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by Pamela Samuels Young
"Pamela Samuels Young has crafted a page-turner that will keep you engrossed until the very last page. If you’re a fan of smart legal thrillers with brisk pacing, crackling dialogue and edgy, intriguing characters, Lawful Deception is for you.” --Dwayne Alexander Smith, Award-winning Author of Forty Acres.
Once again, award-winning author Pamela Samuels Young delivers another captivating legal thriller full of unexpected twists and jaw-dropping moments you never see coming. The beautiful Bliss Fenton won't be winning any awards for Mother of the Year. Truth is, motherhood isn't nearly as important to Bliss as the cottage industry she's created: extorting wealthy men for the hefty child support she can collect.
But Bliss' greed goes too far when she takes on Fletcher McClain. The handsome music industry mogul refuses to accept her conniving conduct lying down. He retains high-profile attorney Vernetta Henderson to sue Bliss for fraud.
Enter Bliss’ unscrupulous attorney, Girlie Cortez, who has a personal score to settle with Vernetta. As the two lawyers once again go head-to-head, their legal battle quickly escalates from merely contentious to downright deadly.
Bliss Fenton took a sip of champagne as she glared across the room at the obnoxiously happy couple. They indeed made a striking pair. Their slim, toned bodies draped in designer wear and expensive jewelry. So trendy. So California chic. Setting her champagne glass on the tray of a passing waiter, Bliss snaked her way through the crowd, hoping to get a better view. As she moved, her blonde curls bounced as if lifted by a cool breeze. At 5’8” and 120 pounds, her delicate frame was all slopes and curves. A body specifically designed for exhibition.
The partygoers were packed like human matchsticks inside the gaudy Hollywood Hills mansion. The home, if you could call it that, was a testament to excess. Just like the couple. Too much of everything. Too many art deco chairs, too much bronze and glass, and so much artwork the walls could barely breathe.
Only a few feet away from the couple now, Bliss found herself shoulder-to-shoulder with a too-tanned man with greasy hair. He winked at her. She sneered back at him and moved on. A devious smile fractured Bliss’ face as she returned her attention to the couple. She imagined the angst they would experience the minute they spotted her among the partygoers. Fletcher’s lips would contort into an ugly grimace, but then coolly transition to a barely perceptible smirk. He was not the kind of man who was easily rankled. That was the reason he was a millionaire several times over.
Mia, however, would not be able to hide her emotions. Fletcher’s prissy little black princess would toss Bliss a snarl that bellowed, What the hell are you doing here? It was Mia she wanted to punish most. Bliss had pleaded with God to curse her former friend with a pain ten times more intense than her own. She wanted Mia to live it. Breathe it. Curl up in bed with it. Just as she had. Bliss refused to blame Fletcher for the poor choices he’d made. He was a man. And men, by nature, were weak. Still, he too would pay just the same. The call of vengeance tugged hard at Bliss’ soul, urging her, daring her, to march right up to the couple and confront them. But she held back. For the moment. Patience had always been her most virtuous trait.
Fletcher hustled to the front of the room and began singing the praises of the newest songstress to be added to his stable of artists, LaReena Jarreau. Bliss remembered cuddling in bed with Fletcher and listening to him brag about creating her stage name, since Janice Harris had no pizzazz.
“The first time I heard her voice,” Fletcher said, throwing his arm around the bony twenty-something dressed in hooker gear, “I knew she was going to hit the music world by storm. You have to agree that what we heard tonight was—as the youngsters say—off the chain.”
Everyone applauded as the hip, dark-haired CEO of Karma Entertainment grinned, happy to be on show. The only thing Fletcher enjoyed more than being rich was having everyone know it.
Mia remained off to the side, perfecting the look of the coy, supportive fiancée. That had been Bliss’ mistake. Accepting her at face value. While Mia’s visual package was quite alluring—all charm and beauty—on the inside, she was pure evil. Truth be told, Mia wasn’t all that different from her. Bliss Fenton, not Mia Richardson, should have been on the arm of the music industry mogul tonight. It had never occurred to Bliss that her long-time yoga buddy could walk into a party and take her new guy’s breath away. Literally.
At the time, Bliss had been dating Fletcher for a short six months. She’d invited Mia to the party at Fletcher’s Beverly Hills home for the sole purpose of showing off her new man to her smart, uppity faux-friend. Bliss could still remember Mia waving as she glided into the party, the crowd parting so effortlessly it almost seemed choreographed.
Seconds before, Fletcher had been talking nonstop about his label’s next release, but the sight of Mia had caused him to lose his train of thought. When Bliss had formally introduced them, the lust in Fletcher’s eyes further telegraphed the gravity of her mistake.
Only days after the party, Bliss’ time with Fletcher began to dwindle, explained away by late night meetings that couldn’t be avoided or last-minute business trips to New York. Mia, too, had started cancelling their after-yoga coffee chats and finally stopped coming to yoga class altogether.
It was a month later, when Bliss saw Fletcher and Mia pictured together in Billboard, that she first learned of their betrayal. Her subsequent rage-filled calls to both of them had been ignored. And now, Mia was at Fletcher’s side, while Bliss had been pushed right out of his life.
A burst of applause snapped Bliss back to the present. As Fletcher seemed to be wrapping up his speech, Bliss moved closer, stopping inches behind Mia. She leaned in, her lips almost grazing Mia’s right ear.
“Congratulations on your engagement.”
Mia’s head whipped around, her dark brown skin now ashen gray. “You ... you shouldn’t be here.”
Bliss spoke in a firm whisper. “Neither should you. You backstabbing bitch.”
Mia took a step back. “This is not the place to make a scene.”
“Okay, then,” Bliss said, moving into the space Mia had abandoned. “Shall we step outside?”
A second later, Fletcher wedged himself between them. “You walk yourself out of here right now,” he said through clenched teeth, “or I’ll have security carry you out.”
Although no voices had been raised, all heads turned in their direction. Mia didn’t move.
Fletcher, always cognizant of appearances, wore a stiff smile as he spat into Bliss’ face. “If you don’t leave, I swear I’ll have you arrested.”
After three long beats, Bliss winked. “You’ll both be hearing from me.”
Bliss couldn’t help smiling as she sashayed through the buzzing crowd.
Fletcher and Mia would suffer for their disloyalty. Bliss only wished she could be there to see their stunned faces when they learned what she had done and realized there was absolutely nothing they could do about it.
I should have shown Fletcher McClain to the door 30 minutes ago, but the words seem to be stuck in my throat. I hate to admit it—even to myself—but I like having him in my space again.
“So will you take care of this for me, Vernetta?”
He’s been pacing the length of my office for several minutes now. When he first stormed in and slapped the Petition to Establish Parental Relationship on my desk, he was so wound up I thought he might be on the verge of a stroke.
“I’m not a family law attorney, Fletcher.”
Employment law and some occasional criminal work are more up my alley.
“I don’t need an expert in family law,” Fletcher insists. “What I need is a good negotiator. Someone who can talk some sense into this nutcase and make her go away. And I’m confident you can do the job.”
The issue isn’t whether I could handle his case, but whether I should. They say a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. Perhaps a lawyer who goes to battle on behalf of an ex-lover is just as foolish. Especially if the old flame hasn’t quite flickered out yet.
According to the petition, Fletcher’s ex-girlfriend Bliss Fenton has named him as the father of her three-month-old daughter, Harmony. Fletcher, however, claims the petition is all lies. Even though he hasn’t taken the court-ordered paternity test yet, he wants me to set up a meeting with Bliss and offer her some “chump change,” as he puts it, to go away.
“It looks like she filed that petition herself. I need this nonsense over and done with before she gets an attorney involved.”
I take another look at the petition. Bliss has indeed filed it in pro per, which is easy enough to do. The petition is a simple two-page form that requires checking a few boxes. Falling into one of the chairs in front of my desk, Fletcher fixes me with a look so intense I almost shudder.
“I really need you, Vernetta.”
His lips angle upward, just slightly, and I feel a warm tingle in a place where my happily married self definitely should not be tingling. I break his gaze and fiddle with my cuticle. Classically handsome, Fletcher has sandy hair, strong cheekbones and wide brown eyes with lashes too long and thick for Mother Nature to have wasted on a guy. He’s still the only white guy who ever stole my heart.
“Fletcher, you could find a million attorneys to handle this. Why don’t you let me recommend a friend who has expertise in family law?”
“See, that’s what I love about you, Vernetta. I don’t know many lawyers who would turn away a paying client with my kind of dough. You’re the real deal.”
“Unbelievable.” I stare across the desk at him, shaking my head. “You’re still as cocky as you were when we were know-nothing sophomores back at USC. It’s not always about money, Fletcher.”
“It’s always about money, my sweetness.”
Damn him. Hearing his pet name for me after all these years has me tingling again. A quiet chirp interrupts his subtle flirting. He pulls the phone from the inside pocket of his jacket. Glancing at the screen, he frowns and sets it on the corner of my desk.
“How can you be so sure it’s not your kid?” I ask.
“Because we broke up almost a year before that kid was born.”
“Shouldn’t you wait for the results of the paternity test?”
“Don’t need to. It’s not my kid.”
“I’m confused. If it’s not your kid, once you have the results, it’s over. Why pay her anything?”
“You don’t know Bliss Fenton. Even after the results come back, she’ll have something else up her sleeve. I need this thing buttoned up once and for all. Paying her off will accomplish that.”
My gut and years of legal experience tell me there’s more to the story. “You certainly seem awfully stressed over an allegation that has no merit. What’s the real deal?”
Fletcher repositions himself in the chair.
“I’m getting married in three months and this whole thing has my fiancée climbing the walls. Bliss timed this to embarrass Mia right before our wedding. I need it resolved as soon as possible.”
The news that Fletcher is getting married surprises me. I’ve followed his career for years and figured he was a confirmed bachelor.
“So what’s Bliss got against Mia?”
“Well ... um ... they used to be friends.”
I squint. “Oh, so we’re dealing with a woman scorned.”
It’s one thing to lose your man to another woman. It’s quite another to lose a charming, high roller like Fletcher McClain to someone you considered a friend.
He shrugs. “That’s basically the crux of it.”
“But it still doesn’t make sense. Bliss wouldn’t serve you with a paternity suit if there were no chance you could be the father.”
“You haven’t been listening. This woman is extremely conniving. She probably read that Forbes article and came up with this scheme to shake me down.” He pauses. “Did you happen to see it?”
Fletcher landed the number three spot on Forbes’ list of the top music industry moguls. He’s the only one on the list under 40. His net worth is estimated at $450 million, just behind Clive Davis and JayZ.
“Of course I saw it. Very impressive.”
He points a finger at me. “You haven’t done too bad yourself, counselor. You’ve handled some pretty high-profile cases.”
Over the years, Fletcher sent me handwritten notes, congratulating me when one of my trials hit the press. Keeping up with his achievements is the only reason I read Billboard.
“So how much do you plan to offer her?”
“A hundred grand should do it. I’m willing to go higher if I have to. Maybe two-fifty. And I want a written agreement with an ironclad confidentiality provision.”
I’m about to say he’s putting up a lot of cash to get rid of a bogus claim, but for a man with Fletcher’s bank account, we’re talking peanuts.
“We may have to play dirty to force her into a settlement. I want you to retain a private investigator to dig up some dirt on her in case we need it. And trust me, it’s out there.”
“Are you serious?”
“As a heart attack. Once you meet her, you’ll understand.”
“How’d you even end up with this woman?”
“It’s your fault,” he quips. “After you broke my heart, I was so devastated, I opened up my heart to whoever came along.”
“Yeah, right.” I scan the petition again. “It says here the child was born in January of this year and she’s three months old.” I glance skyward and do the math in my head. “Let’s see ... Assuming a nine-month pregnancy, that would place conception sometime in April of last year.”
“Exactly. The kid can’t be mine. We broke up in February, eleven months before she was born. I remember because it was two weeks before Valentine’s Day.”
“Maybe your timing is off.”
“And there were no hookups after that?”
“Nope.” He brushes the lapel of his Canali suit, then raises his right hand. “Scout’s honor.”
“I still don’t understand why you don’t want to wait for the test results before approaching her. You’d be in a much better negotiating position.”
“I’m taking the test tomorrow, but it could be a couple of weeks before I get the results. I want this thing resolved yesterday.”
His cell phone chirps again. He grunts and picks it up. “Excuse me a second.” His long fingers awkwardly tap the screen. I assume he’s sending an email or text message. Another minute or so passes before he looks up, his face full of annoyance.
“Uh, that was Mia calling from the lobby.” He scratches his jaw. “She’s on her way up.”
“Hmmm. So it’s your fiancée who’s running this show.”
“Not really. Well, I mean—”
I’m not used to seeing the smooth-talking Fletcher McClain at a loss for words. He moves to the edge of the chair. The relaxed air we’d been basking in has been sapped from the room.
“The real deal is Mia wants me to sue Bliss for defamation. She thinks I’m meeting with you to talk about the defamation case. But I think it makes more sense to give Bliss a few dollars to disappear.”
“Okay, now I get it.”
“Let’s keep that under our hat. And, um,” he rubs his chin, “Mia’s a bit on the jealous side. Let’s not mention that we used to be an item, okay?”
Fletcher was never the type of guy who’d let his woman call the shots. This alpha dog has turned into a poodle.
“No problem. Our conversations are attorney-client privileged.”
Fletcher straightens in his chair. “Oh, so I’m your client? Great!”
I raise both hands, palms out. “I haven’t committed yet. But your fiancée can’t—”
“Just flow with me on this, okay? I’ll handle Mia. You just play along.” His confident charm reminds me of the first time we met over a decade ago.
I was walking across campus when Fletcher stopped me with a corny pick-up line.
“Do you believe in love at first sight? Or should I walk by again?”
I’d never met a white guy—certainly not one as gorgeous as Fletcher McClain—who had the swagger of a brother. After a bit of prodding, I agreed to meet him for lunch. And here he is still charming me more than a decade later.
My assistant pokes her head in the door. “I have a lady out here who says she—”
The door flies open and a woman bustles past Deena into my office. A perfectly coiffed, black beauty marches right up to my desk and peers down at me. I have to push my chair back to get her out of my personal space.
“You better be a barracuda,” she says, firing her words at me. “Because that’s the kind of attorney we need to show that scandalous slut Bliss Fenton that she’s playing with fire.”
( Continued... )
© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Pamela Samuels Young. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
Purchase Lawful Deception by Pamela Samuels Young
(Vernetta Henderson Series, Book 5)
About Pamela Samuels Young
When attorney Pamela Samuels Young, a NAACP Image Award winner, isn’t fulfilling her duties as legal counsel for a major corporation in Southern California, you can usually find her penning her next legal thriller.
Her acclaimed novel, Anybody’s Daughter, is what garnered Pamela her first NAACP Image Award win in the category of Outstanding Literary Work (Fiction).
Fed up with never seeing people of color, especially women, depicted as savvy, hot-shot attorneys in the legal thrillers she read, the Compton, CA, native decided to create her own. Despite the demands of a busy legal career, Pamela accomplished her ambitious goal by getting up at 4am to write before work, dedicated her weekends to writing and even spent a large portion of her vacations glued to her laptop. In doing so, she discovered her passion for writing.
A graduate of UC Berkeley’s School of Law, Pamela has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from USC and a Master’s Degree in broadcasting from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She formerly served on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a diehard member of Sisters in Crime-L.A., an organization dedicated to the advancement of women mystery writers.
She lives in Southern California and attends Hope in Christ Community Church. Visit her website to read excerpts from the books, to see the more than 380 bookclubs she has visited and to follow her online:
Pamela is also a frequent speaker on the topics of writing fiction, discrimination law and pursuing your passion.
Pamela loves to hear from readers, so use one of the avenues listed below to reach out to her.
Pamela's website: http://www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com
Follow me on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/pamsamuelsyoung
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Novels by Regina Neequaye
360 Degrees: A Novel by Regina Neequaye
What would you do if you lost the mother you loved at the hands of the father you adored?
After of her mother’s murder, Thandisha is placed in the care of a maternal grandmother so absorbed in her own grief, she is incapable of providing an environment for Thandisha to heal. Thandisha finds solace in the arms of Andreas, her first love. Her life spirals out of control after an unwanted pregnancy leads to a drug addiction. In order to heal, she is forced to journey 360 Degrees to the day her father killed her mother.
The multi-dimensional characters in 360 Degrees will stay in your heart long after you turn the last page.
Urban Tango: A Novel by Regina Neequaye
When you want it all and will do anything to get it…
Ayanna Williams has it all, wants more, and will do whatever it takes to get it. Her promotion to Senior Deputy Assistant to the District Attorney is the next move to her best move. Jefferson Thomas is a handsome, politically connected, business man who finances many key players in the political class. Ayanna and Jefferson find themselves for the second time on opposite sides of justice. Bringing Jefferson Thomas down for human trafficking is the catalyst for her next, best move.
Read sample chapters from both books by Regina Neequaye
Excerpt: Urban Tango by Regina Neequaye
“Let me help you, baby.” I take the rubber band and tie it as tight as I can. I remove the syringe and metal spoon from my pocket. I place the heroin on a spoon, mix in a couple of drops of water, melt it with a lighter, and fill the syringe with as much of the warm, bubbly liquid it can hold. I rub my thumbs over her desecrated veins, find a good injection spot, and insert the needle.
“Slow, baby, you got to do it slow.” I ignore her and quickly push all of the poison in her arm. She leans back against the upholstered leather headboard. Her eyelids flutter and slowly close. A euphoric smile stretches across her face. After several minutes, she slowly opens her eyes and stares at the wall. I almost pity her. She was never smart, but she had a perfect body and a beautiful face. Small craters now cover her honey brown cheeks. She lost a lot of weight much too quickly, causing the elasticity in her skin to diminish. Courtney very much needed her good looks to make up for her lack of intelligence and common sense. She has no self-confidence and is a magnet to losers.
Her head falls to the side. She struggles to hold meaningful conversation. The heroin that flows through her veins is pure and uncut. Her eyes slowly roll back in her head. Her gaze is peaceful. She mumbles, but her words are inaudible. I sit in the chair next to her bed and watch the clock.
“This is some good shit! You got a little more?” The high is wearing off. Her speech is still slurred and labored; it is as if the space in her mouth is too small to accommodate her tongue.
“Sure, baby, anything for you.” I sit on the side of the bed, tighten the rubber band around her limp arm, empty last of the poison from the baggie onto the spoon, and melt it. I siphon the liquid in the syringe and stick the needle in her arm. Her mouth curves into a slight smile. Her head slowly falls back against the headboard. Her breathing is soft and slow, almost like a sleeping baby. I look at my watch. Five minutes have passed. Her body jolts forward and begins to shake uncontrollably. She is stiff as a board. Spittle, thick like milk, flows from her mouth. Her head falls forward; her chin sits awkwardly on her chest. Her eyes are wide open; I take my glove covered hand and close her eyes. I leave the needle stuck in her arms and turn off the lights. I grab the empty baggie and cigarette lighter and place them in a pocket of the jeans that lay on the hamper. I wipe down everything my hands touched and leave with plenty of time to transport the companion to my favorite client.
Purchase Urban Tango by Regina Neequaye
General Fiction/ Women’s Fiction
About the Author
Regina Neequaye is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Art degree in English. She is the author of “360 Degrees” and “Urban Tango.” She is currently working on her third novel “Central Drive”. Regina’s cyber home is http://reginaneequaye.com. She can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. She lives with her husband, Lamar Crowell, in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.
Thrive!...Affordably by Jennifer Streaks Life is meant to be enjoyed, but let’s be honest: It’s almost impossible to live a life of abundance when you are drowning in a sea of debt and suffering under the strain of financial struggle. So many people are not free to enjoy life simply because they don’t have control over their finances. As a result, they go through life surviving and not truly living.
Thrive!...Affordably, takes the headache and the guesswork out of financial management. It is a monthly “how-to” designed to help the reader meet financial goals one step at a time. The book offers tips, advice, and basic financial management lessons geared towards helping the reader highlight strengths, identify missteps, and take control over finances. If you are looking for a way to permanently free yourself from debt, this book is for you. Jennifer Streaks takes the mystery out of management, making financial freedom attainable for anyone willing to do the work.
Excerpt: Thrive! ... Affordably by Jennifer Streaks
As a Financial and Affordable Lifestyle Expert, I have developed financial and lifestyle tips to increase your financial knowledge, keep money in your pocket, manage debt and put you on the road to financial health and wellness.
That is the purpose of THRIVE…AFFORDABLY! I want you to not only read this book, but USE this book. Write in it, highlight in it. I have left pages for you to place pictures of wants and desires. You can think of this as your financial vision board. Write about your feelings about your money and where you want to be a year from now financially.
In a year, this book should be well-worn, written in, pages dog-eared, photos and post-it notes inside. This is your personal financial journey. That is why this book is “personal use size,” because you can toss this book in your bag and take it with you wherever you go. Sit with friends and discuss chapters of the book, if you need an accountability partner, get one and work on the “to do” lists together.
This book will not only teach you how to save and spend, but also how to plan to spend! Planning to spend will make sure you do not overspend. Read this again: If you plan to spend, you will not overspend.
Understand that no one wants to just pay bills and die! This tool will help you live your best life without breaking the bank! Don’t continue living paycheck to paycheck, being unprepared for unexpected expenses, or living on credit cards!
By taking this step, you have created the opportunity to change your life for the better and finally have the life you work for and deserve!
You deserve to live your best life. Don’t just survive...Thrive!
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BEST life without breaking the bank by Jennifer Streaks
About the Author
Jennifer Streaks, an Affordable Lifestyle Expert, started her career working in financial compliance for major banking institutions. In 2005, when the economy started a downward spiral and the housing bubble burst, Jennifer, armed with an MBA, found herself at the center of the storm helping individuals save their homes and pay off their credit card debt.
Jennifer has been on every major TV and radio network (MSNBC, FOX, Fox Business, AlJazeera, CCTV, MarketWatch) and has been published in several national magazines providing practical financial advice that everyone and anyone can immediately put to use to see a change in their financial picture. She has also been called on to report on major financial changes and disruptions such as the foreclosure mess, changes in credit card rules, the increase in prepaid debit card usage and the continued shortage of jobs and the impact on the economy.
Consistently, described as “highly intelligent, witty & easy to work with, Jennifer has earned a law degree from Howard University School of Law and an MBA from The Johns Hopkins University Carey School of Business.
Follow Jennifer Streaks, MBA, Financial & Affordable Lifestyle Expert
Into The Mist by Lynn Emery
Book 4: LaShaun Rousselle Mystery Series
Children are missing in ever increasing numbers. LaShaun Rousselle and Deputy Chase Broussard have to make sure their child isn’t next. After a series of gruesome murders, LaShaun has to answer one critical question to stop the bloodbath: are the children victims or weapons?
LaShaun Rousselle finds herself and her young family at the center of a devious and deadly series of crimes once more. A girl goes missing, bad enough. Yet when LaShaun follows the threads, she discovers the six year old is only one of many. What’s the connection to a string of attempts to get at LaShaun’s own child, Joëlle? She must help sort through the facts and evidence to convince level-headed law officers that supernatural forces are at work. Her life and the lives of those she cherish depend on LaShaun making a way out of no way.
LaShaun Rousselle Mystery Series - A Darker Shade of Midnight is the first book in the LaShaun Rousselle paranormal mystery series. The second book is Between Dusk and Dawn. The third book is Only By Moonlight. Into The Mist is the fourth title in the LaShaun Rousselle mystery series.
NEW FALL 2016 RELEASE - Into The Mist by Lynn Emery
Book 4: LaShaun Rousselle Mystery Series
Topics: Faith, Supernatural forces, Family loyalty, Redemption, Creole and Cajun Culture
Available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, Audible, and Smashwords
Excerpt from Book 1: A Darker Shade of Midnight
LaShaun went to her. She kissed the hand that had guided her through childhood. Now the knuckles were knotted, the tapered fingers weakened by arthritis. Yet, the skin appeared strangely smooth.
“Bon soir, Monmon. You should be in bed.” LaShaun kissed her forehead. She breathed in the familiar scent of Cashmere Bouquet. The fragrance of lavender and chamomile came from another era.
“So, you finally come home. To watch me die, eh?” Monmon Odette patted LaShaun’s cheek.
“To celebrate your life, sweet mother,” LaShaun whispered. A tear slipped down her face. No need to make pointless protestations otherwise. They both knew Monmon Odette’s time on earth was growing shorter.
Monmon Odette shushed away her sadness with a soft hiss. She produced a scented lace handkerchief from the pocket of her robe and dabbed away the tear. LaShaun sat on the floor and rested her head in Monmon Odette’s lap.
“Don’t grieve just yet, Cher . The blood is still runnin’ warm in these old veins. I’ve got just enough time left I think.”
“Time for what?” LaShaun toyed with the hem of her grandmother’s cotton gingham robe.
“You’ll know soon enough. But tonight you need rest after a long journey. You’ve come back home through time and space I think,” Monmon Odette murmured.
LaShaun looked up at her. “Has anything changed here?”
Monmon Odette patted her shoulder as a signal she wanted to stand. With a short grunt from the effort, and a hand from LaShaun, she rose from the chair. Monmon Odette held LaShaun’s arm as they walked down the hallway to her bedroom.
“Some things are eternal. The movement of the wind, the heat on the bayou when summer comes. All that is the same.”
“The land stays the same if people don’t ruin it. Like they ruin a lot of things,” LaShaun said softly.
“Human nature doesn’t change either, Cher .” Monmon stopped and gave LaShaun a sideways glance. “The same deadly sins rule a man’s nature.”
“And women,” LaShaun added raising an eyebrow back at her.
Monmon Odette laughed and started walking again. “True. But age does make a difference. When you get to be old you look at things differently.”
They arrived at the door to her grandmother’s bedroom. As they entered, LaShaun let her go in first. Then she fluffed the down pillows as her grandmother sank onto the bed. LaShaun helped her remove the robe and ease back onto the pillows. Once she’d tucked the vintage quilt around Monmon Odette’s chest her grandmother sighed.
“Thank you, sweet girl. Now sit with me awhile.”
LaShaun sank onto the cushioned seat of a large oak rocking chair next to the bed. A Bible was on the nightstand. “Of course. Shall I read to you?”
Monmon Odette closed her eyes after a few moments. LaShaun watched the slight rise and fall of her grandmother’s chest. After a while, she gazed around. Monmon Odette had redecorated. Her grandmother had a fondness for antiques, history and tradition. Yet, Monmon Odette was no old lady clinging to the past. LaShaun smiled when she saw the combination radio and compact disc player on the other wide nightstand. The high tech device didn’t clash with the country style décor. Curtains with a lovely old rose pattern on a cream background matched the quilt, the rug and pillow shams. An overhead cane ceiling fan looked old enough to have come from one of the plantation homes along Vermilion River. Then LaShaun saw the family photos on a round table. She left the rocker and went to it. Several pictures were sepia toned, taken before the turn of the last century. “Celie LeGrange, 1866-1932” was written at the bottom of one. Monmon Odette’s mother. Jules Paul LeGrange, husband to Celie and Monmon Odette’s father, stared stone-faced from another photo. An even older picture of a lovely woman dressed in a long dress and button top shoes sat next to it. LaShaun did not have to read the faint letters to know her. Acelie LeGrange stared at her descendant across time, two hundred years to be exact. LaShaun’s mother stared from a photo taken in 1982. She looked beautiful in a flowered sundress. Francine stood next to a five year old LaShaun. Both wore forced smiles trying hard to look happy for the camera. LaShaun didn’t remember that particular day, but she remembered her mother’s overwrought disposition. Still in love with Antoine St. Julien even five years after he married another, Francine never found happiness.
“I’m glad you’re home, Cher . Have you forgiven me?”
LaShaun looked up to find her grandmother’s dark gaze fixed on her. “I didn’t blame you for anything that happened to me, Monmon.”
“Maybe you should have, and for your maman, too. So many mistakes and no time to fix them. But I may still have time to do some good for you.” Monmon Odette inhaled deeply causing a rattling sound deep in her chest. She breathed out slowly then closed her eyes.
“I made my own choices, and my own mistakes.” LaShaun blinked away tears.
Monmon Odette nodded without opening her eyes. “Maybe Le Bon Dieu will have mercy on this old woman.”
( Continued... )
© 2014 All rights reserved. A Darker Shade of Midnight is the first book in the LaShaun Rousselle paranormal mystery series. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Lynn Emery. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
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A Darker Shade of Midnight - Book Review Written by Beverly Jackson VINE VOICE
In A Darker Shade of Midnight by Lynn Emery, LaShaun Rousselle is returning home to Vermillion Parish, Louisiana because her grandmother is dying. Shortly after crossing the county line, LaShaun finds herself sitting in the sheriff's station wondering what bogus charges warranted her being detained. Yes, she has a scandalous past that caused her to leave home ten years ago, but that is the past. When the sheriff department finds nothing but a broken taillight, feisty LaShaun cannot help shaking up the sheriff and the department by issuing them a challenge, knowing some fear her voodoo powers. With that settled, LaShaun is looking forward to making peace with her grandmother, Monmon Odette, and catching up with family. Unfortunately, life will be anything but peaceful for LaShaun - greedy relatives, a sadistic ex-lover, an attraction to a deputy, an evil force and murder all come into her life. Fearing that mayhem and evil are a curse she cannot overcome, LaShaun starts to despair that she should not have returned home. Will LaShaun be able to trust her psychic powers, and accept help from unexpected sources, or will the demon win this round for her soul?
A Darker Shade of Midnight is a tale of revenge, deceit, betrayal and political corruption. This combination makes for a juicy murder and the plot serves up several victims. Drama of the family fighting among themselves adds another layer of tension and intrigue to a plot with all kinds of twists. Emery is known for her love of Louisiana, a setting she vividly brings to life in this story. I enjoyed how the paranormal elements were skillfully woven into the storyline with grace and ease, being a natural part of the locale.
LaShaun is an alpha female who fights back at the least challenge, but over the course of the story she learns to accept who she is and how to accept genuine help. It is a nice touch to see her interact with the sexy deputy, Chase Broussard, as the attraction between them allows the reader a respite from all of the mayhem in the story. While fans of the author will love visiting with old friends and new readers will be entertained by the characters, they might be slightly confused by references to previously mentioned events.
I recommend this book to readers who enjoy paranormal mysteries and fans of Lynn Emery. A good read for a summer night, as the forces of good and evil battle with each other.
This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Reviewed by Beverly, APOOO Literary Book Review
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Meet the Author
Mix knowledge of voodoo, Louisiana politics and forensic social work, and you get a snapshot of author Lynn Emery. Lynn’s recent titles include murder mysteries set in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana featuring a Creole psychic and a Cajun deputy. The titles in this series are: A Darker Shade of Midnight (#1), Between Dusk and Dawn (#2), and Only By Moonlight (#3). Into The Mist (#4) continues the harrowing case files of LaShaun Rousselle and Deputy Chase Broussard. Into the Mist will be released in fall 2016.
The Million Dollar Destiny
by RM Johnson
Not long ago, when Monica Kenny’s husband realized his wife had gone through premature menopause and would never give him the children he so desperately wanted, he took a mistress, deceived and divorced her. Monica tried to move on, but was unable, feeling the fool for allowing herself to be so badly abused and mistreated by the man she loved. Unable to look herself in the mirror, Monica was determined to even the score. She needed to hurt Nate in a way in which he would never recover. She needed revenge! That would come in the form of stealing from him what he valued most in the world: his son, the boy Monica had recommended they adopt two years ago, in order to save their marriage. Her husband rejected the idea at the time, only to later adopt the infant after his divorce from Monica was finalized.
In order to succeed with her plan, Monica must convince a judge the child should be taken, and she will have to paint Nate as an adulterous, unfit parent who provides a hazardous living environment and abuses his child. That man is who Monica truly believes her husband to be, but it will be hard to prove, considering Nate has been acting the model father and has announced he’s “changed his ways” and “become a better man”.
Knowing her husband and the lies he tells, Monica enlists Nate’s past mistresses-the only women she believes can help: Daphanie Coleman and Tori Thomas. Monica positions the women to seduce Nate into succumbing to his most primal urges. But when the psychopathic killer, Freddy Ford, a man who has shot both Monica and Nate in the past, and left them for dead, breaks out of a psychiatric institution seeking revenge, the task of rescuing the child Monica loves from the man she hates, becomes more complicated, increasingly impossible and even deadly.
Excerpt: The Million Dollar Destiny
Two months down…seventeen years and ten months to go, Daphanie thought, staring down at her infant child who had just woken, and was smiling, reaching a hand up to her.
“Hey sweetheart. Hey baby,” Daphanie smiled at the boy. Ironically, his name was Nate.
“Why did you name him that?” Daphanie asked Trevor the first night she lived under his roof.
“Because if Nate Kenny hadn’t alerted me to your lies, didn’t convince you to sign your rights over to me, I wouldn’t have my son. Our child would’ve been a bastard. I’m eternally grateful to that man.”
Daphanie picked up little Nat. It’s what she’d been calling him, because hearing that man’s name every time she spoke to her baby was just too painful. Daphanie pressed the baby to her breasts, took him over and sat down with him in the glider.
“Are you hungry, Nat?” Daphanie said, kissing the baby on the head. His last feeding was over four hours ago when she heard him screaming from her room. She climbed out of bed and took Nat down to feed him Similac in the middle of the kitchen, under a low burning overhead stove light. Trevor never fed their baby. It was implicitly stated early on as one of the conditions that allowed her to stay there: she would do all of the off-hour caring.
Now in the little boy’s room, Daphanie bounced Nat in her arms, hoping to stop him from recognizing his hunger for she wanted just a little more time with him. The baby’s face crumpled, his lips turned downward and he started a long whine, which she knew would turn into a full tantrum if he weren’t fed.
“Shhh, shhh, shhh,” Daphanie said, bouncing him faster. Nat needed food. But Daphanie didn’t feel like feeding her baby food from a can again. It wasn’t natural. What he needed, what she knew the baby wanted was what coursed through her mammary glands. She thought of this every time she stood under the hot spray of her shower, dreaming of what was forbidden, massaging her breasts till the milk leaked from her nipples onto the shower floor and washed wastefully down the drain.
Looking toward the door, Daphanie figured Trevor should’ve been all ready dressed and leaving for work. She knew if she weren’t in his path to the front door, he would’ve never gone out of his way to say goodbye.
Still squirming in her arms, Nat became more restless.
“Okay, baby. Shhh, shhh, shhh,” Daphanie said, opening her robe, sliding down her gown strap to expose a heavy breast. She took it in her hand, massaged it gently, squeezing her nipple softly to coax a bead of milk from it. She brought Nat’s face forward and immediately he began to suckle.
It had been so long since she fed her child the way God intended. She felt him pulling the life sustaining fluid he needed from her. And finally, after doing all that mothers did: changing diapers, bathing the baby, rocking the baby to sleep, it was only now she truly felt like this child’s mother.
She brought Nat closer, lay back her head, rocked slowly in the glider, and closed her eyes, trying to suppress the tears that she knew would come. The two months she had been there had been hard, but this made up for it, Daphanie thought. She started to drift off, telling herself if she could have this moment, once every now and again, she could deal with whatever punishment Trevor chose to deliver her.
Suddenly, Daphanie was startled by the opening of the bedroom door, and even more surprised when it wasn’t the nanny that Trevor hired to care for Nat much of the time, but Trevor.
“What are you doing?” Shock painted his face. “I said, what the hell are you doing?” he said again, walking toward her, looking as though there was a need to rescue their son.
“I’m feeding our baby.” Daphanie pulled Nat closer to her breasts, cradling him tighter.
“I said you were never to do that. All the formula you need is—“
“I don’t want to feed him anymore formula. He needs milk. My milk!”
“Give him to me.” Trevor said, his hands outstretched.
“Give me my fucking son!” Trevor demanded.
Daphanie pushed back in the chair, covering Nat with her arms, but Trevor was on her, his hands wrapped around their tiny baby’s body. And he was pulling him like the child was in a wrecked car about to explode: like Daphanie’s arms were flames licking his son’s skin. She had no choice but release him for fear Trevor would break Nat if they continued to struggle.
“Please!” Daphanie screamed, reaching so far out from the chair that she toppled over, spilling out of it, falling to her knees. She looked up to see Trevor staring down on her, resentment on his face, holding their child as far away as he could from her.
“I told you never to do that. My rules! You don’t like them…leave!” He stormed out the room, Daphanie hearing her son scream down the hall as he was being carried off.
( Continued... )
© 2016 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, RM Johnson. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
Order The Million Dollar Destiny by RM Johnson
The Million Dollar Series - Volume 4
Meet the Author
RM Johnson is the award-wining, bestselling author of 23 books. He holds an MFA in creative writing. He is a professor of English and Creative Writing and lives in Atlanta, GA where he is at work on his next novel. Email: RMNovels@yahoo.com; FB: Facebook.com/rmnovels