LUST, GREED AND GOLD
To the outsider, Courtney Hamilton has the perfect life. She is the beautiful, intelligent but naive daughter of one of the most successful, black business men in Los Angeles in 1977. The family's fortune was handed down by her great-grandfather, who was one of California's first African American gold miners. Jealous of her daughter's privileged upbringing, and haunted by her own past, Courtney's mother, Danielle does everything she can to make her only daughter's life miserable. However, Courtney is graduating from high school and determined to gain her independence. She falls in love with Richard Thurston, a less-fortunate but ambitious waiter from South L.A., goes to college and finds a passion for filmmaking, while her mother devises a plan to ruin Courtney's happiness. Unfortunately, Danielle's insatiable desire for power, money and sex, not only affects Courtney's life but threatens the family fortune as well. Courtney finally sees her mother for who she really is, toughens up and starts her dream job of producing a film about African Americans and their struggles in the California gold mines-but several unexpected events prevent the film's premiere and Courtney faces losing everything. Will Danielle ever become a caring, loving mother and reveal the secrets of her hidden past? And, more importantly, can Courtney forgive her mother for all that she has done and move on before time runs out?
"This coming of age story captivates readers with vivid characters that live the 1980's lifestyle to the fullest. From the discos and movie sets of Hollywood, to the designer boutiques of Paris-through corporate greed, insider trading, AIDS and the birth of technology, this story-within-a-story is a fusion of historical fact and fiction that takes the reader on an exciting journey while exploring one of the most remarkable decades of our generation."
Brenton Butler, author of They Said it was Murder
"Marcano has created a fascinating story by weaving together a history lesson and a modern-day romance."
Phillip Zonkel, Long Beach Press Telegram
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.03(d)|
Read an Excerpt
African American Heiress
By Angela DeMola-Marcano
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 Angela DeMola-Marcano
All rights reserved.
Courtney Hamilton read her high school graduation program while her mother drove her white Rolls Royce Silver Shadow up Stocker on their way home from the Westlake School for Girls' graduation ceremony. She hadn't had a chance to look at the program because she was one of two seniors of the Class of '77 to be chosen to deliver a graduation speech. Westlake was a prestigious girls' preparatory school nestled in Holmby Hills, near Bel Air and Beverly Hills. Courtney was the only black senior in her high school. She had done very well at Westlake and had made lots of friends even though the school was thirty minutes from home. Courtney was soon interrupted by her mother slamming on the breaks to avoid hitting another car. Her long dark-brown hair bounced into her face as the car stopped.
"Mom, watch out! You almost hit that car!"
"No I didn't, he almost hit me. I swear, people just lose their minds when they see someone driving a Rolls Royce." Courtney didn't want to argue with her mother. She just accepted what Danielle said no matter how ridiculous it sounded. Courtney went back to reading her program but when Danielle slammed on the breaks again after running a red light and almost hitting a cyclist, Courtney had to say something.
"Mom, what's the hurry? The party doesn't start until seven o'clock. We still have enough time before the guests arrive."
"Courtney, you obviously know nothing about party planning. I really should have been there hours ago when the caterers and florist arrived. Alicia can barely speak English and how is she supposed to know where everything goes?"
"But mom, you met with the caterers yesterday and went over everything. Aren't they supposed to be the best in Beverly Hills?"
"Yes, but you can't trust people to do everything the way you want them to unless you're there to supervise them. This party is very important to your father and me. He's invited several business associates along with his new vice-president of marketing." Since her graduation party was sounding more like a social gathering for her parents, Courtney thought it would be a good time to mention her plans of an after-party with her friends.
"Mom, Tamara invited me to go with her to another graduation party. You don't mind do you?"
"Courtney, this is supposed to be your party. You can't just go running off with your friends when you're the guest of honor."
"I hadn't planned to do it right away, just after things start to die down." Courtney had always been perfect daughter. She was studious, naïve and never questioned her mother's authority but she had promised herself that things were going to be different this summer, starting with her plans for tonight. Courtney's complexion was the color of iced tea after lemon had been added to it. Her skin was completely flawless and carried a fresh, youthful glow. Her large, dark brown, mesmerizing eyes looked respectful but determined as she glanced over at her mother and waited for a response.
"We'll see," said Danielle as she approached her home high atop Valley Ridge Drive in the exclusive View Park section of Los Angeles. As soon as her car entered their circular driveway, a valet parking attendant sprang into action and opened Danielle's car door. She stepped out and dropped her keys into the valet's hand without even acknowledging him. Danielle was excited about hiring valet parking attendants for her party because no one on her block had ever done that. She would spare no expense to impress her neighbors, as well as her guests.
Danielle slammed the front door and stormed through the living room and kitchen but no one was there. "What is going on here? Alicia! Alicia!" she screamed as she walked through the house. Alicia, the housekeeper was in the backyard folding cloth napkins while Vincent, their German Shepherd sat near a table chewing on a bone. When he saw Courtney, he dropped his bone, ran up to her and practically knocked her down along with Danielle, when he jumped on her and licked her face. Seeing that the caterers hadn't arrived, nor had the dog been put in his dog run, made Danielle furious.
"Alicia, dun-de stah the men ... ah, los om brays with the food.... ah comida?" shouted Danielle, speaking what she thought was Spanish.
"No esta aqui," said Alicia, who was always very respectful of her boss, no matter how demanding she could be.
"What do you mean they aren't here!" shouted Danielle, and why isn't Vincent locked up?" Alicia shrugged her shoulders and tilted her head with a confused look on her face which upset Danielle even more.
"Courtney, go put Vincent away!" shouted Danielle. Without saying a word, Courtney took Vincent by the collar to the back of the house and put him in his dog run with plenty of water and treats. Courtney's aunt loved the idea of naming dogs after famous artists, so she followed her suggestion and named him Vincent Van Gogh. She and her dad loved Vincent and couldn't understand why Danielle didn't like dogs. Courtney was used to her mother's outbursts and had learned that it was just better to stay out of her way when she went on one of her rampages, so she went to her room to change. She had tolerated the verbal abuse, along with a few unwarranted spankings when she was young but Courtney was now 18 and was determined to take control of her own life.
Danielle returned to the kitchen and dialed the caterer's phone number as quickly as she could but no one answered. She slammed down the phone just as her husband pulled into the driveway.
"Bernard!" shouted Danielle to her husband, who had just finished leaving his Mercedes sports car with the valet parking attendants. Bernard could tell by the sound of her voice that something had already gone wrong.
"What are we going to do? The caterers aren't here. Nothing is set up and the guests will be arriving in an hour!"
"Maybe they were caught in the same traffic we were. Why don't you give their office a call?"
"Don't you think I've already done that? No one is answering!" shouted Danielle, whose blue eyes glared at her husband. Bernard kept quiet. In his 59 years on earth, he had never met anyone like Danielle and couldn't understand how she could become so upset over the least little thing. Even though Bernard Hamilton was one of the richest black men in the country, he had simple tastes and very laid back. He didn't let anything upset him. He ran his hand through his thick, wavy, gray hair and took a deep breath before speaking in a calm voice.
"Danielle, they know they have to be here. We've been planning this party for months. Give them a little more time," said Bernard while looking at Danielle with his dark brown, attentive eyes that showed everyone he was a man intelligence and wisdom. Being part Native American as well as black, he had skin that was a beautiful shade of brown and red, with undertones that resembled the inside of a rich, dark-chocolate, cherry truffle. Just as the words left Bernard's mouth, the doorbell rang and when he opened it, Philippe the caterer burst in, switching his hips and waving his hands for his crew of waiters to follow him with their trays of food and cases of champagne.
"Hello Madame Hamilton," said the flamboyant, gay Frenchman with a thick accent. I am glad that you are here. I would like to talk to you before we get started."
"Well I'd like to talk to you too Philippe!" shouted Danielle. "For starters, why are you so late?"
"We are running a little late because you changed the menu just two days ago. We've been busy all day preparing the scallops instead of the chicken but I assure you there is plenty of time to set up for the party."
"I thought you said there wouldn't be a problem when I changed the menu."
"Since you agreed to pay for everything, it wasn't a problem Madame Hamilton but you have to realize that we only use fresh ingredients and because of the change, we had to place a new order and it didn't arrive until this morning. This is what happens when last minute changes are made." Danielle started to say something but was cut off by Bernard.
"Danielle, don't you have to change before the party? Come on, let the man do his job. He knows what he's doing," Bernard was the only person who could calm Danielle down. No matter how difficult his wife became, he was in love with her and had been since the first time he saw her working at Bullocks Wilshire when she was barely out of high school. Danielle was a glamorous petite woman with an ivory complexion, thick, dark, short hair and captivating blue eyes. Her features were so delicate that on a second or even third glance, one would not be able to guess that she was black and many thought she was Italian or Spanish, an attribute which she loved to play up.
"All right," said Danielle "but I expect everything to be ready in less than an hour!"
"Oh it will be Madame Hamilton. Don't worry about a thing. My dear, you must be exhausted after such a long hot day. You look beautiful but why don't you go and relax a few minutes before the guests arrive. We can talk later. Richard, pour Madame Hamilton a glass of champagne." A young black waiter immediately pulled an already chilled bottle of Moët and Chandon out of the box he had carried in and started to open it.
"Please don't worry darling. I will make sure everything is perfect!" said Philippe who sounded more French than ever while attempting to charm Danielle into submission and get her out of his way so that he could start working. In his few years as a Beverly Hills caterer, Philippe had learned many tricks of the trade but perhaps the most important one was how to please a difficult client. No matter how trendy or fabulous a caterer's food was, if he didn't know how to coddle his clients, he might as well forget about doing business in this town. Unfortunately his coddling didn't seem to be working with Danielle. After months of planning and being rude to his staff each time she called, she changed the menu less than forty-eight hours before the party, which was just unheard of. At first, he wasn't sure if he could honor her request but she was so insistent that he called in extra cooks to get the job done and she still didn't seem to be pleased. Philippe had worked for over-paid actors, self-centered rock stars, spoiled athletes and pampered socialites whose demanding ways truly tested his patience, but never had he met anyone like Danielle. She had proven to be one of the most difficult clients he had ever encountered and he couldn't wait for her party to be over.CHAPTER 2
The Hamilton home provided an opulent backdrop for Courtney's graduation party. The entire patio was surrounded by ficus trees that were lit with miniature, twinkling, white lights which gave the appearance of a thousand flickering fireflies lighting up the dark summer sky. A jazz quartet had begun to play soft music, while a warm breeze provided the guests with a temperature that was neither too hot nor too cold. The setting was truly elegant and the women wore gorgeous gowns of various pastel shades that complemented the colors of the fresh flower centerpieces that sat on the starched white tablecloths. Philippe came through, as promised by serving an exquisite meal and Danielle was happy that she had changed the menu at the last minute because everyone loved the scallops.
Courtney and her friends were glad when the band took breaks, so that the D.J. could play their music. "Todd, let's dance," said Courtney and in seconds she and her friend were dancing to "Disco Inferno" by the Tramps. Todd had been Courtney's friend since Kindergarten when they met at Windsor Hills Elementary. Todd was smart, so smart that most kids considered him a nerd. He was a tall, thin, eighteen-year-old with yellow skin and freckles, protruding eyes with matching lips and a bright red crop of coarse hair on the top of his head. He could have actually been somewhat cute, if it weren't for the black-rimmed glasses he wore that for some reason were always taped together. Todd was popular with either old ladies or little children but just wasn't that relaxed around people his own age. One thing that Todd could do well with people his own age was dance. He had rhythm and as a little boy, loved dancing so much that he would grab girls by the hand, swing them around and make them dance the Tango with him. It was yet another weird thing that made up his nerdy persona. Todd went through life always "on," like an actor without a stage but it was one of the things Courtney liked most about him.
"So when are you going to start working at the bank?" asked Todd while they were dancing.
"I'm not," whispered Courtney as he spun her around.
"So you're going to Europe again with your mom?"
"Are you kidding me? To be dragged though every store and watch my mom shop? I did that last summer and have really had enough of that."
"I thought your dad invited you to be an intern this summer."
"He did but I want to do something fun this summer, like work at Disneyland, the Santa Monica Pier or at a mall."
"A mall? Are you crazy? You're parents aren't going to go for that! And, do you know what some people would give to have a summer internship at a bank?"
"Yes Todd, I know but I'm going to major in Finance at SC and run the bank for the rest of my life. I think I deserve to do what I want to do for at least one summer."
"But Courtney, we've talked about this before. You have no desire to work in finance, not for a summer and certainly not for the rest of your life. It's just not you. Why don't you just tell them now and get it over with before you enroll in all those classes?" Shouted Todd over the music.
Courtney looked around to make sure no one heard him.
"I can't. It's just what I'm expected to do. I'm an only child, remember? If I don't take over the business, who will?"
"The business will go on just fine without you. Other people can run it while you go off and do whatever it is that you want to do ..... By the way, what exactly is it that you want to do with your life?"
"I'm not sure but I'll figure it out while I'm at SC."
"Oh, so you're going to be one of those.. what are they called? Undeclared majors. I bet your parents will love that!" teased Todd like a mischievous little brother, as he spun her around again.
"You should talk. I know your parents support you being an engineer but I recall you wanting to go to MIT until your dad pressured you into going to Howard. I bet he planned that before you were even born."
"I wouldn't put it past him. Although I've come to grips with the fact that I'm going there. Who knows? Being the son of the president of the alumni association might have some perks."
"I wouldn't count on it. At least you get to leave home," said Courtney as her friend Tamara grabbed her arm and pulled her away from Todd.
"Courtney I need to talk to you."
"Sorry Todd," said Tamara as an afterthought while walking away but Todd was already content dancing by himself.
"What is it Tamara?" said Courtney to her best friend, Tamara, who looked so much like Courtney that people often mistook them for sisters. Tamara lived down the street from Courtney and had also attended Windsor Hills Elementary but graduated from Palisades High School last year and was now a Freshman at UCLA.
"I can't believe you're still hanging out with, "The Toad."
"Tamara that's mean, no one's called him that since the fourth grade. If it weren't for Todd, I would have never gotten through precalculus."
"Yeah, whatever. Courtney, did you see that cute waiter?"
"I saw him. What about it?"
"Well, he was asking me about you. He wants to talk to you."
"Tamara, why are you always trying to fix me up with someone?"
"Maybe it's because you've never had a boyfriend. I know you went to an all-girls school but Courtney, you're 18 and you've only been on one date and that was when Todd took you to your Senior Prom!
"That's not true. Don't you remember when we were presented at the Link's Cotillion last year?"
"That doesn't count and besides, Todd was your escort!"
"Well Tamara not everyone is like you!" said Courtney in a defensive tone of voice but knew the real reason that she had never had a boyfriend was because Danielle would have forbidden it.
Excerpted from African American Heiress by Angela DeMola-Marcano. Copyright © 2015 Angela DeMola-Marcano. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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.