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A Sin and a Shame
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A Sin and a Shame

4.1 43
by Victoria Christopher Murray

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After fleeing Los Angeles when her attempt to break up her best friend's marriage fails, Jasmine is now a changed woman...and a Christian. She vows to attend church every Sunday, swears off married men, and begins her search for the soul mate she is sure God has for her. Now living in the Big Apple, she has shed twenty-five pounds, shaved ten years off her age, filled


After fleeing Los Angeles when her attempt to break up her best friend's marriage fails, Jasmine is now a changed woman...and a Christian. She vows to attend church every Sunday, swears off married men, and begins her search for the soul mate she is sure God has for her. Now living in the Big Apple, she has shed twenty-five pounds, shaved ten years off her age, filled her expensive apartment with designer clothes...all to begin her man-finding mission.

She quickly meets her dream mate -- a preacher -- who falls head over heels in love with her. Surely, God is good! But things start slipping when another man from Jasmine's past refuses to stay there, and an unexpected pregnancy threatens to sabotage all of her dreams. Will Jasmine's lying and scheming continue? Or will she finally learn that honesty is the only path to redemption?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"One of our best and most prolific writers, an excellent storyteller."
-- Eric Jerome Dickey, New York Times bestselling author

"Intriguing and well-written.... If you loved and hated Jasmine in Temptation, you'll love and hate her again."
-- Indianapolis Record

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A Sin and a Shame

A Novel
By Victoria Christopher Murray


Copyright © 2006 Victoria Christopher Murray
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0743287371

Chapter One: January 2004

Jasmine swung the designer dress in front of her as she gazed into the mirror. "Can you believe this is a size six?"

Serena leaned against the silk pillows stacked against the bed's headboard. "I can't believe you bought all these things," she said to her sister. "How are you going to pay for this?" Serena motioned toward the bags and boxes strewn across the room.

"You didn't answer my question," Jasmine said, fixing her eyes on her reflection.

"You didn't answer mine."

Jasmine faced her sister with raised eyebrows. "Why are you worried? Dad left us -- "

"Not enough for you to be going off like you're Oprah."

Jasmine sighed. That was what was wrong with Serena. She lived life in the middle. She lived in a middle-class neighborhood, with a middle-class job, trudging through her middle-class life. But there was nothing "middle" about Jasmine. She lived outside of the box where she knew all the abundant blessings could be found.

"Can you believe this is a size six?" Jasmine repeated, turning back to the mirror, this time with a silk pantsuit draped in front of her.

A slight smile crossed Serena's lips. "You do look good, girl."

Jasmine smiled too. She'd worked hard to lose twentypounds and get in top shape for her mission.

Serena sighed. "Wish I could do that."

"I thought you'd joined Curves."

Serena waved her hand in the air. "Girl, I'm a Curves dropout. The women there were looking at me like they wanted me to really exercise. I pretended I had to go to the bathroom, and snuck out the back door."

Jasmine laughed. "Well, you should take up running, like I did." She didn't mention that along with her almost-daily sixty-minute runs, she'd spent hundreds of dollars on laxatives in the last three months.

Serena said, "I ain't running nowhere. I've decided that I am perfectly fine in my size eighteen." Serena squinted as her sister primped in front of the mirror. "Seriously, Jasmine. I'm worried about you."

"No need. I'm just preparing for my new life in New York. I plan on having much sex in the city and I've got to be ready."

"Girl, you need Jesus," Serena said, holding a Bible above her head. "That's why I bought you this."

"I've already got one of those."

"You can't have too many," Serena said, as she tucked the book inside the nightstand drawer. "With the way you're acting, you need Jesus all around you."

"I don't know what you're talking about. You, of all people, know how much I love God."

"And I would know this how?"

"Like you never noticed who was sitting next to you every Sunday the last two years."

"Honey, there are plenty of unsaved folks parked in pews all across America."

"Well, I'm not one of them," Jasmine said, thinking how she'd changed since she'd asked Jesus into her heart. Not only was she in church every Sunday, but she had even remained celibate her first year in Florida. Almost 365 days -- and she had counted every one of them. "I gave up a lot for the Lord."

Serena laughed. "What did you give up?"

Jasmine faced her sister. "I gave up married men. I may not be all holy like you, but I'm making progress."

Progress indeed, Jasmine thought. Two years ago, she'd made a list of promises: Besides swearing to never again have sex with a married man, she vowed to never miss a Sunday service. And, she pledged never to tell a lie -- if she didn't have to. She was living the Christian life and was pleased that she'd kept her commitments to God.

Serena sighed. "I pray for you, girl. I pray every day."

"You don't have to worry. All I'm doing is getting my groove back."

Serena shook her head. "That's why you bought all these clothes? To have sex?"

"No, silly. The clothes are an investment."

Serena glanced around the master bedroom of the condo her sister had just purchased. "I thought this apartment was an investment."

Jasmine shook her head as if she was tired of explaining this. "I'm investing in my life. These clothes are going to help me find my next husband."

Serena moaned.

"You can groan if you want," Jasmine said, now holding a black knit mini dress in front of her. "By this time next year, I'm going to be Mrs. Somebody Important."

"Why is getting married suddenly so important to you?"

Jasmine had asked herself that question so many times. It wasn't that getting married was important. It was that she'd been single long enough, and it wasn't like she was getting younger. It was time to settle down -- again.

"I just want to be married. And you know how I get when I want something."

Serena peered at her sister and Jasmine could almost hear her thoughts.

Jasmine said, "I'm fine."

Serena kept her stare on her sister for a bit longer. "I hope so," she said before she stood and, with her hands, pressed the wrinkles from her jeans. "Well, Big Sis..." Serena slipped into her down overcoat.

Jasmine held up her hand. "I told you not to call me that anymore. I don't want you making a mistake around anyone." She returned to admiring herself in the mirror. "Remember, I'm thirty now."

"Oh, Lord." Serena looked up at the ceiling. "Forgive me, Father, for calling on you like that, but this child needs some help." She returned her glance to Jasmine. "How are you thirty, when I'm thirty-five, and you're almost five years older than me?"

"Not anymore."


"I mean it, Serena. I'm thirty now. Look at me," Jasmine said, sweeping her hand down her side.

"You need to look at your birth certificate."

Jasmine waved Serena's words away. "Like anyone is going to ask to see that."

"What about your driver's license?"

"I'll think of something. Your job is to just remember that I'm thirty."

Serena held her hands up. "Whatever. Listen, what time are we leaving for church tomorrow?"

"Malik said he'd meet us at the hotel at ten-thirty. We're going to take a cab uptown."

"Uptown?" Serena grinned. "You got the lingo down."

"Honey, I'm a New York City girl for real."

"Whatever you are, I'm outta here," Serena said, sliding into a pair of gloves. "I want to pack tonight so I can make the three o'clock train. If I miss that one, I'll have to wait until seven. And I want to get away from this cold, girl. A week in New York in January is enough for me."

Jasmine laughed at her sister, the Florida girl, wrapped snuggly in a white down coat, looking like the Michelin man. "You're still going to take the train home?"

"Yeah, I like the ride."

"You only like it because it's free."

"Duh, who doesn't like something free? Jerry didn't work at Amtrak all those years for nothing," she said, referring to her husband who had passed away six years earlier.

"I don't understand you. We've got all this money from Daddy's insurance policy. Why don't you fly? Take one of those cheap flights from New York to Florida."

Serena shook her head. "I'm fine. It only takes twenty-four hours and I'll get a lot of reading done." She shrugged. "I love the train."

"You love being cheap. Besides, I thought you'd be rushing home to see Carl," Jasmine teased.

Serena rolled her eyes. "I'm not rushing home to see anyone."

But Jasmine didn't miss the smile that lit Serena's face. Since her husband passed away, Serena hadn't shown interest in anyone. But a few months ago, Jasmine had invited one of her coworkers, Carl Cosby, to church. She had no plans of introducing Carl to Serena -- until she saw the way the self-proclaimed nerd kept glancing at her sister. It was a casual introduction that Jasmine expected to go nowhere. Her sister had made it clear that her focus was on God, her children, and work. But then, Serena accepted Carl's invitation to dinner.

Jasmine had been thrilled. She prayed that Carl could bring her sister some happiness.

"Anyway," Serena continued, "you may think I'm cheap, but we'll see who'll be calling who for a loan in a year."

"I'll lend you money if you need it," Jasmine kidded. "I'll be married to a rich man by then."

"Whatever. Anyway, give me a hug."

"I'm going with you."

"You're still staying at the hotel? I thought you'd want to sleep here tonight with all your new clothes since your bed arrived today."

Jasmine wrinkled her nose. "No way," she said, looking around as if the room disgusted her. "Look at these walls. Who ever heard of a purple bedroom?"

"It's not purple, it's plum."

"It's ugly. I don't know what that girl Sheila was thinking," Jasmine said, referring to the woman who had sold her the Upper East Side condo. "The woman has no taste." Jasmine grabbed her purse and full-length mink from the bed. "My decorator will be here on Monday with the painters and a week from today, this place will look like someone with class lives here." She slipped into her coat and then linked her arm through her sister's. "Okay, hon, where should we go for dinner?"

Serena shook her head as she looked her sister up and down.

Jasmine said, "Don't say anything about my new coat. Just tell me where you want to eat."

Serena rolled her eyes. "I saw a diner on the corner."

"Honey, you need to recognize where you are. Ain't no diners around here."

"Well, wherever we go, I don't want to spend a lot of money," Serena said, as they stepped into the carpeted hallway lined with gilded mirrors.

Jasmine sighed. Her sister was getting on her nerves with this useless chatter. Their father had left them almost a million-dollar insurance policy. Sure, they had to split it, but it was tax-free money. Jasmine wanted to make sure her father's passing a year ago was not in vain. His money was being used well.

Along with the apartment, she had a closet full of new clothes, a high-profile job, and enough optimism to fill Yankee Stadium. She'd made the investment; now all she had to work on was getting the return.

"Don't worry about dinner," Jasmine said. "I'll pay."

Serena crossed her arms as they entered the elevator. "I'm telling you, a year from now you're going to be calling me."

"You got that right. I'll be calling you and inviting you to my wedding." Jasmine pressed the button for the lobby. "Just make sure you call me your little sister," she said, as she slid her Chanel sunglasses on her face.

"Lord, help her," Serena mumbled.

But Jasmine ignored her sister's grumbling. The wheels in her head were spinning. She was a thirty-year-old New York City girl on a mission.

Copyright 2006 by Victoria Christopher Murray


Excerpted from A Sin and a Shame by Victoria Christopher Murray Copyright © 2006 by Victoria Christopher Murray. Excerpted by permission.
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.

Meet the Author

Victoria Christopher Murray is the author of more than twenty novels including: The Ex Files, Lady Jasmine, The Deal, the Dance, and the Devil, and Stand Your Ground which was named a Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Winner of the African American Literary Award for Fiction and Author of the Year (Female), Murray is also a two-time NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Fiction. She splits her time between Los Angeles and Washington, DC. Visit her website at VictoriaChristopherMurray.com.

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