Table of Contents
Also by Electa Rome Parks
The Ties That Bind
New American Library
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England Published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Originally published by Xlibris Corporation.
First New American Library Printing, November
Copyright © Electa Rome Parks, 2002
Readers Guide copyright © Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2004
All rights reserved
Top image: © Matthew Alan/CORBIS. Middle image: © Digital Vision/Gettyone. Bottom image: © Elizabeth Young/Gettyone.
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:
Parks, Electa Rome.
Loose ends / Electa Rome Parks.
eISBN : 978-1-436-28825-5
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read.
—Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826
Uncle Robert, 1925-1999
In dedication to a strong, black man who lived it . . . Rest in peace.
I believe that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.—Author Unknown
Whew! Where do I begin? This past year has been a year of self-discovery, education, and forming ties with many new and talented writers. 2003 was an amazing year! Thank you, God, for giving me a measure of talent and the faith to have the ability to follow my dreams and find my true niche in life. You’ve been so good to me!
To the many avid readers, bookstores and book clubs that have shown me love, praise, support and encouragement on this wonderful journey, thank you; it means more than you’ll ever know. You’ve truly touched my heart.
Special love goes to my husband, Nelson, and our two children. You guys gave me hugs, smiles, kisses, words of encouragement and, most of all, the space, peace and quiet to complete this project. In my household, that’s almost a miracle (smile).
Thanks to Tresseler Rome for her constant feedback and for always asking, “When are you going to finish that book? What’s going to happen to . . . ?” In your own way, you proved you were proud of your big sister. Remember when we were small and I called you Tress the Pest (LOL)? This is your year, 2004.
To Laymon Taylor, DaJuan Crooms and Jordan Rome, thanks for playing a major role in my life. Your being here comforts my soul. Betty Rakestraw, you always go the extra mile. Sonya Morris and family, I know I can always call on you.
To other family members and friends (you know who you are), thanks for accepting me . . . for me. Buffie Stroud and Audrey Thomas, I appreciate and embrace the kind words of love and support.
Sharron Nuckles, you’ve been here from day one and you’re still here. That says it all. Remember Columbia, S.C., and the house party? Girl, I’m still laughing. Thanks for being a true measure of real friendship. Plus, you know all my secrets (LOL).
Special thanks to my agent, Marc Gerald, and editor Janete Scobie for making everything run smoothly and providing a seamless transition into mainstream publishing. I couldn’t have done it without you. You guys are godsends.
Mardessa Smith, of Jadis Communications, Inc., thanks for helping me take it to another level. You didn’t know pep talks were part of your package, did you? I told you I met you for a reason . . . I’m still waiting to do lunch.
Thanks go out to my network of writing buddies. I’ve learned so much from you guys. Thanks for keeping it real: Hope C. Clarke, Magdalene Breaux, Sybil Barkley-Staples, Tim Everett and Clark Kent. Keep hope alive!
I have to shout out a few bookstores: Marcus Williams at Nubian, Fanta at Oasis, Nzenga at African Spectrum and Nia at Medu Bookstore, thanks for opening your doors and your hearts and allowing me an opportunity to reach my wonderful readers.
Shout-outs to the following book clubs: Shani Book Club, Obsidian Book Club, I’m on My Way Book Club, Sister 2 Sister Book Club and It’s a She Thang Book Club, thanks for your gracious hospitality and support.
Shout-outs to Rawsistaz, Sharon Hudson, Disilgold, A Nu Twista Flava,
magazine, Wetaugust, APOO, Literary World, Flavah Reviewers, the Nubian Chronicles, Lori Holman (my number one fan) and TNC Reviews for providing a positive medium for the writing community.
Signing off in Atlanta, Georgia. Remember, the only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking. I think I’ll go and write for a while. . . . I have this wonderful idea for a story about this woman who . . . Stay tuned. Peace and many blessings.
I had the dream—or should I say nightmare—again last night. It was terrifying, as usual. I awoke with my thin white top drenched in sweat, my heart pounding away a mile a minute. In the dream I was fast asleep, lying on my back, totally nude, and
was straddling me.
When he awakened me from my sleep, roughly kissing me on my partially open lips and placing his hot, urgent tongue inside my mouth, I realized he was someone I should fear. At first I opened my mouth to scream, but then I looked into his brown eyes and they possessed me, hypnotized me with their power. It was as if he were looking into my soul—and I was lost.
I couldn’t fight him. I slowly opened my trembling legs and he entered me with a savage fury. It was as if his very existence depended upon conquering my womanhood. Unbelievably, I desperately wanted him inside me, and my already moist walls eagerly accepted his ever-expanding manhood. His hungry mouth devoured my throbbing nipples, right as I was on the brink of sheer ecstasy. He pounded away at a frantic pace, his large hands encircling my neck and squeezing with all his might as he cried out, “Why, tell me why did you betray me?” Then I woke up . . . gasping for breath.