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Authors: Darren Coleman

A Taste of Honey (20 page)

One Year Later

FROM HONEY TO HAILEY

O
n a lovely spring morning I delivered a beautiful and healthy, seven-pound four-ounce baby boy. I named him Khalil after his father. The only sad thing about the birth of my child was that I was forced to deliver him alone in a small town in West Virginia. It was just one of those things. After a tear in the lining of my uterus, I’d begun bleeding heavily and had been transported from Alderson Federal Prison Camp to Greenbrier Valley Medical Center.

Fortunately, I hadn’t been charged for Priest’s death, but the people at Mark-One International did their best to have me charged with blackmail. It turned out that they were paper gangsters, because the only muscle they sent after me was their lawyers. They also seemed reluctant to reveal which account they’d paid me from. I suspected that they had done a few shady things as well, because they quickly let the issue go. After wasting time and money, they found out that they had no way of tracking the money I’d received, finding it, or retrieving it. They’d wired the money to an account that no longer existed,
even in Antigua, where it had been formed. At the direction of my banker on the island, I’d done like the rest of the white-collar criminals and moved the money thirty times across four continents.

I wound up taking a plea to tax evasion, since I admitted to accepting hush money that I didn’t report. I laughed at the one-hundred-thousand-dollar fine, but I didn’t laugh at the one-year sentence I received. Nor did I find anything funny about having to go back to “Camp Cupcake,” as the women’s prison was called, while my baby went home with his father.

Khalil survived the bullets that Priest fired into him and he stood by my side every day after that. He also put his career on hold to take care of the baby while he waited for me to come home.

We sold the house in Annapolis after the shooting, of course. Believe it or not, people lined up to buy the house that Priest Alexander died in. I loved Khalil more each day as he would come to West Virginia and stay for a few days at a time.

Everything seemed to work out beautifully as he was able to persuade Frannie to move temporarily to Fort Washington, into our new house. Frannie and Khalil were like new, as she got used to being a grandmother.

In federal prison, the best anyone does with early release is doing eighty percent of whatever they’re sentenced to. With this in mind I counted down the days. Even in the worst case I’d be home by Christmas. Of course I was hoping for September.

As was customary, Khalil and I were on the phone. “So what’s he doing?”

“He’s about to fall asleep, it looks like. Before that he was eating and in a little while he’ll be taking a crap in his Pamper. That’s all he does.” Khalil laughed.

“I would do anything to be there to change one of those. To be able to help you.”

“You will soon.”

My heart ached for my man and my baby. “I love you. I love you both so much,” I said with tears in my eyes, as usual. I talked to Khalil every day and every day I cried. Next he did the usual and prepared to put the phone to the baby’s ear.

“Go ahead baby and sing to him.” As he placed the phone to K.J.’s ear, I began singing the words to an old-school song that one of the inmates had taught me, called “Sukiyaki”:

If only you were here
,

you’d wash away my tears
.

Khalil said, “Keep singing. He’s smiling.”

It was a rough beginning for our son, having to break out of jail just to bust out of his mother’s womb. But even though it’d started like this, I swore K.J. would have everything that both his father and I didn’t. I promised to myself. Most important, he’d have love and he’d be protected.

Even though I wasn’t there with him every day, I gave all that I could, and that would have to hold him over until I made it home. I didn’t stop singing for three or four minutes. By the time I stopped, Khalil whispered, “He’s asleep, Honey. I’m going to go put him in the crib.”

“Okay.”

“Khalil,” I said in a whisper. “Thank you for giving me another
chance. Thank you for saving my life. You might not know it, but you save my life every single day.”

“You’re welcome, Hailey.”

We hung up and I went to my bunk, where I drifted off to sleep for the first time daring to dream about a happy ending.

First I want to thank my readers and fans, old and new. Your support and e-mails mean the world to me. I don’t know about other authors, but I am truly humbled by all the love.

Next I want to thank the entire Amistad staff, especially Dawn Davis and Christina Morgan, for your patience and dedication. Also, Gilda Squire, Laura Klynstra, Bryan Christian, Michael Morrison, and all the other members of the Harper family who helped bring my books to fruition.

A few special friends have been instrumental in all of my projects. First off, Rockelle Henderson; I’ll miss you as a colleague but I’ll have you as a friend for life. You have been a godsend from day one. Kelli Martin, you never forget your first…editor. Again, Joy King, love you for life. Enid Pinner, Chad Cunningham, Derek Lowe, Sheryl Hicks, test readers from the past, I credit you with helping me get to the present. Gina Blake, thanks
for your help and for all the good energy. You popped into my life just when I needed you. Stick around.

To all my friends, family, and readers who’ve lent a hand in promoting my work, I thank you. If I named you all, the acknowledgments would be longer than the book. Please…you know who you are. Some of you I can’t get anything done without: Tressa Smallwood, Yolanda Johnson, Lynn Thomas, Tamara Cooke, and Tracye Stafford. Shaka, get ready for one more run! A heartfelt thanks to DeWright Johnson Jr. We may have lost the connection, but the love remains. I always hear you, even when you think I don’t. I’ll be back, but until then, I wish you nothing but the best. To my man, Eyone Williams, just keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll get where you’re trying to go. Dannette Majette, so full of energy, you are one of a kind. Much success to you.

To Karibu Books, my family and my home from the very beginning, thank you for the support. Shout out to my special deejays, Justine Love and Todd B on WPGC. Also much love to Michel Wright and Natalie Case. Thanks to all the black-owned bookstores fighting the good fight across the nation. I also have to acknowledge the African-American buyers at the chains, who have supported me from day one. At the top of the list, Sean Bentley, thank you.

As always, I have to thank my mother for her support and help with my most precious commodity, my son. Thanks for letting me get those sixteen-hour days in. I needed them.

Although this book is not an exercise in my spirituality as far as the content goes, still, I must thank God for the air I breathe, this gift of life, and allowing me to complete this task. Many
people will write me and tell me that they love my work or that they think I’m great—not being conceited, just being real. For those thoughts I truly am thankful, but I’ll take no glory for the stories I create, this career, or for even becoming published. My life has been just as much a miracle as a work in progress. I am nothing without HIM.

1. Was there any excuse for Honey’s transformation or behavior?

2. Both Honey and Khalil faced tragic circumstances during their critical teen years, but unquestionably Khalil fought through his better. Why do you think this is so?

3. Do you think that people use their baggage as an excuse to do what it is that they really want to do all the time?

4. Is it possible that life deals certain people hands that they have no control over, and when that happens is it okay to do what you need to in order to survive?

5. How realistic do you think it is that people in Priest’s position have secrets like his?

6. Do you think that Honey was justified in any of the things she did to retaliate against people who she felt wronged her?

7. What was it about Honey that caused Khalil to fall so hard for her? Was it sex, the challenge, or could they have been soul mates?

8. What is your understanding, if any, of the impact of mo
lestation or engaging in sex at too young of an age on the mental development of young men? Do you think that Khalil showed the effects of this?

9. What percentage of men do you believe will engage in sex for hire?

10. As a woman, do you feel that a man owes a woman anything—monetary, material, or commitment-wise—for engaging in a consensual experience?

11. What do you think was the author’s purpose for writing this?

12. Who was your favorite character? Least favorite?

13. What did you enjoy most or least about the book?

14. Ultimately, do you think a man could really forgive a woman with a past if it was sordid?

About the Author

H
ONEY
H
EIGHT
learned early in life that her beauty and bedroom prowess are powerful, almost beyond her control. Forced by events that leave her to fend for herself as a teenager, she evolves into a money—hungry vixen as an adult. Using her physical attributes to lead a suspect lifestyle, Honey treats men like toys—good for a while, but always disposable.

That is until she meets handsome and charismatic Khalil Graves, an up—and-coming filmmaker who’s desperately trying to escape the demons of his painful childhood. Already engaged, Khalil can’t seem to shake his attraction to Honey. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s a pawn in Honey’s plan for revenge.

Honey’s attempt at vengeance quickly unravels, complicated by her possible involvement in a murder and a devious plot to score a payday lucrative enough to free her from her unsavory lifestyle.

In
A Taste of Honey,
Essence bestselling author Darren Coleman delivers another sizzling, drama-filled tale that is sure to take his reputation for delivering page-turners to another level.

Visit www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your favorite HarperCollins author.

ALSO BY DARREN COLEMAN

Before I Let Go

Don’t Ever Wonder

Do or Die

Ladies Listen Up

Cover photograph © Image Source / Getty Images

This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

A TASTE OF HONEY
. Copyright © 2007 by Darren Coleman. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.

ePub edition July 2007 ISBN 9780061755224

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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