I was working on my next novel, which will be the first of a series, and I decided to drop a sample chapter. Please check it out and tell me what you think. Happy Reading!
Excerpt from my upcoming novel
THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE (A STEPHEN STONE NOVEL)
Lakeisha Monroe lifted herself from the bubble bath reluctantly. The scent of vanilla and cinnamon filled the bathroom and wafted into the bedroom of her luxurious corner suite in the Poinsett Hotel. Naked, with spots of soap still hanging onto her hips and one side of her shoulder, she took in the suite. Wet footprints betrayed her surveying of the room, which was nicer than any room she’d ever been in in her entire life. And her mind went back to a crappy childhood, life in the projects of New Orleans, sharing a bedroom with three of her sisters and four of her male cousins.
She thought about the giant rats they couldn’t kill or run away. The roaches that embarrassed her that time when she invited Cynthia Williams to her house. What in the world possessed her to do that? Perhaps it was that Cynthia lived in the projects too and surely she had the same struggles. But when that rat ran across the floor, into the kitchen and onto the counter, back through its little hole in the wall next to the stove, Cynthia screamed and jumped onto the raggedy couch. Lakeisha looked at her like, What? Don’t you have rats?
A cockroach crawled down the wall right next to Cynthia’s face, its antenna swinging at her like it was girl fighting, and Cynthia screamed again and started swinging back. What? You don’t have cockroaches with antenna that swat like they’re girl fighting?
“I gotta go,” Cynthia said. And she ran out of the front door.
Lakeisha didn’t see her much around that week until one day Cynthia saw her in the cafeteria and apologized for bolting on her. She blamed it on stomach pain. To make up for it, she invited Lakeisha over to her house for dinner. What Lakeisha saw would forever change her outlook on life.
Cynthia invited her into a clean apartment with a carpet free of nasty stains. It smelled like potpourri. The furniture wasn’t new but it was polished with lemon Pledge. They had a dining table instead of a jumbled stack of boxes. The kitchen was spotless and Cynthia’s mother—a short woman wearing a plaid skirt and white top—greeted Lakeisha with a warm smile. Cynthia’s father walked into the kitchen wearing a pair of work slacks and a white shirt that was starched to perfection. Lakeisha was amazed at how stiff and clean his shirt was. She was amazed that Cynthia’s father was even there.
They sat down at the table and her father blessed the food. They held hands when they did this. Lakeisha never remembered holding someone’s hand in their house.
Mr. Williams stopped at his wife and each child and asked them about their day. He smiled when he did that and Lakeisha was amazed that he hadn’t yelled once. Then it dawned on her. In all the amazement about the cleanliness of their home, the absence of stains on the carpet and clutter in the kitchen, and the presence of Cynthia’s father, Lakeisha noticed for the first time that there were no cockroaches. There were no rats. And she felt safe in their house.
In the present, Lakeisha traced her forefinger along the Victorian furniture in her suite at the Poinsett. Then she looked at her finger. No dust. There was no dust in Cynthia’s project apartment either. But all the dust in the entire world was manufactured and distributed from the two bedroom apartment that Lakeisha shared with her grandmother, three sisters and four boy cousins. Granny was just too tired, she guessed, to clean a house that eight bad kids would just mess up the next second anyway. Maybe being stuck with eight children that weren’t hers zapped the old woman of all emotion and energy. The kind of energy needed to keep the rats and roaches at bay. The kind of energy necessary to keep Lakeisha’s four boy cousins from molesting her at night.
Cynthia’s house, just like this suite at the Poinsett, informed her that there was more to life than allowing the haunts of the past to dictate the happiness of her future. Cynthia’s family didn’t have much more money than Lakeisha’s did—even though they had two working parents in the home. But what they did have, they kept it up and cherished it. Protected it. Lakeisha would do the same.
She realized as she looked at her naked frame in front of an ancient mirror, that her promiscuity stemmed from the confusion of four boys who looked just like her actually liking her in that way, touching her, taking from her that cherished thing. Her first time was with cousin Tyrique…and cousin Malik, actually. But Tyrique was the first to break her hymen. Him, she would remember for the rest of her life. Her cousin! No man could clean his mark from her body or remove his stench from her mind. No man! So her move on Cap Morgan would emancipate her from the slavery of flesh peddling. All she had to do was sleep with Wooly Mammoth and then kill him. Sleep with him, then kill him. Sleep with him…then kill him.
A black and red lace lingerie set sat on the couch right beside an open straight razor. Wooly would be there soon. So she dressed herself for the evening. Slipped into fashion fishnets and snapped them to her garter belt. Then she picked up the razor, closed it, took a deep breath, and slid it inside of her vagina.
There was a knock on the door. It was six thirty and Wooly was right on schedule. Lakeisha opened the door, resting her left hand on door and her right on her hip.
“Welcome,” she said. “Do you like what you see?”
“I do,” Wooly replied. “Cap didn’t lie. Cornbread, honey and buttermilk all day.”
Wooly’s men moved into the room without orders. Two large brutes of men with hands large enough to punch through brick walls, probably. They walked in and out of the rooms, opening doors and drawers, peeling open cabinets.
“So how do you know Cap anyway,” Wooly asked as Lakeisha removed his overcoat.
“We go way back.”
“Oh yeah? You know where he is?”
“Haven’t seen him lately.”
“All clean, boss.” The men stood on either side. “You want us to frisk her?”
Lakeisha raised her arms.
“You don’t mind, do you?” Wooly asked.
“Not at all.”
He nodded to the hulks and they ran their fingers on either side of Lakeisha’s supple frame. They cupped her breast and her buttocks. One of them palmed her crotch. She moaned.
“That will be enough,” Wooly said.
“Want us to wait by the door?” one of the hulks asked, causing Lakeisha’s heart to skip a beat. She hadn’t even thought about how she was going to get past the men after she had killed Wooly if they were waiting by the door. Cap sure hadn’t thought of that either. Her heart thumped and dropped down to her stomach and she could taste the putrid taste of bile in her throat.
“No,” Wooly said, “You guys wait out in the car.”
Lakeisha breathed again and hoped that her face didn’t betray her fear.
“Make yourself comfortable,” she said to Wooly. Then she whispered, “I just have to go brush my teeth.”
In the bathroom, she splashed cool water on her face and fanned herself. Once her heart climbed from the pit of her stomach back to its rightful place, she walked back into the living room to find Wooly on the couch.
“I’m ready for bed,” she said. “How about you?”
“I was born ready.”
The bedroom had a large sleigh bed with sparkling white sheets. There were rose pedals on the mattress and wine chilling in an aluminum bucket on the nightstand. Lakeisha walked Wooly to the bed and poured him a glass of Pinot Noir.
“To pleasure,” she said.
“You’re beautiful,” he replied.
What was it about Wooly Mammoth? What was it about his reply to that toast that made her toes curl inside her candy apple red pumps?
“Could you undue my bra?” she asked.
Lakeisha turned around, exposing her round, supple derriere. Wooly licked lips buried in a wild forest of black and gray whiskers. He unsnapped the back of her bra and it just fell to the floor in front of her. The crease that parted her back quivered to his touch. His finger traced that luscious trench and found a soft cheek of her bottom. He squeezed it and she moaned.
“Turn around,” he commanded.
She did and her breast amazed him. His lips parted and he placed them on her nipples. She ran her fingers through his beard and felt a strange sensation. His hands touched her, his tongue comforted her and she felt safe. She took a deep breath and hated herself for what she was about to do.
She removed his shirt and caressed his bare chest. Commanded him to lie down. Removed his belt. Pulled off his pants and his boxers. Found his ready manhood. Mounted him and dipped her lips deep into the wool around his lips. The hairs of his beard were surprisingly sweet to her. Like coconut oil. Her hand moved raggedly against his manhood and then to the crotch of her panties. Pushing it aside, she pulled the straight razor from her vagina and flipped it open.
Wooly’s eyes didn’t widen with surprise. Instead they deepened with insight. A wisdom that was hauntingly serene. He looked at the razor, looked into Lakeisha’s big brown eyes, and asked, “Is that thing sharp enough for the job?”
She nodded nervously.
“Are you sure?”
She sliced a gash into the sleigh headboard, moved through the wood with little effort.
“Yeah it’s sharp enough,” Wooly said with a nod. “Did Cap set this up?”
Again she nodded nervously.
“Can you talk?”
“Yes,” she said softly, unsure if Wooly even heard her.
“Have you ever done this before?” The razor trembled slightly. Wooly reached for her hand but she jerked it away. “Have you?”
She shook her head. “I’ve seen it done, though.”
“Seen it done ain’t the same as doing it. It’s a lot different. And I don’t care what the movies tell you. Killing a man, taking a life, ain’t nothing you can forget. It’s real hard to forget it. You dream about it, I’m afraid. So you have to ask yourself if you’re prepared to shoulder that kind of burden. Are you ready to shoulder that kind of burden?”
Again, she nodded.
“Stop nodding at me!” Wooly yelled. “Are you a woman or what?!”
“Well act like one. I don’t care what happened to you in the past. I don’t care what you’ve been through. You speak with supremacy. You move with authority! Stop being soft.”
“I’m harder than you could ever imagine.”
And for the first time in her life, she felt in control. An odd sense of ruthlessness comforted her. Calmed her. Like nothing anyone could ever say or do could make her feel weak and insignificant. Her hand stopped trembling. The blade, steady and sharp, was a part of her now.
“Alright,” Wooly said. “Get on with it.”
“Happy birthday,” she replied. Then she dug the razor deep into the flesh of Wooly’s neck.