He meets Karen-a beautiful woman who seemingly comes from a different world. She is highly educated, and her family fought brave battles in the Civil Rights movement. Jerry can't help himself; he falls head-over-heels in love. Karen shows him a way to live a life of love, but she also shows him how to love her-in the bedroom and out.
It's never easy to escape the past, though, as Jerry soon discovers. Along with his newfound feelings for Karen, the skeletons in his closet come knocking. Can two people from different places and different backgrounds survive the sins of the past? In order to defeat dangerous obstacles, Jerry and Karen will have to lean on their passion for one another-or else fall into old habits and lost love.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.22(d)|
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THEIR BACKS AGAINST THE WALLLove, Money, and Life
By Terence Merritt
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Terence Merritt
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Beginning
I knew this day would come. I knew that, one day, this could happen to me. You may think it only happens in the movies. But it actually happened to me. I was getting married to the one woman who made me feel and see things clearly. She made me feel better about myself and my life choices. Karen was my seventh rib, and I needed her always by my side. Thank you, God!
I always asked myself how and when it started. After all, love wasn't just something you hoped for; it was something you would die for. I could see the day Karen and I met clearly. It had been cold, and Chicago had been just as beautiful as it had always been.
But standing here in the church made that day seem dreamlike. As I looked around, I could only thank God that I'd met Karen. Man, I tell you, look at David, Lay, Kelano, Al, and my man, Jesus—all dressed up and finally got a place to go. I chuckled inwardly. Sam looked mad as hell. Sam—Samantha Wright—was one of my past lovers. She asked me last night if she could come to the rehearsal, and I asked Karen. That did not go over very well at first, but Karen said she wanted to keep an eye on Sam while I was at my bachelor party. Given the time Sam put in on me, I was surprised she'd come. She had been very close to me, and she'd asked me to marry her. After that, I'd decided to never again date a girl I worked with.
Today was not my day; it was hers—my baby, Karen's. I watched Karen walk toward me down the aisle. "Ribbon in the Sky" played at a low level, and everyone was chitchatting and having fun. It was such a good feeling to be here at this moment of my life. All I could say was, Hell yeah. Sometimes I liked to sit back and remember just how this relationship started and how we'd gotten here. I had been a part of a lot of bad relationships and knew that God had finally brought me my life partner and my best friend. I'd had a lot of growing up to do before he had. I do remember how it started, and I do know now that I would not have it any other way.
* * *
I had just moved to Chicago—well I'd been there around eight or nine months. It was a typical, cold day in November. The temperature was about 35 degrees, and it was very sunny. As I walked out of the building, I looked over my head. I could see the iron rails and the train rolling across above. It was the red line. This was one of the four color-coded rail lines that transported the people of Chicago. The line ran from the suburbs to the inner city.
Skyscrapers stood on all four corners. I was dressed in dark blue Tommy slacks with the cuff reaching the third eyelid of my Stacy Adams and a white, long-sleeve FUBU shirt hanging out of my pants. I worked on computers. All day, I either answered questions on the phone or gave hands-on training to personnel in my department. I mean this job was gravy, and I did not want to lose it or change jobs—not in the near future, at any rate. All around me, people ran around, mad about being cold or mad about nothing at all.
It was lunchtime. My office was on the corners of Adams and Wells. I crossed to get lunch, and as I did, I saw the meals-on-wheels truck—not the one that gave assistance to the poor, but the one that sold soul food and island food at lunch and sometimes late at night downtown. This heavy food was not on my mind for lunch today. I needed my fix. So I went across the street to McDonald's.
Chicago seemed so far away from home. I didn't mind because I'd always traveled, ever since I was a kid. I'd moved from the burrows of New York City to the country of Savannah, Georgia. Where I was didn't make a difference to me. I'd traveled around the world and some places twice. I was going to make wherever I laid my hat a home.
"Can I help you?" the young girl behind the counter asked. She couldn't have been more then eighteen or nineteen years old. I immediately thought of R. Kelly, and I laughed inside. I knew that this girl wasn't fourteen or anything like that, but she did look that young. I wondered whether she was in college and living at home with parents. Perhaps I shouldn't be so stereotypical, I thought. Being a black person, I tended to think I could read other people, and most of the time, I was all wrong. Yeah, all black people think we're psychics.
At any rate, I continued to think about this young, pretty girl as she made orders for the millions. Was she a parent? Was she a single mother? Was this her only means of income? I thought of this only because she looked good in the normal drab of a Mickey-D's uniform. And I was considering being flirty, so I could get her phone number. "Yes, let me have a six-piece nugget and small fries with a medium coke," I finally dragged out of my mouth.
"A number five combo," she said. "Would you like to supersize that?"
"No thank you," I said.
As I backed away from the counter, I heard, "That's not much for a big man like you." I heard the words, but I didn't think they were directed toward me.
I turned around, not expecting to see what I saw. The voice came from the most beautiful, caramel-colored woman I'd seen in some time. She was about four eleven with light brown hair that was long and beautiful. In that moment, I only knew that she was lovely, and her beauty left me in shock for a minute—not a second but a whole minute; I needed that whole minute to absorb her beauty. Why she is pushing up on me? I was thinking. She reminded me of another woman from my past, but that woman was totally different. The woman from my past had taken my heart and broken it twice. I didn't plan to let that happen again. You see, I was about six one, and I weighed about 240 pounds. I was a good size, and people respected that.
But I responded to this beauty standing behind me. "Negative," I stated quickly, without thinking. "It's just what I need," I added, with the normal confidence with which I carried myself. I could not believe that I'd said negative. That was one of my many clichés that I used. The military was still ingrained in my mind, and I couldn't help how I responded sometimes. To be honest, she was lucky though. I didn't say, "Negative, cat woman," like I normally do when I disagree with a lady or young girl.
All this confidence came from six years that I'd spent in the army—infantry. Man, I'd run through a lot of women when I was in the military! I'd been in Germany twice, Korea, Japan, Italy, and Greece. While in Greece, I had island-hopped for a week aboard a yacht, London.
For a moment, I was lost in memory, but I quickly brought myself back to this beauty in front of me.
"Oh yeah," the young lady stated, now standing beside me.
I could tell she'd moved to get a better look at me.
"I see. It all settles right there!" She pointed at my stomach and pushed it in a little.
I giggled a little like the Pillsbury doughboy.
I had expanded after the military and wished that I hadn't. But if you loved me, you loved me. If you didn't, you didn't have to. I was good with mine.
"Ha, ha, you got jokes," she said.
I quickly put out my hand. "My name is Jerry, the comedian. And who are you?" I asked the question like I was introducing her on stage.
"My name is Karen—Karen Watson." Karen wore a knee-high skirt that was made from a Liz Claiborne collection with Prada boots, and she carried a handbag from D&G. Her blouse was sheer and in good taste; I saw the slight hint of cleavage. She wore a sweater that hung over her shoulders.
I then give her my complete name. "Jerry G. Jones."
She turned away to make her order. Once she was finished, she looked back to find me. As Karen walked over, she said, "You mean like the owner of the Dallas Cowboys?"
I was shocked that she even knew who the Cowboys owner was; also I hadn't thought that she would come over to me again. That was why I'd moved away—to see if she would move toward me. And now I knew that she knew football. I wondered if she liked basketball and baseball too. As we were living in Chicago, there was a good chance that she did. I had always wanted to meet a woman who could go to a game with me and didn't just act like she knew what she was looking at.
"Sir, sir." I finally heard the young lady from the counter who I'd been checking out minutes ago. "Here is your order, sir."
"You're not eating here?" Karen asked.
"Well I wasn't, but it would be nice to have some company for lunch today," I replied.
The young girl at the counter called Karen to retrieve her bag, and we took a booth looking out onto Adams Street.
"Well," she asked again, "like Jerry Jones?"
"Yes, just like him. Where do you work?" I asked. Damn, you know better than to ask a woman where she works. She might think you're a stalker. It's like asking her her age. Dumb move!
But the question didn't seem to bother her too much. "I work right there." She pointed to the same building in which I worked. "On the seventh floor."
"Oh!" I said.
"And you?" she asked.
I was thinking that she would trip on the fact that we worked in the same place, but she didn't. "I work right there." I pointed at the same building. "But I'm on the third floor."
During lunch, we engaged in small talk—the get-to-know-you chat. I had confidence, or should I say swag. But there was something about this woman. She was so damn beautiful. I didn't want to say the wrong thing—you know, put my foot in my mouth. One thing I could say about me was that I carried myself like an alpha male. An alpha male is a man who is not weak and who is in control of his mind, body, and soul. The first time I heard the words alpha male was from a woman who was letting her boyfriend know why she was leaving him. I'd thought, Damn, she's cold as hell. But I could relate to what she was saying. She was leaving her man for me. I hadn't known I was an alpha male until then. I was just glad I'd found that out at a young age.
"So, Jerry Jones, do you like football like your namesake?" Karen asked.
"Yes I do, and you?"
"Yes I do," she stated.
I joked. "Did we just get married?" Damn, that was corny, I thought.
She laughed, and that made me feel more comfortable. A man cannot have a really good conversation with a woman he's interested in unless he's comfortable, and Karen seemed to know how to make me feel that way. She made sure to talk and keep that annoying silence monster at bay. We laughed and decided that we'd taken too long at lunch.
As we walked out to the street, Karen spoke to me, and I paid attention to every word that came out of her mouth. I felt that she meant everything she said. I looked deep into her eyes and could see she enjoyed life and enjoyed her job. It seemed that we walked a long way, but we'd just crossed the street. I believed in listening to what women had to say because I believed in love. Corny again, but if I didn't listen to this woman, someone else would. She spoke clearly and with a touch of sex appeal. I felt like she and I were the only two people on the street. Nothing other than us mattered at that moment. Those crystal brown eyes looked so loving. I searched to make sure they were the real deal, and they were. I couldn't help but compare her to Damon Dash's cousin, Stacey Dash.
Karen looked at me and asked, "Do you want to know?" as if she could read my mind. She looked into my eyes and replied, "Yes, they're real, and they are all mine." As she said this, she slicked her lips and laughed softly, as if to hint she was all woman. She thought I was looking at her lips, when I was lost in her eyes.
At the end of the conversation, we decided to exchange phone numbers and to call each other after work. As we went upstairs Karen looked into my eyes again. "You'd better call me after work."
"Now, you know I will," I said.
With a smile, I shook her hand and exited the elevator on the third floor. As I went back to work, I tried not to make much of this meeting. But I kept thinking of Karen. Her body was made from the finest ingredients. Her behind was a nice one; it stood up and was round like a perfect basketball. Her legs were thick but not too thick. They were the legs of a runner. I could tell she ran. Her eyes were like two light brown jewels. I could get lost in her eyes all the time, I thought to myself.
Damn, I reminded myself, I had not come here to Chicago to fall in love or to meet somebody. And I damn well didn't want to meet someone who worked in the same building I worked in. I had come here to start new, to leave my past life behind me. There was much more I wanted to do. I had left my money and bad life behind me. I wanted to be an average Joe. That did not mean getting hitched like Will Smith. I did want to be in a real relationship—to have only one love. But this was too soon. Why was I thinking so far ahead? I hadn't even been on the first date with this woman. I hadn't even been here for a full year, and I didn't like knowing too many people at the job or where I lived.
I went back to working in my cubicle. I thought of Karen and how good she smelled. I liked her hair and her way of speaking. Meeting Karen had made me feel a little light-headed. She was the first person I'd met who I wanted to see outside of work. I kept to myself. I had been around some of the richest and the poorest people in the world. And I'd found out they were all the same. The similarity had nothing to do with wealth or appearance but with attitude. You could go anywhere in this world and find the same people wherever you went. This was why I expected the worst out of everyone I met. I knew that sooner or later, people would say something wrong out of their dumb ass mouths. Sometimes they said things to hurt you, and sometimes they just said dumb stuff to get under your skin. And if they aimed to hurt you, it was because jealously had touched their minds and hearts.
Then I thought about the woman Karen reminded me of—Marissa! I did not want to think about this woman, but your mind could take you places sometimes even when you didn't care to remember. This woman had made my heart feel like it had been removed with a dirty spoon. With her, I had gone against my own rules—you never go back to a person when he or she leaves you for another person. Like a dumb ass, I had done so. I had done so, and I had paid for my decision with heartbreak. I had given that woman everything. That was my problem. As my mother would say, "Jerry, you give so much of yourself to those women. That means you're no damn good. They use you and abuse you. That's what they do." It seemed Mom always had a song to go along with her speeches. And it seemed that Mom was always right about me.
My mother was a loving, Red Bone woman who had become a grandmother overnight. Her first grandchild had come along when she was about fifty. But before she could take notice, she had two grandsons and had gained about a hundred pounds on her once small frame.
I had never spent that much time with my mother. She was there on the phone, but for the most part, my grandparents had raised me. I loved my mother though—dearly.
As time went on, my relationship with Karen grew. We became closer than close. Our conversations were about life, us, Chicago, and our goals together and as individuals. Months ago, things had seemed to be so bleak and dim for me. Now I was in Chi-town and loving the cold weather, food, and my place in this world. You see, I'd chosen to move here because I'd wanted an easy job where no one could bother me. My life in the past had been very lonely, and money-hungry people had seemed to have had a blue crab's hold on me. I hadn't been without a woman or so-called friends, but I'd still been alone. And I could go back to it if only I made one phone call.
But for now, this was where I wanted to be—to be a nobody for awhile, to be Jerry again! I wanted to be under the radar, and I have to tell you, it felt good.
Excerpted from THEIR BACKS AGAINST THE WALL by Terence Merritt Copyright © 2011 by Terence Merritt. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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