Authors: Renee Daniel Flagler
Mountain High, Valley Low
“A riveting tale about meeting the right person.”
The New York Amsterdam News
“Miss-Guided is a sensational read.”
Crystal Lacey Winslow, author of Essence Bestsellers, Life, Love & Loneliness and The Criss Cross
Forthcoming Novels by Renee Daniel Flagler
The House Guest
Always the Mistress
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places, events or locales are strictly coincidental and intended to provide the fiction work with a sense of authenticity.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, except for brief quotations embodied in articles or reviews. Noncompliance is illegal and punishable by law.
ISBN 13: 978-09760466-2-2
Library of Congress Control Number: 2007906091 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Flagler, Renee Daniel
In Her Mind:
a novel by Renee Daniel Flagler 1. African American Women—Fiction
2. Contemporary Fiction—Fiction
3. Women’s Fiction—Fiction
Published in the United States of America. Published by Aspicomm Books, an imprint of Aspicomm Media, Inc., Baldwin, NY. Printed in the United States of America.
First and foremost, Heavenly Father, thank you for your favor, grace, and mercy. Thank you for keeping me in your continual blessings, in spite of myself. Thank you for making me victorious and for your greatness.
Special thanks to my family and friends for sustaining me and supporting me always: Mom, Dad, Les, Cora, Valorie, Patricia, Eileen, Rodney, LaShawn, Jereema, Javon, Richae, Nicole, Richelle, Milan, Laila, Dana, Lorie, Beige, Tamara Golston Greene, Rhonda Davis, and the list goes on. If I didn’t name you, insert your name here _____! Special thanks go out to Rodney Mitchell and Randall Amey for their assistance in helping me breathe life into this work. Rhonda, it’s finally here!
To my editor, Sonja Brown, thank you for giving me your best. To Brian Walker, a special thanks to you, for your divine designs and for working with me no matter what!
Additional special thanks to Aziz Gueye Adetimirim for your selflessness, Rosalind McLymont, Tonia Weiters, Linda Duggins, Esther Armah, and Troy Johnson, my partners on this journey.
Last but certainly not least, thank you to the reading public! If not for you, where would I be? I hope to keep you reading for as long as you are able.
I was completely speechless and couldn’t think of anything to say in response to the news I had just received. I nearly dropped the phone, catching it just before it slipped entirely from my grasp. My chest filled with air and I could almost hear my heart breaking once again. It hurt so badly. The physical pain was unbearable. My breath circulated violently through my chest, traveling from my lungs and escaping through my flared nostrils in a rush. I held my hand to my breast, wanting desperately to calm the turmoil whirling through my upper body. Brian Turner,
Brian Turner, was getting married to another woman.
You stupid bitch! How could this happen? I thought you were supposed to keep me posted on every move he made. How could you let things go this far without informing me? My mind screamed at the wretched caller. Still speechless, I realized that what I said was only in my head. Audible words hadn’t found their way past my trembling lips.
“HELLO! Earth to Shelly! Did you hear me? Answer me. Good Lord. Knock the phone one time if you heard me, twice if you didn’t. Can you answer me, please?” said the bearer of the horrible news.
“When is the shower?” I asked slowly. Every syllable robbed me of much-needed energy. That simple sentence left me drained.
“Whew, it’s about time! I thought I lost you. It’s this Saturday,” the caller replied. “Now what are you going to do?”
That would be none of her business, now would it? Damn if I was going to share my game plan with her. She wasn’t even a good informant. Had she been working with the police, they probably would have locked her up for being an unreliable source of information as well as an idiot. Unfortunately, I needed to maintain a delicate balance with this woman. After all, if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with all of Brian’s whereabouts and actions this past year and a half. I wanted to tell her to kiss my broken-hearted ass, but that wouldn’t help me get the rest of the information I needed.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I needed her even more. She was my only connection to Brian, my son’s father. At least the only one that would supply me with the information I consistently sought.
“I need time to think,” I finally said. This time the words weren’t so hard to push out. My breathing had begun to return to normal and I had stopped heaving like an asthmatic about to have a deadly attack. “Where is this bridal shower?”
“I’m still working on that bit of info. Actually, I’m trying to get invited.”
“Call me back when you get more information. How is it that he’s getting married and I—you knew nothing about it?”
“I haven’t spoken to him personally in a while. I finally called him today. That’s when he told me about the wedding and mentioned that her shower was coming up this weekend.”
Again, I was speechless. My eye sockets hurt from my eyes bulging.
“I have to do something. This has gone much too far.” I paused because of the thoughts racing through my mind. My voice began to crack and I didn’t want to fall apart on the telephone. I had to be careful about how much I revealed to this woman. I didn’t completely trust her. “I’ll call you back later.”
Besides the money I paid to her, I often wondered what she got out of telling me all of Brian and Lexie’s business, but I refused to ask. I didn’t want her to stop feeding me the goods. I intended to find out, but I’d have to focus on that another time.
I took my time hanging up the phone, so much time that the annoying, repetitious buzz from the dead line rudely upset the stillness in my bedroom. I quickly jabbed the
button, silencing the obnoxious noise.
“Think, think, think! Ouch!” My head ached from banging the handset against my temple as I chanted to myself.
The tears clouding my vision had nothing to do with that pain, but everything to do with the fact that I was facing the possibility of losing the love of my life forever. In a matter of days, Lexie, along with her family and friends, would gather to celebrate her, the bride-to-be, and the upcoming nuptials. Lexie and Brian would be married in a few short weeks.
My breath had become short once again and my tears flowed like torrential rains. Unstable knees buckled beneath me, threatening to send me crashing to the floor. I held my hand out to feel for the bedroom wall, in need of the support it provided, trying to make my way to my adjoining master bath. Blinding, stinging tears made it hard for me to see clearly. Screaming didn’t help purge the pain inside so I tried banging my fists on the marble vanity top. When my hands hurt too badly to continue, I looked for something to squeeze or throw. In the midst of my ranting, I caught a glimpse of my pitiful state in the medicine cabinet mirror. My once smooth, fair complexion was red with blotches. Smeared mascara created sadistic puddles under my swollen eyes. Black streaks crawled down my face and leapt from my chin to my off-the-shoulder shirt, staining the pure white cotton fabric with moist, dark spots. My hand involuntarily reached toward my dejected reflection. I couldn’t take my eyes off of what stared back at me in the mirror.
CRACK! My miserable image splintered into small, disoriented pieces. The glass soap dispenser remained in my hand, broken and leaking thick vanilla-scented antibacterial liquid all over the stainless steel vessel sink. I released my grip and the dispenser crashed to the floor in slow motion, glass mixing with shards of broken mirror. Soap oozed into a dense puddle on the floor, along with more broken glass. I was disfigured inside and out.
“See what you’ve done, Brian?” Why did you do this to me?”
BJ began to whine.
“Coming, sweetie!” I yelled as I jogged through my bedroom, down the hall toward my son’s room. Brice Jordan Turner Cabrini, my one-and-a-half-year-old son, stood inside his crib on chubby little toes holding the railing of his custom-made sleeping quarters. His lower lip turned under as he cried. His large brown eyes stretched wide when he saw me coming. Brice cried harder. I realized I stilled looked a mess. I picked BJ up, jogged back to my room, and placed him in the center of the king-sized bed I shared with my gullible husband, Brandon Cabrini. By the time I retrieved my facial cleanser from the broken medicine cabinet, little BJ was nearing the bathroom door.
“No, honey! You can’t come in here. It’s too dangerous.”
I closed the bathroom door and refreshed my face in the eight-foot teak-framed mirror leaning against my bedroom wall. BJ had settled down and was watching me. My heart softened when I looked into his angelic face. His favorable features were compliments of his dad’s DNA. BJ, short for Brice Jordan, and which secretly stood for Brian Junior, was a beautiful replica of the man who fathered him.
Regardless of what anyone said or did, I had a piece of Brian that would stay with me forever. But I was tired of just having a piece. All of him is what I desired more and more each day. There was no way I could let him marry that damn Lexie. She couldn’t love him the way I did. The wedding had to be stopped. My own marriage was a joke that was far from funny. I should never have let Daddy talk me into marrying Brandon. Daddy possessed a ridiculous need to preserve his so-called polished image. What did it matter that I was single and pregnant? Lots of women, even rich and successful women, became single parents. Daddy was just too worried about impressing his peers, neighbors, and pretentious friends.
I glanced at my precious baby boy as he watched me with his beautiful brown eyes. BJ was the key. It was time for me to do what I should have done nearly two years ago—fight for what’s mine. Leaving just after I had BJ was premature. Brian desperately wanted to be a part of his son’s life. He had even gone as far as having me tracked down to make sure BJ was his. He wouldn’t have done that if he didn’t want me. I warned him, all or nothing—me and the baby or neither of us. Brian came after me, so he must have wanted it all too. Besides, he was my man first. In fact, he’ll always be mine. Lexie will just have to move out of the way.
“Come on, BJ. Let’s get you cleaned up, sweetie. It’s time to pay your real daddy a long-overdue visit.”
To say I was shocked was an understatement. I narrowed my eyes again to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. Then I closed them for a minute and opened them again, very slowly. My eyes hadn’t fooled me. Shelly Winston, the mother of the son I never met was jogging toward me—looking good as ever with her crazy ass.
“No, I didn’t,” I said, still stunned. I realized that I hadn’t said hello yet. “Hi—” I paused. “What are you doing here?”
“Brian, we need to talk!”
She couldn’t be serious. I tried countless times over the past year and a half to get to this woman, the mother of my only son, just to talk. But she wouldn’t give me the time of day. What would make her decide to suddenly emerge out of who knows where? I looked around her for my son, Brice. He wasn’t there. Shelly must have recognized the look on my face.
“He’s not with me,” she confirmed.
“Brice, right,” I asked, still looking puzzled and confused. I almost couldn’t wait to hear what she had to say, yet at the same time I was a little nervous about her sudden appearance and interest in talking to me after nearly two years.
“Yes. Brice,” she said, and then smiled. “How did you know?” Her smile was as broad as could be, as if she was excited about the fact that I said my son’s name.
“His name was on the paperwork,” I said, and for a minute she looked lost. “The court papers,” I added to jog her memory just a bit.
Shelly raised her head in recognition. She knew exactly what paperwork I was talking about—the same set of documents that declared Brice my son through the inheritance of my DNA. Up ‘til now, that was the only connection we had—my blood running through his veins. I wondered what he looked like and who. I tried to picture a miniature me but came up with a weird picture of me—the man—as a little boy. I shook my head to rid my mind of the silly image.
“Can we go inside to talk?” Shelly asked and smiled sweetly.
I looked at her like she was crazy. She was, but that was another story.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said. Especially since we were standing in front of the home I now shared with my Fiancée, Lexie Mitchell.
I knew that Shelly was fully aware that this was Lexie’s house. She spied on us enough to know. I was also sure that Shelly knew I lived here, too. I rented my apartment out to my old friend Lori a few weeks back and moved in with Lexie. We planned to rent out both of our condos and buy a brownstone after our wedding.
I could imagine Lexie walking in the door and spotting her nemesis sitting on her couch with her legs crossed. I could also imagine Lexie pouncing on her like a cornered raccoon. And I’m sure I’d be in trouble, too—and lose my Fiancé. I looked at my watch and remembered that Lexie was due home any minute. I had to get Shelly away from here fast.
“There’s a Starbucks around the corner,” I offered, starting to sweat as soon as the words left my mouth.
“Oh, Brian. You remembered,” Shelly said with a gleam in her eye and sugar in her tone.
“Remembered what?” I asked, puzzled.
“Silly, you know Starbucks is my favorite,” she said and slapped my arm playfully.
Damn. Starbucks was Lexie’s favorite, too. I prayed that she didn’t decide to stop in for a cup of strong-ass joe or her favorite green tea frappuccino while I was sitting there talking to Shelly. Surely, that would mark the end of my engagement. And so close to the wedding. But I had to take my chances. Still, getting into a car with Shelly was out of the question.
“Shelly, how about I meet you around the corner at Starbucks in about thirty minutes?”
“Why can’t we, uh—okay. I’ll be waiting,” she said and pranced toward her white Mercedes convertible.
A half hour would give me the time I needed to find out Lexie’s whereabouts and get my mind together for the confrontation with Shelly. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but I knew there was a reason for Shelly resurfacing. After more than a year of wondering if I would ever lay eyes on my son, I felt it was at least worth the time to find out what she was up to. Dealing with Shelly was a dangerous game, but I had to play it for the sake of my son. Careful treading was the key to my survival, the survival of my engagement, and the possibility of seeing or possessing any type of relationship with Brice.
I called Lexie to see where she was.
“Hey, sunshine, you’re looking rather scrumptious this evening,” she said when she answered her cell phone.
I felt naked. Lexie caught me completely off guard. She was obviously within striking distance. I looked around frantically trying to spot her, while beads of sweat popped up on my forehead like chickenpox. I laughed nervously.
“Hey, you’re home,” was all I could think of saying.
Okay, Brian. Think, I thought. Now that she was home I needed a reason to disappear for whatever amount of time it took to talk to Shelly. Because of Shelly’s innate ability to master the unpredictable, I had to tread carefully. Lying to Lexie wasn’t the best solution, but I couldn’t exactly tell her where I was going and who I would be with. Not to mention, lying to her had proved to be somewhat difficult. I only hoped that my discomfort wasn’t completely obvious.
The click-clack of Lexie’s heels gave me notice that she was closing in on me. I snapped my cell phone closed, turned toward her, and smiled. Her full, succulent lips curled into a seductive smirk. Damn, my baby was in the mood. She proceeded toward me with her arms open wide, until the strap of her laptop bag slid off of her left shoulder. In one smooth motion, Lexie caught the strap with her forearm, pulled it back onto her shoulder, then reached out for me once more. Her body was soft under my embrace. Lexie hugged me tight then grabbed a handful of my ass in both of her hands.
“How’s my sunshine this evening?” she asked as she nuzzled her face into my chest. “I was hoping you’d be home by the time I got in,” she purred as she squeezed my ass again.
My manhood responded immediately. Seeing Lexie horny was always a turn-on and my paraphernalia usually responded before my mind could. Unfortunately, now was not a good time.
“I’m good. How’s my baby girl this evening?” I asked, playing along.
Lexie’s soft, plump lips against mine gave me the answer I was looking for. Thoughts of Shelly waiting in Starbucks melted away as Lexie sucked on my bottom lip right outside on the sidewalk.
Lexie pulled away and whispered breathlessly, “Let’s go upstairs.”
Shelly popped right back into my mind. I cursed her under my breath.
“What was that, sunshine?” Lexie asked.
“Nothing, baby.” Then I acted as if I’d just remembered something and slapped my forehead for effect. “Oh damn, baby girl. I have to make a quick run to handle some business with Jeff.”
“Oh, Brian,” Lexie whined. “Not now. I need you. Can’t that wait? I’ve been waiting to get to you all day. Don’t make her wait,” she pleaded, referring to the kitten purring between her legs.
Lexie stuck her lips out and gently rubbed her thumb over my nipples. Damn, damn, damn, I thought to myself. The more she pouted and the more she rubbed, the more my manhood stood at attention, threatening to bust a hole right through my front zipper. I thought about Shelly traipsing around the corner to search for me and immediately went limp.
“Babe, I promise I won’t be long. Go upstairs and get her ready for me. I’ll be right back.” I ran off before she could respond.
When I got to my Escalade, she was still standing in the same spot pouting. I rolled down the window and yelled, “Hey, baby, you got a man?” as I passed her. In my rearview mirror, I could see her beautiful smile as she waved me away and entered the building.
I’d hit at least sixty miles per hour by the time I reached the corner and practically made the left on two wheels. Shelly had to talk fast because I had business to tend to. I didn’t know what to expect with Shelly, but I sure knew what I’d walk into if I didn’t get back home at a decent time.