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Authors: Trice Hickman

Troublemaker

BOOK: Troublemaker
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Also by Trice Hickman

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Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies

 

Playing the Hand You're Dealt

 

Breaking All My Rules

 

Looking for Trouble

 

 

 

Published by Dafina Books

Troublemaker
TRICE HICKMAN

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

www.kensingtonbooks.com

All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.

Table of Contents
Also by Trice Hickman
Title Page
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1
-
Allene
Chapter 2
-
Alexandria
Chapter 3
-
Victoria
Chapter 4
-
Alexandria
Chapter 5
-
Victoria
Chapter 6
-
Samantha
Chapter 7
-
Alexandria
Chapter 8
-
Victoria
Chapter 9
-
Alexandria
Chapter 10
-
Victoria
Chapter 11
-
Allene
Chapter 12
-
Samantha
Chapter 13
-
Alexandria
Chapter 14
-
Victoria
Chapter 15
-
Allene
Chapter 16
-
Allene
Chapter 17
-
Alexandria
Chapter 18
-
Samantha
Chapter 19
-
Victoria
Chapter 20
-
Alexandria
Chapter 21
-
Victoria
Chapter 22
-
Alexandria
Chapter 23
-
Allene
Chapter 24
-
Victoria
Chapter 25
-
Alexandria
Chapter 26
-
Allene
Chapter 27
-
Alexandria
Chapter 28
-
Victoria
Chapter 29
-
Samantha
Chapter 30
-
Alexandria
Chapter 31
-
Alexandria
Chapter 32
-
Allene
Chapter 33
-
Victoria
Chapter 34
-
Alexandria
Chapter 36
-
Victoria
Chapter 35
-
Allene
Chapter 37
-
Alexandria
A Note to Readers
A READING GROUP GUIDE
-
TROUBLEMAKER
Discussion Questions
Another Woman's Man
- On sale now!
Playing the Hand You're Dealt
Copyright Page
Acknowledgments

I start every book the same way, and this one is no different. I want to begin these acknowledgments by honoring The One who sits most high. I give praise and thanks to God for blessing and guiding me through storms so that I may bask in the rainbow that is life.

 

Each book I write is an exercise in discipline, dedication, and stamina. Completing a novel requires hours upon hours of uninterrupted time, along with a tremendous number of sleepless nights, endless amounts of coffee, along with the love, support, and understanding of the people around you. I'm fortunate to have all these things in abundance.

 

There are many people to thank who have helped me along this journey . . .

 

Thank you to my family and friends. I have the greatest parents (Reverend Irvin and Alma Hickman, your love and faith sustains me), siblings (Melody and Marcus, you two are my aces!), aunts (way too many to name, so know that I love you all!), uncles (ditto what I said about aunts), cousins (ditto about aunts and uncles to the 10
th
power), and friends (I'm blessed with an abundance of individuals in this category who are just like family) in the world.

 

Thank you to my girls who are always in my corner and show me love; Vickie Lindsay, Sherraine McLean, Terri Chandler, Kimberla Lawson Roby, China Ball, Lutishia Lovely, Tiffany Dove, Cerece Rennie Murphy, Tracy Wells, Kim Riley, Tammi Johnson, Yolanda Trollinger, Marsha Cecil, Melody Vernor-Bartel, and the one and only Barbara Marie Downey.

 

Thank you to my publishing family at Kensington; my amazing editor, Mercedes Fernandez, my super fly publicist, Adeola Saul, and all the marketing and sales folks who work hard to get the word out.

 

Thank you to my phenomenal agent, Janell Walden Agyeman. Words cannot express how much your guidance, wisdom, and friendship mean to me. Thank you for being my champion and operating with professionalism and integrity in everything you do.

 

Thank you to all the bookstores, libraries, specialty shops, and retailers who have purchased my books and hosted book signings for me. Thank you to the bloggers, book festival organizers, and literary professionals who support writers and the work we do!

 

Thank you to the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of Winston-Salem State University. You have supported me from the very start of my career. There's no love like RAM love!

 

And last but certainly not least: Thank you to every single book club and individual reader who has supported me by purchasing my books, reading my work, and helping to spread the word. You are a powerful force and without you I wouldn't be able to do what I do. I appreciate you more than you know!

 

Peace and many blessings,

Chapter 1
Allene

“Y
ou can never go wrong doin' right,” Allene Small whispered to herself as she thought about the events that were about to unfold. She couldn't count the number of times she'd repeated those words during the nine decades she'd lived on earth, or in the six that she'd spent as a spirit waiting to reemerge into the world she'd once known.

Allene had enjoyed a rich, full life in her day. She'd experienced ups and downs, joys and heartbreak, and eventually, the calm peace that living ninety-eight years had brought her. She'd been widowed at a young age, outliving her beloved husband and eventually all her siblings and her children, as well as some nieces and nephews. She'd witnessed fiery crosses burning in the night, emblazoned with hatred and fear. She'd endured oppression before joining activists who fought for justice, civil rights, and social change. She'd watched one decade roll into the next as presidents and heads of state came and went, by consequence of elections or death. And she'd seen men ride in horses and buggies, fly planes in the sky, drive motorized vehicles along busy streets, and then miraculously walk on the moon.

Allene felt grateful and blessed to have lived long enough to experience things that many had not. She was also thankful that for as long as she could remember, she'd known an invaluable truth most couldn't fathom—that there was life after life. The peace she'd found in that knowledge had comforted her during times of trouble.

Now as she sat in her trusty old rocking chair, surveying the colorful flowers that graced the large wrap-around porch where she'd been sitting all morning, her heart held excitement and caution about what she knew lay ahead. She took a deep breath and inhaled the sweet fragrance of the rose, azalea, and magnolia bushes flanking the front of the house. “This old place sure 'nuff has stood the test of time,” she said with a smile. “Isaiah and Henrietta would be right proud, God rest their souls.”

Allene loved being back in Nedine, South Carolina, the small town where she'd lived out the best parts of her days. She looked out as far as her eyes could see, noting that while some things had changed, so many had remained steadfastly the same. The large, white placard displaying T
HE
S
MALL
P
ROPERTY
in black calligraphy still towered at the edge of the road a few hundred feet away, announcing to visitors that they had reached the grounds of the grand residence that her son, Isaiah Small, had built from the ground up.

At the time, Isaiah's had been one of the largest homes in Nedine as well as the two surrounding counties, and today it proudly continued to hold that distinction. This was a huge feat for a black man, then and now. After Isaiah died, Allene had moved from her tiny house a few miles up the road, and settled into the quiet comfort of living with Isaiah's devoted widow, Henrietta, whom Allene had loved as her own daughter.

After Henrietta passed away, John, Isaiah's and Henrietta's son, cared for the house with great love and attention. Even though John had moved away to Raleigh, North Carolina, to start a banking empire and carry on in his father's successful footsteps, he'd made sure to preserve the family homestead where he'd been born and had many fond memories of growing up. Several times a year, John, along with his wife, Elizabeth, and their daughter, Victoria, would return to Nedine to make sure the house was well maintained and that any necessary repairs were made.

Once John's age and declining health prevented him from making trips to his beloved hometown, he'd hired a property management company to oversee the upkeep. After his death, his daughter, Victoria, had picked up the torch and seen to it that her father's birthplace was kept in good order. Allene was proud that her son's legacy was still intact, along with much of the land, rental properties, and other real estate holdings that had been passed down from one generation to the next.

“They're all gonna be here soon. Even the ones who ain't supposed to come,” Allene said with reserve. “But then again, I reckon that ain't such a bad thing, 'cause nothin' happens by mistake. There's a plan for everything, we just gotta play it out to the end.”

Allene nodded to herself as she looked up into the gray, stormy sky. It had been raining nonstop since early this morning. Heavy at times and light at others. Allene felt happy every time she heard the pitter-patter sound and the fresh smell that God's liquid glory created in its wake. She remembered back to the days she'd spent in her tiny home, and how she'd loved to listen to the rain dance atop her roof and beat against her windows. The natural rhythm had been soothing, and always made her feel a sense of peace—as if whatever had been wrong could be made right by the water that came and washed things away.

Allene wished so badly that the rain could clear out the troubles awaiting her family. Having the gift of prophecy, she was able to see some of the challenges that were on the horizon, and the struggles her loved ones were surely going to face. She wanted to intervene by warning them of what was coming, and tell them what they needed to do in order to avoid the problems heading their way. But age, wisdom, and experience had taught her that some things couldn't be interfered with, or manipulated. Only time, patience, and living through the situation could rectify whatever was wrong.

This was why Allene knew that choosing to do the right thing would never lead her down the wrong path. She'd been a witness to situations that had borne out that evidence time and time again, and she knew without a doubt that bad intentions could easily lead to devastating consequences. Conversely, she also knew that if one had good intentions and did what was fair and just, regardless of the circumstances, things would eventually unfold into a favorable outcome.

Allene knew that some of her family members were carrying heavy burdens, and to her disappointment, one in particular was plotting a hidden agenda, heading in the wrong direction by ignoring what was right. “Lord, help me guide Alexandria so she can help our family,” she whispered aloud, looking up into the sky. “I waited a mighty long time to come back, and now, I'm ready. I just hope they're ready, too.”

It had been nearly a year since Allene had first made her spirit form known to anyone in the land of the living. She'd reached out to Alexandria, her great-great-granddaughter, because she'd known it was time to make contact. Alexandria was a special young woman, who, like Allene, and Allene's great-grandmother before her, possessed the gift of prophecy.

The gift of prophecy was a precious ability that had been passed down through the generations, only by way of the female members of their family, dating back to the Akan people of Ghana, West Africa. The gift was a sacred and valued treasure that people both revered and feared within Allene's family, as well as the outside community.

During Allene's lifetime, her gift had allowed her to foretell events in advance of them happening. She could discern good from bad in the blink of an eye. She could sense when danger was approaching or when peace would prevail. She knew people's thoughts without ever having to engage them in conversation. And she could accurately declare good fortune or disappointing loss for those seeking her advice on any given situation.

Now as a spirit in the land of flesh and blood, she possessed those same abilities along with the added benefit of being able to exist between two worlds. Allene walked within the supernatural realm, able to communicate with others who shared the gift, like her great-grandmother, Susan. Even though she was able to see family and friends who'd passed on, she couldn't communicate with them unless they possessed the gift of prophecy. The living world was much the same way, only there, things were more complicated because life was still happening, unfolding in real time, which always presented challenges.

After years of patiently watching and waiting, Allene was glad when the time finally came that she could return to the world she'd once known. She was there to help Alexandria, who had struggled with her abilities for most of her life, but had now come to terms with the extraordinary gift she'd inherited. Just as Susan Jessup had been Allene's guide on her life's journey, it was now Allene's turn to do the same for Alexandria.

Allene continued to watch the sky and listen to the rain fall as she thought about what was going to happen two weeks from now. She could see the blessings, as well as the trouble that was going to ensue once everyone gathered under one roof. Tempers would flare and hearts would be hurt by deception. Long-held secrets were going to be revealed, weaknesses would be exposed, and a devious plot to steal and control was going to be uncovered. Allene could also see that there would be heated moments and tension between family members and friends.

“Sometimes people just got to go through things in order to make a change,” Allene said to herself.

She knew that hearts, minds, and loyalties would be tested when her family came together for a grand celebration two weeks from now, and unfortunately, someone was going to meet their demise before the weekend came to an end.

“I'll see you soon, baby girl,” Allene whispered into the air, sending words of love and comfort to Alexandria. “You just hang in there and know that everything's gonna be all right.”

BOOK: Troublemaker
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