All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
This book is dedicated to
Every man, woman, or child who
has been a victim of a sexual assault
As always, Praises Be To God. I firmly believe the scripture that says, “
In all ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy path
.” Father, thank you for showing me the way.
I would like to say to my mothers, Mary, Jean, Bertha, my father, I.H., and my father-in-law, George, thank you for encouraging and loving me.
My daughters, Mikeisha and Genesse, I love you more than you'll ever know.
Sisters: Patrice, Sabrina, Adrienne, Donna, Catherine, and Rolanda, and brothers: Jackie, Marc, Darryl, Wayne, Michael, and Rodney; my sisters and brothers-in-law, along with my nieces and nephews, thank you for keeping me grounded. I love you, family!
Patrice, my sister, thank you for stepping in as my VP of Marketing. Your help is invaluable. Kelley, thanks for your help with my innumerable e-mails.
Raw Sistaz Book Club, APOOO Book Club (Yasmin), ARC Book Club (Locksie), OOSA Book Club, Delta Reviewer (Monique), Apex Reviews (Genevieve), Urban Reviews (Radiah), Shades of Romance Magazine (LaShaunda), Words of Inspiration Book Club (Sharon), The Literary World (Lauretta). Eveline, Nikki, Keisha, Angie, Rolanda, and Tavares for reading and reviewing for me before my books hit the shelves. I greatly appreciate your feedback.
Brooks, thank you for hooking up my newsletter. I love it, and so do my subscribers. And Tyora, thank you for setting up my blog tour and for your many e-mails full of pertinent information.
Shquestra, I'd like to send special thanks your way for sharing with me. Your information was very useful.
A special shout-out to all of the book clubs who have read and posted reviews for me, especially The Renaissance Men's Book Club of Memphis, TN. I had an enjoyable telephone meeting with your club. Oops, I can't forget the Women Of Excellence Book Club of Joliet, IL. You really know how to hook a sista up when it comes to a meal. I'd like to thank the many bookstores who have invited me multiple times to sign at your stores. I'd like to give a shout-out to my MySpace friends. You are the best. You leave such wonderful comments on my page, which uplifts my spirit.
Kudos to Constance Shabazz of Books Ink, and Glenn Murray of 220 Communications. It seems like you've provided me with an opportunity to promote my books every step of the way, starting with my first one.
Tee, Joylynn, and Kathleen, you all are the best! I thank God for allowing our paths to cross. It was fate.
My sista/girlfriends; Kelley, Cynthia D., Ama-nia, Mina, and Fran Y., thank you for always calling or e-mailing me with encouragement, especially when I need it. Pat, a friend from the past, I'm glad we've reconnected.
To the libraries in and around the Chicago land area and afar, thank you for inviting me to participate in your Author Fairs.
My co-workers, neighbors, and friends, especially in the Bolingbrook area, thank you for supporting a sister, book-by-book.
I'd like to thank every reader who has purchased any of my books over the years. I don't know where I'd be without you. If I've forgotten anyone, please forgive me.
Fred, what can I say except we make an excellent team! Please continue to love and support me.
Monet Caldwell inhaled loudly, held her breath, exhaled, then drew a deep cleansing breath. She smiled as she remembered her Lamaze exercises, and felt she was doing fine, even without her coach. Then her pretty smile faded abruptly because her situation at home, merely co-existing with her husband, Marcus, was not what she envisioned as a new bride twenty years ago when she imagined giving birth to their first child.
The gorgeous, petite, five feet two, formerly size five, olive skin woman, with a mop of reddish blond curly hair, was upstairs in her bedroom sitting on the chaise lounge timing her contractions, while her dog, Mitzi, stood loyally at her feet. The only sound in the room was the ticking of a clock sitting on an oval table next to the chaise.
Monet's overnight suitcase sat upright next to the closet door. As she waited for the next contraction, her eyes roamed around the burgundy and gold striped bedroom. Matching borders were at the top of the walls inside the attached bathroom. Monet missed Marcus so much that her eyes became flooded with tears. She knew if she called him, he would come to her aid. But their marriage had been in a state of flux during her entire pregnancy, and somewhere deep within her soul, Monet wanted Marcus to come to her of his own volition.
A contraction poked Monet so hard that she moaned. She put one hand around her abdomen and massaged her temple with the other one. Mitzi stood at attention, her tongue waging as she cocked her head to the side, watching her mistress.
Monet picked up her mother's Bible, which was lying next to her on the chaise. She pressed the book next to her heart and prayed silently.
You told us that life wouldn't be easy, Lord, but I never imagined anything like this happening in my life
. She sighed. “Lord, keep me and my baby in your kind, loving arms. I know through your grace that we will both be fine. And when my labor of love has passed, I'll shout out your glory for bringing me through another valley along my journey of life. Because only you and Marcus know how long and hard I've prayed for a baby,” she said aloud.
The contraction passed, and Monet couldn't keep a tiny grin off her face at the thought of her burly, chocolate colored bear of a husband. At six feet in height, his closely shorn hair was graying distinguishably at the temples. Much to Monet's delight, her handsome husband's face still took her breath away. Marcus was employed as a police detective. Where he'd begun serving as a member of Chicago's finest shortly after the couple migrated to Chicago from a small town in Alabama over twenty years ago as newlyweds.
Forty-two-year-old Monet had two brothers, and forty-five-year-old Marcus had an older sister who lived in Texas. His parents were deceased. Monet's mother died instantly in a freak bus accident. The driver lost control of the vehicle and plowed into pedestrians crossing the street in the crosswalk. The accident occurred five years ago. After her mother's death, Monet's unmarried twin brothers, Derek and Duane, three years her junior, moved to Chicago from Alabama to be closer to their sibling. Monet's father had deserted the family when she was four years old. She had only fuzzy memories of the man she called Daddy.
Monet and Marcus met in middle school and became high school sweethearts. After Monet's graduation, she attended a small private college in Alabama and obtained a nursing degree. Her specialty was that of a neonatal nurse. The staff often said she had the
The Neonatal Care Unit boasted a high survival rate for its newborns. Many a night, if a parent wasn't at the hospital to see their child, Monet could be found providing the infant with a dose of TLC.
After graduating high school, Marcus joined the army where he served as a military police officer. His stint in the army ended when Monet graduated from college.
Monet glanced at the clock on the nightstand; her contractions were close to twenty minutes apart. Her obstetrician, Dr. Armstrong, had instructed her to come to the hospital when the contractions were ten to fifteen minutes apart. For the most part, Monet had enjoyed an uneventful pregnancy, even though she had been categorized as a high risk patient due to her age.
Mitzi barked sharply as Monet stood up, waddled over and picked up her overnight bag. She clutched the suitcase in her hand and dropped her cell phone into the pocket of her maternity jeans. She clutched the banister tightly as she walked slowly down the stairs. Mitzi trotted beside her.
Then a contraction hit her so hard that she felt like someone had punched her in the back. She momentarily let go of the banister, dropped the suitcase, and fell forward. Like a ballerina, she managed to turn sideways. She tried to regain her balance as she slid down four stairs. Mitzi began barking loudly. Monet moaned as her water broke. She managed to pull her cell phone out of her pocket and dial 911.
Monet mumbled, “I need help. I'm in labor, and I fell down the stairs. Please send someone to help me.” Then she passed out.