Authors: Suzetta Perkins
More Praise for
A Love So Deep
“A Love So Deep
is a heart-warming love story between a man and a woman. It is a story of a friendship between two men. It is also a story about new and unexpected beginnings. The images are vivid, and I could feel the cold crisp morning, I smelled the Chivas at the Water Hole, I could feel the music at the church, and I could taste the meals Sister Mary Ross prepared. You might forget what someone says, but you always remember how it made you feel. A wonderful read.”
—Doris Rose, reader, Sacramento, California
Behind the Veil
P.O. Box 6505
Largo, MD 20792
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
© 2007 by Suzetta Perkins
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means whatsoever. For information address Strebor Books, P.O. Box 6505, Largo, MD 20792.
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In memory of my beloved mother, Ada Elizabeth Goward
To my father, Calvin Graham Goward, Sr.
Love never fails.
To whom much is given, much is required. God has opened doors and placed many beautiful people in my path that are too numerous to name one by one. My literary journey has been blessed beyond my expectations, and I owe it all to Him.
To my Father, Calvin Graham Goward, Sr., I love you. You and Mom had a love so deep that shined bright throughout your fifty years together. To my daughter, Teliza; son-in-law, Will; and my granddaughter, Samayya, thank you for making Dallas take notice of me. I love you. To my son, JR, thank you for promoting me throughout the universe, whether you were in an airport in Los Angeles, on your job, on tour with me wearing the T-shirt bearing the cover of my book that the women literally tore from your body, or as the master controller of MYSPACE. You’ve made me proud, and I love you.
I’d like to extend a special thank you to my sister Gloria Jordan, who rushed out on release date for
Behind the Veil
and purchased the first copy in California. Thanks, sis. A special thank you to my cousin Doris Rose who loved my manuscript for
A Love So Deep
at first read and probably bought the second copy of
Behind the Veil
This journey would not be anything without the wonderful book clubs that so graciously invited me into their homes to discuss my work and fed me like I needed a meal. To the Sister Circle Book Club led by President Mary Farmer—Pam, Latricia, Lenora, Derian, Carlotta, and Jo Catherine—you were my initiation book club, and it was a blast from the discussion to the wonderful gifts. To my sistahs of the Sistahs Book Club—Wanda, Valerie, Bridget, Tina, Melva, Tara, Melody, Angela, Jean, Latricia, Kim, Bianca, Bianco, and especially Donna Carroll who got everybody reading my book from Ohio to Charlotte—thank you for treating your president like a queen and making my book one of your favorites. To Jeannette Wallington and the ladies of Motown Review Book Club—Sherri, Francine, Valerie, Roberta, Yvette, and Yvonne—thank you for showing Detroit how to throw a real book club meeting. It was awesome. To Cornelia Floyd, Connie Marks, and the Triangle Ebony Readers, although my time with you will be later in 2007, I thank you for your support and encouragement on my journey. Finally to LaWana McNair, Keisha Haywood, Alisa Hester, Rikki Proctor, Camille McMillan, and Debra Kinney, thank you for a night to remember—book club meeting, jewelry party, Mary Kay party, and a pleasure party (that translates to SEX) all in one night. Wow!
I’ve been blessed to be part of New Visions writing group headed by best-selling novelist, Jacquelin Thomas, who has inspired and given me the best of her literary knowledge. Thank you and I love you. To fellow writers Karen, Titus, Angela, Monique, Sandy D and K, Cassandra, Lesley, Tanya, Pansy, and Valderia, some of whom recently had their own debut work published, I say stay on course. There’s room enough for all of us.
Life on the road can be lonely, but with good friends and family by my side, the
Behind the Veil
book tour was a success. A special thank you to Yvonne Head for traveling to D.C. with me on the first leg of my tour, rallying all of her family together to purchase my book. We had a ball!! To my niece, Shonda, who invited her friends to come out and purchase my book at Karibu Books at Pentagon City, goes a great big thank you, sweetie. I love you. Karen Brown, you deserve a medal for BEING THE BEST TOUR PARTNER, although Mary Farmer was after your record. Thank you, Karen for being at just about every signing. Mary, you’re a solid second place.
Angela Reid, friend and president of Imani Book Club, has always been there for me. From purchasing my books to sharing and providing book club insight to keeping the literary community informed, you’re the best. To Tee C. Royal and RAWSISTAZ, I thank you for being so supportive of me.
A special thank you to Juanita Pilgrim who read my manuscript, enjoyed it, gave me her best critique, asked if I was writing it down, and demanded to see the new draft. While you were busy running Cumberland County, you gave to me, encouraged me, and told me that
A Love So Deep
was destined to be a movie. I love you.
To Dennis McNair, one of the best photographers in Fayetteville, North Carolina, thank you for always being there. Whether it was a Sistahs Book Club meeting or my fabulous book release party, you never said no. To Darlene McAllister and Ben Minter, you are the most creative team on the face of the earth. You’ve got gift, and I appreciate you both from the bottom of my heart for all the love you put into my book release party. Terrance Robinson, I thank you along with my son, JR, for putting up with my grueling production as we cut the musical single to
Behind the Veil.
Donna Hill of Donna Hill Productions, you are the greatest. You know how to push and prepare a writer for success. I appreciate all you’ve done to enhance my career.
To Shunda Leigh, editor of
, thank you for your wonderful publication and the opportunity to sell myself to the literary world.
To my publisher Strebor Books/Simon & Schuster, especially Zane and Charmaine, I thank you for giving me the opportunity and believing that my work was worthy of publication. For that, I am eternally grateful. To the other members of my Strebor family, especially Lissa Woodson and Tina Brooks McKinney who have been so supportive of me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
To my agent, Maxine Thompson, you’re still the greatest!
With the expertise and skill of my editors Annette Dammer and Anita Diggs,
A Love So Deep
is at its best. Thanks Annette and Anita for being part of my journey.
A special thank you to Emma Rogers of Black Images Book Bazaar in Dallas; Ed and Miriam McCarter of Special Occasions; Urban Knowledge in Baltimore; Karibu Books; Jason Rosenburg at the Ft. Bragg Main Exchange; Barnes & Noble; and Waldenbooks for your support. You gave me space, a venue, and an awesome opportunity to show my face. I am forever grateful.
was early fall, and weeping willows bowed to sun-baked lawns while giant redwoods spanked the skies, casting a lazy-like setting about the Bay Area. Maple trees were adorned with leaves of gold and reddish brown while squirrels scampered up twisted branches in preparation of the winter months that lay ahead. It was an enchanting feeling—a movie set backdrop. The summer was coming to an end, but its remnants were still very evident.
It was five in the morning when Charlie Ford, Dexter Brown, Bobby Fuller, with Graham Peters bringing up the rear, strode onto the Berkeley Pier, carrying tackle boxes, bait, chairs, and insulated coffee mugs filled with steaming coffee. The sun was not due to come up for another hour. The calm and peacefulness the water yielded was just right for the few fish that might nibble on their hooks.
Not much talk passed between the four men. This was to be a short trip—a two-hour excursion to help lift the spirits of a friend. Then it would be back to Bobby’s house for his wife’s hot, homemade biscuits with honey oozing from their sides along with a plate of soft-scrambled eggs, a couple pounds of bacon, and fresh brewed coffee to wash it all down. If they were fortunate to catch a few fish in the process, that would be all right, too.
Their poles were extended, lines laying in wait, birds chirping signaling the day to begin. An hour passed, and the sun rose like a yellow monster ready to devour the city. Its reflection illuminated the water a little at a time as it rose over the Oakland and Berkeley Hills to sneak a peek at the four men.
“Something’s biting,” Charlie yelled, reeling in a three-pound halibut. “Hey now, I got me a fish for dinner.”
“Who you gonna get to clean and cook it for you?” Dexter chimed in. “See, I’ve got me a woman that’ll clean my fish, fry it up in a great big pan, and serve it on a platter with homemade potato salad, collard greens, and hush puppies.”
“But you don’t have no fish for your woman to fry,” Charlie countered, letting out a great big howl and slapping Bobby with a high five.
“I wouldn’t eat the fish from the bay anyway. Heard there might be mercury in the water,” Dexter said. “These puny little bass and halibut out in this water is just for sport—test your skills.”
“Amanda!” Graham shouted, jumping into the water, causing the other men to gasp out loud in alarm. Graham gasped for air, his arms flailing around like he was cheering on his favorite offensive end, Jerry Rice of the Oakland Raiders.
“My God, Graham. What’s gotten into you? What are you doing?” Charlie shouted at the top of his lungs, ditching his pole and jumping in. Graham could not swim.
Dexter and Bobby threw down their poles and ran to the water’s edge. Sixty-two-year-old Charlie was the only one in the bunch who could swim, and he was giving it his all in the cold, murky water to save the life of his best friend.
Three feet out into the water, Charlie’s muscular arms grabbed onto Graham, pulling him up. Bubbles came out of Graham’s mouth. Charlie gave him a quick glance while paddling back to shore.
Anxious faces looked down at Charlie as he neared the shore. Dexter and Bobby extended their arms and pulled him onto the bank.
Graham’s body trembled as he stood facing the group. His wet clothing stuck to him like Saran Wrap. His teeth clinked together in rapid succession, making a chattering sound. Bobby took off his jacket and placed it around Graham’s shoulders.
Graham appeared tired and worn as he stared back at the alarmed men who were unable to utter a word. He looked at each one individually—Charlie, Dexter, and Bobby—then shut his eyes, clasping his hands over his face. He let out a sigh and his shoulders slumped with the weight of his grief. Amanda’s death sapped the life straight out of him.
“What’s wrong with you Graham?” Charlie shouted out of fear. “You could have drowned out there? Talk to me.”
“Stop it, Charlie,” Dexter cut in. “I know you’re still hurting,” he said, turning to Graham. “It’s gonna take some time, but you hang in there buddy. It’ll be all right after awhile.”
“Manda, Manda, Manda,” Graham moaned over and over again, his tears flowing like a busted fire hydrant. He fell to his knees, shaking his head, unashamed of his outburst. Life didn’t seem worth living now that Amanda was gone. Charlie held onto him. His crying was so uncontrollable that his body shook violently as if he had been injected with a thousand volts of electricity.
“It’s gonna be all right, man.” Charlie hugged and squeezed his best friend. “If I could, I’d bring Amanda back, but that is not humanly possible. I loved Amanda, too. I wish I could somehow drain the pain from you, but for now, you’ll have to trust that I’ll be there for you.”
“I can’t go on without my beloved Amanda,” Graham wailed.
Charlie, Dexter, and Bobby sat down on the bank next to Graham and wiped tears away from their own eyes.