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FOREVER AND A DAY
By Deborah Fletcher Mello
ARABESQUE BOOKSCopyright © 2005 Deborah Fletcher Mello
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe provocative flow of her voice was like silk against a listener's ear. When Monica James spoke, her lilt caressed the microphone, whispered seductively over the airwaves, and made love to an audience like they'd never been made love to before. Since her return to Raleigh-Durham, and her arrival at the WLUV-FM radio station, the critics had nicknamed her Black Velvet, quoting the 1989 lyrics by Canadian songstress Alannah Myles. Monica had only smiled when the first reviews paid homage to her slow southern style.
So good was she at what she did and how she did it, no one was surprised when Monica James reached number two in her timeslot. After a six-month run, she was only a step behind King-John Vega, the man crowned emperor of talk radio, and she was working diligently to dethrone him. Every evening, between the hours of eight and midnight, the liquid balm of her voice was pushing and pulling on the legs of the man's royal seat, willing him to fall flat on his very round behind.
With his daily tirades against her, women like her, and the whole female sex in general, Monica knew he was feeling the pressure. When he'd had the audacity to claim southern black women didn't talk like Monica James, she'd called him on it, enlisting an entourage of articulate, chocolate-toned females to put him squarely in his place. The man had made their personal rivalry public, and Monica had ensured he regretted every moment of it. King-John had snapped like a cornered dog, but it was Monica who'd gotten the bigger bite out of his hindquarters, and his ratings.
When Monica spoke, men wanted her, women wanted to be like her, everyone respected her, and all listened intently as she dished out no-nonsense advice, laced with quick, sometimes caustic wit. The voice may have been molasses in the sky, but the female behind it was a tidal wave of intelligence, common sense, and a sharp sense of humor.
"We've got time for one more caller. Who's on the line?"
"Hi, Monica. This is Gail. I just love your show, girl!"
Monica tossed a smile toward her sound engineer, Bryan Bailey, who rolled his eyes in her direction. The short, brown man, whom she depended on to ensure the technical details of her show ran smoothly, pretended to gag as the young woman on the other end continued to gush compliments.
"Thank you, Gail. So, tell me something good, girlfriend. What do you want to talk about tonight?"
"Well, I've been seeing this guy for a while now, and things have been real good, girl. We moved into his mama's house together and he even gave me a ring last month for my birthday. Now he wants us to have a baby. But I don't know if I want to do that. What do you think, girl? What should I do?"
Monica closed her eyes and took a deep breath before responding. "Exactly how long has 'a while' been, Gail?"
"Just about six months now."
"And you've been living together for how long?"
"Only a few weeks. It makes it easier when he needs to borrow his mama's car."
Monica rolled her eyes, and Bryan stifled a laugh. "How old are you, sweetheart? You said you had a birthday last week, right?"
"Yeah, girl. I'm twenty now. Getting old!" The young woman giggled.
"There's not a thing old about twenty, Gail. Be thankful for each day. Far too many young people will never see twenty. Be glad you have."
"Oh, I hear that," Gail responded.
"Do you and your man have jobs, Gail?"
"I'm working on my GED. My man's between jobs at the moment. That's why I'm not so sure about having a baby."
"You're a smart girl, Gail, and I want you to stay smart. Personally, I don't think a baby right now is a smart thing for you to even be thinking about."
"But I'd do anything for my man!" the young woman exclaimed.
"And there's nothing wrong with that, Gail. But this is what I think you should do to help both of you. First thing, you need to finish that GED. When you're done, you should think about taking some classes down at the community college. The fact that you're even working on your GED tells me you're smart enough to know that you need an education.
"After that, you need to lay out a game plan for your man so his behind knows what you expect from him. Babies need security, girlfriend, and that doesn't come cheap. If he loves you as much as you love him, then he'll want to make sure you both have that security before you bring another life into this world. You hear what I'm saying?"
Monica continued, not bothering to wait for a response. "Let your man know you want a home of your own, not his mama's home. That's her house. You and a baby deserve your own place, and a ride he doesn't have to borrow, and he can't do that without being gainfully employed. Once that baby is here, it's going to be on both of you to do what needs to be done, not just you. If he's not up for the task, then he needs to step off so you can do your thing without all that drama that comes with having a baby on your hip. You can do badly by yourself, Gail. You don't need any man to do bad with you, and you sure don't need a baby if you don't have all your stuff together. You hear me?"
"I hear what you're saying, Monica. Thank you, girl!"
Bryan disconnected the call, spinning his hand in the air to signal her time was up.
Monica spoke into the microphone. "Do your thing, Gail. I have faith in you. Well, that's all the time we have here this evening, people. Stay tuned for Dr. Blue Mood and his midnight magic. I'll be back on Monday, same time, same place, so make sure you call to tell me something good. This is Monica James. Peace and love. I'm out of here."
Chaka Khan and the group Rufus crooned in the background as Monica's call sign faded into the distance. Bryan flicked switches, moving them to an automated sound track that would play until the next crew was ready to take over. "You're getting soft," Bryan said sarcastically as they made their way out of the sound booth. "You were easy on folks tonight." He flashed her a big, toothy grin.
Monica smiled back. "I was in a good mood. I'm sure someone will irritate me tomorrow, and I'll be back in form."
The man shook his head, his large Afro waving atop his head. "I know that's right. Well, let me get home. My wife cooked, and if I'm lucky, she might even be waiting up for me."
"Any plans for the weekend?" Monica asked as they strolled down the length of hallway and into the building's elevator. She stared intently at her partner as he pushed the button for the parking garage.
"I have a dozen kid things to catch up on. Junior has a Little League game, we're working on some school project with Tanya, and my wife promised to make love to me at least twice before I have to report back here Monday night. Three times if I act right."
Monica laughed. "Danielle is going to spoil you. I need to talk to her."
"You stay away from my woman. I got things just like I want 'em. You start putting your two cents in the mix and you'll be messing up my flow," he said with a deep laugh. "What about you? What's on your agenda this weekend?"
The woman shrugged. "I am finally going to unpack and put my house in order. I've made four payments on my mortgage, and my pots are still sitting in a box in my living room. You know that's a crime."
They laughed warmly as they stopped beside Monica's 2004 Nissan Quest, the metallic blue color shimmering under the fluorescent lights. As Bryan opened the door for her, she leaned to give him a quick hug, then waved good-bye, took a seat behind the wheel, and headed home for the night.
Treading a slow path between a collection of corrugated boxes, Monica made her way from the front door of her condominium, through the living room, and into the kitchen. The automatic timer on her new Black & Decker coffeepot had worked as promised, and a pot of freshly brewed coffee sat waiting for her. The rich aroma greeted her in the entranceway. A large ceramic mug with the WLUV-FM logo was sitting on the countertop, waiting to be filled to the brim with the hot fluid.
From where she stood in the kitchen, she could see a light filtering across the courtyard, shimmering from the town house directly opposite hers into her living room window. Her neighbor must still be up, she thought as she eased her way over to peer outside. Since the day she'd moved into her home, she'd been watching the good-looking man from her windows, stealing glimpses like a thief on a mission. He'd caught her once, the only time she'd forgotten to cut off the lights in her bedroom before peeking through the window blinds. She'd been rattled by the deep gaze that had passed between them, and then she'd stood foolishly, swatting at the window treatments, hoping he'd not been able to tell what she'd really been doing.
When he'd caught glimpse of her standing in a baby-doll nightgown, a shimmer of a blush had crossed his pale peach complexion. The silk garment had been very short and very sheer, and the matching lace G-string had barely covered the wealth of her assets. The man had tossed up his fingers in what was meant to be a casual wave, then had retreated behind his closed blinds, cutting off her view. Monica smiled at the memory.
Beneath the veil of darkness, she peered out her window into his, her presence obscured by the thin blinds and sheer, white curtains that hung against the glass. He had company, and from where she stood watching, she could see that the conversation between him and the woman he was with was not going well.
In what was supposed to be an alluring striptease, his companion, a very young girl with a Hershey-kiss complexion and platinum blond microbraids, had opened the gray trench coat she was wearing to expose a black, lace-trimmed push-up bra and matching thong. Baby fat spilled out in every direction, and Monica would have wagered the woman's body had never before seen the inside of a gym. She sported ten pounds of excess weight, typical of young college students who tend to eat too much junk and get too little exercise. Sheer, black thigh-high stockings, lace garters, and four-inch, red love-me pumps finished the ensemble as the woman struck what was supposed to be a seductive pose.
When she'd snatched the outer garment closed, an incredulous expression crossing her face, Monica knew the moment had not gone well. She felt for the sister-the girl's embarrassment filled the space around herself and the man as he stood with his hands raised shoulder high, a look of astonishment blanketing his face. As the woman stormed out the door, slamming it profoundly behind her, Monica laughed out loud, returning to her cup of coffee.
Shock filtered across Dr. Preston Walker's spirit, holding him hostage where he stood. As the last vibration of the slammed door stilled, he felt himself exhale. Donata Thompson showing up at his door unannounced had definitely been a surprise. But it was her lurid discourse on what she wanted to do to him, combined with the very graphic exposure of all her private parts, that had shaken his composure. Sweat beaded across his brow, and he reached with the palm of his hand to brush the moisture away. Wiping his hands against the leg of his cotton sleeping pants, he hurried to his front door to lock it, turning the deadbolt before leaning back against his living-room sofa. He heaved a deep sigh.
He'd been teaching literature and language arts at State University for over twelve years, and in all that time no student had been as brazen as Ms. Thompson had just been. During his tenure he'd waved off many a flirtation and had continually ignored the efforts of any undergraduate who dared to threaten the boundaries of their teacher-student relationship, but this stunt had thrown him right off guard. The young woman had obviously fallen down and bumped her skull, he thought, shaking his head. Had he been a man who drank, he would definitely have had use for a straight shot of scotch.
A quick movement across the way caught his eye, and he looked out his large bay window right into the home of his new neighbor. The stunning woman stood at the granite counter in her kitchen, slowly stirring a teaspoon into a cup. She was giggling at something funny, clearly amused. Preston scanned the room, his gaze intruding into the woman's space, but he saw no one else with her as she stood alone.
For two complete strangers, he and the woman had shared many an intimate moment, he thought, remembering the last time, when he'd looked over to see her standing nearly naked at her second-floor window, tugging at the window blinds. The slip of black lingerie she wore had felt like the only barrier between them-that is, if he ignored the two panes of window glass and the twenty yards of lawn between their two units. His gaze had raced along the fine lines of her lush curves until the flicker of energy through his groin had incited a raging stiffness that pulled him back to his senses. A sliver of a smile crossed his face, and the memory caused a recurrent wave of electricity to flood his body.
Almost simultaneously, the two crossed over to their respective windows, reaching for the pull cords to close the blinds and block out the other's peering eyes. As Monica's gaze met his, she smiled, then gave him a quick wave of her hand. Preston smiled back as he nodded his head slowly, and then both drew back their blinds, allowing darkness to fill the space between them.
Chapter TwoWhen Monica's doorbell rang, she had already consumed three cups of Jamaican coffee and had unpacked half the boxes sitting in her living room. Outside, the sun had risen nicely, settling its golden orb against a bright blue sky. Not one cloud sat in the oceanic expanse of space, promising a bright, hot summer's day. Still dressed in the nightclothes she'd slept in-an oversized, white T-shirt and pair of gray sweatpants-Monica pulled the wooden door open, flooding the room with sunshine and warmth as she did.
Diondre James stood front and center, plastic grocery bags in hand. He smiled widely as his baby sister stood shaking her head in greeting.
"I thought you said you were going to be here by seven o'clock," Monica said with a smile, peering at him through the screen door.
Diondre lifted the bags and gestured in her direction. "I knew your refrigerator was empty. Thought I'd be a sport and give you a hand. Besides, I was hungry."
She shook her head. As she pushed open the door to let him inside, she saw her neighbor standing in the parking lot with two uniformed police officers. The man was visibly agitated, and one of the officers, a tall white man with bright red hair, was motioning for him to calm down. Placing a hand on Diondre's shoulder, she pushed him into the foyer, moving him out of the way so that she could get a better view.
Excerpted from FOREVER AND A DAY by Deborah Fletcher Mello Copyright © 2005 by Deborah Fletcher Mello. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ms Mello, I had just finished reading on 'The Right Side of Love. And I was so touched by it. I already had 'Forever And A Day' on my bookshelf so I decided I needed to read another good book. Deborah your writing gets better with each book. Monica James & Preston Walkers story was so good I had a hard time putting it down. When Preston said he was a 37 year old virgin I couldn't believe it. I loved little Mariah. And Monica and her mother Irma had a very good best girlfriend relationship. even though they didn't cross the mother daughter line. I hope your next book will be about her brother Diondre. He thinks there is no woman out there who can tame him. I am waiting for your next book. You are becoming one of my favorite authors. I have read all your books. God bless and keep up the good work.
Some books when you finish reading the you feel sad because it was so good the next one is bound to be a disapointment What a great summer read. I couldnt put it down. The characters are unique and intriguing with a refreshing take on men in this jondre