SecretRelations72lgIf you’ve read Secret Relations, join the book discussion group to discuss. To join, please go to the Facebook page and hit the Like button:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/852770641453524/

You can download your copy of Secret Relations at Samhain Publishing or order from any online retailer, like AmazonBarnes and NobleAll Romance Ebooks,
iTtunes 

SecretRelations72lgIf you’ve read Secret Relations, you still have time to join the book discussion group before it kicks off on Tuesday, January 27, 2015. To join, please go to the Facebook page and hit the Like button:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/852770641453524/

You can download your copy of Secret Relations at Samhain Publishing or order from any online retailer, like AmazonBarnes and NobleAll Romance Ebooks,
iTtunes 

9780996084444BIGAbout Stitching Love by Tiss Devane

Skyla Richards is a planner. But, all the forethought and organization on the planet can’t prepare her for the events that are about to alter her world. After her six year marriage ends bitterly, her job becomes her refuge until Jonathan Bass enters her life. He’s a young, handsome co-worker whose future includes an Ivy League opportunity and his upcoming nuptials to an unstable fiancée, Mia. But that doesn’t stop him from recruiting Skyla to help him sew a few wild oats before the clock winds down on his bachelorhood.

His relentless pursuit has her tossing her to-do lists into the fiery flames of passion and reacquaints her with feelings she’d long since forgotten. And her feminine wiles has him rethinking his engagement and ultimately, taking a ring off of it. But while their hearts continue to align, their careers split into opposite paths when she gets promoted and his Princeton plans are jeopardized when his manager accuses him of dark and menacing acts. With Skyla’s assistance, he rebounds and the two resume their future plans. But while they’ve been ring shopping and deciding wedding dates, Mia has been sulking and contemplating the fastest way to bring their relationship to a shattering demise. And what she comes up with permanently transforms all their lives.

Excerpt:

I was engaged to be married in six months, eleven days and five and a half hours. Yet, here she was in my arms with those haunting black opals looking up at me. Truthfully, I’d fantasized about this moment, but this wasn’t exactly how I envisioned it. Still, I didn’t care. This was an experience I’d longed to have with her, even if I’d gotten it by default during an emotional meltdown.

We’d shot the morning breeze at the coffee machine and at different office functions, but I honestly struggled to ignore her beauty every time I saw her. But now, in this moment, I could allow my eyes to travel the smoothness of her honey colored skin against the back drop of her shoulder length hair and explore the curvature of her breast and hips until our chemistry naturally united and formed an undeniable bond. Then, the door swung open.

“What the hell is going on in here?”

tissAbout Tiss Devane

I have been a freelance writer for over a decade and have written and published various online relationship articles as well as material for the print publication Being Single magazine.  This experience along with my occasional after hour stumble upon hiked up skirts and dangling belted trousers in my many years as an Office Manager has given me a unique and humorous insight into the widely seductive world of romance, particularly in the office. My other literary works range from political commentary to poetry. I’m also the owner of an online Zazzle store, Mahoganygear.com, (http://www.zazzle.com/mahoganygear), which sells everyday items bearing inspirational messages.

My debut fictional novel in a series entitled, Altered, is told from both Skyla Richard’s and Jonathan Bass’ perspectives and is a passionate tale of the evolution of their relationship and the many casualties who dare to get in the path of their heat.

Get to know Tiss: 

Q1 – Why write urban romance?
A – I write urban romance because love is something everyone wants. Regardless of race or class, we all go through the same things in terms of relationships. I write about these experiences with a hood spin and unique way of viewing them through urban eyes.

Q2 – When did you first start writing?
A – I first started writing when I was very young and my old school grandmother gave me a diary to keep me busy. I have three older brothers and grandma didn’t believe in girls playing with all boys, all the time. So, she would make me go to my room, which was boring and lonely until my diary came alive with stories.

Q3 – What makes a good story to you?
A- What makes a good story to me is when it involves real life situations that include romance, a little mystery, a little tragedy and lots of sex and laughs.

Q4 – Why did you choose the dual male/female narration format?
A – I chose this format because I think it answers that age old question women have which is, What the hell was he thinking? Jonathan lets you know exactly what he’s thinking and why.

Q5 – How did you come up with the book title?
A – I came up with this particular title because sometimes building a relationship can be like constructing a garment. You have to bind the two people together, cut out certain behaviors, trim the excess baggage, iron out issues, etc..

Q6 – Out of all the genres you write in, which one do you enjoy the most?
A – I enjoy writing fiction the most, poetry second. The other literary forms are fact driven, whereas fiction and poetry are emotion and imagination driven for me, making them more challenging.

Q7 – What do you want people to walk away with after reading your novels?
A – I want them to feel as if they’ve been entertained on multiple levels.

Find the author:

Blog – http://tissdevane.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/TissDevane
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008374710312
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/tissd/

Amazon Purchase Link:http://www.amazon.com/Stitching-Love-Tiss-Devane-Tale-ebook/dp/B00PUW4FW2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417642344&sr=8-1&keywords=stitching+love

Entertainment writer Shelia M. Goss has penned Secret Relations, a new book, about the fictional characters sexy R & B singer and heartthrob Sean Maxwell and one of Hollywood’s top talent managers Charlotte Richards. Business and pleasure don’t mix…until emotion enters the scene. Available for digital download at all online retailers.

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JAZMINE SULLIVAN’S ‘REALITY SHOW’

Jazmine Sullivan released her new album Reality Show this week, via RCA Records.

From press release: With her emotional current single “Forever Don’t Last” climbing the charts and the premiere of her poignant new song “Mascara,” Reality Show sees Jazmine center stage as she tackles the realities of love, life and everything in between.  Jazmine serves as the album’s executive producer and takes pen to paper as the primary songwriter on all 12 tracks.   Reality Show reunites Jazmine with Grammy Award winning producer Salaam Remi as well Key Wane, Chuck Harmony, Da Internz, Ant Bell, JoeLogic & Dilemma and DJ Dahi.

In 2008, Jazmine Sullivan released her debut album Fearless, which featured the chart-topping hit singles “Need You Bad” and “Bust Your Windows,” and earned the Philly native an amazing seven Grammy nominations including Best New Artist.  Jazmine released her second album, the critically acclaimed Love Me Back in 2010, of which the Associated Press declared as “something amazing” and consequently garnered her an eighth Grammy nomination for “Holding You Down (Goin’ In Circles).” The recipient of Billboard’s Rising Star Award, Jazmine is gearing up to go on tour this winter in support of Reality Show.

Reality Show track listing:

01 Dumb featuring Meek Mill   Produced by Key Wane & SALAAMREMI.COM
02 Mascara                                        Produced by Key Wane & SALAAMREMI.COM
03 Brand New                                  Produced by DJ Dahi, Co-Produced by Ben Free
04 Silver Lining                                Produced by Key Wane
05 #HoodLove                                 Produced by Chuck Harmony
06 Let It Burn                                   Produced by Key Wane
07 Veins                                              Produced by SALAAMREMI.COM, Co-Produced by Ant Bell
08 Forever Don’t Last                   Produced by Chuck Harmony
09 Stupid Girl                                    Produced by JoeLogic & Dilemma
10 Stanley                                          Produced by Da Internz
11 Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)      Produced by Ant Bell and Jazmine Sullivan

BONUS TRACK
12 If You Dare                                  Produced by JoeLogic & Dilemma

Available everywhere.

Entertainment writer Shelia M. Goss has penned Secret Relations, a new book, about the fictional characters sexy R & B singer and heartthrob Sean Maxwell and one of Hollywood’s top talent managers Charlotte Richards. Business and pleasure don’t mix…until emotion enters the scene. Available for digital download at all online retailers.

I’m excited to announce that today is the release day for my new book SECRET RELATIONS. It’s available at all online retailers. Purchase your copy directly from the publisher by CLICKING HERE or from any online retailer.

SecretRelations72lg

AVAILABLE NOW

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Warning: Contains a reformed playboy determined to do things right this time, and a career woman equally determined to keep her eyes off his sexy-as-sin body. Oh well, their intentions were honorable…

MORE ABOUT SECRET RELATIONS:

Business and pleasure don’t mix…until emotion enters the scene.

Charlotte Richards didn’t get to be one of Hollywood’s top talent managers by dating her clients. When it comes to her career, her heart is not part of the contract—no matter how enticing the star.

From the moment she steps into Sean Maxwell’s fabulous home, though, the cool, professional persona she’s worked so hard to build threatens to melt in desire hotter than Sean’s sexy R&B lyrics.

Sean’s attraction to Charlotte is nothing new, at least not to him. He fell for her the moment he spotted her at a celebrity gala years ago. Now, with his old manager kicked to the curb, it’s the perfect time to bring her into his life.

The sparks between them blow Sean’s plan to take things slow right off the charts. And his determination to win her runs into overtime when the ghosts of his past threaten to destroy their one chance at love.

Download directly from the publisher by CLICKING HERE or from any online retailer, such as:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00RL7QZW2?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B00RL7QZW2&linkCode=xm2&tag=officiwebsi03-20
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/secret-relations-shelia-m-goss/1120956134?ean=9781619227378
All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-secretrelations-1716760-149.html
iTtunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/secret-relations/id953833464?mt=11

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May it be filled with lots of love and laughter. Thank you for your support throughout the year. Shelia

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. ~ Isaiah 9:6

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lllbchristmasRomance fiction authors Gwyneth Bolton, Shelia Goss, Michelle Monkou, and Celeste O. Norfleet are the founders of the group Live, Love, Laugh and Books. We would like to thank each of you for your support over this past year. We hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Below are some of the founding authors Christmas favorites:

gwynethboltoncoverGwyneth Bolton‘s books are best described as “Sexy romance with urban flair…”

Gwyneth Bolton’s Favorites:

Favorite Christmas song: This Christmas
Favorite Christmas dessert:
Chocolate Cake
Favorite Christmas movie:
Love Actually

All I want for Christmas is: Family, Friends and Love…

www.gwynethbolton.com

Shelia M. Goss’ books are best described as “Romance stories with a twist…”SecretRelations72lg

Shelia Goss’ Favorites:

Favorite Christmas song: Silent Night (Temptations version)
Favorite Christmas dessert:
Lemon Pound Cake
Favorite Christmas movie:
Imitation of Life

All I want for Christmas is: Peace, Joy & another book deal

www.sheliagoss.com

 

michellemonkoucoverMichelle Monkou’s books are best described as “Fun, sexy, memorable…”

Michelle Monkou’s Favorites:

Favorite Christmas song: Winter Wonderland
Favorite Christmas dessert:
Anything that goes with Butter Pecan icecream and whip cream
Favorite Christmas movie:
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

All I want for Christmas is: to enjoy a happy, Blessed time with my family and friends.

www.michellemonkou.com

celestebookcoverCeleste O Norfleet’s books are best described as “Sultry…passionate romance that jumps off the pages…”

Celeste O Norfleet’s Favorites:

Favorite Christmas song: Mary Did You Know
Favorite Christmas dessert:
Gingerbread house, we’ve built one from scratch every year since the kids were born.
Favorite Christmas movie:
This Christmas

Also enjoy one of Celeste’s favorite recipes: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/gingerbread-biscotti/

All I want for Christmas is: Peace, health and happiness

www.celesteonorfleet.com

  • What books are you reading?
  • What have been some of your favorite 2014 reads?
  • What is your favorite Christmas song/dessert/movie?

 

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                            Check out today’s Must read picks on USA Today:  
http://www.usatoday.com/story/happyeverafter/2014/12/07/recommended-romances-carpenter-lee-goss-christoff-leto/20054867/

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Guest Post My List of Guilty Pleasures by Traci Wooden-Carlisle

mybeautyforyourashes_bytraciwoodencarlisleI wanted to talk about my guilty pleasures to remind myself of the fun I have when I’m not at a job or working on a long assignment. I love writing and almost all that it entails, but some of the aspects of book selling are a far cry from what I would call a guilty pleasure.

I am of a mind that if I go to work and am productive for at least 8 hours a day and receive a monetary wage for my time, I should be able to buy whatever I want to eat. It sounds right, but it is not always the case and thus this guilty pleasure it born. I love Starbucks coffee, and not just a black coffee. It has to have all of the bells and whistles. A former co-worker called my coffee a froufrou drink in disguise. I shrugged and continued to sip my Venti Carmel Macchiato with 2 Equals with pure delight and I still do unless it is the Christmas Season and I get to have my Grande Eggnog Latte with 2 Equals.
Next would be my welcoming in the rare cold spells during the winter months in San Diego, CA with flannel pajamas. These aren’t just any flannel pajamas, they are the in-your-face, oversized frogs, flowers, or candies stamped across a pair of feet-in flannel pajamas. I feel ten years old again when I wear them and the only guilt I feel comes because I put them on right when I come home so if someone has to go back out to get something for dinner or run any other type of errand, it won’t be me.

With sheer excitement and pleasure I wait with baited breath for the next techy device to update or make my phone, television or computer more ‘efficient’. I love electronic toys and apps that will make my life and my husband’s life better. This is why my husband christened me the Technocrat of the family. I don’t know how guilty I feel about this, but sometimes it gets in the way of writing so that would be the qualifying factor.

My biggest guilty pleasure is reading. I use reading and listening to books as an escape. If I am looking at the beginning of a tedious process, in go the earbuds. If I finish a writing assignment, out comes the kindle. If I have a morning to myself or an evening, for that matter, you will find me behind a book. This is not always a guilty pleasure, but there are definitely times when I know I could be getting ahead when I sigh deeply and just wait for the feeling to pass as I turn the page.

I’m sure I could think of a few more if I try really hard, but why incriminate myself any further. Just do me a favor and send up a prayer that I will overcome the guilt.

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Traci Wooden-Carlisle began writing poetry and short stories as soon as she was able to form words on paper. She used that as a way to creating worlds, as well as, to communicate with God. A native of Los Angeles, California, she grew up attending United Methodist Church under the leadership of a pastor whose heart was for youth. Once she finished college at Humboldt State University she found herself at a loss. She felt caught in the transition between childhood and adulthood. She received a great deal of her answers through a Tuesday night Bible Study. As she continued to attend classes, the Bible became real to her and the scriptures were more than just words on a page. They came to life and she was able to identify with the teachings. She was filled with the Holy Spirit one November evening in 1995 and soon found that when she wrote to God, the Holy Spirit would respond; at times in the form of poetry and other times in conversation. She was amazed, awestruck, and humbled to know that He had not only been listening, but also wished to have a more intimate relationship with her. As she continued to write she joined a smaller church closer to her home in the San Fernando Valley and became an intercessory prayer, volunteered at the juvenile hall in the area, participated in door-to-door evangelism and shared her first love of dance by creating a praise dance team. She surrounded herself with saints and volunteered her services as a graphic artist. Through the early-morning prayer, all night Friday prayer and 3-day shut-ins she started on her journey toward her most desired gift, an intimate relationship with God.

Today, Mrs. Wooden Carlisle lives in San Diego with her husband, David Carlisle. She serves as a church Office Manager, teaches fitness classes, continues to praise the Lord through dance, and is currently writing her third book in this Christian-fiction series.

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About The Author

Nicole Murray is a creative writer by passion, training, and profession. She is a Columbia College graduate with a degree in Fiction Writing and Marketing. Nicole’s dual Gemini personality helps her pursue creative writing as a personal profession. Nicole explores the creative landscape of the mind to craft fiction out of real emotion. She currently writes short stories, novels, poems, and screen plays. Autumn’s Child is her first novel.

About Autumn’s Child:

“I am hurting. Fractured in places stitches can’t heal.” Autumn’s Child tells the desperate story of Layla, as a young and naive twelve year-old girl. Over ten critical years, her life quickly changes like the colors of the trees in autumn. The accidental death of her parents forces her to abandon her religious, middle-class lifestyle. She moves to the inner city of Chicago with her grandmother and aunt, her only living relatives. Layla tries to approach her new life with optimism, but the perfections of her past life haunt her tormented journey. After coming to grips with the reality over the years that her only aunt despises her, Layla soon discovers that she may secretly hold the keys to helping her aunt’s diminishing health in her hands. Layla’s faith and sanity are continuously tested as she matures throughout each season of her life. She stumbles through her new found reality while learning how to play the distinct set of cards she’s been dealt. Layla’s neighbor and best friend, Shay, helps guide her from adolescence into adulthood. Autumn’s Child chronicles a life on the opposite side of the coin; where friendships grow out of tragedy, and the pressure of a marginalized life weighs heavily on pure souls. Layla must make many compromising decisions, all while perpetually asking the reader, what would you do?

BookCoverAutumn’s Child Book Excerpt

For fourteen days I wept like Jesus wept, but he wasn’t there to console me. All I had were memories of the life I once had, of parents once mine and now gone. I stayed at the MacNair’s house for fourteen days and abided by their rules. Conversation was minimal with only occasional spastic outbursts.

My family and the people from the church spoke in the native language called “tongues.” My parents taught me that when you really want to talk to God and bear it all, you speak to him from your soul in a language that only you two can understand; those words are true to you and you can’t deny them. They say that God speaks to you in silence, nothing moving No one breathing, just the universe speaking in the tone of “Ommm.” I wanted answers, so I spent half of my days battling it out with God in our secret code language and the other half listening and sleeping. Ms. MacNair wanted me to talk to a shrink when she heard me praying and talking in tongues. Sara badgered me about sleeping so much.

Truthfully, I didn’t just like sleep, I loved it because sometimes I got lucky and my parents waited for me there. But I told them that I was just fine and that me and my God would figure this whole thing out. I waited day in and day out, but God never got back to me as to why my parents had to leave me and go to Him. What I really needed was a tangible voice. I waited for the words to creep into my ears at night, the voice of God, the way he talked to Moses with the burning bush, but all I heard was my own voice, the echoes of a scared girl too afraid to verbalize her pain. But the pain was there, like a long welt running down my spine, it was there.

The first few days, I started hating everything, hating my life. I hated Ms. MacNair for throwing a birthday party, Sara for still having a mom, and my parents for leaving. I felt everyone were against me and had planned this whole thing out.
One day I heard Sara’s mom telling her to keep my mind off of things and that she was lucky to still have a mom. I still wasn’t talkative, but knowing that, when I wanted to get out of my shell, I wasn’t alone was enough to keep me above water at the time.

Within the fungus colored walls of the room I shared with Sara, we learned to coexist. I wasn’t ready to step into that world of feelings and talking about them. But Sara, she was there for me, not saying much, just around. When I started getting bored with solitude I tried to peek out of my cocoon to let her know that it wasn’t really her that I was pissed at. She understood my cries. She even cried with me sometimes, upset because I was upset.

After quite some time, I learned the art of suppression and what a wonderful feeling it was. Not Disney Land wonderful, but mature contentment like living on an isolated island that I needed a steamboat and diving gear to get to. I pushed whatever I felt down below and made it better. It wasn’t a good strategy, but it helped more than all the crying did. And that suppression is what helps me to cope with all this bullshit even now.

Nearing the twelfth day of my stay there, I started to notice a change. Ms. MacNair became distant, avoiding me at all costs, and ordered us to stay in our room when she had company over. Sara spent a night over at her grandparents’ house the next Saturday and left me behind, “mom’s orders.” I couldn’t come out of her room or make a sound when they came to pick her up. Sara wanted to stay at home with me, but I understood. Ms. MacNair cordially offered me dinner and treats for doing things around their house. There was an ice wall that was being built between us, as if I was responsible for my parents or a stepchild of some sort. I didn’t know how to melt it. I tried not to notice. After all, I wasn’t her child and she would just have to get use to me. I knew it might take some time, so I tried to be on my best behavior. I held my tears back as best I could and tried not to mope. I had to have faith, “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen.” Faith was my closest friend; I needed to walk in the faith, so everything would just get easier.

Sara came home the next day. She walked straight to her walk-in closet and put away her new things so I wouldn’t see them. We talked and she was the same old Sara. We shared her twin bed, played on the swings whenever we could, and I sang to her when I felt the urge. It was a kind of unfortunate sisterhood.

I remember one night, we lay in bed after watching a movie and Sara fell right to sleep. My stomach groaned and complained of being hungry. I poked my head out the door and all the lights were off, so I tiptoed to the kitchen to grab a handful of Cheerios or a sandwich. As I walked softly past the den, I heard Ms. MacNair on the phone. Her voice was harsh, ruff like jagged edges. I crept closer without her noticing as she had her back to the door. “I have to figure out what to do with her. Don’t get me wrong, I feel really bad, I mean really bad, about her parents. When I had to tell her my heart just tore in half. That’s something that no one should go through, but just because she was at my house when all of this shit happened means I have to keep her? The answer is no. I simply cannot.” Someone spoke loudly on her phone. She replied, “You understand. It’s one thing for the girls to be friends, but this is just too much. I did not give birth to her and I am not, I cannot take her in. What would my family think? Really, I’m not running a charity case over here, Salvation Army or the Goodwill, I have a life of my own, my own child to raise.”

A voice talked back to her bluntly, the way that I wanted God to talk to me. “That is exactly why she can not stay here. Charles hasn’t come to see me in a week. He says it’s too crowded here. Now I’m not racist. I’m really not prejudiced or anything, but what if her little afro habits rub off on my little princess? All she does is sing those old Negro spiritual church songs and Sara singing along with her now.”

I started biting my nails. I didn’t understand then. I wasn’t a bad person. I lived in Pleasanton, our house was bigger than theirs, and I have a mom and dad, well I had a mom and dad. She continued, “I talked to her aunt yesterday on the phone. She was hesitant when I first spoke with her, but I told her how she could get a little extra if she took her off my hands. She’s her niece anyway and their family’s responsibility, not mine.”

I walked away feeling empty, not just in my stomach. I abandoned my previous cravings for food, like Ms. MacNair had abandoned me, passing me along the assembly line. When she sat down to talk to me later the next day, I knew what was coming. There was no reason to get upset. I wasn’t her child, but I wasn’t a welfare case either. “Charity,” “Negro spiritual,” “too crowded.” She didn’t really care for me. She consciously chose to string me along with her little lies: saying how sorry she was and for me, to talk to her whenever I needed, and that I could ask her for anything because she was there for me. That lying witch.

Sara went hysterical when her mom told her. She ran to me and cursed her mom. I tried to comfort her because she didn’t know her mom like I did. She didn’t know that I was a Negro spiritual charity case in her mom’s eyes.
The day finally came for me to leave. Judgment day. My emotions had no outlet after what I heard. They were shaken up as if they were flakes in a snow globe that had finally settled just to be shaken up again in the same confinement, but never released. I sat there in the den as Ms. MacNair spoke my fate to me. I waited like a pet at the Humane Society. I sat there and listened to her bounce around bright images of my future and how much fun it would be there.

I talked to my newfound aunt on the phone and she seemed nice enough. She didn’t talk about much, just said they would be happy to have me. I remember meeting my grandmother once, a long time ago, when she came to visit us for Christmas. I spoke with her on the phone as well. Her voice was soft and sweet like cotton candy. She seemed so pleasant and I didn’t understand why I hadn’t talk to her more before. I remember her being a small lady with a loud laugh. I was only six or seven the last time she came to visit. I had almost forgotten. When she first saw me then she came over and tried to pick me up, but settled for knelling down and kissing me on the cheek. She pinched both my cheeks so hard. My mom kept her busy for most of the time, so I didn’t get to talk to her much. Not that we would have had a plethora of topics for conversation at the age of six, but it would have been nice to have really gotten to know her.

Ms. MacNair, Sara, and I boarded the plane and flew four long hours to Chicago’s Midway airport. After gathering our bags from baggage claim, we started over to the car rental to get a car. The air was hot, wet and, breezy. My hair frizzed up as soon as we stepped on the street. Sara clung to me. In the car she gave me a bag full of the things that were now mine. I looked inside and there was the matching pink outfit that we had worn that day at Chuck E. Cheese, better known as the day my life ended. There were UNO cards and her tape recorder that she wanted for me to have so that I could record my songs and send them to her. The last things were two friendship journals, one for me and one for her. We promised to write each other every week. We would be pen pals now.

I gazed out of the window for a moment, looking away from the life I was leaving behind. We both hugged and sang in the back seat. I didn’t want to let her go. It would be okay if only she could come with me. I needed her like Chicago’s Cicero Avenue needed to be cleaned. Her mom swerved from lane to lane not knowing which way to go. We stopped at a gas station close to the Dan Ryan freeway to ask for directions. As soon as she stepped out the car there were two or three men dingy and dusty rushing towards her. She hopped back in the car fast and cracked the window.

“Ma’am, you need some help?”
“No,” Ms. MacNair said.
“You look lost. You sure?” the dingy man asked.
“Well, I am trying to find my way to freeway Eisenhower 290,” she said as she shuffled through the road maps on her lap.
He inched toward the window, “You mean the expressway? Ain’t nothing free ‘round here ma’am but ya gonna need to go straight on down this street, and you’ll run right to it.”

He pointed down the street we were already on, “Thank you.”
The scruffy man put his hands on the window, “You can help me out a little bit? I’m just tryin’ to get some food for my family.”

She dug in her pocketbook and handed him a few dollars with a smug look.

He took it and looked at her, “God bless you, ma’am. Right down that street there.” He then pointed us in the same direction.
His voice resonated in my ears “God bless you.” God doesn’t need to bless her. He needs to bless me. If there is a God. My vengeful thoughts startled even me at the time. That reaction was so natural, but felt so wrong. Blasphemy, I thought. That was the first time I questioned His spiritual existence. It felt so right, but my conditioning made it seem wrong. Among all of my newfound emotions, that feeling was the one most prominent at the time. The closest thing I could connect to any answer, the denial of the creator.

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