“A voice of her generation.” —Black Issues Book Review
From pretty girls to wealthy wifeys, five women snagged the championship ring and the title . . .
When her husband Damien’s lucrative NFL career ends, Tiffany Holcomb targets hubby number two: Hollywood leading man Warren Michael Joseph. Trouble is, Damien’s not giving up that easily . . .
Monique Hall is thrilled when her baby boy, Kadir, gets a multimillion-dollar NBA contract. But Monique’s romance with her son’s teammate is a costly foul . . .
Zakiya Lee’s church community considers her a role model for a successful marriage. Too bad she’ll have to play dirty to get rid of her NBA star husband Jabril’s side chick—again . . .
Shanice Whitaker has risen from video vixen to top men’s magazine model. Now she wants to get back with the married man she loved and let go. And she’s happy to play the position of Jabril’s main mistress . . .
To win back custody of her daughter from her vengeful NFL player ex-husband, Adrienne Sheppard has to do someone a shady favor. But it leads her into the arms of actor Warren Michael Joseph—and a secret that could fill her bank account and break her heart . . .
What’s in a name? For these ladies, just about everything . . .
“This is one crazy, in-your-face tale of trysts and ludicrous schemes.”
—RT Book Reviews on A Rich Man’s Baby
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)|
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His Last Name
By Daaimah S. Poole
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Daamiah S. Poole
All rights reserved.
"Don't answer the door," my husband, Damien, shouted.
He ran into the living room as a loud, continuous knock became even louder.
"Why, what's wrong? What's going on? Who is it, Damien?" He snatched my arm and pulled my petite body to the floor. I had no choice but to follow his lead and kneel next to him on our marble floor.
Moments passed, but the relentless pounding did not stop. Damien hadn't answered my question, so I asked him again, "Who is at the door? Who would have the audacity to drive onto our property and up our driveway?"
"It's the people from the bank. They're trying to serve me more court papers."
"Why are they coming here, banging on our door? I thought you said your attorneys were handling everything."
"They are. He is. He said they may start coming around, but not to sign or accept anything. As long as they aren't able to personally serve me, it gives me more time."
"Okay." I took in a deep breath and tried to make sense of what was going on. Damien saw the defeated look in my eyes and comforted me with a kiss on the cheek. His kiss only made me sadder. I tried to hold the fear in, but a stream of tears flowed down my face.
He wiped my face with his thumb. "Babe, don't do this. Don't make me feel any worse than I already do. It will be okay. I'm in the process of getting this all under control. My lawyer put in all the paperwork with the creditors. He's taking care of everything. It's all going to work out. Trust me."
"I don't understand, Damien. One day you say we're okay, and the next day someone is at the door trying to serve us papers. What's going on? Tell me the truth. Can we afford to stay here, or do we have to move?"
"I told you already. We don't have to move. Once the bankruptcy filing goes through, everything will be back to normal. I'll get one payment to pay all the creditors, and they will leave us alone. I promise you. I told you I will take care of you, and I will. Do you believe in me?"
"Yes, I do."
He turned to face me. "Then know that I won't let anything happen to you."
"I understand, but my mom saw something on the news and people are sending my sister stories they've found on the Internet."
"I don't want to talk about this anymore. People owe me money. I have investments out there that will pay back eventually and hopefully I will get a job covering sports somewhere. I don't know — maybe I'll get a scouting position. And in the meantime, I will be in the gym. I can have a comeback. Teams are still interested in me. I have a plan, Tiffany. Believe in me — I got us," he rambled on. "Believe. All right?"
I shook my head and told Damien that I believed in him, but I was lying. I didn't believe him or even like him at that moment.
After five long minutes, the knocking finally stopped. I got off the floor, walked to the window, and watched the man who'd been knocking as he got into a navy blue SUV. How did we get here? What happened in our lives that led us to this awful place? I thought to myself as the SUV pulled out of our looped driveway.
Since I was a teenager, my mother, Helen, told me that I was never to be with a man who could not take care of me. She gave me detailed instructions on how to have a man provide for me. She had used the same rules to land her wealthy husband.
So I'd followed the blueprint step-by-step, but now I needed a new set of plans.
The first half of my life, my mother was a hardworking single mom. She worked as a secretary and was struggling. Then she met high-powered attorney Wilson Miller, Jr. at a convention and everything changed.
My brother, Charles, and I knew our mother quit her job, but instead of having less money, she had more. She went on long trips for weeks at a time, and we moved in with our nana. That lasted for about two years, from the time I was in fifth grade until the end of seventh grade.
Then out of nowhere, my mother came home and said she was married and we would be moving to North Carolina. My brother and I were happy for our mom, but totally shocked when a tall white man walked through our grandmother's door.
"That's Mr. Wilson?" I asked my nana. She shook her head and instructed me not to say anything about him being white.
We moved into a house right outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, in a suburb called Huntersville. Our new home was four times the size of Nana's row house back in Baltimore — and that didn't even include the trees and grass that circled the gigantic house.
I remember how I walked into the house in amazement with my mouth wide open. All of the furniture was new, bright, and beautiful. I couldn't believe we were actually moving into a house that nice. Then my mother walked us to our rooms. I had a white canopy bed with pink sheets and my brother's room was blue and filled with toys.
The next day, we went shopping for school clothes. Unlike other school years, there wasn't a limit to what we could get. If we liked a pair of jeans, my mom allowed us to buy them in every color, along with matching shirts and sweaters.
That night, as we unpacked all of our new clothes, my mom sat me down and said, "Look around, Tiffany, This is how you live. A man is supposed to treat you like a queen. Like royalty. And if he can't, then he doesn't deserve you." That conversation stayed with me the rest of my life.
Life was great in North Carolina. However, Charles and I learned to stay out of Wilson's way. He was our stepfather, but not our dad. Our dad was the lazy black motherfucker who left us in Maryland. Our mother reminded us of this all the time. Wilson didn't speak to us a whole lot, but he kept our bills paid. I always got the impression that he loved my mother, but tolerated us. He set up a small trust fund for my brother and me. He even made sure my tuition was paid in full and I didn't need any loans for school. My teenage years were great, but I was happy to go back up north for college.
My mother drove me to Syracuse University. It was a long twelve-hour drive up the east coast. The entire ride, she talked to me about planning and taking advantage of the opportunities that were being presented to me. She said that I only had four years to succeed. Initially, I thought she meant to complete college, but my mom was already thinking beyond college. She told me not to eat too much, to study hard to earn my degree, but, most important, to find a wealthy husband: a life partner who had the potential of making a six-figure income and also came from a good family. She warned me to stay away from future teachers and all art majors. My mother thought I should also date outside of my race, because black men weren't any good. It was a lot to take in, but I took notes.
One day during my third week of school, I met Warren Michael Joseph as I left the library. He was double majoring in both political science and finance. Check. He was from a good family. Check. His father was a pastor at a megachurch and his mother a principal in Memphis, Tennessee. He was black, but I had checked off three out of four of my mother's requirements. The bonus was that he was also a football player. We dated freshman through junior year. He interned at Wilson's law firm in the summer. We planned to get engaged and married after we graduated, but then something changed during homecoming weekend of our junior year.
That something was his teammate Damien Holcomb. We met at a party one night and connected instantly. I remember it vividly. I arrived at the party early and Warren wasn't there yet. He didn't answer his phone, but Damien was there and wouldn't take no for an answer when he asked me to dance. Something was so ruggedly handsome about him. He had deep, fudge-colored skin, a chiseled athletic frame with a sexy, aggressive New York swagger and the talk to match. He was so confident. He didn't just simply ask me to dance, he took my hand and pulled me toward the dance floor. We danced and he held me for six songs straight. I left the party with Damien. A few days later, I broke up with Warren.
Warren didn't handle it well. He tried to win me back by sending flowers, crying, and begging me to come back to him. Everyone on campus knew that Damien had stolen his girlfriend, and he couldn't handle the embarrassment. I didn't know if he wanted to get back together because of his male ego or because he actually wanted me. When his pleading didn't work, he became depressed and transferred schools.
I felt bad, but Damien was everything that Warren wasn't. He was one hundred percent authentic and knew who he was. He was also everything I was supposed to stay away from. He was on scholarship, and his major was physical education He was a football player who didn't come from a good family with money. Actually, he didn't have any family. He was brought up in the foster care system and only had cousins and an aunt and uncle in Brooklyn, all of whom he rarely spoke to. He said the only person who was there for him was his social worker. She was the one who told him he had a good head on his shoulders and should be in college.
She was right. He did well in college and was excellent on the field. Everyone wanted a piece of Damien and they were all trying to put in their bids in advance. He wasn't supposed to take any gifts from agents or teams, according to NCAA rules, but they didn't know that his girlfriend was accepting things on his behalf.
Soon after we became an official couple, untraceable gifts would arrive at my parents' home from sport agencies and future sponsors. To my surprise, my mother was very accepting of Damien because even she knew he was destined for the NFL. And she was right. That next spring, Damien and I were married and he signed a contract with the Denver Broncos for thirty million dollars over five years and a five-million-dollar signing bonus.
Immediately, we were thrust into an entirely new world of privilege. The other side of a million dollars was something new for both of us. While he was out on the field making the money, it was my responsibility to furnish the house and plan the vacations. We traveled to every continent in the world during the off season. We owned three homes. Our main house was in Alpine, New Jersey, but we also had a home in Denver, Colorado, and a condo in Orlando, Florida.
We owned five cars: a Bentley, a Mercedes-Benz AMG convertible, a BMW, a classic 1967 Chevy Camaro, and a custom Tahoe. Our life was great and money wasn't an issue. When I shopped, I didn't look at tags or turn over a pair of shoes to check the price sticker before I charged them. We always picked up the tab at a restaurant when we went to dinner with our friends and we never had any financial worries. We had everything. We were the couple that other couples aspired to be. I was the beautiful wife with the handsome millionaire husband.
Things changed when Damien had a career-ending injury. It happened right before his new contract was finalized. He was on the twelve-yard line about to go into the end zone, and the Saints linebacker charged him. His body fell backward, but his leg went forward. From the stands, I could almost feel his leg as it cracked in half. I screamed as they led him off of the field. Damien went straight to the hospital and into surgery. I prayed and prayed, but I already knew he would never play again.
That was two years ago, and that's how our lives went from boarding private planes to creditors trying to knock down our front door. Our accountant hadn't been paying the IRS or filing state or local taxes — he was too busy investing our money in various businesses that never turned a profit. He thought he was going to be able to put the money back before we noticed, but Damien's injury prevented that. Damien also liked to gamble and lend money out, and he made horrible business decisions. Then Damien decided to get drunk and drive home. When a police officer tried to arrest him, he gave the cop a hard time. Not only did he get a DUI, but he also got a court date for resisting arrest.
All we had left was eight thousand dollars in the safe in our guest room that I had put to the side. I wasn't even sure if our car notes were paid that month. Damien would tell me to keep the cars in the garage, so I had to assume they weren't. We voluntarily turned in the Bentley and the Mercedes, which left us with only my BMW, his truck, and the classic Chevy.
Things were rough right now, but Damien was a hustler. And I knew that I could find a job if I had to.
On our wedding day, I vowed to love him in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer ... but what did they say about repossessions and foreclosures?CHAPTER 2
"Guard your man! Guard your man, Kadir! Come on, guard your man!" I shouted from my seat to my six-foot-four-inch son who was running down the court at the packed and noisy Liacouras Center. He was a sophomore shooting guard for Temple University's basketball team.
"Don't make the boy nervous, Monique."
"Be quiet, Carl. He needs to be pushed. These are the last few games before the draft. June is only three months away."
Kadir's teammate made the shot, taking their lead from three points to five, and then the time ran out for UCF. The Temple Owls won eighty-three to seventy-eight.
My son, Kadir, started to play basketball when my boyfriend, Carl, placed the ball in his hands. He was only two years old, but he never put the ball down. Some kids had blankies, but Ka-Ka had his ball. He slept with the ball and started dribbling it when he woke up every morning. He would say, "Ma ball. Ma ball." It went everywhere with him. In the tub, at the playground — he even tried to take it to day care.
I knew he loved basketball, but I realized he was good when he was about ten and teenage boys would knock on the door to play with him. By sixth grade, there was always a league, tournament, or summer camp. If he missed a game, his coaches would call and offer to pick him up because they needed him in order to win.
Five summers ago, Kadir grew from five foot seven to six foot four in three months and schools began to call. Prep schools and colleges started ringing my phone at work, at my house, and even on my cell phone. How they got my numbers, I'll never know. I let Carl talk to most of them; I didn't know much about the schools. I just wanted Ka-Ka to have the best opportunities possible.
It was important for Kadir to go to college and become someone because I missed my chance. I wanted to go to college, but I had Kadir at seventeen and had little support. His father was killed before he was born, and my parents made it known that they would not be my babysitters.
My mother, Dottie, told everyone in our family that nobody was to help me since I had embarrassed the family by getting pregnant. There was no baby shower or happiness at the hospital. There was only one thing that I remember my mother saying when Kadir was born: "You better be glad I'm not making you give this baby up for adoption."
My mother was upset about my pregnancy, but she never told me how to use a condom or what birth control was. Her only rule was no sex before marriage, because if you have sex, you will get pregnant and your life will be over.
That summer, it was just me and Ka-Ka. I took him everywhere with me. My mother was so mean to me and even refused to pay my tuition at school. She said, "Teen moms don't go to Catholic school." According to her, I wasn't going to amount to anything anyway.
For eleventh grade, I attended Simon Gratz High School instead. It was down the street from my home in North Philly. Gratz was so different from the all-girls Catholic school that I had attended for so long. The biggest difference was that they had day care at the school. There were a bunch of other teen moms just like me, and some even had two babies. It wasn't a big deal. No one judged me and everyone was supportive. Kadir was safe while I went to class, and I was able to visit him during my lunch period.
That's where I met my best friend, Celestine, whom everyone called CeCe. She also had a son, who was three months older than Kadir. We liked the same things and bought a lot of the same clothes for ourselves and our boys.
We took our sons to the park, and I spent a lot of time at her house. Her mom was the complete opposite of mine. Ms. Laura would watch the boys for us while we went to the movies or any parties.
Excerpted from His Last Name by Daaimah S. Poole. Copyright © 2016 Daamiah S. Poole. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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
I read this book in two and a half days. I would have done it faster if I didn't have to work. I loved all of the characters. They all fought to stay on top. But my favorite person is Adrienne she is a quick thinker to stay in the money. If you haven't already read this series from the first book you should.
It was a really good book