love the characters in this series. These characters should meet a few of the character from the Guilty Series by Pat Simmons and Rain Series by Vanessa Miller they would have a Holy Ghost revival in the presence of their enemies.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 17, 2013
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