A lot of people have been requesting excerpts from my book. My first reading from the book release party was very well accepted so I figured I’d share a little more to peak the interests of those who are still on the fence of getting my book. Enjoy, but beware…some excerpts might contain spoilers!
Stepping outside, Ty’s eyes stayed fixed on the car across the street. He puffed up his chest in an intimidating way. The moment he started to make long strides toward the street, the car that was sitting there sped off, leaving tire marks and white smoke in its departure.
Michelle walked swiftly to the curb where Ty had stopped walking.
“Ty, who was that?”
He turned back to Michelle, his face now back to a more gentle expression. “Nobody. I don’t want you to worry about that.”
A moment passed and his phone chimed. Pulling his iPhone out of his pocket, he inspected the screen and stepped away from Michelle as he hit the talk button.
“I have to go, Michelle. I’ll call you tonight.”
He didn’t even give her a chance to wish him good night. Before she could blink, he was already in his car. He took off down the street nearly as fast as the black car had done seconds ago.
Michelle stood there confused. She didn’t know what had gotten Ty so up in arms, but she did have a feeling that it had something to do with the black car.
As Michelle turned to walk back up her driveway, she heard a car pull up. Turning, she saw the same black car. She froze. She couldn’t see who was inside the car, but she knew that they were watching her. Michelle could feel their eyes burning through her.
Just as quickly as the car pulled up, it took off again, this time more slowly than the last. She felt that they were trying to send her a message. Whatever it was, she knew it wasn’t a good one. It was something they wanted her to think about. Maybe something Ty should be thinking about too.
Either way, Michelle couldn’t wait for her parents to get home, because she knew it would not be the last time she would see it. She just wasn’t sure what would happen when she saw it again.
As Ty stepped into the house, he avoided eye contact for a while as he hung up his coat in the closet. He brushed past Michelle and entered the living room. Slowly he turned to face Michelle who was still in the foyer with her arms folded.
“Are we gonna talk now? Or we gonna yell?”
Michelle walked quickly, closing the space between the two of them. “No, you’re gonna talk. I’m going to listen. Why are you so hell bent on getting married so fast? I mean, we still need to get to know each other, don’t you think?”
He stared down at his feet in deep thought and then locked eyes with Michelle again. “Baby, I love you. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be trying to get married so quickly. I wouldn’t care if you wanted to get married 10 years from now, but I do care and I want you to be my wife as soon as possible. I love you.”
Michelle tilted her head to the side, feeling herself give in a little. She began to wonder if maybe she had been looking at it all wrong. Maybe she should have been flattered that he wanted to be married so soon. She had been so busy accusing him of being spoiled that she didn’t stop to wonder if he was suggesting a quick wedding because he wanted her as his wife so badly. That and the fact that he was probably sexually frustrated. She could understand that, too.
She took a few steps closer to Ty and brushed his arm with her fingertips.
“I’m sorry. I’ve never been engaged before. Maybe I’m just a little nervous about being engaged and married all in one month. If that is what you want, then I can handle that. I love you, Ty. I want to make you happy. You make me happy.”
The women nodded and continued eating, their faces not able to hide the worry that they felt for Ty.
Michelle headed down the long hallway that held a library and a study. As she walked, she could hear muffled voices coming from one of the rooms. She stepped into the bathroom and turned on the water, slipping her hands into the cool stream as she stared at her reflection in the mirror. She didn’t want to take too long in the bathroom and risk missing the conversation that was taking place across the hall, so she flushed the toilet and turned off the water.
Re-entering the hallway, she saw that the door was cracked enough to allow the hushed conversation that was going on between Ty and Rashad seep out. Leaning toward the door, Michelle listened.
“Yo man, I think you need to let her decide what she wants to do. By you not tellin’ her, you’re takin’ that power from her. That’s not okay wit’ me.”
Ty finally spoke up, his voice low and harsh. “Don’t tell me what to do with my damn life, Rashad. You’re tellin’ me to tell her and let her decide if she wants to stay or not? What do you think she’s gonna say man? Seriously.”
Rashad fell quiet for what seemed like an eternity and finally spoke again.
“Listen, I told you I’m not for this. So I hope you’ll forgive me if it happens to slip at some point.”
There was a rustling sound and raised voices, mostly Ty’s. Michelle pressed her body closer, trying her hardest not to move the door and alert them to her presence.
“What are you doing?”
Michelle turned, her eyes wide with surprise. There, Patricia stood with her hands on her hips and a curious look on her face.
Michelle stepped away from the door.
“I uh…I was going to the bathroom and I wanted to check on Ty. You know, make sure he’s okay.”
The study room door swung open and both men joined Patricia and Michelle in the hallway.
Ty broke the silence. “What’s goin’ on?”
With a shrug, Patricia stared at Michelle.
“Your mom asked me to come and make sure Michelle was alright. I came and she was just standing here in the hallway.”
Everyone’s eyes fell on Michelle, who was standing in what now seemed like an accusing circle. Her heart was pounding. Damn Patricia for putting her in that position. She could have at least tried to cover for her, but the look on her face showed that she was amused by the whole situation.
Standing up straight, Michelle glared from Rashad to her fiancé. “Okay, I have nothing to hide. I was going to the bathroom when I heard you two talking. So I stood here…and listened. I’m going to ask this once: What is it that I need to know?”
A look of worry crossed Ty’s face. Rashad kept the same emotionless face that he had worn all day. He just stared from his brother, to his wife, and back to Michelle.
When no answer came, Michelle raised her voice and posed the question in a different way.
“How about this: One or both of you better say something or I’ll get my luggage and Shiloh and I will be on the first damn plane out of here.”
Rashad stepped toward Michelle and then stopped in his tracks as she moved away from him.
“Michelle, we weren’t talking about you at all. Ty didn’t want to tell our mom that he thought it would be better if she moved to New Jersey so he could take care of her. She hasn’t been feelin’ good lately, so I thought he should let her know that he planned on moving her back out by him.”
Her eyes searched Rashad’s face for the truth, and then looked at Ty. From there, she turned to Patricia, who was now standing with her mouth agape and her eyes as wide as saucers.
Facing her fiancé, Michelle asked, “Ty, is that really what this was about?”
Sighing, he moved toward her and rubbed his arm.
“Yup. Sorry I didn’t talk to you about it. This was kind of a family matter you know?”
Michelle sat with her mouth open. “What does that mean?”
Getting back into the ambulance, he sat next to her. “It means that they suspect arson.”
Michelle scooted to the edge of the gurney, her eyes as big as saucers. “What are you saying, Ty? That my shelter was set on fire…on purpose?”
He sighed. “They can’t be sure, but that’s what they are suspecting.”
She had heard enough. Pulling herself up off of the gurney, she jumped out of the ambulance and headed toward the burned shell of the house. She reached the walkway and halted as a few firemen exited the house and stopped her from proceeding.
A tall man placed his hand on Michelle’s shoulder. “Ma’am, it’s not safe to go in there.”
Michelle stopped. “Is it true that my house was set on fire on purpose?” He nodded. “We’re being very careful not to speak too soon, but from what we’ve seen, it was not an inside source. We’re working on finding the source of the fire now.”
Ty finally caught up to her and wrapped his arms around her. “Babe, we have to go to the police station. They will need to write a report now that we know this wasn’t an accident.”
Turning to her fiancé, Michelle wiped away tears. “Who would want to do this?”
Ty pulled her into his arms. “I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out. Don’t worry.”
Michelle sat forward in her seat and looked at the man walking out of her front door seconds before the house went up in flames.
The officer held his hands up. “Well, allegedly. We can’t say that he did any of this just yet, but we are investigating.”
Slamming her palms against the desk, she raised her voice.
“Don’t tell me ‘allegedly’! I’m looking at a man who is leaving a house that is filling up with smoke and you’re gonna look at me and say ‘allegedly’?! ‘Allegedly?’”
His partner interjected. “You have to understand that there is an order to all of this. We need your help. Does the man on the video tape look like someone you might know?”
She closed her eyes.
“He came to my office a few weeks ago. Said he knew someone who needed a place to go, but he made me feel really uncomfortable. There was something not right about him.
Both officers sat up simultaneously. “Do you have a name?”
Michelle looked up at the ceiling, trying desperately to get that memory back.
“Um…something like Amir. Yeah, it was Amir Washington.”
“Is there anything else you can tell us about this man? Did he leave a business card or tell you anything that could be useful to us?”
She lowered her eyes, thinking as hard as she could. “No, he didn’t. He seemed more interested in me than anything, to be honest.”
The police officer raised an eyebrow. “How do you mean?”
“When I was younger I was raped, and he was so curious about that. He was really intimidating. Everything about him made me nervous.”
The two men nodded at each other.
“Okay, Ms. Marshall. We have everything we need for now. We’ll contact you if we need more information from you.”
She stood and exited the office not feeling any better than she had when she entered it an hour ago. Seeing those videos of the person who probably murdered her friend had sent chills down her spine. She had been in the same room with him and could have very well fallen victim to his scheme.
Looking up at her sister, Michelle realized what she was suggesting. She would be lying if she said that she hadn’t had similar thoughts, but having someone actually vocalize it was a totally different thing. There was no proof that Tiara drugged them, if that was what was being insinuated.
Michelle closed her eyes. “Mya, please don’t make this hard on me. She already spoke with Ty and he’s asked Chris to be a part of the wedding again, so there really isn’t any other choice right now.”
She sighed and pointed a finger. “Fine, Michelle, but I’m telling you right now, something is not right with that woman. I don’t trust her. Be careful.”
Rising from her seat Michelle wrapped her arms around her little sister. She knew that Mya was only trying to look out for her.
The women returned back to the table to find everyone having casual conversation about the day’s events. Tiara sat at the table eating red grapes. The look on her face was one of satisfaction. Michelle couldn’t help but wonder if she had gotten a rise out of the uproar she had caused between the women on the most important and special day of Michelle’s life.
Sighing, Michelle pasted a smile on her face. “Ladies, we have a long day ahead of us so eat all that you can, but not so much that you can’t fit into your dresses. We have massages at 11 and makeup and hair at 3 o’clock. It’s New Year’s Eve and we’re gonna have a good time.”
Michelle eyed Tiara. She wasn’t sure that she could trust that they really had the conversation that Tiara was saying they did. She thought she had moved past harboring bad feelings about her, but now looking at her, she knew that wasn’t true.
She watched as Tiara leaned in and caressed Ty’s cheek. She was just a little closer to him than Michelle liked. Obviously Ty felt the same. He quickly grabbed her hand and pushed it away from him.
“Keep your damn hands off of me, Tiara. Last time!”
She watched Tiara put her hand on her hip and tilt her head to the side. Once again, what was being said became inaudible. The only thing that Michelle could read was their body language. Tiara seemed to be calm, cool, and collected while Ty seemed to be uncomfortable and defensive. The one thing that interested Michelle was the familiarity that they seemed to have. From the very beginning, Ty had an obvious dislike for the woman. He had been very clear with Michelle that he didn’t want her around and Michelle had never questioned it…until that very moment.
Taking a deep breath, Michelle stepped out from behind the wall and headed down the hall toward Ty and Tiara. Suddenly the heaviness of her dress didn’t seem so bad. She moved with ease. If the two of them were trying to have some sort of private conversation, they would be able to have it with her standing there.
Halfway down the hallway, the two of them turned to see Michelle moving toward them. She watched as Ty’s chin hit the floor. Tiara, however, wore a look of satisfaction and amusement.
Michelle stopped directly in front of them.
“You two seem to be in deep discussion on our wedding day. You wanna share what’s so important that you sneak away at a time like this?”
She looked from Tiara to Ty. The question was directed at her husband, but she would have taken an explanation from Tiara as well.
Looking from Michelle to Tiara and back to Michelle Ty explained, “Tiara drank too much. I just brought her out here to calm down a bit. I think she’s feelin’ a little better though now, right Tiara?”
Rolling her eyes, Tiara started up the hallway, but not before facing Ty.
“You’re a damn liar, Ty. I know it, and one day she’ll know too. Go to hell.”
Michelle watched Tiara stomp off down the hallway and then disappear around the corner.
Michelle turned back to Ty with fire in her eyes.
“Lying Ty? Really? Lying about what?”
He simply shrugged his shoulders and stared at the ground.
“She’s drunk, Shelly. Come on now. Don’t let this ruin our wedding, okay?”
Ty reached for Michelle’s hand and she forcefully pulled away.
“A drunken mouth tells the sober truth. You ever heard that before, Mr. Austin? I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time you straight-up lied to me.”
Ty stood up straight, his tall frame towering over Michelle.
“Michelle I haven’t lied to you. What are you talking about?”
Before Michelle could get out the words she had been dying to say all day long, Carol came running down the hallway.
“Oh thank God! What are you two doing? It’s time to cut the cake!”
Ty looked back at Michelle, studying her.