Money Can Generate Wealth or Generate Debt You Make the Choice

Money Can Generate Wealth or Generate Debt
You Make the Choice

Harrine Freeman is the owner of H.E. Freeman Enterprises which provides credit repair services to help clients restore their credit rating and develop good money management skills. She is the author of "How to Get out of Debt: Get An “A” Credit Rating for Free" that provides steps on how to get out of debt and improve your credit. She has appeared in Wall Street Journal, Black Enterprise, Essence, Forbes and on NBC and ABC.

BPM: What makes you powerful as a person and a writer?

I love helping people and that passion has helped me in my business helping my clients overcome their financial challenges which makes happy because everyone once in a while everyone needs a little help sometimes.

BPM: Who are your mentors? Where do you find your inspiration?
My mentors were my grandparents, they faced insurmountable odds including racism, sexism and civil rights issues and overcame them. They instilled in me good moral and financial values that I still practice today. My inspiration comes from my support network of friends and family.

BPM: Finish this sentence- My writing offers the following legacy to future readers...
My writing offers the following legacy to future readers, you have the power to change your future - "Money can generate wealth or generate debt, you make the choice. "

BPM: Introduce us to your book, How to Get Out of Debt.
 Can you imagine how your life would change if you had good credit? Imagine the relief ? Less stress, not worrying about bill collectors calling you at home or at work, and putting an end to your fights with your partner, spouse or children that are caused by not having any money.

This comprehensive self help book provides step by step details on how to repair your credit, get out of debt, create your own flexible spending plan and maintain your good credit without having to go to a credit counseling agency or file for bankruptcy.

BPM: Introduce us to the primary message in the book,  How to Get Out of Debt.
The primary message in the book is that no matter what financial setback you have experienced you can overcome it. It may seem that there is no light at the end of the tunnel but there is because I have personally experienced it and overcame my financial struggles. It will be hard but with determination and patience you will overcome your crisis.

BPM: Share with us a few of the life enhancing sections from the book.
I bought a car for an ex-boyfriend in my name. Everything was fine for about 6 months then he stopped paying the car payment and I ended up owing $9,000 for a car I didn't drive.

I learned a valuable lesson from this experience, don't co-sign for anyone especially for someone who has bad credit. This may be hard to do especially if a relative, spouse or sibling asks for help. I learned that you cannot control what someone does, and saying sorry if not enough when your credit gets damaged.

BPM: What prompted you to create this book, How to Get Out of Debt?
I wrote the book because I wanted to prevent people from making the same mistakes I did and prevent people from being victims of the financial industry.

BPM: Who did you originally write How to Get Out of Debt: Get an "A" Credit Rating for Free for?
I wrote this book for men and women ages 21-50 that have experienced financial challenges due to job loss, health issues, divorce, those who owe money from a previous relationship, college students, or those who have made bad financial decisions.

BPM: Now that the book is out, who should read How to Get Out of Debt and why?
People should read my book because it is an easy read, there are no large financial terms that you have to get a dictionary to understand. There are tons of easy to follow tips on how to overcome different financial challenges as well as information on how to create a budget, pay down debt and negotiate with creditors.

BPM: What issues in today's society do you address in the book?
The book addresses issues such as foreclosure, bankruptcy, student loans, repossession, judgments, divorce, tax liens, collection accounts and laws that protect consumers.

BPM: What impact will this book have on the community of readers?
The book will help readers who are willing to repair their credit and get out of debt on their own. For those who hire a professional the book will confirm everything the professional advises them to do and in some instances will help detect the fraudulent companies who suggest advice that may be incorrect or illegal.

BPM: What was your primary quest in publishing How to Get Out of Debt?
My primary quest in publishing the book was to accomplish the task of actually writing a book. I never imagined that my book would be received my so many readers.

BPM: What do you think makes your book different from others on the same subject?
The message I want readers to share with readers is that there is no gimmick to my book. I state the facts and provide information to help readers who are facing financial challenges.

BPM: What message in your book do you want readers to share with others?
The message I want to share with readers is don’t give up. No matter how bad it may seem right now you can overcome your financial situation.

BPM: Before we end the interview, define SUCCESS. What part does GRATITUDE play in achieving success, in your opinion?
SUCCESS – I define success as overcoming any obstacle and achieving an accomplishment that you did not expect to achieve and had to work hard for.

GRATITUDE – Gratitude is more than just saying please and thank you. I define gratitude as a way of life, being respectful and humble in your success and in all you do.

BPM: How can our readers reach you online?
Readers can reach my online on at,  by visiting my website at

Harrine Freeman, CEO/Owner, H.E. Freeman Enterprises

Personal Finance Expert, Speaker, Freelance Writer, TV Producer

Purchase How to Get Out of Debt: Get an "A" Credit Rating for Free [Kindle Edition]

Other Sources:  How to Get Out of Debt: Get an "A" Credit Rating for Free (Nook) (iTunes)  (Kindle) (Kobo)

He Wasn't My Daddy My Road to Restoration and Redemption by Kristin L. Mitchell

He Wasn't My Daddy
My Road to Restoration and Redemption
by Kristin L. Mitchell 

He Wasn’t My Daddy
is a memoir that speaks to several different platforms, which I have personally experienced, throughout my life. Fatherlessness, promiscuity, mental illness (depression) and suicide are all issues that have plagued my life in very negative ways. After several stints in psychiatric wards, I came to the realization that I was tired of being alive and not living. I decided to begin the journey of taking my life back and really doing the work to uncover the hidden truths behind why I was so broken. I realized that not having the love of my father, led me to suffer through a long road of depression, try and commit suicide twice and I coped with it all through sex.

I wrote this book for two reasons - the first, for cathartic purposes and the second, to help others who have struggled through the same or similar issues. I have become keenly aware of so many hidden truths, of my own, and have been able to help to heal those wounds. I wish to share the knowledge that I have learned, the healthy coping skills that I have developed, and the skill-sets that I have developed, in order to help women to gain the knowledge and do the work, required to heal themselves.

Although the title of the book is, He Wasn’t My Daddy, I want people to understand that this book is not just for people who did not have a father in the home. Do understand that being fatherless doesn’t mean that your father is not in the home. You can be fatherless with a father who comes home, daily. Your father can be emotionally and mentally absent. More than that, he can be physically absent, while he is in the household, because he can be non-participatory.

Aside from fatherlessness, this book discusses depression, in detail. It also discusses suicide, which is a symptom of depression, and promiscuity, as well. I want people to understand that just because you come from a dual parent household, with a favorable socio-economic status, and a favorable educational background, does not mean you are exempt from the issues that are discussed in this book.

I want to touch the lives of many, and spark a dialogue about these issues so that optimal healing can take place.

Excerpt: He Wasn't My Daddy: My Road to Restoration and Redemption 

Chapter 17

My Ah-Ha Moment

“I learned that I had depended on the approval of other people to validate my self-esteem and worth.”

It is necessary to sit in your discomfort in order to break unhealthy attachments. Whenever I feel weak, I pray, I journal, I read previous journal entries, and I remind myself of things I have discovered and why I am doing this. Sometimes, we have to make difficult decisions in order to save ourselves.

While revisiting pages of my journal, I came across an entry that I wrote to myself. This journal entry was an ah-ha moment for me. This was a time in my life when I decided to live for me and me alone.

Dear Lonely Kristin:

I notice you tend to surface when nobody is around. When you are not in a relationship and when you are not around friends and family. You always need someone around, or to know they are coming back and distinctly yours in order for this emotion to be suppressed. This is evident that you have not built a satisfying relationship with yourself. You believe you are not good enough for certain people because you have yet to learn how to be good enough for yourself. This revelation makes you want to begin the process of building that satisfying, enjoyable relationship with yourself. But how? Perhaps spending time alone and doing fun things alone. This way, you may discover more of your positive attributes. Once you discover them and believe them, you will rely less on others being around you to make you feel comfortable and secure. Being alone or without a relationship should not make you feel lonely. I wish you did not have to be with someone romantically in order to not feel lonely. This notion evokes another emotion—sadness. Being lonely makes you feel sad because it’s an empty feeling. Your goal is to strive to be satisfied with self, as not to need anyone around for companionship (a man) to feel complete, secure, and not lonely. Love, date, and truly take care of yourself as you would expect a man to.

Signed, Lonely Kristin

I learned that I had depended on the approval of other people to validate my self-esteem and worth. How people reacted to me and what they thought of me was what I was excessively dependent upon because I validated myself through other people’s eyes. Growing up, I never received validation from my father. Yet, from Lenny, I received validation at every turn. I also learned a lot about being a fatherless daughter. While living in Fatherless Land wasn’t a big Disneyland, it taught me a few things about myself and why I gravitated toward Lenny. Without realizing it, Lenny took over the role of being my father. He did everything a father does for his daughter. He protected me. He made me feel loved. He motivated and inspired me toward my goals. He nurtured me and taught me about relationships. 
While our relationship was muddy at the end, in the beginning, we were like a hand and glove. He took care of me. Everything I missed from my father, I gained from Lenny. He cherished me and he put me first. Something I never got from my father. My relationship with my father is slowly building, but the choices he made in life to keep his family in a certain lifestyle jeopardized my life. It made me fatherless. My father’s absence in my life caused a natural reaction, which was to constantly blame myself and become fixated on my shortcomings. I suffered from low self-esteem, which then affected other aspects of my life. This negative sense of self resulted in depression that still comes and goes. I was a fatherless daughter who sought a father’s love through a man who took on the responsibility of being my father.

That was yesterday. Today, I can honestly say I am whole because I have two fathers—Ray and Dad—and I know what a father’s love genuinely feels like.

Chapter 18

Restoration and Recovery—It Comes Full Circle

“Time will reveal.”

Restoration brought everything full circle. I thank God for the order He restored in my life, the relationships He mended and the positive way He allowed me to move

forward, leaving so much pain behind, putting peace in my heart and opening doors and opportunities for me to share my story. I chose the subtitle: My Road to Restoration to show how my life has come full circle, and relationships mended because of this journey. All of this aided in a new and better me. I am not perfect, but I am on my way to being a more complete and fulfilled me.

My road traveled has not been easy. However, I was willing to put in the work and the results are so with it. I committed myself to restoring Kristin. I put my mental health and me first.

I have a team of people that help keep me together—two therapists and a psychiatrist. Some people in the African- American community shy away from therapy. For some reason, there is a stigma associated with therapy. Why is that? Just as it is important for us to be physically and spiritually healthy, it is also important to be mentally healthy. There is nothing wrong with therapy. It allows you to heal from past wounds, making sense of things that you may be unclear about, learning more about yourself, finding a direction for your life that will positively propel you forward, and so much more. We must invest in our mental health....

( Continued... )

© 2014 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Kristin L. Mitchell. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

About the Author

Kristin L. Mitchell, M.Ed. is a native Washingtonian. She graduated from Spelman College and George Mason University, with high honors and degrees in education and special education. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and enjoys a career as a special education teacher with the District of Columbia Public School system.

He Wasn't My Daddy: My Road to Restoration and Redemption by Kristin L. Mitchell 

Kindle Edition-

NOOK eBook-

Explore the World of FBI Special Agent J.J. McCall

Explore the World of FBI Special Agent J.J. McCall 

In the Game of Espionage, Spy Takes Traitor.   J.J. McCall takes Over. 

The Seven Year Itch - Book 1 by S.D. Skye 

FBI Special Agent J.J. McCall and her co-case agent, Tony Donato, are drawn into an unsanctioned mole hunt when a Russian intelligence officer, working for the FBI, is murdered and they suspect a traitor burrowed deep inside the U.S. Intelligence Community is responsible. 

"The Seven Year Itch" is a mystery thriller from S. D. Skye ... hard to put down for lovers of spy fiction, highly recommended. -- Carl Logan, Midwest Book Review (April 2013)

"Thick with layers, THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH is filled with strife, deceit, lust, pain, mystery, and humor."
--OOSA Online Book Club 

Son of a Itch - Book 2 by S.D. Skye 

The award-winning follow up to The Seven Year Itch which takes J.J. and her counterintelligence task force on the hunt for Russian moles who breached the nerve center of U.S. national security. 

2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Multicultural Fiction
" If you like a brilliantly executed, thrilling, and addictive suspense novel, Son of a Itch is for you. S. D. Skye can flat write her butt off, I was sold, and tagged. This is a great series and J.J. is Jack Ryan with a [lady part]." ~ Sebella Blue

A No Good Itch - Book 3 by S.D. Skye 

J.J. and Tony's next mole hunt takes them to the Big Apple where the worlds of Counterintelligence and Organized Crime collide. The investigation to dismantle the financial hub of a Russian sleeper cell is sidetracked when an act of vengeance for Lana Michaels' murder targets the wrong man and threatens to spark a war between Russian and Italian mafia factions.

Excerpt from A No Good Itch - Book 3 by S.D. Skye

This is the opening scene of the new J.J. McCall novel--still in progress but will be ready for delivery on December 16th as promised.   The series of events that follow may or may not be inspired by an actual meeting that I can neither confirm nor deny ever happened...


“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” ~ Sun Tzu

In the convoluted world of intelligence and spies, nothing made more friends of enemies than fear, failure, and the fear of failure. This fact was no doubt why the FBI representatives had been summoned to the Russian Embassy in Washington.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs reeled after a reported "heated discussion" with the U.S. Secretary of State, who promised harsh and swift diplomatic sanctions following the arrest of Secret Service agent Maddix Cooper for spying on behalf of a the Russian Foreign Intelligence--the SVR. Coupled with the identification and death of Svetlana Mikhaylova, a Russian sleeper operative caught operating deep inside the FBI, the arrest of FBI Agent Chris Johnson for serving as Svetlana's cutout, filling andretrieving all of her dead-drops to keep her identity concealed, and international heat for military incursions into the Ukraine, the tense political situation had outraged their now tight-lipped government contacts in Washington and New York and dried up critical sources of American intel, threatening to paralyze the SVR's intelligence mission across the United States unless they quelled the fury. Thus, the come-to-Jesus meeting called by the SVR Resident was inevitable and necessary.

FBI Special Agent J.J. McCall marveled at the embassy's ornate grand lobby. The rich white and dark European marbles accented by cardinal red carpet runners, a stately winding staircase crowned in gold, and paintings of lush landscapes brightening the halls and sitting areas, was among the most beautiful embassies she'd visited. The sight was impressive if also a stark reminder of the country's willingness to spare no expense when it came to putting up deceiving fronts and paying American traitors.

"We'll need a dump truck for the bullshit about to be heaped on us today," J.J. whispered to her co-case agent, Tony Donato. As the lead case agent behind the ruckus, she'd been ordered to listen and not respond.

"Shhh," Tony whispered in reply. "The walls have ears."

Resident Andrei Komarov, the Russian equivalent to the CIA Station in Moscow, led J.J., Tony, and the Assistant Director of Counterintelligence John Nixon through the hallowed embassy halls until they reached a well-appointed conference room. It contained a stately mahogany-paneled walks, large open armchairs, and an oversized table large enough to seat Komarov's ego and attitude, both massive in her past experience.

The group, all dressed in their services' uniforms--pin-sharp woolen suits in late fall hues concealed under beige all-weather overcoats--was met by the only other declared SVR officer in the Russian Embassy, Security Officer Aleksey Dmitriyev.

Jolted by his appearance, J.J. avoided his gaze, kept their handshake and greeting brief. The last time they met, he was not working for her. Now, he was--and the only other person in the group aware of his status was Tony. Butterflies rolled in her stomach as everyone took their seats and the meeting began. She forced a poker expression and prepared herself for the barrage of lies.

Komarov settled in at the head of the table and prepared to talk, his face reddened and contorted as if every word he was about to speak, no doubt carefully selected by the Foreign Minister, would sear his throat and exit his lips like sharpened razors carving him from the inside.

"We've all met before and are quite familiar with one another," Komarov began, shooting a slicing glare through J.J. Her aggressive targeting of SVR officers for recruitment was legendary...or infamous, depending on which side of the table you were sitting. She sat in awe of him, the Russian James Bond in looks and dress, who was void of any semblance of his accent. "So, I'll feel free to dispense with the introductions and pleasantries since we all understand why we are here today."


NEW RELEASE: Enough was Never Enough: A Novella by Michelle Morgan Spady

Enough was Never Enough: A Novella
by Michelle Morgan Spady

Evelynn “Jade” Baxter, author and successful businesswoman, commands a crowd of young, urban, up-and-coming women. Jade's followers believe she is the epitome of success, but what they don’t know is Jade is haunted by her past. Despite her success, more than anything Jade wants to forget her painful past. Unfortunately for Jade, someone very close has no intentions of letting her forget her not so illustrious beginning.

When her twin sister, Lynn Baxter, decides to expose Jade's past to her followers, she sets off an emotional roller coaster in Jade's life, as well as her own. To make matters worse, Lynn's cruelty could cause Jade to lose the man she loves.


Look at her, there she goes again. Always dressed to the nines, make that to the tens. It’s rare that you’ll find anything wrong with her, no one does. It’s her self-confidence and the way she just shows up. She enters a room with that big smile, head up, back straight and one long leg before the other. Even the right shade of panty hose. You can’t help but notice them as the bellman opens the door of that bright red, shiny, 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder, and she swings those legs out, tightly closed so that you never see what’s between them, or has been. Only those who’ve been there can testify to that, and boy would they have a story to tell. If thighs could talk.
That car is worth over $800,000, add a few options and you’re way over $900,000. True testament to what she’s pulling in nowadays for a salary. Her black six inch Jimmy Choo heels slowly hit the street, like a RG III pass to Desean Jackson or Pierre Garcon. Every strand of hair in place. No weave for her. Her salon attendant can attest to that. Why? Because she sees her once a week, and even more if she’s making an appearance that day. Like today, she had made a stop in her salon right before this appearance.
It’s obvious her favorite color must be red because the color is represented from her car to the soles of her Jimmy Choo shoes. Today it is the slim pencil black skirt and crisp white long sleeved blouse. Sleeves and collar turned up. Blouse tailored to fit her perfect size eight top, just as the skirt hugs her 24 inch waist and 34 inch bottom. Even the jewelry is carefully selected. Never too much to let the public know how really well she is doing, but just enough to make the statement that she wants for nothing. Chanel earrings, Michael Kors necklace, Rolex watch; not much, but just enough to speak volumes about who Evelynn “Jade” Baxter really is. The public knows, author, entrepreneur, sought after public speaker, twin sister of Lynn Baxter. Noted for her affiliations in various elite women’s organizations, explained why her Google Plus calendar was always maxed out for time. She wore so many hats, that it was very easy for her to pick one for the day, and toss it aside for another in a matter of minutes.

Today she was
Jade Baxter, author. Scheduled to speak before a crowd of hungry, aspiring young women all wanting to be like Jade. She was known as Evelyn only around family, and even that was shortened to Eve when she was on good terms with everyone, which was rare.

“Welcome, Ms. Baxter! May I help you with something today?” The bellman extends his hand as she begins to push a button to turn everything off in that automobile of intelligent technology before she exits. Before she made her decision on the car, she did her research to see what other famous person was driving one. She had heard that actor, Jerry Seinfeld was among the first to accept delivery in America on a 918 Spyder. It impressed her to read somewhere that tennis ace, Maria Sharapova, was a noted Porsche ambassador, and known to favor the 918. She reads up on stats like these before she indulges in any materialistic object. Her name is among the rich and famous at the age of thirty-six. And in a town this small, it’s not hard to stick out and be noticed for anything that you do, be it good or bad.

“Sure, Jeffrey, thanks, and it’s great to be back! Gorgeous Spring day isn’t it?”

( Continued... )

© 2015 All rights reserved.  This unedited book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Michelle Morgan Spady. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

Purchase Enough Was Never Enough: A Novella
by Michelle Morgan Spady

About the Author
Michelle Morgan Spady
is the author/co-author of four self-published books,  Enough Was Never Enough: A Novella, An Artist and His Obsession, 7 Days 2 Tell, and ShoozyQ and the AB Crew in Bully on the Playground.  Her children's book projects were collaborated with her son, Bradford O. Spady, an artist and visual storyteller.

Michelle is the VP of Creative Services with B'Artful, LLC in McLean, VA.  B'Artful is a company that empowers, inspires, and promotes emerging authors, and visual artists by providing them with opportunities, and space to enhance, and exhibit their creative talents.

SNEAK PEEK: Black Coffee by R.L. Byrd

Black Coffee by R.L. Byrd

In 2008, radio station K103.5 aired a radio talk show called The Love Forum with six women sassily discussing their lives, loves and relationships with millions of Dallas, Texas listeners. One year later, the brothers (the husbands, boyfriends and lovers of those women) now may have their chance to chime in on those discussions.

DK “Love” Niles, emotionally ill-at-ease by the death of a friend, and troubled by his past, is searching for answers and trying to find his way in life. Lost, he agrees to meet Jessie—the protagonist in the first book—at the infamous restaurant Baileys for lunch. A lunch where his world is turned upside down by what she tells him (and gives him), and puts him on a course that would eventually change his life.

Now with a mysterious blue letter in his hand, and shaken to his core by what she’s told him, he asks the waitress to read the letter given to him—he’s asked to fulfill a wish by his dead friend. A wish to continue and become the moderator of the new Love Forum which will become known as the Brotherhood; and if he does, he’ll find the answers he’s been searching for and bring a voice to the world—the black male voice—that’s been silent for way too long.

DK, through Jessie, enlists the help of a psychiatrist; and with his radio sidekick, they begin to honor his dead friend’s wish by flying The Brotherhood to Juneau, Alaska for a 4-day, 3-night retreat to get to know each other. But he quickly learns that with nine brothers, there’s going to be personality clashes, egos, and outside influences that will wreak havoc on the Brotherhood’s success.

With The Brotherhood airing to millions, Jessie, in an attempt to garner more listeners, decides that she needs more drama on the show and devises a plan to reintroduce the wives, girlfriends and lovers on one of the Brotherhood’s forums—with a clairvoyant. Emotions run high and drama fills the radio station’s studio; leaving the brothers to drop out and not return. DK, in a quandary, and left to figure out how to bring the brother’s back—or better yet, if The Brotherhood should even continue—has to devise a plan to get the forum back on track.

After painstakingly getting The Brotherhood back on course, long lost fathers and sons are discovered, sexual twists are revealed, and loved ones are lost, leaving The Brotherhood in shackles once again—unrepairable. Devastated that The Brotherhood is in disrepair, DK (and Jessie) find their promises to keep the Love Forum going is broken. Determined to honor his promise, DK devises a plan to bring the Love Forum back and repair some of the damaged lives as a result. With the help of the remaining brothers and psychiatrist, he begins to play a major role in making positive changes to the brother’s lives and eventually finds the answers he’s been searching for and finds his way in life; touching upon topics the black community has thrown up under the rug.

Although sad that some of The Brotherhood brothers fell by the wayside; DK kept his promise to his dead friend, found the answers he so desperately needed answered to move forward with his life, and brought a voice to the world—the black male voice—that had been silent for far too long.

Black Pearls Magazine Question:
What inspired you to write Black Coffee from the black male point-of-view?
When the reviews came out for Looking for Sweet Love, one reviewer said it would have been nice to hear the men speak in the book, and I nodded and said, "My point exactly." I had just accomplished what everyone else was doing at the time: Catering to the female audience. Everything up to that point had been told from a black woman's perspective and there was a period where everything was pro-female and anti-male (or so it seemed). Everywhere I went the discussions amongst the brothers was the same: Where's our voice?

Black Coffee was my attempt at providing that voice. Everything that we had seen (the abuser); heard about (the DL brother); or were portrayed to be (the non-committal man or womanizer); I flipped it and said, "Look, we're all human here. It's a two-way street you know. Men get hurt; men get cheated on; men have not-so-great relationships. Let's hear those stories too." But as I laid out the story-line, it quickly became not only that voice, but my social issues book for men of color.

Black Coffee Book Reviews

"As the men get to know each other, readers learn of their past secrets, career aspirations, and of the emotional turmoil in their lives. By the time the story is over, love triangles will be revealed, past physical and emotional abuse will come out, and unexpected family relationships are revealed. (Think Maury Povich.) . . . And what one man reveals while under hypnosis is worth the price of the book itself."

"There are many flavors of life, but they all share a uniting trait. 'Black Coffee' is a novel from R. L. Byrd as he tells the story of DK 'Love' Niles, a Dallas Disc Jockey who discusses relationships and love from a black perspective, and draws on the expertise of other people in his brotherhood to give readers a taste of the many types of love we face. 'Black Coffee' is a strong pick for those looking for a novel with romance and good wisdom for any relationship."
- Midwest Book Review

Black Coffee Book Excerpt: Chapter 2

Reminisce with main character, DK “Love” Niles . . .

After a full night of worrying my ass off, ill-at-ease and a whole lot of sleepy, I finally dragged my ass out of bed, washed up (hittin’ all the hot spots), threw on one of my good old sweat suits (that would be the blue one, that shows that d thang swinging in them boxers), and started the thirty-mile drive—in a light rain, I might add—to meet Jessie at Bailey’s. Damn! Bailey’s. It was the first time that I’d been back since Melissa died. I can remember the first time she told me about it, and I can’t help but laugh. That crazy girl ran into my office, with her hands on her stomach, all hunched over, talking ‘bout, “Ungh-ungh, boo-boo, got your message, and boy, I am not trying to go to Big Jim’s Rib Shack today, and definitely not for the third time this week! Ungh . . . ungh! Not even trying to go there with you, boo. And boy, if I have to shit out one more rib, it is not going to be pleasant up in here! You heard?”

Damn! One thing that I loved about my girl was that she didn’t hold anything back. Nada! She told me that a good friend of hers had just opened up a small, but trendy joint, a few blocks down from the radio station (some sort of small-time chef breaking out on his own) and she wanted to go check him out, give him a little support. I looked at her crazy butt, laughing, and said, “Aiight, Lis, we can go check your lil’, small-time friend out,” although, those ribs were calling my name. DK, come get us! But when she said the magic words, “My treat, boy,” I was like, Oh hell, yeah! That’s what I’m talking ‘bout. And never giving up a free meal—especially when a sista is paying (now, how often is that?)—we ventured off and pulled up to what had to be, damn near, the busiest place I’ve been for lunch (especially in Dallas) in quite a while. Hell, just to get into the parking lot alone, we waited damn near ten minutes. (And doesn’t it make you mad when you have to pay to park just to get something to eat?)
Man, oh man, there were people and cars everywhere, and as soon as we made it into the parking lot and found a place to park (and I put my hard-earned money into that damn pay box), I started noticing that most of the K103.5 crew were either walking out of, or going into Bailey’s. That girl! I guess she told everybody about Bailey’s grand opening, and if you knew Melissa, you knew that she had the gift of gab and a knack for persuasion. Not only could the girl talk you to death, but she could get you to do just about damn near, anything, for her crazy ass; although I gotta give, my girl, her props on this one. This shit right here, this joint, was just effin’ unbelievable!

We made our way through all the madness (walked right up to the front door, skipping all the people waiting in line) and rushed inside where we met this character by the name of Chef Luda (Luda was his first name, Bailey his last). He stood at the front door, greeting people, talking about some “comment ├ža va, Lissie,” and I looked at him, all frowned up, and said, “Huh? Excuse me. What did you just say?”

Melissa saw the look on my face and threw her hands up as if to say, Come on, DK, get it together. She sounded out “Coam-on-sah-vah” and said, “It means, how am I doing, silly.” She put her hands on her hips, flashed one of those big-ass smiles (which meant she was up to something), and gave me one of those looks that said, Watch me work this.

I smiled and looked in another direction, shaking my head and saying to myself, Oh Lord, here we go. All I could do was stand there, with this stupid grin on my face, and watch her do her thing.

“Well, I’m doing just fabulous, Luda. And, boy, you’re talking to me like I’m used to that Cajun tongue of yours. That would be a big not! But rather than how am I doing, I think the tea is, or should be, how-you-doing?” Lis turned around and gave me a big wink as she wrapped her arms around Chef Luda’s waist and looked up at him with those big puppy-dog eyes.

“You sure you’re doing okay, boo-boo?” she asked.

Chef Luda returned the intimate gesture and wrapped his arm around Lis’s shoulders and answered, “Well, baby gul, I’s doing mighty, mighty fine. ’Bout as fine as dis old man can expect, under da circumstances.”

“Oooh! That’s good news, Luda. Good news! Lord knows, I’m so happy to hear you’re doing fine. And what you talkin’ about you being old? Puh-lease!”

Chef Luda laughed at Melissa, and she gave him one of those Don’t even try it looks of hers. “Now, Luda . . . whew! You got it smelling too good up in here, and your girl, and my boy here, are starving! By the way, you do know I’m eating for two, don’t cha? Yes, yes, your girl is expecting. So get the purse ready, baby. You gone have to loosen up the purse-strings, for sure, for this one. You’re paying for three today, boo, and did I mention, we . . . are . . . starving? Oooh, what we gots to eat?”

Chef Luda shook his head and grabbed Melissa’s crazy butt, engulfing her in a big bear hug, while I stood there looking at them (like an idiot), thinking, Damn, I’ma have to tune out everything and listen real hard just to understand what this brother is talking about. As soon as those thoughts cleared my head, Chef Luda answered Melissa, or Lissie as he called her, in that unforgettable Cajun drawl. “Well, I do believe I can fix dat eatin’ part. Don’t know much ’bout da oda stuff going on in dat belly of yo’s, but it sho’ is good to see ya! And who’s dis here friend you done brought wit cha?” Chef Luda let out a hearty chuckle and extended his hand for me to shake while introducing himself.

“I’m Chef Luda, and yous be?”

“I’m DK Niles, better known as DK Love. Me and Melissa work—”

“Yah. Yah. Da DK from da DK and Melissa Morning Show. Boy, you knows, yous a fool on dat there radio. Have me’s a-cracking up. Mmm-huh! And you sho’ do look familiar too—you sho’ do. Humph!” Chef Luda scratched his head and stared at me real hard. “So, Mr. DK—and you too, Ms. Lissie—wha’ y’all critters think ’bout da place?”

I said to myself, Critters! Well, I be damned. First, the nigga interrupts me. And now he has the nerve to be calling somebody—hell, anybody for that matter—a critter. Up in here looking like the last damn critter, his own damn self. Like the last Spike Lee reject—balding something terrible on top of that. I mean terrible as in patches, yo. Guess he didn’t get the memo that sometimes you just gotta let that shit go. And if the Spike Lee–reject look and the balding didn’t beat all, dude was blown up a good two hundred pounds or so (hell, we definitely could see where the food was going). Can you believe that shit? My boy Spike would not be pleased! Not pleased at all. I just looked at him (sizing him up, you know how we black people do), shook his hand, and gave him one of those quick and dirty smiles (fake as it was) as he and Melissa started chatting again. While they chatted, I took a quick look around and thought, Damn, this Negro ain’t no effin’ joke (despite that damn critter comment). I asked myself, What is Melissa talking about? This definitely ain’t no small-time chef (no pun intended). I’m telling you, this place was absolutely the shit! And by this time, I was a-scratching and a-itching to get a peek at—and a little taste of—what Bailey’s had to offer. And for the first time ever, I forgot all about Big Jim’s Rib Shack and those meat-be-falling-off-the-bone ribs.

( Continued... )

© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, R.L. Byrd. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

Purchase Black Coffee by R.L. Byrd 

Book genre: Romance; Fiction

Black Coffee Social Issues Highlighted
(Project  H.U.S.H.)

• Homicide-
Homicide is the No. 1 killer of black men between the ages of 15 and 34 in 2011.

• Unemployment-
As of January 2015, unemployment among black males was 10.3% as compared to 4.5% for white males.

• Suicide-
In 2011, Suicide was the #3 cause of death among black males aged 20-24, accounting for 8.8% of deaths among this demographic.

• HIV-
Blacks/African Americans continue to experience the most severe burden of HIV, compared with other races and ethnicities. Blacks represent approximately 12% of the U.S. population, but accounted for an estimated 44% of new HIV infections in 2010.

• Education-
At the national level, the 2012-13 school year estimates indicate a national graduation rate of 59% for Black males, 65% for Latino males and 80% for White males.

About the Author

R.L. Byrd
lives in Atlanta, GA, where he works on his life's passions—writing and architecture. He is known for writing Contemporary Realistic Fiction with memorable characters and vivid scenes of confronting personal and social issues. Mr. Byrd donates his time to many community service programs, and is the founder of social media campaign Project H.U.S.H. (an acronym for Homicide, Unemployment, Suicide, and HIV/AIDS). The campaign promotes discussion about the many social inequalities faced by black males and is rapidly gaining follows on Facebook and Twitter. For more information visit

EXCERPT: Curse of the Whiskey House by Marc Lacy

Curse of the Whiskey House
by Marc Lacy

Jesus once saved Lazarus, but some wonder if the City of Lazarus is beyond saving. This historic Bible Belt homestead located in Hawthorne County, Alabama has a population of 45,000 and is nationally renowned for its fine whiskey. Lazarus, a lively city that was once a resting spot for the Buffalo Soldiers, has a lot of heritage, history, and religion. Maybe too much of each.

The Hawthorne County Whiskey Stop, the city's most profitable tourist attraction, gets thousands of customers per year from in and out of town. But the Hawthorne County Whiskey House, its counterpart, is anything but good and sacred. Just ask the beloved Mayor of Lazarus, Samuel Justice, who has enough skeletons in the closet to fill the local cemetery.

The level of treachery and mayhem spawned within the whiskey house is uncharted despite the fact that Reverend Jackson Jones, the pastor of the Central Baptist Church, owns it. Many believe that a lot of spirits are uneasy and that a curse lingers around Lazarus and Hawthorne County because of the crass circumstances that surround the whiskey house. There's an old saying around Lazarus, "Once you enter the whiskey house, if you should ever come out, your life goes south."

There is also an eerie prophecy tied to the whiskey house that no one wants to acknowledge; they keep quiet about it hoping it will just disappear. Detective Brock Taylor is the only hope in saving Lazarus from total destruction. But will he be able to extinguish the curse and bring happiness back to the lives that have been maimed by the misgivings at the whiskey house? Or will he be another victim of the devastating curse? This time, even Jesus may not want anything to do with Lazarus.


Lazurus, Alabama, a community rich with history, heritage and religion, could be any one of thousands of American towns from east coast to west coast, but the contrasting popularity of the Hawthorne County Whiskey Stop and the more dubious Hawthorne Whiskey House makes it much more. In this first in a trilogy of novels, 'Curse of the Whiskey House: When Life Is the Principle and Death Is the Practice,' author Marc Lacy offers a compelling drama centered around the tensions created by secular and spiritual forces experienced through the characters, most notably Reverend Jones and Detective Taylor. 'Curse' is a page turner that consistently draws you deeper into the storyline while exploring basic human values like choice, integrity and morality and will have you anxiously anticipating the next book in the series.
--Kenny Anderson, Maximum Life Enhancement

Everyone has heard the phrase? There is something rotten in the state of Denmark.? I must say, that phrase cannot compare to the rotten, low-down, animalistic activities that take place in the Whiskey House, a house that is cursed from the depths of Hell. Here, you will meet Black Abe, a highly regarded man of the cloth and his cultish followers. Even though he is not what he seems, no one wants to go against him- except Brock Taylor. He wants to make sure that the secrets of the Whiskey House are burned to the ground, but there are two people in his way, Ace Honeycutt, his nemesis, and Brooklyn Fontroy, his girlfriend. Be prepared to take horrifying roller-coaster ride to the black abyss, because Marc Lacy is not afraid to take you there. Buckle up, and enjoy the ride!
--Pamela D. Rice, Author


If Jesus could save Lazarus again, I guess I would have to put the bottle down...well at least for a day. Shoot, let me quit lyin’. Sometimes I don’t know what’s better, straight Jack shots or moonshine samplers. I even drank moonshine in a Jack bottle an’ Jack from a moonshine pitcher. Hell, it’s all’ if you a drunk like me, it don’t matter. Well, on second thought it do matter. ‘Cause there was nothing like the moonshine Lulamae Gerther Jones used to make in that ol’ whiskey house on Turner Road.

Whew. Them Buffalo Soldiers would come through an’ fetch a good nip, an’ be on they way. Matter-fact, World War II was a good time for me. After I enlisted, I never went into battle or shot one gun - I reckon it was preparin’ me for these recent gun-law debates or something. But I sho shotgunned me some whiskey...yes suh. Private Rufus McClendon, that’s me. Supposed to have gone out to Arizona with the 92nd Infantry Regiment an’ then on into the Pacific to fight; but I never made it out of the state, ‘cause the bottle wouldn’t let me go. Well that was over three score ago and needless to say, I’m still a private wandering ‘round Lazarus an’ Hawthorne County. But that old whiskey house ain’t been the same since. I mean, I can’t judge a soul the ways I been my whole life. But good God A’mighty, I know a foul odor when I sniff one. An’ let me tell you, the stench is badder than death itself. I guess when the whiskey died, it left a bad spirit. An’ that spirit is doin’ somethin’ to this town.

Lazarus, Alabama located in the Northeastern part of Hawthorne County in the west central part of the state, got just the right history, climate, an’ bad people for the perfect spooky story. I don’t believe in them goblins myself. But boy when somethin’ wicked takes takes over. People won’t talk about it, but it’s there.

It all started when Lulamae’s grandson used to roll to the whiskey house with us. Now young Jackson Jones seemed like he was ordinary minded; but I said all along...there’s something funny ‘bout that lanky boy. Lulamae raised him as best she could. Raised him in that ol’ whiskey house. Back then, that house had so much space in the front yard comin’ off a Turner Road, you could park a few airplanes an’ trucks out there. Then they had a front porch, a carport garage so folk could grab an’ go, a living room for brewin’, kitchen, one full bath, two bedrooms, a back yard for days, an’ a crawl space for storage.

Matter-fact, the back yard was so close to the Hawthorne County Woods, that if somebody was afraid of gettin’ caught with illegal booze, all they had to do was either run in the woods, or throw they bottle. Wadn’t no police gone chase nothin’ in them woods. Shoot, they wadn’t gettin’ enough pay for all them bee stings, snake an’ chigger bites they woulda got. Nowadays, the house looks mostly the same; but it got runnin’ water, ‘lectricity, an’ some renovations been done. One of them bedrooms was knocked out so the living room could be bigger. But yep, Lulamae raised that boy Jackson in that house. She ain’t have no choice. Wit’ his daddy being a molester an’ mama a prostitute, they was both no good for him.

An’ even though Lulamae gave him a roof over his head, she also showed him some thangs that came with being a hustler. So by the time it was all done an’ over with, young Jackson knew how to brew moonshine, shoot skeet, an’ be a good cheatin’ gambler. He was such a good shot, that he could probably close his eyes, shoot straight up in the air, an’ the bullet would land on a lost Florida ballot. In ’65, Jackson went into Vietnam as a sniper, an’ has been snipin’ ever since. Got a eye like a eagle an’ he still loves to shoot skeet, throw them arrows, an’ would take yo’ tax money in a game of Horseshoes. He mostly mild mannered; but will snap like a twig if somebody drove him to that point. I believe he got that PDSD, or PPDD, or PTSD whatever they callin’ it. Jackson even part of local hunt club, too. Some folk think that hunt club is like a secret militia. Hmmm, I don’t know. Maybe that’s how a seventy-year-old preacher can keep his aim sharp...I guess.

Now with all that, he also inherited Lulamae’s gift of gab. Yessuh. The boy was good at talkin’. An’ when his granny died, she left the house to him. Then out of nowhere, this multi-faceted young’n became a grown Baptist minister, still ministering today, an’ is still doin’ stuff with that whiskey house. I think people don’t want to say it. But I’mma say it anyway. Jackson may be the only black southern Baptist preacher who part of that NRAA National Rifles of America Agency or something like that. I tell you what, if good ol’ Abraham Lincoln had a twin who was black, he would be Jackson Roosevelt Jones. Ol’ Jackson ain’t nowhere near honest as they said Abe was; but he tall like him, an’ he mysterious lookin’ like him.

( Continued... )

© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Marc Lacy. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

Purchase the brand new action-packed page turner from Marc Lacy. Curse of the Whiskey House is the first book of a fiction-thriller trilogy. You will not be disappointed!


Download a copy of Curse of the Whiskey House by Marc Lacy

Pre-order Welcome to My Breakdown: A Memoir by Benilde Little

Welcome to My Breakdown: A Memoir
by Benilde Little

The nationally bestselling author of Good Hair and The Itch pens her first book of nonfiction, a “momoir” about her own journey caring for aging parents, raising children, being married, plunging to the depths of depression, and climbing her way out.

A major bestselling novelist and former magazine editor, long married to a handsome and successful stockbroker with whom she has a beautiful daughter and son, Benilde Little once had every reason to feel on top of the world. But as illness, the aging of her parents, and other hurdles interrupted her seemingly perfect life, she took a tailspin into a pit of clinical depression.

Told in her own fearless and wise voice, Welcome to My Breakdown chronicles a cavern of depression so dark that Benilde didn’t know if she’d ever recover from what David Foster Wallace called “a nausea of the soul.” She discusses everything from her Newark upbringing, once-frequent visits to a Muslim mosque, and how it felt to date a married man, to her doubts about marriage, being caught between elder care and childcare, and ultimately how she treated her depression and found a way out.

Writing in the courageous tradition of great female storytellers such as Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, and Pearl Cleage, Benilde doesn’t hold back as she shares insights, inspiration, and intimate details of her life. Powerful, relatable, and ultimately redemptive, Welcome to My Breakdown is a remarkable memoir about the power within us all to rise from despair and to feel hope and joy again.


"Welcome To My Breakdown will put you face-to-face with the realities of personal pain. What Benilde shares is a heroic demonstration of how to turn depression and loss into a path back to self. Her willingness to be open and authentic creates a healing prescription for us all. What a blessing!"
(Iyanla Vanzant, author of In the Meantime and Every Day I Pray on Welcome to My Breakdown)

"Benilde Little takes the fabric of suffering and weaves it into a raw, honest, and wonderful story of love and loss. Readers who have felt the depth of enduring sadness will see themselves in this deeply moving memoir."
(Janet Taylor, MD, MPH on Welcome to My Breakdown)

"When we face the fire and come out on the other side, we learn what it is we are called to do. Benilde has written so beautifully and eloquently about the soul-crushing experience of depression -- whether it is named or not. Throughout this defining journey, we see, hear, and feel deeply the signs of a despair that longs for light and relief. The healing is in us sharing our stories with one another... and knowing we are not alone."
(Terrie M. Williams, author of Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting)

Pre-order Welcome to My Breakdown: A Memoir by Benilde Little

About the Author

Benilde Little
is the bestselling author of the novels Good Hair, The Itch, Acting Out and Who Does She Think She Is? She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Essence, Jet, People Magazine, Heart and Soul, More magazine, among many others. She has had numerous media appearances including NPR, the Today Show, and Tavis Smiley.

The Go On Girl Book Club selected Good Hair as the best book of the year. Natalie Cole bought the film rights. Benilde’s writing has appeared in numerous anthologies, including Honey Hush and About Face. She was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award.

A former reporter for The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Star Ledger, People and senior editor at Essence, she has been a creative writing professor at Ramapo College. She lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband, two children and dog.

SNEAK PEEK: Kenton's Vintage Affair by Janice L. Dennie

Kenton's Vintage Affair
by Janice L. Dennie

Unemployed chef, Briana Rutledge, inherits a cottage on one thousand acres of land in California’s Napa Valley, making her a millionaire. She sets out to turn the cottage into her dream restaurant. But others have agendas to destroy Briana and her plans.

The Underwood brothers have inherited the character DNA of their male ancestors, a line of old fashioned southern gentlemen who took great pride in protecting women and children. As the eldest brother, Kenton Underwood has been betrayed and no longer believes women need his protection. He has no room for love until he meets sexy, understated, Briana Rutledge, who finds a special place in his heart. But Briana harbors a deep seated fear that prevents their future happiness. Kenton has also been scarred by an obsession that fuels his competitive behavior. Can their relationship survive Kenton’s obsession and Briana’s fear?

Excerpt from Kenton's Vintage Affair by Janice L. Dennie
Listen to the author reading from the book: 

“Want some wine?”

“Sure, I’ll have a glass.”

Kenton walked over to the butler’s pantry to select a bottle of wine. He grabbed two red wine glasses, a corkscrew and walked back to the sofa. After leaving the wine bottle on the coffee table, he walked over to his Bose docking station and selected the John Legend song, Best You Ever Had from his iPod. As the music began to play, and the base thumped, Kenton sang along with the song. Baby tonight’s the night….

The excitement of hearing Kenton’s melodic voice singing along with the music added shine to Briana’s eyes. She watched Kenton hold out his hands beckoning her to dance with him. He pulled her up from the sofa. “Come on baby let’s dance.” A faint light twinkled in the depths of his eyes when he pulled her up, holding her around her waist. He pressed her body to his, spinning, swaying and dipping her. Briana realized he was stepping Chicago style. Determined to keep up with his pace, Briana felt dizzy following his lead. She hadn’t stepped in a long time, but the movements came back, like riding a bike. Briana felt alive dancing, spinning, swaying, dipping and twirling in Kenton’s arms.

Kenton complimented her. “You’re a good dancer,” he said, holding her in his embrace. He continued to sing along with the song. I don’t wanna brag…. Briana grinned and leaned her head back in delight. He slowed down, and sang into her hair I’ll be the best you’ve ever had….

“You remembered my favorite artist.” Briana closed her eyes as she laughed. The sound of the music, the smoothness of Kenton’s dancing and singing fascinated Briana. Kenton was the best man she’d ever known.

“How could I forget?” Kenton said in between words to the song.

Briana began to sing along with Kenton. They sang her favorite part simultaneously with loud voices, the best you ever had…. They both paused for a few seconds which felt like an eternity. Within seconds, Briana snapped back into real time, although she felt as if she’d been hanging in space for hours. Looking into Kenton’s eyes, she melted in the tenderness of his gaze.

Kenton twirled her around and then pulled her close. Staring into her eyes, he gave Briana a smoldering look. “How did you like that?”

( Continues... )

Copyright © 2014 by Janice L. Dennie. All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Janice L. Dennie. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the publisher's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. Share a link to this page or the author's website if you like this promotional excerpt.

Purchase Kenton's Vintage Affair by Janice L. Dennie

The Underwood's of Napa Valley Book 1
Contemporary African American Romance
Print or eBook: 


About the Author

Veteran author, JANICE L. DENNIE, has returned with a heartwarming new romance set in California’s lush Napa Valley. Kenton’s Vintage Affair, book 1 in the Underwood’s of Napa Valley series, introduces the reader to the fictitious Underwood family, owners of a successful winery in Napa Valley. Justin's Body of Work (The Underwood's of Napa Valley Book 2) will be available on May 15, 2015.

Janice began her her writing career in 1997 with her debut novel, The Lion of Judah. Her second novel, Moon Goddess Queen of Sheba, was published in August 1999.

Janice was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in Northern California. After graduating from college, she began working for a federal agency. However, writing has always been her passion. Janice services her community through various charities, and non-profit organizations. She currently writes full-time and lives in Northern California with her family.

Visit Janice's website at:
Find her books here: 

Announcing the 12th novel in my REVEREND CURTIS BLACK SERIES!

The Ultimate Betrayal
by Kimberla Lawson Roby

Announcing the 12th novel in my REVEREND CURTIS BLACK SERIES!

It’s been four years since twenty-eight-year old Alicia Black, daughter of Reverend Curtis Black, divorced her second husband, the most womanizing and corrupt man she has ever known. Since then, Alicia has been dating her first husband, Phillip Sullivan, a wonderfully kind and true man of God whom she’d hurt terribly by cheating on him. Alicia has worked hard to prove herself worthy of his trust once more, and when he asks her to marry him again, she couldn’t be happier.

But Levi Cunningham, the drug dealer Alicia had an extramarital affair with, has just been released from prison, and he has completely turned his life around for the better. Still head-over-heels in love with Alicia, he will do whatever is necessary to win her back.

Remarrying Phillip is the one thing Alicia has wanted for years, but she can’t get Levi out of her mind. Alicia and Phillip aren’t the only ones in the middle of a crisis. Their best friends, husband and wife Brad and Melanie Richardson, are struggling to keep their marriage together.

Workaholic Brad is never home and has begun losing thousands on bad investments. Or so he says. Melanie, who is certain there’s more to the story, is determined to get at the truth. At the same time, her frustration and stress cause her to eat a lot less, and she behaves in an extreme fashion. Alicia worries that she could be suffering from anorexia, but Melanie steadfastly denies it. Their friendship begins to suffer, and it isn’t long before they’re talking to each other like enemies.

Fresh betrayal leads to consequences no one saw coming, and Alicia’s relationship with Phillip might not be the only thing that needs saving. But is it already too late?

Excerpt from Chapters 1 & 2: The Ultimate Betrayal

Chapter 1

Alicia’s prayers had been answered. She and Phillip were finally going to be married—again. It had been six years since their first wedding, but in two months, she would walk down the aisle of her father’s church and live happily ever after. She was fully committed to Phillip this time around, and unlike before, she wouldn’t betray him. She wouldn’t sleep with another man behind his back. Just thinking about how selfish she’d been and how terribly she’d treated Phillip still upset her, but thankfully, he finally trusted her again. There had been moments when Alicia hadn’t been sure he ever would. Still, she’d gone out of her way doing all she could to show him just how much she loved and adored him and wanted to be his wife. From this point on, they would be together until death do us part, no matter what.

Phillip stood at the bedroom window of Alicia’s condo, looking as handsome as ever, and Alicia smiled at him. He winked at her but continued his phone conversation. He’d driven over last night and was now on the phone with her dad, discussing church business. Phillip had returned to his assistant pastor position at Deliverance Outreach in Mitchell, Illinois, which was the reason he and Alicia had purchased a home there. With all his church responsibilities, it was better for him to reside in the same city as his job so he would have quick access to the church and to any members who needed him. Phillip had moved in a month ago, but it wouldn’t be long before Alicia joined him, as she now had a buyer for her Chicago-area condo and would be closing on the sale in six weeks. She’d even begun moving some of her belongings out to the house in Mitchell. She would certainly miss Covington Park, along with much of the culture and excitement that the Chicago area provided, but she also couldn’t wait for her and Phillip to live as husband and wife again.

Things were going to be good between them. They would have a great life, and she thanked God for second chances. As a matter of fact, God had blessed her in such a tremendous way that she sometimes shed tears uncontrollably. Here she’d committed adultery against Phillip—hurting him to the core—yet he’d found it in his heart to forgive her. And he’d never once stopped loving her.

Then, there was that awful second marriage she’d entered into with the likes of Pastor JT Valentine. The man had slept around with more women than Alicia could count, and the whole experience had been a nightmare. Still, God had delivered her from JT and his madness and allowed her to move on and forget about him.

And if those blessings hadn’t been enough, she was a successful novelist who would be releasing her fourth book in a few months. She had such a wonderfully kind and loyal audience of readers; some of whom read her work because of her father’s worldwide status, but the majority seemed to genuinely love her stories and she was grateful for that.

Phillip ended his call. “I’m gonna get ready so I can head back home. Your dad and I and some of the other officers are meeting for lunch today.”

“I need to get ready myself. I’m meeting Melanie at noon so we can pick out our jewelry for the wedding.” Melanie Richardson was Alicia’s best friend, and she and her husband, Brad, who was Phillip’s best friend, were going to be their attendants. Alicia and Phillip had considered having bridesmaids and groomsmen, too, but then decided they wanted to keep their ceremony as intimate and as meaningful as possible. That way their day would be about them and the love they shared, versus some massive, impersonal affair.

“Oh yeah, that’s right,” he said, strolling over to Alicia and hugging her. “But more important, have I told you how beautiful you are today?”

“As a matter of fact, you have,” she said, kissing him. “You’re so good to me, and you make me so very happy.”

He squeezed her tighter. “Not as happy as you make me.”

“My life is finally complete.”

“I’m glad to hear that. And although it took a while for me to propose to you again, I hope you know that I never stopped loving you. Not once.”

“I know you didn’t, and I never stopped loving you, either. And I’m also sorry for…well, everything. I destroyed our marriage, and I will always be indebted to you for forgiving me the way you did.”

“God forgives us all, and we have to do the same thing with others. Sometimes though, just because you’ve forgiven someone it doesn’t mean you can still be as close with them. You can still love them and be there for them if they need you, but forgiving someone and trusting them again are two different things. So I thank God that in our case, I was able to do both.”

“You’re a good person with a huge heart, and I love you with everything in me,” she said.

“I love you, too,” he said, kissing her.

Alicia’s yearning for Phillip was strong and intense—it was the kind of yearning she couldn’t act on or ask him to satisfy. He talked a lot about how he couldn’t wait to make love to her again, except Alicia wasn’t handling this celibacy thing nearly as well as he was. She knew Phillip was a minister and that he was serious about his faith, but Alicia had certain needs and desires. For her, kissing and cuddling only meant tons of torture, and she longed for their wedding day. It couldn’t come fast enough, and she’d gone without for so many years that it was almost funny. Especially since the sole reason she’d done so was because Phillip had made it clear that he wouldn’t have it any other way. He’d insisted that the only way things could work between them was if her love and respect for God were sincere. This, of course, meant living by the Word and not having sex until they were remarried. Still, she’d be lying if she said she was okay with it, because she wasn’t. She was twenty-eight, and she couldn’t help the way she felt. Phillip was only ten years older, so she couldn’t see how he was able to deal with this either. But he was, and he seemed to do it with ease.

After Phillip left, Alicia finished getting dressed and grabbed her large black leather tote from her bed. She disconnected her phone from its charger and saw that she had new emails. When she opened her mailbox, she scrolled through three department store sale reminders and a couple of other unimportant messages. But she swallowed hard when she saw the next one. The subject line said, “Hey Beautiful,” and the sender’s name was listed as Levi Cunningham.

She covered her mouth with her hand, whispering out loud, “No, this just can’t be.”

She took a deep breath and sat down on the leather chaise in shock. Her heart beat faster with every few seconds, and although she was curious about the contents of the email, she was afraid to open it. What could Levi possibly want? She hadn’t heard from him in five years, not since he’d called her from prison. She’d wondered then how he was able to contact her and talk for as long as he wanted, until she’d learned that he’d gotten in pretty good with one of the correctional officers. He’d called her twice. Once to let her know how much he still loved her, and the second time to tell her that her husband at the time, JT, was sleeping around on her and committing other unimaginable sins.

Although, now that Alicia thought about it, she had spoken to Levi a third time, and that was when she’d told him she was going to do everything she could to get back with Phillip. Levi had been disappointed, but it wasn’t like he could offer her something better, not with him still serving time for drug-related felony charges. Back then, he’d been sure he’d be out within a few months, since his attorney had discovered new evidence to help exonerate him. Levi had also cooperated with the authorities, which likely meant he’d told on the right people. Still, as far as she knew, nothing had ever panned out in terms of his getting a new trial.

Alicia stared at her phone, debating whether she should open the email. Her common sense begged her to delete it, but her heart pleaded for something different. And she knew why: after all these years, she’d never fully gotten over him. She’d buried her feelings and gone on with her life, but she’d never forgotten their genuine chemistry. Their hearts had bonded naturally, and their deep emotional connection had been indescribable. It was the kind that only true soul mates could share—the kind she had never experienced with another man, not even Phillip. Although, what harm could Levi do from a prison cell?

Alicia debated no further. She opened the message and read it.

Hey Beautiful,
I’m sure I’m the last person you ever expected to hear from, right? I’m a little surprised myself, but I’m happy to say I finally got my new trial, and I was released yesterday. I’m a free man, and although it hasn’t even been a full 24 hours yet, I’ve never felt better. I wanted to contact you as soon as my mom and my boy Darrell picked me up, but I decided I would spend some quality time with my mom last night first. She has been my rock through all of this, so I owed her that. But this morning, I woke up thinking about you and how much I missed you. So can you please email me back? I really want to see you. Oh, and I’m not sure whether you noticed or not, but after being locked down for all this time, I went back to school and learned a lot about commas and when to include them. ? Even better, I now have a bachelor’s degree in business. Amazing what you can do online these days, and I can’t thank God enough for it. I’m a totally different man. Anyway, I hope you respond. I can’t wait to hear your voice.

Talk to you soon.

P.S. I never stopped loving you, sweetheart. Not for a second.
Alicia didn’t move. She couldn’t have if she’d wanted to. Was it really true? Was Levi out of prison and living back in Mitchell? The same city she was returning to as well—the city where she and Phillip were making their permanent home? This was all too much for Alicia to digest, but as she sat thinking, she realized something. Levi’s email wasn’t going to change anything. She loved Phillip, she was marrying him in two months, and that was that. This was her reality. This was all of their reality. End of story.

Chapter 2

“Brad, what is this?” Melanie exclaimed, holding her husband’s latest credit union statement.

Brad frowned. “What is what?”

Melanie passed him the document. “Here, see for yourself.”

“Where did you get this? Were you rummaging through my desk?”

“No, I was looking for a black marker, and I just so happened to see it.”

“Do I search through your things?”

“I wouldn’t care if you did. I don’t have anything to hide.”

“Neither do I, but I also don’t like stuff moved around in my office.”

“Normally, you lay your mail on top of your desk. But not this, though.”

Brad ignored her. “What would make you rummage through my stuff like this?”

“You know what, that’s neither here nor there. I just wanna know what you needed ten thousand dollars for.”

Brad sighed. “I can’t believe you went through my desk and opened my mail.”

“We’ve been married for, what? Three years? So as your wife, I have a right to see everything. And until now, you’ve never had a problem with that.”

“Whatever, Mel.”

“Why aren’t you answering my question? Are you doing something I need to know about?”

“No, I made a bad investment, and I lost some money.”

“How?” she said, folding her arms. “Playing around with the stock market again?”

“I wasn’t playing around with it. I read about a couple of hot items, and they didn’t pan out.”

“But ten thousand dollars? You lost ten thousand dollars, and you’re acting like it’s no big deal?”

“I never said it wasn’t a big deal.”

“But you’re sounding like you lost ten pennies. Not to mention, it’s bad enough that you lost more than thirty thousand a year ago for the same reason.”

Brad rolled his eyes. “Oh, here we go. Bringin’ up the past again.”

“I’m simply making a point. It’s not like we’re getting any younger.”

“Are you serious? Mel, you’re only twenty-eight years old.”

“But you know how careful I’ve always been when it comes to money. I was cautious and saving as much as I could before you ever asked me to marry you. And since you’ll be forty in a couple of years, I would think you’d start being a lot more cautious, too. Especially when it comes to your savings account.”

“Look, baby,” he said, calming his voice. “I’m sorry. I hear you, and I promise it won’t happen again.”

“You said the same thing last year.”

“I know, but I mean it this time,” he said, leaning against his desk. “I traded some pretty high-risk stocks online, and it was only because I thought I could make a lot of money from it. But I’ve learned my lesson.”

“So this wasn’t even done through a broker? You did this on your own?”

“Yeah, but I’m done. I know you don’t believe me, but losing all this in a matter of days really opened my eyes.”

Melanie spoke in a softer tone. “You can’t keep doing this.”

Brad’s cell phone rang, and he pulled it from his blazer. “Baby, it’s the office. Just give me a second, okay?”

Melanie sat down in the supple brown leather wing-back chair and waited for him to finish his call. She was trying not to be angry, but she couldn’t understand why Brad did this kind of thing. She was just the opposite, so it didn’t made sense to her. She could never blow that kind of money unnecessarily, not from her individual savings, checking, retirement, or any other account. They had two joint money market accounts as well, and for the most part, she pretended those didn’t exist. She just couldn’t see spending money so frivolously like there would be no tomorrow. There were times when she knew she might have gone to a bit of an extreme with her vigilant money-management philosophy, but who knew what the future held? Anything at all could happen. Loss of employment, illness, or even death.

Then, to think how hard they’d worked to get where they were professionally. Brad was the newest senior partner at the firm he’d been practicing at since graduating law school—a firm that was known statewide—and Melanie was a nurse practitioner at the most highly recommended internal medicine office in Mitchell. Also, last year they’d built a six-thousand-square-foot home and furnished every room with all new furniture and accessories. Melanie had thought they were spending way too much money, but once Brad had convinced her that they could afford it and that he wasn’t working all his life for nothing, she’d gone along with it. Of course, that had been well before she’d known he was going to throw away thirty thousand dollars only three months after breaking ground. She certainly hadn’t known he was going to lose ten thousand more last month. It was common for the stocks and bonds that made up their retirement portfolios to fluctuate, but the idea of buying risky items for no reason was uncalled for.

Brad ended his call and reached out his hand to Melanie. “Baby, come here.”


“Just come here. Please.”

She got up and walked over to him.

Brad sat back onto the top of his desk, drew her closer, and wrapped his arms around her waist. “I’m really sorry. I got a little carried away, and I messed up. Can you forgive me?”

Melanie looked at him but didn’t say anything.

He caressed the side of her face. “You know you can’t stay mad at me forever, right?”

“I just wish you wouldn’t do things like this. I mean, if you’re just dying to give away money, I’d rather see you give it to families or organizations in need. Because to me, when you throw away money that God has blessed you with, you’re being ungrateful.”

“I agree. But do you forgive me?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Not really,” he said, wrapping Melanie’s arms around his neck and kissing her.

Melanie hated arguing with him, and it felt good holding him and trying to get past what had happened.

“I was planning to wait to bring this up, but now is just as good a time as any,” he said.

Melanie wondered why he looked so serious. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. But I do want us to think more about starting a family. I want you to stop taking your birth control pills.”

“I don’t know,” she said, and although she wanted a child, too, she wasn’t sure this was the right time anymore. Not with Brad’s latest financial move. She wanted to believe him when he said this would never happen again, but she needed to see it. Another thing that had started to concern her quite a bit was the fact that he worked a lot of hours. She clearly understood what his job entailed, but for the last few months they’d sometimes barely seen each other except on Sundays. They’d had words about that very thing a couple of weeks ago, and she didn’t want to be the kind of mother who raised her child alone.

But then there was her other reason, the one she didn’t have the courage to tell Brad about. She was terrified of gaining a huge amount of weight from being pregnant. As it was, she was already struggling to lose the same ten pounds she’d been trying to get rid of for more than a year. She was sure ten pounds didn’t seem like a lot to most people, but the last thing she wanted was for her mother to start harassing her again—spewing some of the same hurtful comments she’d dished out for years. Melanie had been a chubby child, and her mother had been repulsed by it.

“Why aren’t you saying anything?” he asked.

“No reason. I just wanna make sure we’re ready.”

“Baby, how much more ready do we need to be? We have more than enough room, and we can definitely afford it. Plus, you know it’s still my dream to be able to give our children what my parents weren’t able to give me. When they were alive, they took care of me the best they could, but they barely made ends meet, and I went without a lot. Even in college.”

“I know. Why don’t we talk about it more tonight?”

“Fine. And hey—are you losing weight?”

“I wish.”

“Why? Because it’s not like you need to. You look perfect.”

“I’m glad you feel that way,” she said, wondering how he could possibly think she’d lost even a few ounces, let alone enough weight that was noticeable enough to see. Especially since she weighed herself every single day, and not much had changed. Although maybe working out six days a week without fail was helping her lose inches.

Brad kissed her again, this time with more passion. “Make love to me.”

Melanie gently pressed both her hands against his chest. “Baby, I can’t. I have to get dressed so I can drive over to Schaumburg. I’m meeting Alicia, remember?”

“Oh yeah. Well, I guess I’ll let you off the hook this one time. I expect you to make this up to me tonight, though,” he said, smiling.

Melanie was relieved, because her plans to drive over and meet Alicia weren’t the only reason she was putting him off. Truth was, she had long stopped wanting to make love to him in broad daylight because of how pathetic she looked when she was naked. At five foot nine and 165 pounds, she wore a size ten and looked like Miss Piggy, which was one of the many names her father had called her when she was a child. She wasn’t nearly as heavy now as she’d been back then, but she was still a size ten for heaven’s sake. Just the thought of it made her want to burst into tears. Brad deserved so much better. A wife he could be proud to have on his arm—just like her mother regularly told her. And if it was the last thing she did, she would make that happen. She would do whatever was necessary to drop those ten horrible pounds she was parading around with. That way, she could fit back into her size eights the way she was supposed to. She wouldn’t be happy—and neither would her mother—until she did.

( Continued... )

© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Kimberla Lawson Roby. Ella D. Curry has permission as her online publicist to promote this excerpt. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

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About the Author
Kimberla Lawson Roby
is the New York Times bestselling author of the highly acclaimed Reverend Curtis Black Series. She lives with her husband in Rockford, Illinois.  Website: