Finally, Quinton Barnes is at the top of his game! Emerging as CEO of a lucrative engineering firm, he is enjoying the benefits and accolades , but simultaneously ,the demands of Jasmine’s job as a public defender and the time she dedicates to their children, leaves him feeling neglected, disrespected and misunderstood, which ultimately renders him vulnerable to the wiles of an ex- lover and his young, bold and determined intern’s interoffice advances.
When Quinton’s most haunting secret resurfaces, he feels as if his emotional downfall is eminent, leaving him unable to separate his past indiscretions from his present-day dilemmas.
Could Quinton’s ego lead him to ignore the possible dissolution of his marriage and his role in it? Is Quinton willing to face the underlying issues in his marriage in order salvage it or will his selfish indulgences cloud his judgment? Will he be willing to take the necessary emotional strides in order to, Make Time for Love?
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.73(d)|
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Make Time for Love
By Nicole Cifax-Garner
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 Nicole Cifax-Garner
All rights reserved.
As I completed my cool down after my morning run, I felt a huge wave of anxiety overcome me. It was strange in a way, because I usually took advantage of this time to clear my head, but today's attempt failed to lift my mood and I felt completely unprepared to face the rest of the day. My mind started wandering all over the place, taking off in so many directions, I couldn't keep up.
I reflected on the early morning in late August, when I watched Jasmine pack the essential items needed to evacuate our home, after Mayor Nagin called for a mandatory evacuation due to Tropical Storm Gustav. I remembered feeling somewhat helpless as I listened to Dan Milham detail how strong its winds were blowing past Florida and Cuba and how quickly the storm was headed for the Louisiana coastline. I remembered how powerless I felt against a little, "bad weather system."
With the aid of weather from Texas and Mississippi, Tropical Storm Gustav quickly strengthened to a category three hurricane and took on the characteristics of Hurricane Karina. Without second-guessing, I gathered my wife and children and headed to Tennessee, still feeling helpless and increasingly defenseless. In the end, Hurricane Gustav was the second most destructive hurricane of the 2008 season, triggering the largest evacuation in U.S history.
Richard and I were near the completion of one of the biggest deals in our firm's history, before we evacuated. Fortunately, for me and my family, I was able to pick up where I left off when we returned from Tennessee. Richard and I got right back into working with consultants, preparing estimates and reports for the construction, maintenance and operation of the city's infrastructure. We wanted a little bit of that paper, too. It wouldn't hurt to have more than one deal in the works.
Richard and I communicated by cell phone, numerous emails and via fax to make sure the construction of our mini-subdivision project went smoothly, too. I couldn't even remember how many hours we spent making sure we had our game tight when it came to closing the deal we'd been working on prior to the hurricane. Once Richard assured me that the subdivision conformed to the building codes, I was prepared to complete all of the paperwork needed to get us paid.
As if anything else could be more depressing, I also reflected on how I'd spent the past three years trying to convince myself that I'd moved past the chapter of my life that was impacted by Tiffany's life and death. I should be in a better place in my life, a place that was supportive and solid now that Jasmine and the kids were here, but I was nowhere near there yet and it continually frustrated me.
Even though a year without named hurricanes had come and gone, I still couldn't find peace in knowing that I wouldn't have to face anymore uncertainty and I wasn't comforted by the possibility that I wouldn't be impacted by the fear of being ill-equipped to protect my family, again. I'd convinced myself that I had the emotional capability to regroup, so, I massaged away my headache and headed upstairs to my bedroom.
I walked into the master bedroom, focused on the love of my life and quickly found the reassurance that Jasmine was the only source of comfort, security and stability I had in this world. I looked over at her and smiled broadly, as I watched her sleep. I was so proud to be married to such a wonderful woman, a woman who enjoyed starting the day the same way I did, minus the early morning workout. I smiled and savored the thought that just a few short hours ago, Jasmine and I enjoyed a little hot, steamy lovemaking and once I woke her up, we'd also enjoy a tall mug of Folger's coffee, almost as hot and steamy.
She didn't know it, but I was teasing her with my thoughts as she slept. I wondered if Jasmine knew that she meant everything to me. I wondered if she knew that I couldn't live without her and I jokingly wondered what wore her out more; the late night with the kids or this morning's activities with me. I looked over at Jasmine again for the answer and thought, That's easy; it was me.
Out of consideration for Jasmine's incapacity, I opted to quietly take a shower and head back downstairs to watch the news before I woke Jasmine and the kids up to start the day. Maybe I should just let her sleep. Lately, Jasmine has been complaining about how little time I spent "bonding" with our kids. I wasn't sure how many points I'd earn, but I entertained the thought of taking a stab at emulating my wife's early morning routine.
I couldn't wait to see the look on Jasmine's face when she saw Quierra's hair combed neatly into place, without disturbing the part she made down the middle of our daughter's head. I was confident that when I was done, my baby girl would be the same little princess who softened my heart, two poofy ponytails and all. I was also looking forward to assisting my very independent namesake, as he poured milk into the bowl of cereal that he insisted on pouring himself.
I often wondered how Jasmine juggled the kids, her job in the public defender's office and me at the same time; she pulled it off on a daily basis and she always made it all look effortless. I lightly kissed Jasmine's forehead, but she didn't budge. So, I headed to the shower, confident that the hot stream of water would give me the energy needed to work through today's hectic schedule.
I exited the shower, tightened up my goatee and switched the tan pin-striped oxford that was hanging on the closet door, to one of my classic white ones. Completely satisfied with my appearance, I felt confident enough to face any obstacle in my way. Speaking of which, I took a deep breath for the confidence and strength to do battle with our children's explosive level of energy, which seemed to be at its peak early every morning.
I looked down the hallway toward the doors of the children's bedrooms and I was extremely grateful that I didn't have to deal with them before I had the chance to consume at least two cups of coffee. I moved down the hallway and down the stairs with the finesse of a professional burglar and wearing the same satisfactory grin burglars wore after obtaining a huge acquisition of someone else's goods. There was no way I was going to make a sound; my eyes were on the prize! I was yearning to become one with my recliner, for at least thirty minutes, before the children woke up.
Finally, thanks to my carpeted stairwell, I made it to my destination-my black, leather recliner. I looked over at my coffee mug, which reminded me that I still hadn't gotten the coffee started. I ran into the kitchen to get the coffee brewing and carefully loaded my mug with the perfect amount of cream and sugar to make this essential component to a good morning, enjoyable.
Once I was armed with a hot cup of coffee and the remote control, I tuned in to watch, Eyewitness Morning news with Sally Ann and Eric, just as Eric announced that there was a Post-Katrina murder investigation story that was being updated. I adjusted the volume on the television and as soon as I'd adjusted it to a level comfortable enough for me to hear the details, Quierra's piercing cries interrupted my concentration. I found myself wishing that my remote also controlled the volume on my daughter's screams, too.
I ran up the stairs, rushed to get into and out of her room in order to follow the remaining minutes of the newscast. I have to get her settled before she wakes her brother up, I thought, as I ran from her bedroom as if I were rescuing her from a fire. As soon as I scooped up my little princess, I heard a mild thump coming from my son's room. I made it to his room in time to catch him as he was preparing to jump from his bunk bed and onto the floor, for the second time, I assumed. Our little daredevil had always managed to slide down the side of his bunk bed without using the ladder for support, but the sight of the completion of his latest stunt today had my heart racing out of control. I left his room thankful I'd escaped having to make a trip to the emergency room. I ran back downstairs with my children in my arms and begged them to be quiet every hushed step I took. I felt like my kids were a set of hostages I planned to detain, as opposed to my beautiful kids that I prepared to nurture, feed and love for a lifetime.
I secured each of the kids around he table, Quierra in her high chair and Quinton, Jr. on his favorite Elmo chair, washed my hands and put a couple Pop Tarts in the toaster. While the pastries were toasting, I searched the cabinets for their favorite plates, poured two cups of milk and secured Quierra in her seat again, after she somehow removed the plastic tray and before she could ease her body onto the floor. These children are gonna give me heart failure.
When I finally placed their breakfasts on their plates, they both laughed at me when I blew on my fingers after removing the pastries from the toaster before they cooled down. I bet they both wanted to say, "That's not the way mommy does it." I turned the television in the kitchen to Little Einsteins and returned to my recliner. Satisfied with my, "Mr. Mom" routine, I turned back toward the kitchen and smiled and after I caught a glimpse of the kids singing, "Pat, pat, pat," a sense of relief swept over me.
The Eyewitness News really grabbed my attention this morning because there was this new piece of eye candy reporting the news. I watched intently as she placed one hand to her ear; she appeared to be adjusting her headset for better sound. I guess it was a mind thing, because I adjusted the volume on my television, too.
The beautiful lady articulately began her report by saying, "I am standing here live from the West Baton Rouge police station with the latest developments in a murder case that may be linked to a Pre-Katrina homicide that the NOPD is currently working on." Then, there was file footage of two bodies being wheeled out of ... Tiffany's apartment complex in white body bags and I kept blinking my eyes rapidly, hoping this was a mistaken address and praying that my worst nightmare hadn't been unraveled right before my eyes. I didn't know what prompted me to, but I began to look around my living room nervously. For some reason, I felt the urge to grab my briefcase and get the hell out of here, but I couldn't; I was immobile.
The reporter continued, "As we reported earlier, a routine excavation by a group of architectural engineers, yielded the discovery of the remains of two bodies in a bedroom of the Wilson Apartment complex, which was slated for demolition after being purchased by an out of town real estate developer. The engineers were said to be searching for structural artifacts, when they unintentionally recovered the skeletal remains of a female victim, who would later be identified as Tiffany Sanderson and a male victim identified as Jacob Sylvester, a renowned New Orleans attorney."
I looked toward the kitchen, the kids were fine. I looked toward the stairwell again and there was no evidence of Jasmine stirring around. I nervously turned my attention to the television again and I vividly saw the faces of Tiffany and that Jacob dude as I left the apartment on the night I thought I'd killed them. I still remembered the stale odor of Tiffany's matchbox apartment and I could never forget the stench of death that was lingering in the air, when Donnie and I went back there two months after I'd completely moved Jasmine and Quinton Jr. into this very house. This house was supposed to be my safe haven from all of the bitter memories of a Tiffany-infested life. This house was supposed to shield my family from ever knowing that I was an accomplice to murder, times two.
Damn, how many more details of the crime did this reporter have? She'd done an outstanding job unraveling the fabric of deceit Donnie, Dee, Nia and Jade wove in Baton Rouge. I turned away from the television and started pacing the floor in the living room as uneasily as I did after Jasmine gave birth to our daughter at Touro Hospital. Unlike the esteemed memory of Quierra's birth, this story wouldn't have a happy ending. My chest was pounding so hard, I thought my heart was going to burst out of my shirt and turn me in to the authorities. I couldn't stay cool. The news segment was so graphic and my memory was so vivid, I almost stopped breathing.
"According to the West Baton Rouge coroner's office, the couple's remains had been in the apartment almost two years before being discovered. The coroner was able to conclude that the couple was most likely killed at least three years ago, which coincides with Sanderson's co-workers' accounts of her disappearance. Skip trace efforts to locate Sanderson yielded no leads to her whereabouts and there was nothing linking her to Baton Rouge. The Baton Rouge apartment was leased under Sylvester's name and it was assumed that Sanderson simply returned to New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina. According to the coroner's office, a preliminary inspection of the skeletal remains at the scene, determined the cause of death as asphyxiation since the hyoid bone of both victims was severely broken. The forensics team, led by Sean Baylor, is also conducting a thorough investigation into the contents of the victims' bedroom in which cigarette butts and a locket inscribed to a Deshawna Prieur surfaced. Detectives with the NOPD and the West Baton Rouge police are collaborating on the case since Deshawna Prieur is currently being sought for questioning in the Pre-Katrina homicide of her former live-in boyfriend, Tyrone Henry. Henry was found dead in the apartment he and Prier occupied. Prieur was last seen by residents of the Greenville Apartments fleeing the scene in a late-model, burgundy SUV."
My migraine was too big to have Excedrin written all over it. I think I see a couple glasses of Hennessey awaiting me. I stood in my living room in a daze and there was no way I could shake, walk or sleep the news report off. I felt the walls and the twenty foot ceilings of my living room closing in all around me and I didn't know what to do about it. To top it all off, my kids were yelling and I was standing in my living room paralyzed by what I'd heard, massaging my temples and coming within inches of knocking over this end table, coffee mug and all.
"Quinton, what is going on down here?"
I looked around to see Jasmine partially dressed for work and weakly said, "Oh Jas, you're awake."
"All I heard was Quierra crying and Quinton Jr. yelling your name and trying to get your attention."
"I'm ... I'm sorry, baby. I'm headed in there now."
"Don't bother, I'm here now. What's wrong with you? You look like you've just seen a ghost. You left my babies all alone, hollering and screaming while you were standing in front of the television as if you were under hypnosis."
"Um, I'm just shocked by something I just heard on television."
I looked over at Jasmine who was watching me somewhat suspiciously and shuffling our daughter from arm to arm, as I mentally fumbled for a way to get out of the house.
Okay, here it goes. "Baby, I need to head to the office. I'm closing the Henderson account today."
"The Henderson account? I thought you guys closed that account a couple weeks ago. As a matter of fact, I believe the file is still sitting on your desk. Do you want me to double check?"
Damn! I'd forgotten how quickly Jasmine thinks on her feet. "Maybe I have the names mixed up. We've been finalizing a lot of deals lately. On second thought, why don't you go on upstairs and finish getting dressed for work. I'll make sure the kids finish eating and I'll get them dressed for school."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah; I'll even give you a break by bringing the kids to school this morning."
"What's gotten into you?"
"Just trying to help out where I can."
"Oh? I thought your strange behavior was in response to the newscast stating that the bodies of your ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend were discovered."
"Jasmine what are you talking about?"
"I was tuned in to the news report as I was getting dressed. Man, I can only imagine how you are feeling. The way she died was tragic. It almost seems like there is nothing we can do or any place we can go to erase Tiffany from our lives."
Excerpted from Make Time for Love by Nicole Cifax-Garner. Copyright © 2014 Nicole Cifax-Garner. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
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