Read Her Little Black Book Online

Authors: Brenda Jackson

Her Little Black Book

BOOK: Her Little Black Book
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Courtney's eyes widened just seconds before they blinked. April Fools' Day had been last week. Were her parents playing a belated joke on her?
When they had invited her to dinner, she'd expected them to announce that they'd finally decided to call it quits and get a divorce—not that they would be trying to save their marriage for the umpteenth time.
Her jaw tensed when she recalled how long her parents had been married:
too long
. They got married when Courtney's mother had become pregnant with her during her last year of college, thirty years ago, and it seemed her parents had done nothing but make each other's lives miserable ever since.
Her father frowned at her stunned expression and said, “Well, you certainly don't seem happy about it.”
She decided to give him an honest answer. “I'm not. In fact, I'd think the two of you would count your losses and move on—in separate directions. Why would you continue to make each other miserable?”
“That won't happen again,” said her mother.
Courtney merely rolled her eyes. That's what her mother had said the last time and the time before that—and the time before that. But the infidelity uppermost in their minds was from last year, only a month after Barbara had found out that one of her husband's students at the university was pregnant by him.
How many women was that now? Two different women pregnant in an eight-year period—when would her mother wake up and decide she'd had enough and refuse to help Ronald Andrews meet his child support payments to his illegitimate children? Her mother deserved so much better, but her father wasn't stupid. He'd realized a long time ago that his wife was more an asset to him than a liability.
Courtney sighed, picked up her cup of tea, and took a sip. Ronald Andrews was one of those men who didn't know the meaning of keeping his pants zipped. It simply never occurred to him that every time he pulled out his pecker to use on someone other than his wife he was committing adultery. And her gullible mother seemed too complacent to remind him of that fact, as well.
Most of the time.
There was that time Barbara had actually caught him in bed with another woman. A Paula somebody. Courtney had come home from junior high school and found all the
dinner dishes broken, most of the furniture smashed, and her father's clothes littering the front lawn. Needless to say, her mother eventually took him back and he never learned his lesson.
“And why won't it happen again?” she asked, wondering if this time around they would give her a different answer.
Her mother smiled, and her father grinned before responding. “We're getting help.”
Courtney arched a brow. “What kind of help?”
It was her mother who answered next. “From a therapist.”
“You've done that before,” she couldn't help but remind them.
Her mother nodded, still smiling. “Yes, but that last man only took our money. This guy will do a better job.”
Not unless he's a miracle worker
, Courtney thought. Maybe she was the one who needed to see a therapist … . What she
really
needed to do was leave before her parents gave her a monumental headache. She glanced at her watch. “I got to go,” she said, sliding her chair back from the table.
“Where are you going? You just got here.”
It never failed: whenever Courtney got ready to leave, the questions would start. She was twenty-nine, and they were still trying to keep tabs on their only child. She was her mother's only child, that is. No telling how many more her father could lay claim to.
“I told Sonya I would stop by to see if there's anything she needs help with before next Saturday. You haven't
forgotten her wedding next weekend? The two of you are planning to attend, aren't you?”
Ronald Andrews shrugged wide shoulders. “I guess we'll be there, since it seems she's serious about marrying
that
man. I'm sure if she had looked hard enough, she could have found a nice man in her own race to marry.”
Courtney rolled her eyes again. She knew her parents weren't too keen at the notion of their niece in an interracial marriage. Well, as far as Courtney was concerned, Mike Kelly was a hunk as well as a great catch. Since meeting him, Sonya had wasted too much time before accepting that true love was color-blind. And it was true love. Courtney felt it each and every time she saw Sonya and Mike together. And it was also scorching-hot love. You couldn't help but feel the heat they generated whenever they were in the same room.
“But then
you
haven't found one, so it might not be so easy after all.”
Courtney's father's comment cut into her thoughts. “I haven't found what?”
“A man to marry. A black man.”
She frowned. “I wasn't aware I was supposed to be looking.”
“Of course you're looking,” her mother jumped in to say. “You'll be thirty on your next birthday, and need I remind you that's only a few months away. You need a husband. Ron and I need grandkids.”
Courtney started to say it would be just her luck to screw up and get someone like her father—and decided not to even bother. He would take that remark as a
compliment. It was a good thing she didn't believe all men were like him and her uncle Joe Morrison, Sonya's dad. At least her aunt Peggy had had the good sense to finally get over Uncle Joe and move on, even if it had taken her a while to do so. She had almost driven Sonya batty in the process. Joe had destroyed his marriage of over thirty years, as well as his wife's self-esteem, when he had asked her for a divorce to marry a woman thirty-four years his junior—a woman younger than his own daughter.
“So what do you think of your mother's and my plans to improve our marriage?”
“I told you what I thought, Dad. I would feel differently if I truly thought the two of you intended to make a change, but I have no reason to think that you will.”
Her mother lifted her chin stubbornly and said, “This time we're going to prove you wrong, Courtney.”
She smiled sadly at them. “It would mean a lot to me if you did.”
Courtney arrived at Sonya's home with a gigantic headache. Her cousin opened the door, took one look at her, and arched a concerned brow. Then she pulled her into the house and closed the door behind her.
“Another migraine?” Sonya asked, reaching out and gently pressing her fingertips to Courtney's temples.
“Yes.”
“Brought on by what?”
“Another episode of Ron and Barbara Andrews trying to drive me nuts,” Courtney said.
Sonya released an agitated breath. “What are those two up to now?”
“They want to make their marriage work—like such a thing can actually happen,” Courtney answered, tossing her purse on the sofa in disgust. “I can't believe Mom continues to let Dad use her. If that's love, then it's abusive love.”
“Calm down. If you keep this up, your head will only hurt worse. You can't let what your parents do get to you. Trust me, I found that out the hard way.”
“I know you're right, but I'm tired of seeing them do each other in.”
Sonya grabbed her hand. “Come on into the kitchen with me. I got just the thing for you.”
Courtney allowed herself to be dragged off. “And what's that?”
“Butter pecan ice cream. Our favorite. I was about to eat a bowl, so now you can join me.”
When they reached the kitchen, Courtney shook her head and grinned. “How can you indulge in a bowl of ice cream less than a week before your wedding? Aren't you afraid of gaining weight and that you won't be able to fit into your dress?”
“No. Any excess calories I take in, I'll burn off later tonight with Mike.”
Courtney laughed. “You're incorrigible.”
Sonya grinned as she pulled the carton of ice cream from the freezer. “Can't help it when it comes to Mike. He's the best there is, in or out of bed; however, I like our bedtime activities the best.”
Courtney leaned against the counter and watched as Sonya filled two bowls. Her cousin stood five-nine, with medium brown skin, features that would make any man take a second look, a short and sassy haircut that emphasized her sophistication, and eyes so dark they almost looked black, not to mention a shapely figure. Courtney had always thought Sonya was simply beautiful. And despite a five-year difference in their ages, the two had always been close. Sonya had been the big sister Courtney had never had, and she'd always been proud of her. Sonya had always been wild and uninhibited; at least, that had always been Barbara Andrews's definition of her sister's only child. But to Courtney, her cousin's love-them-and-leave-them lifestyle had been intriguing, made her proud there was a woman who could dish it out just like a man could. Sonya had claimed there was no man alive who could make an honest woman out of her. At least that was the song she'd been singing before Mike entered the picture.
“Hey, go easy on my bowl,” Courtney said when she saw how much ice cream Sonya was putting into it. “Unlike you, I don't have a Mike to help me work off any calories later, and I need to be able to fit into my bridesmaid dress.”
Sonya laughed as she slid the bowl filled with ice cream toward Courtney. “Don't complain to me if you don't have a man. You and I both know why. You're too cautious; afraid you'll end up with someone like Uncle Ron or even worse, someone like my dad. Growing up watching your parents' bad marriage wasn't easy, and seeing what Dad did to
Mom is what has kept you from dating. Mom and Dad are the reason you've been so standoffish when it comes to getting serious about a man. You need to change that.”
“Maybe,” she said, knowing what Sonya said was true, although she never wanted to truly admit it. But turning thirty without a man had her analyzing the reason why. At the head of the list was the fact that, over the years, she
had
developed a cautious side when it came to love.
“I would date more,” Courtney said, not even believing it herself, “but I'm too involved in my work to date. I'm trying to move up in my career.”
Sonya waved off her words, not accepting her excuse. “No matter how hard I worked, I still made time for a social life. A little bump and grind every now and then takes the edge off. The longest period of time I went without sex was when I started dating Mike. He was determined to make me beg for it.”
Courtney licked a scoop of ice cream off her spoon before asking, “And did you beg for it?”
Sonya smiled sheepishly. “Like a shameless hussy. I thought I was all savvy and would show him a trick or two, but he showed me that he already knew all the tricks in the book. The man laid it on too strong, and he was all smooth about it.”
Courtney believed her. Sonya was too much of a woman, one who liked being in control. For her to give up that control to a man, that man would have had to make one hell of an impact on her senses as well as her body, but especially her senses. Over the years, her cousin had dated a number of men, but Sonya had never let one get under
her skin. In fact, she went out of her way to make sure she would get under theirs with no plans of sticking around. And although more than one man had tried taming her reckless and elusive heart, each had failed miserably. “I'm glad you finally decided that race wasn't an issue and gave Mike a chance.”
“I'm glad I did, too, although God knows I tried to fight it. I didn't want to get involved in an interracial affair, but I couldn't help myself. For the first time in my life, I began craving vanilla with a passion, wanted to lap it up with everything I had.”
Courtney nodded. She knew the story of how Sonya had gone to the St. Laurent Hotel to confront Jesse Devereau about how he'd been treating Sonya's best friend from high school, Carla Osborne. Jesse had just found out that Carla gave birth to his son two years earlier and never told him about it, so he flew into town intent on making trouble for Carla. Needless to say, when Sonya confronted Jesse that day, she also confronted Jesse's best friend Mike, since she had interrupted them dining together.
According to Sonya, from the moment Mike laid his soulful blue eyes on her, it had been instant attraction, the hot and steamy kind. Mike was tall, hard, and had a body that would make any woman drool, so for the first time in her life, she'd wanted to find out if it was true that blonds had more fun. Sonya wanted to put Mike's smooth mouth and glib tongue to work doing something other than defending his best friend's actions.
Sonya and Mike formed a pact to straighten things out between Jesse and Carla, and their efforts eventually
worked. The two were now happily married, and since Sonya and Mike were godparents to Jesse and Carla's son Craig, they began spending a lot of time with each other.
According to Sonya, at some point, she and Mike decided to stop fighting whatever was keeping them at arm's length and give in to their attraction and make things work. And they had. There was no doubt in Courtney's mind that her cousin had found her soul mate.
BOOK: Her Little Black Book
3.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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