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Read an Excerpt
Caught in the Mix
By Candice Dow
DAFINA BOOKSCopyright © 2005 Candice T. Dow
All right reserved.
When I met Devin, I knew he was the man for me. It was the first day back from summer break. My friends and I were sitting on the yard drinking and talking trash. After three years at Hampton University, we were all exhausted. Tired of one-night stands. Tired of lies. Tired for the sake of being tired. We were ready for relationships.
I added my drama into the discussion: "I'm sick of wasting my time. Maybe I'll meet my husband at work. 'Cause nothing's down here! I have a Don't Go There list. If you need a copy, let me know. I'm giving them away, so you don't have to waste your time. I even have the reasons beside the names. Too rough. Too big. Too small. Too quick. Let me save you the trouble!"
My friends laughed as I ranted about the infamous list. A few girls sitting nearby scooted closer. One of the intruders chimed in, "I'll give you five dollars for that list!"
Her cohorts nodded. With an attentive audience at hand, I continued, "Either it's Hampton, or it's me. It has to get better."
Another intruder asked, "Isn't your name Clark?"
Had she heard something negative about me? Immediately prepared to defend myself, I planned to say, "And what about Clark?"
Instead, I took the subtle approach. "Yeah."
She smiled. "I think I know someone you can't totally rule out yet."
I looked at Ms. Matchmaker and shook my head. Disappointed. Disgusted. Disgruntled. "Girl, trust me, I'm not even wasting my time anymore."
Despite my lack of interest, she described him. "... He's a sophomore ..."
Everything prior to that statement I ignored. "Do you know I'm a graduating senior?"
"Yeah ... and?"
"And ... I'm not baby-sitting."
"Girl, Devin is all that and a bag of chips." She slapped one of her girls a high five.
"I don't care if he is the entire damn chip factory. I never babysat before, and I don't plan on starting any new habits. Okay?"
With my hand in the halt position, I motioned for her to stop joking and move on. She frowned and smacked her orange-painted lips. She shook her head, which was being smothered by bundles of silky fake hair. Anyone associated with this girl was not someone I was interested in meeting.
She quickly walked away, leaving her friends sitting with us. Surprisingly, my shady friends never attempted to drift away from the tacky girls. Oh, yeah, it was probably me who welcomed the intrusive creatures. I shut my big mouth, and we all sat silently. Thinking. Drinking. Wondering. Is there really no such thing as the one?
The back-to-school block party boomed around us. The Greek Organizations stepped and chanted. People laughed, chatted, embraced, and we just looked pitiful. Nothing. No hope. Words too sad to say, we drank more E&J straight, chasing it with a splash of Coke. Single. Drunk. Mary J. Blige's song, "Real Love," pumped from car speakers. Everyone was searching for the same thing.
Ms. Matchmaker trudged toward me, holding hands with the sexiest man I'd seen in all my life. I sat up from my slouching position to admire the fine specimen. Tall, thick, caramel. Short black wavy hair evenly covered his head. Please hand me a drink of water. My body burned all over.
I looked at her girls, baffled. "Is that her man?"
"Naw, that's the guy she was trying to tell you about."
I felt naked. Just as I attempted to hang my head, to repent for my reluctance to meet him, they were directly in front of me. I stood to welcome the introduction.
"Clark, this is my friend, Devin."
Devin extended his muscular arm, tilted his perfectly oval head, and slumped down. I raised my chin. With a voice as clear as the summer sky, he said, "Nice to finally meet you, Clark. I've been trying to get your attention for a long time."
His demeanor was humbling. I continued grasping his hand. "Nice to meet you, too. Can't say I've been trying to get your attention, but you definitely have mine."
As I spoke, I looked him up and down like a hungry bear, conveying with every active body part that I was open as wide as an erupting volcano and willing to hear anything he had to say. Apparently noticing my interest, he smiled. His teeth were aligned like soldiers in the army. As I admired his anatomy, our eyes connected. He stared through me like the lenses of an X-ray camera. I felt paralyzed, heart still, awaiting his diagnosis to determine my destiny. He squinted and gently tugged his bottom lip with his top teeth.
Ms. Matchmaker winked at me and raised her thumb. I responded with a sincere expression of appreciation and approval. She nodded a little, hinting to her friends to give us some privacy. My friends were literally stretched out on the grass. Too much E&J.
"I've never seen you around. Where you been hiding?"
"Well, I only see you in passing. When I'm coming on the yard, you're usually going off."
"So, if that's the case, how did you know you wanted to meet me?"
"April 'ninety-four." He shrugged his broad shoulders and smiled like a little boy who got caught looking under his classmate's dress.
I was voted among the top twelve most attractive girls at the university the previous school year. We all got a month in the school's swimsuit calendar.
I teased, "So, you're just interested in my body. Huh?"
"Naw, I also noticed you're smart, too. You have like a three point eight GPA, right?"
As if I wasn't impressed, "Yeah ... uh-huh."
"Seriously, I'm turned on by a smart woman. Not to mention, a beautiful sista."
An appreciative grin broke through my pursed lips. "Uh-huh."
"Look, Clark, I'm straight up. Plus, word around campus is you're a no-nonsense kind of girl. You have to come correct or don't come at all. Right?"
I laughed hysterically. "Who told you that?"
"Guys talk. And I'll leave it at that."
I left that one alone. Innocent until proven guilty.
"So, you staying out here much longer?"
I turned to look at my friends, lying out on the grass like homeless alcoholics. "I'm outta here soon as these drunks wake up."
He laughed, apparently enjoying my candid sense of humor. "We should go somewhere and talk."
Talking was the last thing I wanted to do with this man. If we went to my place, the appetite we'd developed for each other would undoubtedly demand to be fed. "Let's go to the lobby of your dorm."
"Why do you think I stay in the dorms?"
I rolled my neck. "'Cause most underclassmen stay in the dorms."
"I'm not your average underclassman."
That comment expanded my curiosity. "So, what are you like?"
With a sneaky chuckle, he said, "Let's go back to my apartment and you'll see."
Offended by his inaccurate assumption, I frowned. He obviously presumed or heard that I was easy.
I said, "What makes you think I want to find out what you're like on the first night?"
I put my hand on my little hip. "I don't kick it like that. And if you think you're gonna get some, you better think again."
He looked down at me, standing an entire foot below, like a principal feeling sympathy for the school bully, obviously recognizing the pain that lived beneath the surface. He lifted my chin with his slightly curved hand.
Innocently he began, "Clark, I don't want to take advantage of you. That's not even my style. I just want to get to know you. I just want you to come over so we can talk. I promise I won't try anything, not even a kiss." He reached out his hand to shake mine. "Deal?"
Not even a kiss? What's wrong with me? Attempting not to reveal my indecisiveness, I smiled and nodded.
His reaction to my temper tantrum was staggering. Gentle. I needed that, a man who knows how to love his woman and control the uninvited little girl who lurks inside. He possessed a serious, mature, no-playing-allowed demeanor.
As I daydreamed that he might actually be the one to save me, I totally ignored him.
"Yeah, I'm just a little tipsy. What were you saying?"
"I asked you if you were ready to go somewhere where we can talk. It doesn't have to be my place."
I agreed to go to his apartment. He grabbed my hand and guided me toward the parking lot. Holding hands was a bold statement, definitely not a move that the average man at Hampton would initiate. One of them would have suggested that we meet in a particular spot away from the crowd like private detectives, attempting to conceal our intent. Without hesitation, I proudly pushed through the crowd with his fingers intertwined in mine, advertising my new-found treasure.
As he spoke, I noticed an unfamiliar accent. "So, Devin, where are you from?"
"Yeah. Why do you sound surprised?"
"Because you are the only person I know from Phoenix." I kidded, "I didn't think black people lived there."
He smirked. "Is that right?"
"No, I'm just joking. So, what brings you all the way to Hampton U?"
Just flatter me. I giggled. "Sure."
"No, honestly. I grew up in a predominately white neighborhood, and I wanted to go to college where I could be around my people."
"I can respect that."
He smiled. "I'm glad."
We walked up on a 1993 black BMW 525i. Devin pressed the alarm. I hesitated. Where did he get this nice luxury ride? Trying not to appear too inquisitive, I asked, "Why do you have this midnight black tint. Are you hiding from someone?" I kidded, "This is why I've never seen you. You've been hiding."
He laughed. "Yeah, it's useless here, but at home I wouldn't survive without tint."
Not survive? I blurted out, "Why?"
"Man, it can get up to 120 degrees in Phoenix."
"Oh, yeah, that's true."
Hopefully that's the only reason for the tint, because in my neighborhood, a BMW with tint spells trouble. I said a quick prayer for safety. He walked to the passenger side and opened my door. Within seconds, he scurried around to the driver's side and jumped in. He looked into my eyes as he put the key into the ignition. To alleviate the intensity of the moment, I said, "Play a song for me."
"Just a minute." He fumbled with the widget. "This song is definitely for you."
Jodeci's "Can I Talk to You" began playing. Blushing shyly, I meditated on the lyrics. Appropriate. Before the song went off, we were in the parking lot of his apartment complex.
He lived in a plush development, centuries away from my basic square box. I stepped into his contemporary pad. A medium height, black and red lava lamp sat on the coffee table. The dim lighting allowed me to scope the rest of the apartment. African art and carved wooden pieces decorated approximately every other inch of his walls. I felt like I was in an African country with a small campfire during a dedication ceremony. A bit gaudy, but everyone has the freedom of expression. The aroma of strawberry incense filled the room.
Devin closed the door and flicked the light switch on the wall. I walked slowly toward the black leather couch. A bookcase was on the wall directly opposite the front door. I intended to sit on the couch and casually browse his collection from afar. Gravity took control of my legs and shoved me toward the bookcase. I stood there, boldly, and scanned his library. Feeling eyes burn my back, I turned to face Devin. He was still standing a few steps from the front door, holding his keys in his hand like he was the guest.
His small eyes filled with sincerity. "Nothing. I'm just admiring you."
Pretending that we were at my place, I hospitably said, "Well, relax. Have a seat."
He laughed. "Oh, so you're going to take over in my house, huh?"
With a sleazy wink, I said, "Someone has to take charge."
He winked back. In the light, he was more gorgeous. His denim shorts hung down to his knees. His chest, perfectly swollen, symbolized strength. To avoid stripping naked in the middle of his living room, I immediately turned back to finish my literary analysis.
I asked, "Have you read all of these books?"
I nodded as to grant my approval, with my lips twisted.
"So, do you read these books for fun or are you an African Studies major?"
He chuckled. "I'm Poli-Sci. I just like to read."
"Really. I wouldn't have pegged you as the Poli-Sci type."
Using his fingers as quotes, he asked, "What is the Poli-Sci type?"
I laughed. "They're usually short and nerdy."
He walked over to me and reached his hand out. My heart sank suddenly. "Now, Ms. Clark, that would be stereotyping. Wouldn't it?"
"No, just observant."
He guided me to the sofa. He slid down on the sofa and put one foot straight out on the coffee table. I sat straight up, a few inches away from him.
"Now that you know a little about me, tell me something special about you."
"Um, I'm from Baltimore. Uh, I'm an Electrical Engineering major-"
He cut me off, "Has anyone ever broke your heart?"
Damn. I was talking. Irritated, I replied, "No."
He sat up and looked into my eyes. "C'mon now. Be honest with me."
As rude as he seemed, his eyes were like sedatives. I calmly blushed. "Honestly." I raised my right hand. "I've never had my heart broken."
He rubbed my arm. "Not necessarily in a relationship, but someone has hurt you."
"The man who killed my father."
I nodded, internal confirmation. How could someone rob a child of the joy of having a father? When I was a kid, I didn't know how much his absence would affect my entire life.
He rubbed my hair. "You wanna tell me about it?"
"Not right now." I immediately jumped to the next subject to avoid exposing my pain. "So, do you like the East Coast so far?"
"I love it."
"Do you plan to stay here when you graduate?"
"I want to go to law school in New York. After that, I'll probably go back to Phoenix and work for my parents."
"Are your parents attorneys or politicians?"
He chuckled. "Attorneys."
"That's alright. They have their own firm?"
"Yep. Patterson and Patterson."
"Wow! So your folks are paid. I guess that explains the car and this upscale apartment." I chuckled softly, relieved that there was a legal explanation for his lavish lifestyle. "Must be nice."
He squirmed. "It definitely has its ups and downs."
Each time he paused between sentences, he had a seductive way of sucking in his bottom lip, and then releasing it slowly to ensure that every crevice was moist.
He continued. "Sometimes I wish I just came from the average lower middle-class family."
"That's easy to say."
He blushed. "Yeah, I know. I sometimes wish that everything wasn't just handed to me."
I hissed. "I wish just one thing was given to me."
He pulled my hand open.
Excerpted from Caught in the Mix by Candice Dow Copyright © 2005 by Candice T. Dow. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was my first book by this author and I am already online trying to get other books by her. I am on my way to Barnes and Noble as soon as I finish this review. Wow! I was glued and sucked into this story from the Prologue! I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next! As I was reading the story about Clark and Devin, I was thinking: Man, I hope her next book is about Reggie and Tanisha...and DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! I did not see their story coming at me like a freight train! You have to read this book. It is definitely one that I am glad I was introduced to. Man, I loved the romance and drama between Clark and Devin. It was so sad at times; but, that's life! You can not tell me that Devin deserved to be without His Clark??? Well, we will see! Great story! I throughly enjoyed this one. Keep up the good work.
Clark is graduating from Hampton University and has a wonderful career in front of her. She is tired of dealing with one night stands and missed promises. By chance and a persistent underclassman, Clark meets the man of her dreams, Devin.
Devin is going through the motions of being a sophomore and dealing with trying to please his family. His future is an open book and full of opportunity. His chance meeting with Clark is the one thing he has been hoping for.
Clark and Devin try to battle the ups and downs of the age old saying "is it worth it?"
Reviewed by: LaDonna
Caught Up In the Mix was a really good book. I enjoyed it a lot. Being in love is no punk lol. You have to really know what your getting yourself into. Caught Up In the Mix is about your typical relationship that deals with secrets, lies, long distance relationship and career struggles. Candice Dow did a wonderful job with this book, and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work in the future. Tangerine, Reader's Paradise Book Club
This book proves to you that Life always changes and some times for the better. This book was very good. I think that both men and Woman would be able to relate.
this book is a must read it is nice and wonderful this book really makes you think when you have something good listen to your heart and that there is a lot of people there to mess things up
As I read the back cover in the book store, I thought that this book would be quite funny, since it begins at Hampton University, the college I attend. Once I actually opened the book, I couldn't put it down. It is such a great read....You'll laugh, cry, and gasp all in one chapter. I reccomend this novel to anyone that loves a good book, and is tired of all of those sappy and sometimes explicit romance novels:)
Great Read! The author wrote this book as if she was a close friend of the two main characters and new all of the dirt. I laughed and I cried. The characters came to life and I was caught in their mix. Please give a sequel because I need to know what happens next.
Clark is graduating from Hampton University and has a wonderful career in front of her. She is tired of dealing with one night stands and missed promises. By chance and a persistent underclassman, Clark meets the man of her dreams, Devin. Devin is going through the motions of being a sophomore and dealing with trying to please his family. His future is an open book and full of opportunity. His chance meeting with Clark is the one thing he has been hoping for. Clark and Devin try to battle the ups and downs of the age old saying 'is it worth it'?
This book is a hit. I've been waiting to read something on this level for quite some time. When I first notice this book, the cover and the title caught my attention, I was stuck between choosing this novel are another novel by author Mark Anothy, and I am so glad I choose this book because it was a good read. I wonder what Ms. Dow has in store next.
To be short and sweet this was a good read and it does keep you interested. However I don't like the ending I want more I want to know what happens next. There has got to be a sequel... Overall if you are thinking about reading this you definitely should because it is a good read.
This book was a must read book... it was so real with how the characters played out through out the book (a very realistic story). I look forward to reading more of Candice Dow books
I picked up this book at the airport to have some reading material for my way-to-long flight. I took a chance on this novel because it was a new release and I hadn't read any other works by Dow...Boy was I pleasantly surprised! This is definitely the book of the year!! A TRUE page turner, and drama from beginning to end. I finished it in 2 days flat(and I'm a slow reader)! I would recommend this novel to anyone who has ever been to college, ever been in love (or intense like), or just wants to get caught up in the mix. :)
I picked up this book because my husband said the girl on the cover was cute. lol I read the back and decided to buy it. It was wonderful how Candice brought to life everyday drama. I'm sure right now someone is dealing with college and long distance love.The ending could have been a little stronger though. I'll be sure to pass this book through my list of friends.