Authors: D.Y. Phillips
P.O. Box 6505
Largo, MD 20792
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Â© 2009 by D.Y. Phillips
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means whatsoever. For information address Strebor Books, P.O. Box 6505, Largo, MD 20792.
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if we could bottle and sell
your love, support and patience,
we'd be rich.
Very much like the old adage, “It takes a village to raise a child,” getting a book out is pretty similar. It almost takes a village to provide information, advice, feedback, editing and tips on which publishing houses have open submissions and which ones don't. For this, I need to give a few shout-outs.
First of all, giving thanks to God, and yes, even for giving me the audacity and the ability to write an urban tale with a few steamy sex scenes and foul-talking characters. I still say that without Him, nothing worth having can be achieved as a blessing.
Thanks and kisses to my husband, Reggie, who patiently puts up with a wife that, on most days, spends more warm and cozy time with her computer than with him. It takes a special kind of man to put up with this. Reggie, my love, you're that man!
Thanks to a few of my writer friends. I can't remember each and every one of you, but you know who you are: Reon Laudat, Dyanne Davis, Tina Brooks McKinney and many more. Allison Hobbs, a special thanks to you for taking the time out of your own busy schedule to read my project and put in a few words to the powers that be. Good looking out, Ms. Allison.
To my dearest and fondest, Mary Monroe. I can't think of another writer that I admire as much as I admire you. Your friendship is worth its weight in gold.
On the working side, thanks to Charmaine, your down-home
patience is like a life-line to any author who's anxious about what to do next and how to do it. Thanks to my agent, Dr. Maxine Thompson, for talking and explaining “stuff” to me more like a friend than a business associate. If you're on your way to the top, scoot over so I can go with you.
To my all my reading fans taking this journey with meâ¦let's just do the damnâ¦oops, I mean the darn thing!
Have you ever been in the same room with a monster?
Did you see how he did it? How he used fear as his weapon?
Could you smell, or see, death coming in his eyes?
What Hattie Sims saw when she came out from the bathroom of her home was a tall, muscular man standing in her living room. Her breath caught in her throat. She could have kicked herself for not remembering to lock that metal security door. After all, wasn't that what it was for? To keep devils and monsters out?
“Why are you in my house?”
Topps Jackson was no stranger. Still, she hadn't liked or trusted him from the first time she had laid eyes on him. Something about his eyes; they were dark and threatening. He had nice lips but rarely smiled.
“Chill out, Mama Hattie. I come in peace.” A toothpick was restless between his lips. Sneaky-looking eyes panned around her room as if he were casing the place.
“Your type ain't welcome here.” Hattie refused to let her nervousness show. “And I'm not yo' mama.”
He was dressed entirely in black. Large, muscular arms seemed more like thick, brown tree trunks protruding from the expensive jersey that he wore. “Good thang you not, or you'd be dead by now.”
It was probably ridiculous for her to attempt to manually remove him. She was a petite woman with delicate features. Still,
Hattie straightened her back and stood her ground with the father of her grandchildren. His bodacious visit was what she got for not locking her metal security door; thinking that the delivery boy would be there soon with her grocery order.
“What is it you want? Say what you want and get out. You got no business being here.”
“Now see, that ain't no way to be treating family.” Unfazed by her annoyance, Topps Jackson ambled over to a table and picked up a wood-framed photo of her daughter, Myra. “Pretty,” he said, then grunted. He placed the frame back and ran a finger along the top of the table. “A little dusty in here. You might wanna take care of that when I leave.”
“Look, if you're looking for Neema, she ain't here.”
“Not looking for Neema. Looking for you; the mama that keeps putting nonsense in Neema's head. You know, that shit about taking my kids and moving away.” Topps sniffed, looked around her old, cozy living room. It was clean, but worn-looking. He frowned like it was a shame to have an average existence with no frills.
Hattie couldn't imagine what Neema saw in him. True, he was tall, handsome, cunning and, from what she'd heard, drug-dealing rich. He had materialistic wealth, yet, he represented everything a mother should warn her daughter about.
Stay away from men that degrade women. Men that hurt women. Stay away from men on the opposite side of the law. Stay away.
“Like I said, you have no business being here.”
“I disagree. I feel like this. If my kids spend a lot of time over here, I need to know what's up. How you hanging. You know what I'm saying, don't you?” All six feet of man turned and slowly walked down her hallway, padding along her carpet in his expensive-looking black sneakers. “How many bedrooms you got here, ole lady?”
“You listen here, young manâ¦” Hattie was right behind him, clutching the collar of her floral housedress. “You need to leave.”
“You gotta man up in this mutha?” Topps inquired as he opened doors and surveyed one room after another. “What? No nigger laying that pipe down? That explains a lot.”
“That's not your business,” Hattie snapped.
The nerve of this fool; talking this way to me.
“That's how I feel when you stay all up in my business with Neema. Seeâ¦” He grunted, looking down at her. “If you had a man tapping that ass, you wouldn't have that problem.”
“Neema's my daughter. I gave birth to her; not you.”
Topps turned to get up in her face. “I don't care if you shot Neema out your wrinkled, gray-covered ass twice. She's my boo-bitch now. Mine; so get over it.”
“I'm calling the police,” she said.
And she would have, but he was blocking the narrow hallway with his bulky frame. She could smell the toothpaste and cologne he'd used earlier; that's how close he stood. The monster grinned; eyes red and nostrils flared. He snatched up her hand like she was some bratty child trying to slip away.
“Ouch, you're hurting me!”
“This the deal here. You need to stop putting crazy ideas in Neema's head. She ain't no child no more. She ain't going no muthafuckin' place. You understand what I'm saying?”
“Let me go!”
His dark-eyed stare was so intense, it could have made a baby cry. Hattie felt like howling herself. The scowl on his face promised worse.
“I'm warning you, ole lady. If I hear my boo-bitch say she wanna take my kids and move away from me one more time, I'll have to come back. We'll be doing some real talking next time. Know what I'm saying, ole lady?”
When she didn't answer, he squeezed her hand harder, causing a hot sting to zip through her hand and up her elbow. The pain nearly brought Hattie to her knees.
“You hear me or not?” he prompted again.
“Iâ¦I hear youâ¦” She wanted to scream. Not being able to do anything about his presence grated on her nerves. At five feet three, one hundred and eighty, she was no match.
“That's better,” Topps said, smirking. Hate was in his eyes. He patted the top of her head, much the same he would have a pet dog. “See, mama-bitch. I'm not so bad, am I?” It could have almost been misconstrued as a term of endearment. Clearly, it wasn't. All women were bitches to Topps Jackson. “You alright.” He released her hand.
“I want you out of my house.” Hattie massaged her hand while Topps removed a moist cloth from a packet in his pocket and wiped germs from his hands.
“Not so fast.” Topps made a show of checking out the ceiling, knocking on a couple of walls. “Not a bad house, but if my kids gonna be coming and going up in this muther, you need to be living better. Check this out. If you ever want to sell this dump, I'll give you a hefty price. Enough to get you a new house that smells better.” Frowning, he sniffed a few times. “Smells like loneliness and mothballs in here. What you think?”
Hattie didn't answer.
“Yeah. Just what I thought. You need some time to think that shit over, huh?”
Her front doorbell rang. It had to be the delivery boy with her grocery order.
Topps acted like he owned the place, the way he headed for the metal security door and greeted the delivery boy. “What's up, my man? It's all good. How much I owe you? You can sit those bags down by the door.”
He took a wad of cash from the pocket of his black sweatpants and peeled off two crisp hundred-dollar bills. “Keep the change, bro.”
Once the pimple-faced delivery boy was gone, Topps turned back to Hattie. “One last thing, ole woman. You mention this little visit to Neema and I'll have to come back to see you. Maybe I can stay longer next time. Better yet, I might have to take my frustration out on Neema's sweet little ass for even bringing yo' name up.”
Hattie waited until her security door banged shut, rushed over to it, and locked it. Frowning, she watched the monster walk to his big black vehicle, get in, and drive off.