Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday Sneak Peek #5

Yesterday got away from me, and I forgot to post the next sneak peek into Ain't Too Proud to Beg. Please remember these excerpts are unedited and the entire manuscript won't go to my editor until it's completed.

Last Saturday you met the protagonist, Trenyce Clark. This peek gives some insight into her life and how she meets Vaughn Breland. Enjoy!
 
***
 
I ran into the center, apologizing profusely for my lateness and paid the late fee. Paying consistent late fees was the only way I could do anything after work.

“Mommy!” Zahra called to me from the doorway of the aftercare room.

“Hi, sweetie pie.” I lifted her into one arm and took her coat from the teacher with the other. “Sorry I took so long. I had to meet Aunt Penny.”

“She in the car?” Zahra’s big hazel eyes looked toward the entrance with anticipation.

“No, she had to go home, but she said she’ll see you on Thursday at the gym.”

“Yay!” She clapped her hands and bounced in her safety seat. “I like the gym. They have toys.”

After I put Zahra into her coat and snapped the hood snugly under her chin, I wiggled Zahra’s little fingers into her gloves and she thanked the teacher then headed back out into the cold with my daughter on one hip.

In spite of the fact that I’d been in Colorado for eight years now, I still hadn’t acclimated to the weather. Being an Atlanta native, I grew up wearing shorts in April and little more than a cardigan sweater at Thanksgiving.

Zahra clapped and squealed in delight when I pulled up in front of The Sweet Life, her favorite restaurant.

“I want a hamburger, Mommy,” she requested from the back seat.

“Okay, but no French fries, sweetie. You can have soup instead and some milk. No soda.”

“Awww. I like French fries.”  She poked out her lips.

“I know you do, but they’re not good for you,” I told her reflection in the rear view mirror. “Fries only on the weekend, remember?”

“O-kay.”

We went inside, I picked up the order I’d called in earlier then drove the short distance home. Parked in my assigned space, I unloaded my briefcase, Zahra’s backpack and the bags with our dinner then carefully maneuvered around the car on the icy parking lot pavement to the rear passenger door.

“After we eat, it’s bath time, little girl.”

“Can I have bubbles?”

 “Of course, you can.” I unbuckled the harness of her safety seat. “If you eat all your dinner, that is.”

“I’ll eat it all up!”

Nothing gave me more joy than making Zahra happy, but I always struggled to rein in the temptation to give her everything she wanted. Nothing was worse than an over-indulged child. I’d seen enough of them causing a commotion in local restaurants and movie theaters. My daughter would not be one of those little monsters with “no home training,” to quote one of my mother’s favorite phrases.

With the briefcase and Zahra’s backpack hooked on one shoulder, I clutched the paper bags close to my chest and held my daughter’s hand in a tight grip. “Walk slowly, punkin. It’s slippery out here.” Whenever we went out, there was always something to carry. It had taken me the better part of Zahra’s first year to master doing everything with one arm while transporting a baby in the other. Now I was an expert.

After I washed my hands and cleaned Zahra’s with a wet wipe, I transferred our dinner onto plates. It was bad enough that we ended up eating fast food at least twice a week. They didn’t have to eat on pieces of paper. My parents had raised their children to eat meals on real dishes seated together at the table instead of from paper bags or Styrofoam trays, and I was determined to raise my daughter the same way. Some semblance of civility in our lives was a necessity. Just because I was a single mom didn’t mean we had to live like nomads.

As soon as Zahra finished eating, I gave her the promised bubble bath, read a story, listened while she said her nightly prayers and tucked her in. I glanced at the clock on the kitchen stove and shook my head. Seven twenty-five, and I still had to put together her clothes for the next day and check her backpack for any notices from the school. By then if I got to watch an hour of television to unwind before I crashed, it would be a miracle. Such was our nightly routine. If I had my own practice, I could set my own hours, pick her up early and be able to have a few hours to relax. That prospect looked light years away though.

I searched through Zahra’s chest of drawers for a matching shirt and pants and silently reprimanded myself for my discontentment. After all, there was always plenty of work in Telluride. And even though the black population was less than one percent, I’d made some good friends there, but often I missed the unique fellowship black women had among ourselves. Don’t even mention the lack of eligible black men. They didn’t exist in Telluride.

After the fiasco with Zahra’s father, I wasn’t going to date another white man. Deep down I knew it was wrong to condemn an entire race because of one man, but his desertion had left a gaping hole in my heart. A guy at the gym had been flirting with me for a few weeks, but he reminded me too much of Brad. 

Penny kept telling me to stop brushing him off and at least go out on one date with him, but I just wasn’t interested. Hope he wouldn’t be at spin class. For once I just wanted to work out without having to deal with his furtive glances.

The next man in my life would look like my dad – a tall, handsome, brown-skinned brother. Yeah, right. Finding one of them in this town was as probable as a Telluride heat wave. The only way I would run across my chocolate Prince Charming would be to move to a bigger city like Denver. But with a black population of only five percent, the prospects there were only slightly better. New York or Los Angeles was more appealing, and both cities had a teeming nightlife, arts and culture, something else I missed.

Stop dreaming, girl. You’ve been here since college. This is your home. Quit griping and just be happy. Telluride is a clean, beautiful place with good schools and an above-average standard of living. Besides, you have nice friends here.  The homes were well kept and the mountains protected the little city in their bowl.  There were no traffic lights, strip malls, box stores or massive parking lots. What better place to raise a child?
 
  
On the other hand, Zahra was missing out on her own culture. There was no King celebration in January, no Juneteenth parades, no black fine arts festivals during the summer, no HBCU marching band competitions all of the things I’d enjoyed growing up in Atlanta.
 

Zahra had become adept at dressing herself, a major timesaver in the morning, so I took a pair of panties and tights from the drawer and laid them with the outfit at the foot of her bed.   After a quick shower, I put on my favorite flannel pajamas and crawled into bed. The novel I’d been reading for the past month still languished on my bedside table. By the time I finished her evening tasks and prepared for bed, reading two paragraphs was enough to put me right to sleep. Nevertheless, I opened the book and picked up where I’d left off. The scene depicted the first kiss between the main characters.

Oh, right. That’s why I put it down last night. Reluctantly, I read on, picturing myself as the object of the hero’s affection then rested the book in my lap and momentarily closed my eyes.

Come on, girl. You aren’t a silly romantic. This isn’t real life. It’s a romance novel.

Still, my mind conjured up the emotional and physical sensations of being in a man’s arms. A man who loved me. I sighed, returned the book to the nightstand and drifted off to sleep in a cocoon spun by my own imagination.

The next morning, after I deposited Zahra at daycare, I arrived at the hospital. The first tasks I performed were always to check my schedule in the computer and listen to my voicemail. If I’d been assigned any new patients, the doctors alerted me using one of these means. This morning, a voice message from Dr. Liu informed me of a recently admitted MVA patient. The doctor didn’t give me the name or room number. Instead he said, “It’s important that I talk to you before you visit him.”

Before I even put away her coat, I reported to his office and greeted him from the doorway. “Good morning, Doctor. Your assistant isn’t at her desk.”

“Good morning,” he said, looking up from the computer screen. “She’s not here yet. Come in and have a seat.”

I did as he asked, folded my hands in my lap and waited for him to speak.

“We have a patient that’s going to need extensive rehabilitation.” He went on to explain the patient’s injuries.

“Gee, sounds like he’s fortunate to have survived.”

“That’s exactly what I told him, but he’s not feeling very thankful at the moment.”

“Why not?”

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about before you meet him. He’s resentful because he’s fearful his injuries might’ve ruined his career.”

“What is he, a ballet dancer?” I snickered.

“No, he’s an actor. In fact, you might know of him. His name is Vaughn Breland, and I hear he’s a Hollywood hottie.”

My jaw dropped. “Vaughn Breland. Are you sure?” I blinked at the thoughts rushing through my mind. Ever since I’d started reading that new romance novel, I had pictured the hero as looking exactly like Vaughn Breland. 


“I’m sorry, Doctor. I didn’t mean it that way. Yes, I do know of him. In fact, my best friend and I just watched his last movie the other night. What in the world is he doing in Telluride? The film festival’s been over for months.”

“He said he was on his way to visit a friend who lives in town.” Dr. Liu slid the file across his desk. “Here’s the hard copy of his chart.”

For the next several minutes, I thumbed through the papers, shaking my head. “He sustained these injuries and isn’t grateful? What is he, crazy?”

The doctor chuckled. “No, just a bit vain, I’m afraid and probably somewhat depressed. In addition to the fractured hip and legs, his face was also damaged, which could very well sound the death knell for his acting career.”

“Oh, my. That’s terrible. And he’s such a gorgeous man.” My gaze jerked up to meet Dr. Liu’s. “Sorry.  I didn’t mean to say that out loud.”

He laughed then quickly sobered. “Since the hospital considers Mr. Breland a VIP, your complete confidentiality is expected.

“Of course. I understand.”

“So, are you ready to meet our illustrious visitor this afternoon?”

“Sure,” I said, thankful I didn’t have to go immediately. At least it would give me time to fix my hat-flattened hair, reapply my lipstick and add a little blush. After all, with the exception of spotting Tom Cruise in the lobby of Aemono a couple of years ago, this was my first time meeting a Hollywood star.

Don’t be ridiculous, Trenyce. Your looks are the last thing on this guy’s mind. He’s worried about his own.

“Okay. He’s in 704. We put him at the end of an empty corridor for privacy’s sake. “I’ll come by and get you around one o’clock.”

For the rest of the morning, I considered what it might be like working with the star that had a reputation in the media for being a major player. Recently he’d been photographed canoodling with several different actresses and fashion models.
 
 

5 comments:

arlenadean said...

This is wonderful. I have 4 of your books that I will be reading soon...hopefully in Oct. and I look forward to your new one too.

You are a wonderful writer!

Arlena Dean

Chicki said...

Thank you so much, Arlena! I hope you enjoy the stories.

Ednah Walters said...

This is going to be a fun, fun read. I can already see it, Chicki. How is editing? Kicking my butt.

Ednah Walters said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melody Prat said...

I can already see what a very good person Trenyce is a very good mother. She will work well with Mr. Vaughn Breland. I look forward to more of this story.