Authors: Imari Jade
Booby Trapped and Baby Proofed
By Imari Jade
Copyright © March 2012, Imari Jade
Cover art by For The Muses Design © March 2012
This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious or used fictitiously. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.
Sugar and Spice Press
North Carolina, USA
“I’m sorry, Mr. Calloway, but your wife just died,” the doctor at the Hospice Center told Harrison.
Harrison’s body trembled with despair, but Marines didn’t cry or show such emotions in public. “Did she suffer?”
The kindly-looking doctor shook his head. “No, we kept her comfortable until the end.”
By comfortable he meant sedated with morphine. “Can I see her?”
The doctor nodded. “Right this way.” He led Harrison out of the family waiting room in of the Daytona Beach Medical Facility and down a long hallway. The doctor opened a white door and Harrison followed him inside the room.
His precious wife of twenty-two years lay on a hospital bed draped in a sheet.
Harrison walked over to the bed and looked down at Olivia’s still form. He barely recognized her. The breast cancer had taken a toll on her once vibrant body. Olivia had lost a lot of weight and she looked gaunt. All her beautiful long blond hair was gone from the chemo and radiation treatments. Olivia had refused to wear a wig the second time her hair fell out. “It’s too damn hot,” she’d told him.
Harrison smiled at the memory. Hopefully, she’d gone on to a better place now that the suffering was over. He reached out and touched her hand. It felt cool to the touch and hadn’t started to harden. His body shuddered as he tried to hold back the sudden rush of emotions.
Goodbye, baby. I love you
Harrison turned on his heels and the doctor led him down the hall to another room to complete some paperwork. After he filled out all the necessary forms to release Olivia’s body to the mortician, Harrison left the facility, got into his rental car, and drove to his sister-in-law Trudy to give her the bad news.
Trudy had cried when she learned of her sister’s demise. Harrison and Trudy’s husband Jeb had tried their best to console her. Trudy had been checked by a doctor for cancer after Olivia got the grim news, but so far, she was cancer free.
“What is Ethan going to do without a mother?” Trudy asked through her tears.
What indeed? Harrison wondered of his almost one year old son. Olivia had refused the chemo and radiation treatments until after his birth. He didn’t know if the decision had shortened her life span, but none of that mattered now. His main concern was for their son with the beautiful blond hair and big blue eyes. Ethan lay in his baby seat sleeping, peacefully unaware that his life had just changed. “I’ll do my best to raise him,” Harrison said.
“But you’re still in the Marine Corps,” Jeb said. “How are you going to take care of an infant?”
True, he still had six months on his contract before he could retire. But what other option did he have? He didn’t have any living relatives, and Trudy and Jeb were the only family they had. But, Ethan was his son.
“Let him stay here with us until you retire,” Trudy suggested once she stopped crying.
“I can’t allow you to do that,” Harrison said. “You’ve done enough already and Ethan’s my responsibility.”
“You and Ethan are family, Hawk,” Trudy said, calling him by his nickname. “And you have an obligation to our country. Please leave Ethan with us until you retire. That way you can complete your duty without worry.”
Harrison nodded, knowing it was the logical thing to do, even though it broke his heart that he couldn’t be there for his son. He looked down at the sleeping infant again. “Thank you,” he said. He reached down and touched Ethan’s little hand.
Ethan wrapped his tiny fingers around Harrison’s and squeezed as if telling him that everything was going to be okay.
“I’ll come back for you,” Harrison told the sleeping child. “I promise.”
Ethan moved in his sleep and smiled.
Harrison took one last look at the Cherry Point Military Facility that had been his home for the last three years. Now it was nothing but a memory and he was a civilian. The only good thing was that he didn’t have to don the khaki and green uniform ever again as he had five days a week and some weekends for the last twenty-two years. He continued driving through the neighborhood, watching some of younger Marines running during the morning physical training. He wouldn’t miss that either. His meager possessions sat in the back seat of the car and in the trunk. The furniture from the house he and Olivia had once owned sat in storage waiting his arrival. He had been lucky enough to purchase a house in the same neighborhood where he’d grown up, not too far from the beach that he loved, and close to Trudy and Jeb who were expecting their first child. He smiled. At least Ethan would have someone near his age to play and grow up with.
Harrison drove through the North Carolina streets until he reached the highway. The trip home would take approximately three days, and he hadn’t gone back since Olivia’s funeral. The first thing he planned to do once he arrived in Daytona Beach was to stop at the cemetery and pay his respects before going to a hotel for the night. His was to meet with his realtor and best friend the next day at the house in time for the moving company to arrive with the furniture. And the next day, he’d pick up his two-year-old son and begin their life together.
Harrison finished his first day of travel without a problem, only stopping for food and to use the toilet. Once or twice he stopped just to stretch his legs. He traveled a lot during his military career both in and out of the Continental United States. Sometimes he didn’t have a choice in where he went, but he always enjoyed seeing new places. That was one of the reasons he had joined the Marine Corps. For twenty-two years, they’d told him when to eat, sleep, and piss. Now he was completely on his own and it terrified the shit out of him. He’d been in the military since he turned eighteen and now at forty, he still had to work. Fortunately, he’d saved some money over the years and was able to buy a martial arts dojo that once belonged to the same owner of the house he’d purchased. Mr. Moto, a kindly Japanese man, had taught Harrison how to defend himself. It had always been Harrison’s dream to own a dojo and to teach martial arts and self-defense. But he still had one little problem. He hadn’t figured out what he was going to do with Ethan while he worked.
He supposed he could just drop him off with Trudy, but that didn’t seem fair. So the only other alternative was to enroll Ethan in a day care facility. Hopefully, he could find one in the neighborhood that could accommodate them.
Harrison drove into the parking lot of a hotel where he’d registered to stay for the first night. He grabbed his suitcase from the back seat and went inside to register. He found the room adequate, took a shower, and then went to bed tired and mentally drained.
Ooh, who is that?
Angel Robbins wondered as she watched a man step out of a car behind a moving van next door. She recognized the other man he was with him as Everett Lescene, the man who had sold her and Henry their home. Angel stooped to get her newspaper, pretending not to check him out.
He’s about six feet tall and beefy like a wrestler
The short blond hair is an added plus
I wonder what color his eyes are. I hope they’re blue. I have a thing for blue-eyed beefcake. Hope he’s my new neighbor
The house on the left side of hers had been vacant for some time now. The previous owner, Mr. Moto, had died and he didn’t have any relatives to take over the house, so it went up for sale along with a dojo. She wondered if the man had purchased the dojo as well. Most of the neighborhood kids had taken lessons with Mr. Moto. She gave him one last look, walked up her stairs, and sat down on the porch swing to read her newspaper and enjoy her first cup of coffee.
“Who is that?” Harrison asked Everett Lescene, his childhood friend and realtor.
Everett looked over and smirked. “That would be Angel Robbins. She owns a child care center in the neighborhood and has been living here about six years.” Both men’s head tilted to the left when Angel bent down to pick up her newspaper. And they straightened back up when she stood up.
“Is she married?” Harrison asked, not taking his eyes off Angel’s long, shapely brown legs.
“No, she a widow,” Everett answered. “Her husband died a little over a year ago.”
“None,” Everett answered again. “Why?”
“I’m just asking,” Harrison answered, taking his gaze off the African American beauty.
Everett chuckled. “Liar. You’re interested in a little jungle fever.”
Harrison shrugged. “It would be nice, but I don’t have time for a relationship at the moment.”
“She’s not dating anyone,” Everett told him.
“How do you know so much about her?”
“Because my son Tyrone is enrolled in her day care and we attend the same Baptist church.”
Harrison looked over toward his new neighbor. His grandmother often told him that the best women could be found in church. “One more question,” Harrison said. “And this is typically from a male’s point of view…real or fake?”
“One hundred percent real,” Everett answered without thinking. “My wife does her hair and women talk. She’s one hundred percent real from her head down to her toes.”
, Harrison thought as he peeped over to at that jet black mane of hair on Angel’s head. He’d like to run his fingers through that. Of course, other lewd and lascivious images flashed into his mind. The moving men disturbed his fantasy. “We better get in the house before they put my furniture on the sidewalk and drive off.”
It was late morning when the movers finished unloading the furniture. Everett helped him unpack and put the beds together. A little later, they went grocery shopping and then Everett left to pick up his son from the day care, leaving Harrison. After he bathed and changed clothes, Harrison got back into his car and drove to a toy store to pick up a few things for Ethan who would be joining him tomorrow in their new home. He also picked up a book on child rearing. Harrison learned early in life to just pick up a book and read if he needed to find out anything. And he needed to know more on how to raise a child if he wanted to do right by Ethan. He’d picked up on a couple of things since Olivia’s death, mostly the basics. But he suspected that becoming a more efficient parent had more to do with trial and error.
Harrison turned on the television for company once he got home, and stood in the kitchen trying to figure out what he wanted to prepare for dinner. The door bell rang a few minutes later.
Who can that be? Maybe Everett forgot something
. Harrison left the kitchen, walked to the front of the house, and opened the door. His beautiful afro-wearing neighbor stood on the other side wearing a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and a pair of thong sandals. It didn’t seem to bother her that it was still March and the air still had a bit of a chill on it. “Yes, may I help you?”
“Good evening. My name is Angel Robbins. I am your next door neighbor.” She pushed a covered casserole bowl at him. “I thought you might be hungry after all that moving.”
Be still my heart
. Angel was even lovelier close up. She had huge brown eyes, a makeup-free face, and full lips. Harrison accepted the casserole. “Well, thank you, Ms. Robbins. This is mighty neighborly of you. My name is Harrison Calloway and I was just in the kitchen trying to figure out what I felt like eating. Won’t you join me?”
Please say yes
. She was the first woman he’d been interested in since Olivia died.
“I don’t want to impose,” Angel said shyly. “You must be tired.”
Harrison smiled at her. “You won’t be imposing at all.” He stepped aside and allowed her to enter, and then he closed the door. “The kitchen is right this way.”
Angel followed him. “The contractors did a good job on the place. I hardly recognize it.”
Harrison placed the casserole on the counter. “You knew the previous owner?”
Angel nodded, looking around the kitchen. “Mr. Moto was a nice Japanese gentleman who taught martial arts to the neighborhood kids. He and I often shared a cup of tea after I moved in next door.”
“I remember him,” Harrison said. “He taught me martial arts when I was a kid.”
“Are you from around here?” Angel asked.
Harrison nodded. “Yes, I grew up just a couple of blocks down the street, but I haven’t lived in Daytona Beach for a while. I’ve been in the Marine Corps.”
She smirked. “That would explain all the Marine Corps memorabilia on the walls.” She paused. “My late husband was a Marine. He was killed in Afghanistan a little over a year and a half ago.”