When Perfect Ain't Possible

When Perfect Ain't Possible

by Suzette Harrison


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When Perfect Aint Possible by Suzette Harrison released on Jul 25, 2003 is available now for purchase.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781583142578
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 08/28/2003
Edition description: Original
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.94(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.89(d)

Read an Excerpt

When Perfect Ain't Possible

By Suzette D. Harrison


Copyright © 2003 Suzette D. Harrison All right reserved. ISBN: 1-58314-257-6

Chapter One


Imani had seen comb-overs before, but a comb-up was an entirely new breed of foul. So was his breath.

"Sweetheart, call me Moses 'cause I'm inspired by the red I see," the stranger with the patchwork hairdo declared, his laser-like gaze rolling across Imani's red silk-clad bosom, down to her shapely hips and then up again.

Thirty-four-year-old Imani Evans bit her lip to keep from flipping wicked in the middle of the mall. No matter that his lusty comments and interest were unwanted, or that his breath was enough to ignite the moisturizing oil in her virgin hair. And so what if the man was one of the last members of the jheri curl club, and had brushed forward and plastered down the unusually long hair clinging to the rim of his skull in an attempt to cover his otherwise bald head.

He's still one of God's critters ... I mean creatures, Imani reminded herself, wanting to shield her eyes from the glare of his bright blue velveteen sweat suit.

Her attempt at a smile was so tight that her river-deep dimples failed to appear in the smooth chocolate of her face, Imani calmly advised, "Excuse me, but I'm in a hurry," before stepping past the man in her path.

"Baby, baby, baby you gonna melt all that sweet stuff rushing like that," the mancalled, undaunted by Imani's hasty departure. He easily caught up with and found his stride beside her. "What's your name, love?"

Worn out from the rush and crush of an extremely tedious day, Imani really did not want to be bothered, especially not by a fire-breathing, Smurf-suited brother wasting her last nerve. "My name is Joyce." Lord, forgive me, Imani silently repented. "And I really can't talk right now."

"Juicy Joyce, you walk and I'll talk. I'm Herb. I just resituated from Mobile and I'm tryna' find my way 'bout Sacramento," he explained. "Would you be my own personal and private tour guide? Wherever you lead me, girl, I'll follow," he vowed, placing a hand over his heart for emphasis.

Imani whirled around as her customary restraint and reserve gave way to something unpleasant. She opened her mouth ready to say something, anything guaranteed to eject the irritating individual from her presence. Instead, memory of her pastor's most recent message pierced Imani's plans.

Be careful how you treat people, especially strangers, because they could be angels in disguise.

If heaven was missing a Daddy Mack monster Imani knew where he could be found.

The thought pulled unexpected amusement from somewhere deep beneath her annoyance and fatigue so that Imani found herself laughing at the idea of Herb being an angel in disguise.

Bewildered by Imani's response, Herb tried to say something sobering, something convincing. But the more he talked, the harder Imani laughed. Herb stood rooted in the middle of the walkway looking confused. His immobility granted Imani a golden opportunity. Quickly, she escaped.

A thick odor of incense invaded Imani's nostrils as she stepped into Culture Corner, a Black-owned establishment offering clothing, art, greeting cards, books, collectible figurines and more. A bell chimed, announcing her entrance so that an employee behind the register looked up and called a greeting. Dabbing away laughter-induced tears with a tissue pulled from her purse and feeling a twinge of guilt for having laughed in her pursuer's face, Imani returned the employee's greeting before quickly examining the shopping list she held.

Nylons. Choker or scarf to match dress. Sympathy card for Vickie. And at the bottom in big, block letters: GROCERIES.

Imani sighed. It was almost nine o'clock in the evening and still her day was not over. Wasn't it enough that she hopped out of bed at 6:00 A.M., dropped her daughter off at school and the clothes at the cleaners, then ended her work day by taking the car in for an oil change and servicing? Then it was back to the cleaners to pick up the clothes, home to pack for her business trip to Phoenix, off to the salon for a manicure and pedicure, and finally this mad dash to the mall just minutes before it closed. And she still had to stop by the grocery store. When it was all over, said, and done, Imani could flop into her empty bed to snatch a moment's rest before bouncing up tomorrow morning in time enough to bathe, dress, and make the drive from Tahoe Park to Sacramento Metro Airport to run its gamut of security checks before her 7:20 A.M. flight.

As lead coordinator of Training and Development for Daystar Communications Imani rarely traveled, but rather organized and facilitated in-house training for new and existing employees at the home office in Sacramento. But as of yesterday, Vickie, the trainer assigned to the Phoenix site, was out on bereavement leave due to the sudden passing of her mother. And with another trainer out on maternity leave and one more on an extended assignment at Daystar's Dallas locale, Imani was short-staffed. Opening ahead of schedule, the Phoenix site was not yet fully equipped to handle its own training demands. So out of necessity, Imani was required to step up to the plate and cover the gap.

Daystar Communications, the rapidly growing company where Imani had been employed since college graduation, had expanded its territory yet again. Its sprawling new Phoenix location would house a new state-of-the-art call center that would comfortably hold over one hundred customer service specialists alone, making it Daystar's largest call center yet. Due to a relatively small pool of in-house applicants requesting transfers to Phoenix, there existed an influx of new hires resulting in the need for ongoing and extensive training even after this initial session was complete.

Passing quickly through the aisles and gathering what she needed, Imani chewed her lower lip. She had a sneaking suspicion that this mission to Phoenix might prove a precursor of things to come.

Her sigh was tinged with weariness and dissatisfaction.

Her life was good, overall. Her job was a blessing. Daystar had done right by her these past ten years, allowing Imani to work her way up from an entry-level post to hold various jobs within the company so that she now enjoyed the privileges of her upper level position. She owned company stock, earned a decent salary, had a nice office, excellent benefits, and agreeable rapport with fellow employees. Still, Imani found herself falling out of love with her current situation. After a decade of devoted service to Daystar, Imani was drained. She did not want to be promoted upward or moved laterally. Imani wanted out.

Perhaps it was time for Imani to do what she wanted to.

So many years had passed that Imani had difficulty remembering the last time she visited her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. The dream of establishing her very own clothing boutique provided warmth during the winter of her marriage, and gave Imani a semblance of hope and comfort while struggling to mother her young child and earn a college degree. Out of necessity, Imani became a realist, long ago accepting the fact that actualizing her plan to move to the Big Apple and pursue a career in fashion was highly unlikely. Still the dream was resilient, transforming like a chameleon in her mind's eye so that right then and there, surrounded by the lovely wares in Culture Corner, Imani imagined success as a clothier in Sacramento.

"Are you finding everything okay?"

She glanced up and saw the salesperson busy tidying the store in preparation for closing.

"Actually, I'm looking for either a choker or scarf to accessorize an outfit," Imani advised, before following the woman to a glass-enclosed display case in the center of the store. Immediately, her sight fell on a three-strand choker made of pale wooden beads with a brown and ivory cameo featuring the regal profile of a woman of African descent. It suited Imani's Afrocentric sensibilities perfectly.

"May I see that?" Imani requested. Accepting the choker, she turned to stand before a full-length mirror encompassing the wall between two tiny fitting rooms as the salesperson moved on to continue her nightly tasks. The pale beads glowed against the dark skin of Imani's long throat as she held them in place. She imagined the jewelry would contrast nicely with the new mocha-colored, knit dress she planned to wear to the Friday night after party.

Hosting a social mixer for new employees and their significant others at the end of a training session was just one example of why Daystar Communications, an innovative leader in its field, was dubbed "the caring company." And while Imani did not relish the thought of flying solo at a couples' function, she rather enjoyed the idea of letting her hair down for a change.

Satisfied with her selection, Imani removed the choker only to pause at her image reflected in the floor-to-ceiling mirror.

She was pretty decent, she decided, for a thirty-four-year-old divorcee who would never fit into a size six as she had before becoming pregnant with her fourteen-year-old daughter, Nia. Her deep, almond-shaped eyes were bright, her complexion clear, her natural hair hung in loose tendrils about her shoulders. At five-foot-eight-inches and one hundred and forty-nine pounds Imani's physique was ... well ... sisterish. Some days Imani needed a girdle to remind her hips that they wore a size ten not twelve. And her considerable breasts refused to stand at attention without the aid of a maximum-support bra. Her feather-smooth brows inching upward as she twisted left then right, Imani inwardly concluded that even if she didn't have it going on at least she was still going.

"Will the necklace work for you?"

"I'll take the entire set," Imani advised, placing the choker atop the counter with her other selections to watch as the saleswoman wrapped it and the matching earrings and bracelet in tissue paper. After paying for her purchases and while en route to the exit, Imani noticed an assortment of cookie jars resting on a tall display fixture. After receiving a cookie jar shaped like a jazz saxophonist as a house-warming gift five years prior, Imani continued collecting Black memorabilia so that the ledge between her kitchen cupboards and the ceiling were lined with glazed porcelain canisters depicting various facets of African American life. She was tempted to browse for an addition to her collection, but the lights at the rear of the store faded to black, reminding Imani of the lateness of the hour. Besides, she'd already spent far too much money on the new dress and jewelry.

That was an investment in your future. You have to be ready in case Mo's prediction pans out, Imani reasoned, remembering her crazy cousin's recent "spirit reading" that she would soon stumble into the arms of her true love. Yeah, right! Mo is about as psychic as I am Jewish, Imani mused, stepping onto the near empty concourse outside the store.

An announcement crackled over the public address system that the mall would be closing in five minutes. Imani hurried toward the nearest exit.

"Joyce! 'Ey, Joyce!"

At first the frantic calls failed to penetrate Imani's consciousness until the memory of her earlier falsification was triggered. Glancing over her shoulder, Imani saw the man named Herb in hot pursuit on her heels. She did what she could. She clutched her bags and ran.

Imani was still breathless and grinning as she headed north on Sixty-fifth Expressway in the direction of her quaint two-story home in Sacramento's Tahoe Park. For the most part, the homes in Tahoe Park were older as were Imani's neighbors, but the streets were quiet and the neighborhood was safe. Imani cherished her home, not because it was lavish or grand, but because it was hers. Granted, her parents had loaned her the money for the down payment after her divorce, but she made good on their loan and repaid every penny so that her sense of pride and ownership were intact.

The house will be so quiet without Nia, Imani thought as she approached a red light. Where that notion came from, she was uncertain. Her baby was only fourteen and had at least three years before even beginning the college application process. Still the idea persisted until Imani found herself wiping an unexpected tear from her eye.

There would be no more adolescent chatter, incessant telephone calls, loud music, or mother-daughter tug-of-war over issues large and small. Imani would miss Nia, her only child and constant companion over the years. But she would somehow adjust. And unlike her own mother, when the time came, Imani would support Nia's college choice rather than dictate her decision.

Who knew? If Imani had obtained her bachelor degree in fashion design from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco before relocating to New York as initially planned, rather than placating her mother by matriculating at Howard University, she might not have met and married Nigel Evans. That was one particular torment she could have done without, Imani thought, easing her car forward as the signal light changed in her favor. But then again, without Nigel there would be no Nia. Lord knew their daughter was the only blessing to come out of the two-year marriage destined for disaster from the start.

Imani lowered her car window as if the cool March air could help whisk away irksome memories of her ill-fated marriage.

Good Lord, how simple and silly she was back in the day.

Nigel-her newfound love, fellow Howard U. student and budding thespian two years her senior-charmed Imani out of her panties and into position faster than Maurice Green could run the one hundred meter dash. Calling home and breaking the news of her pregnancy to her mother and stepfather had been sheer torture. True to form, Eunetta McGee Carmichael promptly recovered from a case of the vapors to articulate her utter disappointment before demanding an audience with the "no-count, nasty Negro responsible for knocking up" her only child who had evidently gone to college and lost her mind. When finally they did meet, Imani's mother fell victim to Nigel's oily charm while Ray, her stepfather, remained leery at best. Still Eunetta insisted Imani marry Nigel despite Imani's protestations that she was not ready for such a big step. "If you're ready to spread your legs then you're ready to wed," her mother had snapped, making it clear that no grandchild of hers would be born "a miscellaneous bastard."

I guess one per family was enough, Imani flatly concluded, concentrating on the road ahead and considering her own entry into the world as a fatherless child.

The privilege of meeting or knowing her biological father had never been hers.


Excerpted from When Perfect Ain't Possible by Suzette D. Harrison
Copyright © 2003 by Suzette D. Harrison
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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When Perfect Ain't Possible 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am 13 years old, and that may not mean much, but for someone as young as I to actually enjoy a book of that stature must mean something. I would have to say this book teaches everyone a lesson, young teens and adults. I would recommend this book to any single parent that doesn't quite know how to introduce a new love interest in their child's life. As well as other people who love romance novels!