Moving, Ice Storm, and Editing: January 20- February 14th

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First, let me apologize for being late with this post! The past month as been filled with a hectic schedule! We have searched for a new home, been snowed-in (twice), packed, moved, and unpacked…all in three weeks! Next, I went head-to-head with the gas company for a week to get our gas turned on just in time for the ice storm of the century (For Georgia, anyway). And that was just managing my family. Professionally, I’ve had to finish edits for my upcoming book release in March so that I made my publishers deadline (again, the night before the ice storm hit!) and plan the book release and blog tour…

And of course, keep up with the home school schedule.

How did that go? Where to begin…

Week one was easy, filled with the joy of not having to stand outside in cold weather to catch the bus, or deal with the issues of other kids being a distraction in class. The classwork was easy and the live classes fun.

Then we got to weeks two and three…

(Queue the music! LOL!)

The next two weeks with the Georgia Cyber Academy were completely different. Instead of following the online daily/weekly work routine in the kids K-mail,(school email/daily communications program), they were sent a checklist of specific classes and test to take that served as a review and allowed teachers to  find out how much they learned at the brick-and-mortar schools they attended. The time it took to complete class work was pretty short since a majority of the work was done on Study Island. As the Learning Coach, there wasn’t a lot for me to do except make sure they were up in time to participate in any live online classes, took notes, and completed the tasks assigned to them for the online class work. (Thank God for that timing because that’s when we were house hunting/packing, etc!)

By week four, both children were assigned a homeroom teacher and their daily/weekly checklist assignments sent out Friday night for the following week, allowing time for them to be prepared for Monday.

And this is where the confusion came in.

Now, instead of following the daily list automatically assigned to their student profile, they must now follow a class regimen tailored specifically for them based on their previous two weeks’ worth of testing. This directs them to specific text book Units where part of their work is done online, and another part through textbooks and worksheets that can either be printed out or done in the Student Workbook. This is also where the Learning Coach will step in and use the Learning Coach Guide to check those worksheets and make sure the kids understand what they have learned before they go back online and take the assessment test. The students need to score a minimum of 80% to demonstrate they have mastered that lesson. If they score less, they have at least two more chances to retake the test by first revisiting the test and seeing where their answers were wrong. After reviewing the lesson, the Learning Coach must log in and authorize the student to retake the test. (By the way, the test are not the same, so there’s no chance of writing down the correct answers and cheating!) This can only be done up to two more times. After that, a teacher should be notified that the student needs more instruction of the subject.

I’ll be honest and admit this is where I slipped up. While I went in every day to make sure they were doing their daily assignments and checking the Materials Needed List, I missed the part that went beyond what text books and worksheets were needed. I missed the section that gave details to what was needed for experiments and other at home class activities that would have helped reinforce what was being learned (this was mostly in Science and Social Studies).

So you know what’s happening this week? Sitting down ahead of time and going through each and every lesson for the week to make sure all items (books, workbook pages, etc.) are ready for easy access, as well as extra materials for any experiments. It’s time to get totally interactive with the lesson plans. It also means going into the K-12 parent portal and joining the live meetings for parents and look for support and suggestions on how to balance school and outside responsibilities (or for me, author blogging and promotions) activities. It also means better time management.  Wish me luck! And I promise the next post won’t be so long coming!

***SIDE NOTE***

While most Georgia brick-and-mortar schools were closed due to the weather conditions, home school kids were still expected to take their classes, because hey, they were already at home! While they also had Winter Break at the same time as brick-and-mortar schools, a majority of these schools closed after Monday in preparation for the ice storm. GCA students were still expected to complete work for the first part of the week (February 10-12). This was a bit difficult due to issues with the OLS program which was down for a couple of hours during the first part of the week, making logging in to participate in live classes or complete online work impossible for students and teachers. Teachers did their best to record those missed classes and email them to students to watch when they could. Once the storm hit and a majority of the state lost power/internet access, automated phone calls went out to all families letting us know to do what we could and not stress if we couldn’t. While my family was fortunate enough to not lose power during the storm, we did have issues with not being able to log in to the system at all. So, next week should be pretty interesting as we all play catch up!

***FUN FACT*** The Georgia Cyber Academy had 700 New Families join the program JANUARY 2014! If your one of these families please drop a line and let me know how it’s working for you! We’re all in this together!

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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Introduction to The Butterfly Memoirs Series is on Sale for .99 cents!!!! LIMITED TIME ONLY!!!

That’s right! To celebrate the upcoming March 6th release of Lonely Heart (Book 3 of The Butterfly Memoirs), the first book in the series, A Heart Not Easily Broken (Book 1 of The Butterfly Memoirs), has been reduced for a LIMITED TIME ONLY!!!! Buy the eBook copy from your favorite local eBook retailer for just .99 cents!

AHNEB Sale with seal pic 450

Already read it? Don’t forget to find out what happens next in Jaded (Book 2 of The Butterfly Memoirs), available for $3.99!

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Amazon      Amazon Stores Outside of U.S.     Barnes & Noble     Smashwords     Kobo     iTunes      Paperback 

And in the meantime, enter the Rafflecopter contest to win an AUTOGRAPHED PAPERBACK copy of Lonely Heart! Come back tomorrow for the COVER REVEAL!!! 

***ENTER THE CONTEST!!!!! *** (Contest has ended)

Winner will be announced Monday, 2/17/14!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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#Cover Reveal- Home Run (Keller Family Series Book Seven) by Bernadette Marie!

Home Run Cover

Release Date: February 27, 2014
Contemporary Romance

In one tragic moment Christian Keller’s life was changed. Now as he picks up the pieces of a lost career and
failed relationship he wonders if he can possibly recoup what he lost. Victoria Lincoln had a promising
future with Christian until an accident took the life of her sister and left her as guardian to her two small children. Now taking on the unforgiving role of mother to her young niece and nephew she is convinced she must move on from the memory of Christian and find a stable partner to share her life with.

Their lives have gone in different directions, but Christian and Victoria’s paths will cross again. It
will take a lot of change to pick up where they left off—if either of them can.

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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Family for the Holiday: A Ebony and Brian Short Story, Part 4

The story continues!

Ebony and Brian’s Gift to you!

Part One- The Meeting- December 23rd- Brian

Part Two- Christmas Eve- December 24th- Ebony

Part Three- Christmas Eve- December 24th- Brian

Christmas Eve: December 24th, Part 4

Ebony

 

“Ebony, baby, wake up.”

I awakened in the dark room to find Brian looming over the bed, his blond hair illuminated by the light streaming through the bedroom window. “What time is it?” I rubbed my eyes. After a day spent shopping and preparing for tomorrow’s activities with my mother and Mrs. Young, I was exhausted.

“Nearly midnight. You were supposed to meet me outside ten minutes ago.”

The mattress lowed on one side of the bed as Brian sat down. I reached out and rested a hand on his thigh. I wanted him to crawl in-between the sheets with me and talk in bed. But I knew my man. Talking would lead to cuddling which would lead to kissing and end in sex. I had no problem with all three activities, but his mother’s rules about un-married couples sleeping together in her house were finite. I was not about to break them.

“Are you sure we can’t talk here? It’s warm and I’m comfortable.” I put on my best smile, but it was no use; he couldn’t see it in the dark.

“Don’t tempt me.” He ran his finders along my hand. “Let’s go, I promise you’ll be comfortable. Be sure to grab a jacket.” He stood and offered his hand.

I still wore my clothes from earlier in the day in preparation for our late night rendezvous. I shoved off the sheets, got out of bed, and slipped on my tennis shoes.

Our fingers linked, I followed Brian into the hall, tiptoeing past the guest room where my parents slept, and his parents’ master bedroom. The lights in both rooms were off, but a faint blue glow ran underneath his parents’ door.

“They sleep with the television on,” he whispered.

We crept slowly down the steps.

“Follow my lead, step where I step,” he instructed.

I nodded and did as I was told; only missing one spot. The creak of that step sounded like a gunshot in a quiet room. We froze; no doors opened. I suppressed a giggle while Brian stifled a laugh.

We made our way through the dark house and out of the sliding-glass door in the kitchen. Instead of stopping at the patio table and chairs on the back porch, Brian retrieved a flashlight from the railing and led me across the backyard.

I looked at the newly built gazebo. “We’re not going there?”

“No. We need privacy. If they wake up and look outside, they’ll see us. We’re headed for the treehouse.” Brian handed me the flashlight and lowered the rope steps. He reached for the light, stuck it between his teeth, and climbed.

I inclined my head and watched. When he reached the top, he looked down. “Come on.”

“I must be crazy,” I murmured, testing the rope to be sure it would support my weight. “If I fall on my ass I’m kicking yours,” I said, loud enough for him to hear.

When I reached the top, I crawled through a small door into a room that was big enough for us to sit facing each other. The flashlight sat on its flat base, the light reflecting off the ceiling and bouncing off the wooden walls. I wiped my hands on my jeans and looked around. Pictures, drawings, and posters lined the walls while a box filled with a variety of toys sat in the corner.

“My father and I built this when I was eight. Now my niece and nephews play here when they come to visit.” He chuckled. “You know, my sisters used to sneak out of the house late at night to make out with their boyfriends when our parents were asleep.”

I laughed. “I assume you did, too.”

His lopsided grin I loved so much appeared. “Of course.”

I shook my head, trying to ignore the green-eyed monster of jealously. It wasn’t often that I thought about the women from his past.

“Don’t worry, I never got past second base with anyone up here,” his eyes turned mischievous. “I’d love to do it with you, though.”

I covered my mouth and laughed. “But your mother’s rule─”

“Only applies inside the house. We’re outside.” He wagged his eyebrows, then reached into a box beside him. “And, I’ve come prepared.” He pulled out candles and a lighter. A large blanket, a small bottle of wine, and plastic cups followed.

Brian always had a way of bending rules to meet his needs. My heart warmed. “When did you have time to do this?”

“When no one was looking.”

We maneuvered around the small space and lay the blanket down. I held the candles while he lit them; he held the cups as I poured the wine.

“This is perfect,” I said after sipping the chilled liquid. “I thought today would never end. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I’ve missed being with you.”

“I missed you, too,” he said, settling against the opposite wall. “So, what went on with you guys?”

I sighed. “In a nutshell? I was told we don’t need to drag our feet with starting a family. Oh, and deciding where to have our wedding is going to be a pain in our backsides.”

Brian lifted his head from the wall. “What?”

I nodded, sipped again. “You heard me. Apparently waiting a few years to have kids is going to make us ancient by the time they get to be teenagers.”

Brian laughed. “Which one of our mothers said that?”

“Both.”

He cringed. “Yikes. And the wedding?”

“Remember when I told you the last time my mother assumed I was getting married she started planning the event?”

“Yes.”

“She informed me she’s already talked to the pastor back home and has the church reserved. All she needs is the date.”

His eyebrows went up. “Okay…”

“Oh, that’s not the half of it. Your mom insisted the church your sisters were married in is the perfect location, especially since your family is so big.”

He whistled. “What did you say?”

“Nothing other than we haven’t decided on a date yet.”

Brian shook his head.

“How was the ride with my dad?”

Brian’s brow rose as he looked down at his near empty cup. “Enlightening and informative.”

It was my turn to look confused. “How so?”

“Do you want the long or short version?”

“Short, that’s all I think I can handle.” I emptied my cup and reached for the bottle.

“He admitted he had reservations about me being white, but said since meeting me and my family, he’s happy if you’re happy.”

“Hey, that’s great news!” Then I realized Brian wasn’t exactly smiling. “Did I miss something?”

His eyes turned intense when what he was about to say was important. “Can I ask you a question? I need you to be honest.”

“Always.” I gave him my undivided attention.

“Your father made some good points about what it takes for a man to support his family. It’s funny, even he mentioned kids.”

I nearly choked on my wine. “You’re kidding.”

He shook his head. “Nope, I got family advice, too, the practical side that is. He made me think about something I haven’t considered before. With both of us determined to see our careers grow, what happens if get you get pregnant before we’ve reached them?”

Instinctively, my hand went to my belly. His eyes followed.

“Would you want to go right back to work, or would you prefer to stay home?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. After talking to my sister, I know daycare can be expensive, and I don’t like the idea of someone else raising my child during the day.”

“Neither do I. But what if we needed the money?”

That was a sobering thought. “What are you saying, Brian?”

He took a deep breath. “I’m saying…maybe I should cut back on the music and focus on building my business. It was a way to supplement my income while I focused on my career. It worked when it was just me, but now…,” he looked down at his cup. “The business has grown over the last few months. If I focus on it, with my cousins help, I can make it into more. We’ll need that type of stability in the future. I can make a decent living off my contract with the studio and playing gigs. The major money is in touring, but I’m not about to go down that path again. The last time was…,”he looked away. “I’m not leaving you like that again, especially if we have a child.”

“Brian, are you saying you’re going to give up everything you’ve worked for because of something my father said?”

He scooted around, as if suddenly uncomfortable with the thought. “I want to provide a good life for you, for us. You’re about to be my wife and─”

“And I want you to be happy about it.” I set my cup down and moved closer to where he sat. His eyes were cast down. I lifted his head until our eyes connected. “Can you honestly say you’d be happy if you put your dream aside?”

I gazed into the cerulean eyes I loved and saw him at war with himself, trying to make himself say something I knew he wouldn’t believe.

“No,” he admitted.

“Then don’t walk away from what makes you happy. That’s like asking me to quite school and give up on becoming a veterinarian because I was pregnant. Not about to happen. I’m this close,” I held up two fingers in demonstration, “this close to earning the degree it took eight years to get. Walking away now would be throwing away eight years of my life. The same for you. You’ve got talent like I’ve never seen before, and you are good at what you do. There’s nothing worse in life than giving up something you love. You’d be miserable, and for what? I’m not pregnant. We have time. I don’t want you regretting our relationship because my father is making you doubt your career. I’m happy with you and your career…now and in the future. What happens next is our decision. Where we work…where we get married…when we start our family.” I swallowed hard, forcing the lump I felt in the back of my throat to go away. If I wasn’t careful, tears would follow.

“Your right.” He pulled my hand that rested on his check to his lips, and kissed my ring finger. Then he chuckled. “And to think, a month ago, we were worried your parents wouldn’t support our relationship. Now we’ve got support, but it’s the real life issues that are stressing us out.”

“Tell me about it.” I settled into his embrace as he pulled me next to him. “What are we going to do about the wedding? Tomorrow is Christmas Day and your entire family will be here. They’re going to expect us to announce a date.”

Brian kissed my forehead. “You’re right. You know, we could always do like my cousin and run off to Vegas. We could sneak away for the weekend, then Skype everyone with the good news.”

I laughed. “Don’t tempt me. I say we don’t worry about what our mothers want. It’s us getting married. Why don’t we find someplace neutral?”

Brian nodded. “I like the way you think. Got someplace in mind?”

“The perfect place. I’ll need to make a call in the morning. What time is it anyway?”

Brian dug his phone out of his pocket. “Damn, it’s way past midnight.”

“Christmas morning?”

He nodded.

“You do realize this is our first Christmas together.” I let a seductive smile play across my lips and saw his eyes light up in response.

His focus went to my mouth as the deviousness I loved came out to play. “Indeed. What are you thinking?”

I scooted away from him and settled down on the blanket. It wasn’t a bed, but it could work.

“I’m thinking we celebrate early. We may not be in our house, but I’m sure I can knock out the memory of Betty Sue or Sara-what’s-her-name who wouldn’t let you get past second base.” I beckoned him over with the crock of my finger.

Brian laughed, put his cup down, and moved the lit candles out of the way. He settled in the space of my open legs, resting his elbows on either side of my head. “You know, I think your right.”

Our lips fused together as my hands dug deep into the blond waves of his hair. The feel of my son-to-be-husband’s body pressed against mine would never get old. I pushed all thought and worry about family aside and focused on what was important…the here and now. The love that we shared. The future we were building.

Now all I had to do was keep from moaning too loud. The neighbors had dogs. No need to wake up the entire neighborhood.

Brian’s mouth left mine and traveled the expanse of my throat. In-between kisses he said, “I love you.”

I sighed. “I love you, too.”

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Come back tomorrow for the conclusion, Part 5!

 

Follow this link to learn more about The Butterfly Memoirs!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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Family for the Holiday: A Ebony and Brian Short Story- Part 3

The story continues!

Ebony and Brian’s Gift to you!

Part One- The Meeting- December 23rd- Brian

Part Two- Christmas Eve- December 24th- Ebony

Christmas Eve- Part 3

Brian

 

My father jumped out of his recliner as his favorite football team scored. “Go, go, go….yes! See, Brian, I told you! Pay up!”

Beside me, my future father-in-law shook his head. “That was just luck.” He dug into his wallet and pulled out the money to pay his debt.

“No, that was an athlete who knows how to play the game,” Dad said, laughing as he collected his winnings.

I dug into my pocket and gave my dad a dollar before glancing at Clarence. He appeared calm, even though his team was losing. The good-natured bets going back and forth between us was an easy way to study the temperament of my future father-in-law. After last night’s handshake, I was still on edge.

He sipped his beer and studied my father’s movie posters on the wall during the commercial break. “Nice man cave you’ve got here, Winfred. I’ve tried to get Anita to let me have one inside the house.” He shook his head. “You’d think after thirty years of paying the mortgage I would have earned a room. Instead, I got pushed out to the garage.”

Both men laughed.

“What we won’t do for the women we love, eh?” My dad supplied.

Clarence raised his bottle. “Here, here.”

Both men looked at me. I held my bottle up in agreement then gulped.

A soft knock on the door drew everyone’s attention. Ebony peeked into the room. “Excuse me, Brian, your mom would like you to run to the store before they close.” She held up a sheet of paper.

I tried to hide my relief. “Sure.”

If I was lucky, Ebony would be able to sneak away with me. After my mother’s invitation to spend the week at the house with everyone else, Ebony and I had gone to our respective homes and grabbed enough clothes for the week. Our original plan had been to spend the rest of the holiday at our new home.

Three weeks had passed since we signed the lease. Ebony came by periodically to help unpack and set things up. A few of her personal items had made their way over. Her official move-in date was a few days after Christmas. Regardless, my attempt to convince her to spend at least one night at our new home and come back in the morning hadn’t worked. She insisted on not disappointing our parents. In the end, not only had I slept alone, I slept in my childhood bed.

My mother insisted we sleep in separate rooms because we weren’t married. She knew we had sex, but my parents were old fashioned. ‘Unwed? No sex in my beds!’ was her motto.

Imagining my fiancée sleeping down the hall in addition to the intimidation of being in the same room with her father made a good night’s sleep hard to come by.

I joined Ebony in the hallway. “How are things in the kitchen?”

She walked over, slipped her arms around my waist, and laid her head against my chest. “Up until twenty minutes ago, fine.”

I caught the change in her voice; she was no longer as excited as she’d been at breakfast.

In need of physical connection as much as she apparently did, I held her tight. “What happened? Is everything okay?”

Before she could reply, I heard the door to the man-cave open behind me.

“Hey, Brian, do you mind if I ride with you? I could use a bit of fresh air.”

Clarence’s booming voice forced me to jump away from Ebony as if we were teenagers caught red handed. My back was turned to him so he couldn’t see my initial cringe as I squeezed my eyes shut.  “Sure. I’ll be ready to leave in five minutes.”

“Let me grab my shoes.” Clarence walked by me, stopped at Ebony, who’d stepped away from me, and kissed her cheek before heading for the stairs.

Ebony watched as he disappeared, then turned to me. “I saw that look. Things aren’t going well in there either?”

I shrugged. “They’re getting along fine. Men are easy. Beer, sports, everything is all good.”

She cocked her head to the side, studying me. “What about you?”

“I’m hanging in there.” It was my turn to study her. “How about you? You guys seem to be getting along great. We can hear the laughter over the T.V.”

Ebony ran a hand over her head. “Woman can be touchy, especially when the subject of weddings and babies comes up.” She shuttered.

I was about to ask for details when I heard her father’s heavy footfalls on the stairs. I kissed her quick. “We’ll talk tonight after everyone goes to bed, okay?”

“Sounds like a plan. Be safe.” She kissed me again and headed for the kitchen.

“Ready to go?” Clarence said.

“Yes, sir.”

***

We were in my truck, merging into the main street traffic when Clarence spoke.

“Brian, I have to be honest. When my daughter told us she’d been dating a white man and that you were engaged, I had my reservations. Even after she told us about what you’ve done for her, I still was wary. Things were different when my wife and I got married, but times have changed. We raised our children to be open-minded, loving, and honest individuals. As a father, it’s hard to imagine your little girls growing up and being involved with a man. You worry about how well they’ll be treated and if the guy really loves them…” His voice drifted off as if in remembering something.  “Then one day they say, ‘Pop, I’m getting married.’” You learn to handle it and move on, but it’s never easy.

“Ebony has always been strong minded, hard-headed, and determined to have what she wants. Ever since she was a little girl.” He chuckled. “I can’t tell you how many times she almost gave her mother a heart attack by bringing injured animals home and hiding them in the garage.”

I smiled, trying to picture Ebony doing those things. Then I felt Clarence staring at me. My smile dropped.

“You’ll have to forgive me if I’ve come off as rude. With everything my daughter has told us over the last few weeks, it was quite a shocker. What happened to her…what you did…the engagement…that was a lot of information to process at one time.”

“And the fact that I’m white.” I glanced over in time to see him crack a small smile and nod.

“And there’s that. Can’t lie and say we weren’t shocked.”

I braced myself for what he was about to say next.

“But since meeting you and your family, I can understand why she loves you. You’re a good man and come from a good family.”

My mouth fell open. I risked a glance as I drove to make sure I hadn’t heard incorrectly.

Clarence watched me, an enormous smile on his face.

“Thank you, sir,” I stammered.

His thunderous laugh reverberated in the car. “You were scared, huh? I must say, you did better than my other son-in-law. Poor boy nearly pissed his pants the first time he met me, and he’s black.”

I found myself laughing. “Well, I didn’t have problems with my bodily functions, but my hand still aches.”

“Sorry about that. I hope it’s not one you play with.”

I shook my head. “It’s fine. I’ve done a lot worse. When I first met Ebony, I did yard maintenance for a living. There were numerous times when I had cuts and bruises on my hands and had to go to the club to play that night. Professionals learn to do what you must for the show to go on.”

He nodded. “True. Which is what I want to talk to you about.”

Something about his words set me on edge. “What’s on your mind, sir?”

“You can call me Clarence, or Dad, whichever one you’re comfortable with.” He watched me nod. “My daughter comes from a family of hard workers. You’ve seen it for yourself. She’s worked hard to get where she is in her career.”

“Yes, sir. I support her with anything she wants to do. That’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with her.” I watched him nod with my peripheral vision.

“So I’ve heard. I understand you have a pretty good work ethic, too. You’re a musician and own your own business. How do you balance the two?”

“I’ve got family; my cousins are running the business for now. I join in when I have time. But working for the record company pays well, too.”

“How long do you plan on staying there?”

“Excuse me?” I gave him my full attention when we reached a red light.

“Musicians tend to move from job to job. It’s not like working for a corporation that pays for your health insurance and gives you a 401K. There’s no retirement fund. What happens when Ebony gets pregnant and you guys need a bigger place? What about when you have a second or third kid? Life won’t get easier. I know my daughter is going to get the job at the zoo she wants, but how long will she be able to work once she’s pregnant? What if she takes off from work and decides she’d rather stay home with the kids. Will you be able to handle the expense with the job you have now?”

Clarence looked at me full on. Nothing about his facial expression or body language said he disliked my choice of careers. He was asking real-world questions based on the reality of the commitment Ebony and I were going to make.

“To be honest…” I gripped the steering wheel. “I don’t know. I’ve thought about some of it, but right now, children are not high on our list.”

“Do you guys have a five-year plan? Ten year? Anything?”

I shook my head. The plans Ebony and I made were about our jobs and getting married. Now that I thought about it, even that was unfinished. We had yet to set a definite date.

“We’re moving in together this weekend.” My eyebrows furrowed. “I guess with everything that’s happened, we’ve skipped ahead a few steps.”

“I’m glad you’re willing to admit it,” Clarence said. “There’s one thing I want you to remember.” He paused, waiting for me to look in his direction. “Nothing is set in stone. Plans can be broken, updated, and reevaluated at any time. Trust me. I’ve been married to Ebony’s mother for over thirty years. Sometimes I knew where we were going in life. Other times, I was flying by the seat of my pants. I didn’t always share the ups and downs with Anita because the stress would have made her worry too much. There were times when I carried the burden alone. As men, that’s what we do to take care of our families. Remember that. But don’t just take my word for it, ask your father. I’m sure he’s got some stories he’ll be able to tell,” he chuckled, “especially when raising five kids. And four daughters?” He whistled. “Two was enough for me.”

I smiled then got lost in thought.

Clarence had given me a lot to think about. While Ebony said she was supportive of my career, how long would it last? We avoided the baby roulette game once, but what if it happened again? We’d welcome our baby, no doubt about it. But what about everything it would take to care for my family?

Insurance. Housing. Daycare. Stay-at-home mom? Could my current career handle all of that on one income?

Yes, Ebony and I were definitely going to talk tonight.

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Come back tomorrow for Part 4!

Follow this link to learn more about The Butterfly Memoirs!

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MJ

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Family for the Holiday: A Ebony and Brian Short Story- Part 2

The story continues!

Ebony and Brian’s Gift to you!

***Miss Part One? Follow this link! ***

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Christmas Eve- December 24th, Part 2

Ebony

My mother-in-law to be led us into the kitchen. “Ebony, Anita, we’re going to have so much fun!”

My mom and I laughed at Mrs. Young’s enthusiasm. We’d spent the day going from store to store, picking up last minute gifts and ingredients for her Christmas breakfast and Christmas dinner dishes.

The Young family’s customs were nothing like my family’s. I watched my mother all day as she stopped herself on several occasions from suggesting where the other woman should place a decorative item or exactly what meals should be on the menu. I had to say…she was a trooper.

This was the first time my mother would not be hosting Christmas dinner at our family home. Every year, no matter where we were, our family dropped everything to be together. Especially since Trevon and I graduated high school and went to college. I’d moved to California while my brother, Trevon, attended college in Atlanta, Georgia. Upon graduation, he made the city his home. My older sister, Lashana, and her husband and daughter were the only ones living near mom and dad.

I snuck a peek at my mom as she accepted the aged recipe from Laura’s family cook book. She scanned the ingredients and plastered on a smile. It wasn’t a dish she was familiar with. When it came to something new, my mother had to be prodded to accept change. I could tell she longed for the dishes she customarily made back home.

I felt a momentary pain of guilt. Once again, my decisions affected those I loved. If I had opened up about what was going on in my life, things would be a lot different now. I would have been home, and Brian would be with me, meeting my entire family. Instead, he had obligations to attend to that kept us in town.

But when I thought about it, things were working out the way they should. Soon, Brian and I would be starting our own family traditions as a married couple. Between my family across county, and his large family in town, deciding where we spent the holiday would be interesting.

Having my parents meet my future in-laws now instead of on our wedding day would make the decisions we made much easier.

“Oh crap, where are my manners?” Laura said. I looked up to see her watching my mother. “We were out all day, so I didn’t ask if there was something you’d like to make for dinner. I’m so sorry.”

My mom smiled. “Oh, it’s not a problem. Everyone does things differently.”

“Yes it is. It’s probably too late to plan a meal. Would you like to make something for dessert?”

My mother’s eyes brightened. “Are you sure you wouldn’t mind?”

“Of course not.” Laura smiled. She walked over to the refrigerator where a mini notepad and pen were stuck on with a magnet. “Write down what you need. Whatever we don’t have, I’ll send Brian to the store to get.”

“Okay, wow, I’m not sure what to make!” My mom put her hands on her hips, deep in thought.

“How about your famous Banana Pudding? I haven’t had it in ages,” I suggested.

“Perfect!” both women said in unison.

My mother jotted down the ingredients from memory.

“Laura, what time is Bridget going to be here?” I asked.

“Bridget?” My mom looked up from her notes.

“She’s one of Brian’s sisters. You’ll love her, she’s a riot.”

“That’s right, I remember you telling me about her. Laura, how many children do you have?” my mom asked.

“Five. Four girls and one boy. Brian is the baby.” Laura selected a pot out of the cabinet, then put her hands on her hips as if reviewing the inventory. “I hear you have twins. How fun was that?” She glanced over her shoulder.

My mother laughed. “Honestly? Not as much fun as you would think during the first few months. Sleep was a commodity not easy to come by. Let’s not talk about potty training and learning how to walk.” She looked at me and shook her head.

“What?”

“Wait until you have your own kids.”

Laura laughed. “Do twins run in your family?”

“Yes, they do,” mom confirmed.

“And that’s why I’m not in a rush to start a family.”

Both women looked at me as if I’d used profanity. Neither woman lacked in the grandkids department. Laura had six and my mother had one. My twin brother and I weren’t in a hurry to add to the Campbell family tree.

“Does Brian feel the same way?” my mom asked.

“Um…yes, we’ve had this conversation.” A feeling of unease hit the pit of my stomach. A quick glance at my mother and seeing the expression on her face didn’t help. “We are both starting out in our careers and want to get stabilized first. I have a few more months until I graduate college, and he’s still making a name for himself at the record label. We’ve got three years until we turn thirty. We’ve got time.”

Both women looked at each other and smirked.

“Baby, I was twenty-one when I gave birth to your sister, and twenty-three by the time you and Trevon came along. I couldn’t imagine doing it when I was older than that.” My mother shook her head. “You have no idea how much energy it took to keep you two out of trouble.”

Laura laughed. “Tell me about it. I started young, too. It seemed like they just kept popping out. Give birth to one, look at Winfred, then I was pregnant again.”

I laughed along with them and ignored the momentary flash back to when there was a chance I carried Brian’s baby. Even then I was sure the Young men were potent. A twinge in my gut made me nauseous.

I pushed the reminder of the decisions of my past aside. There were some things Brian and I chose to keep private.

“When the time comes, I’ll be sure to do a conference call and let you both know at the same time.”

“Let them know what?”

We turned to see Bridget breeze into the kitchen, her arms loaded with groceries, her pixie cut hair tousled.

“Trust me, you don’t want to know,” I warned. One thing I’d learned about Bridget, she was in no rush to be attached to any man, much less have a baby.

She took a moment to study me, looked at the older women, then back at me. “You know…you’re right.” She went to her mother, gave her a hug. “You owe me, Mom. This is the last Christmas Eve where I go shopping. If it weren’t for the fact that Caroline just had her baby…” She rolled her eyes. “Anyway, I’m being rude. Hi, I’m Bridget.” She extended a hand to my mother.

“This is my mother, Anita,” I said, praying her appearance would speed up the change in subject.

“It’s nice to meet you.” Bridget walked over to the kitchen table and grabbed a bright red apple from the fruit bowl, rinsed it off, took a bite, then chewed. “Where’s Dad?”

“Your father, Clarence, and Brian are in your father’s man cave. When it comes to cooking, Winfred stays away from the kitchen, but if it has to do with grilling, that is his territory,” she advised my mom, who nodded in understanding.

“No surprise there.” Bridget took another bite and chewed. “Well, it’s obvious I’m here in time for cooking. What have I missed? Have we started planning the wedding yet?”

“No, but there’s no time like the present.” My mother’s eyes lit up. I knew exactly where this was about to go. “Ebony, I’ve talked to our pastor back home and he said he’s more than willing to perform the ceremony. All we have to do is notify him of the date and the church will be reserved.”

Laura looked up from the cookbook she’d pulled out. “I thought the wedding was going to be here in L.A. The church we attend is beautiful. There’s plenty of seating and all of my daughters have gotten married there. Well, except for Bridget.”

My future sister-in-law rolled her eyes and continued eating.

All eyes centered on me.

I bit my lip. “Well… with everything that’s been going on, we haven’t set an exact date yet, much less decided where to hold it.”

“Well, that’s a no-brainer. North Carolina is your home. You grew up there and have family and friends who haven’t seen you in years. What’s there to think about?” My mother stated.

“Brian has a lot of family here, too. If you have it in North Carolina, a lot of people won’t be able to attend. Andrea and Lisa have small kids, and Caroline just had the baby…”

Both women started going back and forth, listing the pluses and negatives of each location as if I were no longer in the room.

I was scared to utter a word for fear it would turn into World War III.

“Holy crap, I didn’t mean to start an argument,” Bridget murmured out of the side of her mouth when she joined me at the kitchen island.

Both of us watched our mothers, shocked at how fast the ambiance in the room changed from happy to nearly volatile.

“Have you guys decided what you want to do?” she asked.

I shook my head. “Not yet.”

It was apparent that whatever we decided, neither of our families would be happy.

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Check back tomorrow for Part 3!

Follow this link to learn more about The Butterfly Memoirs!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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Spend the Holiday with Ebony and Brian!

A Heart Not Easily Broken(Butterfly Memories) by M.J.Kane

Christmas will be here in a few days and many of you are looking forward to spending time with family and friends. So are Ebony and Brian. If you’ve read their story, A Heart Not Easily Broken, you know when the story ends  it is nearly Christmas and Ebony’s parents are coming to town to meet their future son-in-law. Many readers have said they would love to know what happened. So, after a lot of prodding, begging, and down right pleading, Ebony and Brian have decided to let me (us) in on what happens.

Starting tomorrow (December 23rd until December 27th), they have agreed to share the days events when her parents come to town and meet his parents. Stop by daily for the next glimpse into Ebony and Brian’s continued memoirs!

***UPDATE! FREE READ IS NOW AVAILABLE!***

Family for the Holiday: Part 1

What Readers Are Saying…

“The characters of “A Heart Not Easily Broken were are all very intriguing and captivating …showing emotions through the whole novel…from Ebony, Yasmine, Kaitlyn, Brian, Javan to a few others that I have left out keeping you on the edge of your seat and not being able to put this novel down until the end.”-Amazon Review

***

In “A Heart Not Easily Broken” MJ Kane gives us a front row seat in observing the interracial relationship between Ebony and Brian. The story is told from their perspectives, and addresses the challenges, the insecurities and the potential emotional pitfalls that an interracial couple must face as individuals and as a couple. Some of them are common to every couple. Some are unique to interracial couples. Others are uniquely the challenges faced by a white man and black woman who love each other.- Amazon Review

***

I’ve read quite a number of novels in the IR genre over the years. My interest was primarily due to my own relationship, and the desire to see African-American women portrayed as appealing, interesting, sensual, fully-formed characters – women I could recognize and relate to, and with whom I could go on a journey as I read their stories. I wasn’t always able to find novels that embraced all those elements. However, M. J. hit all those notes, and made me care deeply about the characters. I recognized Ebony. I liked her very much. She was real to me. Her struggles were real. Her dreams and goals were real. Her insecurities were real. Her self-assessment was real.- Amazon Review

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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Home Schooling vs. Traditional Schooling…Yep, We’re Making the Change!

homeLast week, I posted this message on my Facebook page:

Over the last few weeks, my hubby and I made the decision to pull our youngest kids out if school and sign them up for home school. They just got accepted into the program this week. So after Christmas break, no more traditional education.

This morning I got an automated call from the middle school saying they have upgraded security. You can no longer walk into the building without announcing your presence by calling the number listed on the now locked front door. The building had already been locked down, only allowing access to the front office. At this moment, I couldn’t be any prouder with our decision!

To my surprise, thirty-one people liked it and many commented, sharing the fact that they too were home schooling their kids. I had no idea!!

My husband and I have toyed with the idea of home school off and on for the past five years. Then our oldest got accepted into a Fine Arts Magnet program for Orchestra when in the ninth grade. For four years he participated in the program and we watched what started out as a wonderful opportunity start to slowly go downhill as the county had issues with funding and teachers. At the beginning of his senior year, the amazing Orchestra teacher who had been a part of the program left just two weeks before the start of the school. For several months, the program was without a qualified teacher and my son, who had worked hand-in-hand with his teacher, stepped up to handle the class as much as he could until they found a replacement. But, it was never the same. He has since graduated and is now attending college to get his Bachelors Degree in Music. His goal: become a music teacher.

One of my daughters followed in his footsteps and joined the Fine Arts Magnet Program three years ago and is taking Art. Her skills are amazing and she has learned a lot. Now in the eleventh grade, she has only one year left before graduation.

My youngest children are in the sixth and seventh grade, one in a Fine Arts Magnet Middle school for Art, the other attends the local middle school. School has been in session for five months, and we are not satisfied with what our kids are learning or how the teachers are handling our children’s education. After listening to my kids, it seems more time is spent on handling class disruptions than education. The teachers are stretched thin, underpaid, and expected to stay on track with the curriculum. When a student doesn’t understand something, chances are they may or may not get a chance to ask questions and fail assignments because the teacher does not have time to go back over it. Yep, pretty sure a lot of parents have heard this story. So what happens? Your child is frustrated because they fail an assignment, their confidence is destroyed, and it’s harder to encourage them to see the value of their education.

Add the issues of bullying, disrespectful children back talking to teachers, threats of violence, and drugs…

Ask your child what they leaned today and the most you get is a story about yet another fight in class or the fact someone has on the latest Jorden’s and you have to wonder, what are you sending them to school for???

This year, my husband started a concerted effort to learn more about home schooling process. After several phone calls, emails, and online chats with the program coordinators with the Georgia Cyber Academy, we made the decision to sign up our youngest children for the program. Imagine our happiness when we got the approval email saying they were accepted! They have only one week left in traditional school. After Christmas break, they will be learning from home!

The whole concept of the Georgia Cyber Academy is new for me and is going to be as much of a learning experience for me and my husband as it will be for the kids. Here are a few of the preconceived notions I had in the beginning and what I’ve learned so for:

MYTH: You have to have a background in education in order to teach your kids from home.

False! The online programs are set up so that your children receive assignments and take their classes at home, on the computer. They have teachers assigned to assist them. They have scheduled online, real-time class participation with their teacher. If they have questions, they can call, email, or chat with their teacher directly at any time. Learning is more one-on-one than having your student get lost in a sea of 30 plus kids in a classroom. If your child has a learning disability, they have Special Education teachers who will work with you weekly, ensuring your children’s continued growth and education. Entrance exams are given which enable the teacher to develop a system of learning specific to your children’s learning abilities. So whether you child is gifted or needs a little more help, it’s all about them!

MYTH: As a parent, it’s your responsibility to sit and hold your students hand all day while they work in class.

FALSE! Yes, some of your time will be involved, but you will not have to hold their hands. As a Learning Coach, your job is to prep your students for their daily assignments, assist them as they need help, and from time to time, assist them in certain assignments (such as science experiments, etc.) With the higher grades (middle school and high school), and especially if your children are proficient with the basics of using a computer, you don’t have to sit holding their hands throughout each assignment. You are responsible for keeping track of the time it takes to complete an assignment and enter this information as part of their attendance record. There are parent/teacher conferences, Parent Support Meetings with other parents, and the ability to connect directly with the teacher if you need help explaining something to your child.

MYTH: My kids won’t have any friends.

FALSE! The home school community has plenty of programs, clubs, and activities that allow the students, and parents, to connect online and in person. Field trips, parties, and other activities are designed for not only the student, but the parents as well. It’s like a whole new hidden world!

MYTH: They won’t graduate.

FALSE! Home school students must still take the same standardized tests as children do in school, including the Graduation Test, and yes, there is a graduation. (Not sure off the details of the graduation, but I read about it. LOL, with a sixth and seventh grader, I’ve got a ways to go before we get there!)

And last but not least:

MYTH: I can’t afford to pay for the program.

FALSE! The program we are participating in, the Georgia Cyber Academy, is F-R-E-E!!!!!! They will be providing all of the equipment, books, even a computer and printer needed in order to get online.

So, 2014 is going to be an interesting year for my family. Did I mention we gave our kids the option of doing school online versus staying in school? When they found out the difference in the education (online interactive learning vs. standard textbook), the fact that they will have more one-on-one learning opportunities and be able to work at their own pace, they jumped on board! No coercion, no special promises or begging. My oldest, which has one year left before graduation, opted to stay in school and she has our continued support. You can believe there will be blogs coming out of this experience!

So, what about you? If you’ve had experiences with teaching your kids at home, I’d LOVE to hear them!

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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#BlackFriday is Nearly Over…Now What? A Good Book!

Tired from all that BLACK FRIDAY shopping? Ready to give your feet and back a break?

Grab those Thanksgiving leftovers, kick back, and get lost in your NEXT FAVORITE SERIES!

Know someone who loves to read? Give them the gift of THE BUTTERFLY MEMOIRS….Reality Romance filled with stories that touch your emotions and move your soul….

***All books are available on eBook and Paperback!***

Check out A HEART NOT EASILY BROKEN

AHNEB FINAL COVER

What secret would you keep to protect the ones you love?

Ebony Campbell has a decision to make. After falling for a man who is nothing like she expected to be with, the idea of being in an Interracial Relationship takes a back seat to the secret she’s forced to keep. Sometimes, the repercussions of bad decisions and ruin everything.

Available on AMAZON, B&N, iTunes, and SMASHWORDS for $3.99! Also available on PAPERBACK!

 Visit the book page for more information about the series. Become a BOOK VOYEUR and and visit the CHARACTER BIOS, sneak a peek into their DIARY POST, and find the hidden DELETED SCENE. And don’t forget to read CHAPTER ONE!!! 

*****

Already read A Heart Not Easily Broken?

Don’t forget about JADED!!!

Haven’t read either book? Trust me, you’ll want to get both so you can find out what happens next!

Autumn landscape

Once burned, twice shy?

Unable to trust another man with her heart, Yasmine Phillips mind is on one thing: taking care of her. An unexpected friendship with a man who understands her pain leads to a fling that should have no strings. But once that line is crossed, both must decide if the secret that comes between them is worth losing it all.

Available on AMAZON, B&N, iTunes, and SMASHWORDS for $3.99! Also available on PAPERBACK!

***JADED can be read as a stand-alone or as part of The Butterfly Memoirs series. Buy your copy of this 5-STAR RATED BESTSELLER today!***

Visit the book page for more information about the series. Become a BOOK VOYEUR and and visit the CHARACTER BIOS, sneak a peek into their DIARY POST. And don’t forget to read the PROLOGUE and CHAPTER ONE!!! 

Keep an eye out for the next book in the series, LONELY HEART, available March 6, 2014!!!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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#FreeReadsFriday!!!- Jaded (Book 2 of The Butterfly Memoirs)

Welcome back to another #FreeReadsFriday where I share ‘what happens next’ in order to wet your appetite for a good weekend read!

This week I’m focusing on Chapter 2 of the Amazon Bestselling Novel, Jaded, the second book in The Butterfly Memoirs Series. If you haven’t read Chapter 1, take a second and check it out:

Jaded- Prologue and Chapter 1

So what happens next?

Get to know  Zachariah Givens, the man I like to call ‘The Quiet yet Passionate Hero”. 😉

Chapter 2

 

“Mr. Givens, there’s a customer on the line asking for you.”

“Thanks, Ralph.” I studied the flashing lines and sighed. I needed someone who could handle the in-store portion of the job. Ralph, a gangly-looking college kid, made an excellent technician, but his customer service skills were seriously lacking. “Which line?”

He shrugged, sheepishly.

I glanced at my watch, four-twenty-five, not long before quitting time. Perfect. With any luck, I could short cut through traffic, take my mother something for dinner, talk, and be home by seven.

That would leave plenty of time for exploring the benefits of my latest technological gadget. The newest iPad had everything I wanted and more.

First, I needed to send this week’s time sheets to the corporate office, then take my tour around the store and turn off the display computers for the night.

I grabbed the phone and handled three of the five calls on hold in record time; none of them were the customer who’d asked for me. Ralph was still on the original call.

I answered the next call on hold in time to hear an angry curse and the phone disconnect as soon as I spoke. At the same time, the door to the shop flew open and a light-skinned woman wearing heels, a skintight skirt, and a loosely buttoned shirt, stormed up to the counter. She didn’t appear pleased.

“First of all, the customer service phone etiquette here sucks.” Her eyes were blazing as she focused on poor Ralph who appeared to shrink two inches from her glare.

Then she zeroed in on me. Her grey eyes squinted in recognition. I remembered her as well. How could I forget a woman with skin the color of coffee with too much cream and eyes the color of steel? Her body was worth every ounce of admiration.

“You,” a red colored fingernail pointed at me, “you’re…,” she referred to a paper in her hand, “Zachariah Givens?”

“Yes,” I replied, ignoring the flash of heat running to my groin. The woman was sexy and annoying at the same time. Unfortunately, it was impossible to appreciate her looks while she shot daggers at me.

“I remember you. You came to my hotel two months ago and said I needed to upgrade my computer when it crashed. You patched it up, thanks again, but now I need a new one… like yesterday need a new one. I need what you listed here, but instead of one, I want three of them. I don’t have time to waste doing this again.” She waved the paper in front of my eyes.

My hands were resting on the counter top as I counted to ten, and then to twenty, before unclenching my teeth. Patience. Let her vent, get it out of her system, and then we could move on.

“Well, aren’t you going to look at this?” The paper waved again, sending a slight breeze of perfume.

Damn, she smelled good.

I counted to thirty, then reached out and waited for the paper to settle in my hand. Our eyes held for a moment before my attention went to it. Yasmine Phillips was her name and it was one of the last jobs I did as a technician before my promotion to store manager.

I studied my notes. “Do you still need authorization to place this order?”

“No, my father has no choice because the computer didn’t crash, it burned. I still have the metallic taste in my mouth.”

I glanced up. Bad idea. Her tongue ran over pale pink lips. Another shot to the groin. I adjusted my stance, glad to be standing behind the counter.

“I don’t have three of the computer systems listed. We have two of them­”

“Two? That is not enough.”

I glanced over the rim of my glasses. “I can get a third one from our sister store, but it will take a day or two.”

“Not acceptable.” She chewed on her bottom lip.

My attention went to her mouth. Focus, man. Why did this woman turn me on? She was nothing like anyone I’d ever dated. Then again, I had no interest in dating.

Ever since Melissa had left.

I did not want to think about her. Not now, not ever.

I walked over to the nearest computer and input the specification of the model in question. “It appears we’ve got something that will still fit your needs. There is an older model on clearance. That will leave some breathing room in your budget.” I explained the details of the computer and watched her eyes glaze over when she stopped listening.

“So it will do everything I need and save money, too?”

“Exactly, and there are three in stock.”

“I’ll take them.” She dug into her oversized purse for her wallet.

With the size of that thing, I expected a poodle or some other small dog’s head to pop up.

“Do you accept corporate cards?”

I nodded. “As long as it has a Visa or Master Card logo.”

She handed me the card and waited for me to type up the paperwork. “Will this be a self-installation or do you need a professional install? There’s an additional fee, per computer.”

“Professional install. Since they are clearance items, do they still come with warranty?”

“Yes, and there’s an additional discount from the warranty from your previous computer, which will increase your savings.”

“Thank you. Now, I need them tonight and—”

“We don’t have an installer available tonight. I can put you on the schedule for tomorrow morning.” I glanced up as her face went from the softened look of relief, to angry again.

“No, I need it tonight, not tomorrow. In fact, I need an entire hard drive saved so I can retrieve some important work.”

I glanced over at Ralph who had finally completed his phone call and looked worse for wear. As great as he was at his job, sending him to handle a triple install with a woman like Ms. Phillips would probably send the poor guy home crying.

“I don’t have anyone available for tonight. Ralph can come tomorrow morning. He’ll get you taken care of and see what he can do about your hard drive.”

She glanced over at Ralph who now quivered in his boots. “No, I want you. I don’t trust anyone else.”

“Unfortunately, as store manager, I don’t do customer installations anymore.”

“That’s not going to work for me. I need you.” Her eyes zeroed on me and softened slightly, almost like a plea.

I loved my job and the money was good, but a day hadn’t gone by when I didn’t miss going on service calls and working alone. I reviewed my options. Dale and Stephanie would be here in the morning and both were great techs.

I studied her. Her cat-like stare bore into me, waiting for my reply. She was determined to have her way. If I said no, I was sure she’d have a challenging remark to convince me to get the job done. I liked challenges. Working with Ms. Phillips seemed like a challenge. Since tomorrow was my day off, ensuring she was a satisfied customer, wouldn’t be a problem. I could handle this job off the clock. It would be a great change of pace.

“How about this…I’ll do the install myself in the morning. What’s the earliest I can arrive?”

“I’ll open for you anytime.”

I swallowed hard. Her statement, coupled with the ‘I need you,’ was not helping. I ignored my thoughts, chalking it up to over a year of celibacy and the presence of a fine woman. How the hell did she manage to stir me up on so many levels?

“How about six a.m.?”

She grimaced. “I’m not a morning person, but I need this done, so six it is.”

I finished writing up the sale, processed her payment, and handed her the receipt. To my surprise, she held out her hand to shake mine.

“Thank you, Mr. Givens. You have no idea what this means to me.”

With that, she disappeared out the door and into the cool evening air.

***

“Zachariah, you don’t have to hang around with me,” my mother said.

“I know.” I reached into the cabinet for two plates, silverware, and cups.

I studied my mom’s profile as she peered into the bag of chicken wings and French fries. She was still too thin to my liking, despite my attempts to help her eat healthy. Six months of chemotherapy had taken its toll, whittling away the vibrant woman who raised me. Her skin had lost its healthy glow; her caramel complexion waned and held a dark grey undertone.

Her long graying mane no longer graced her shoulders. Once her hair began falling out due to chemo treatments, she’d had it cut low. It had grown since then, but she decided to keep it cut short, barely longer than my own close shave. I missed the grey and black curls that once adorned her head. They had been a testament of her wisdom and amazing ability to persevere through the hardships of her life.

Yet, despite everything she’d endured physically and mentally in the last year, her eyes still conveyed the true beauty of her mind.

I loved my mother. Not just because she was my only living parent, but because she taught me so much.

After setting the dinnerware on the table, I took a moment to pull her into my arms while being sure not to squeeze too tightly. Even though her cancer had gone into remission, and she no longer received chemo, her body still ached.

She sighed and leaned against me. “I enjoy you checking on me, but you need a life of your own, son.”

I kissed her forehead before releasing her. “You are my life, Mom.”

She laughed lightly. “You know that’s not what I mean.”

I bit back my reply because no matter what I said, this conversation was going in one direction.

“You need a wife, Zachariah.”

I selected a few chicken wings from the box, put them on my plate, and followed up with celery sticks. “Been there, done that. It didn’t work.”

“That’s not true. Engagement is not the same thing as being married.” She picked up a wing without setting it on a plate and nibbled.

I didn’t like the fact she wasn’t eating a lot. She seemed to enjoy protein shakes more than actual food.

“Close enough,” I muttered before stuffing a hot wing in my mouth.

Melissa. For the second time today, her name popped up in my head. Damn. The thought of her messed with my appetite. Not wanting my mother to give up picking at her food, I forced myself to chew.

“All things happen for a reason, baby, whether we agree with them or not. Melissa was not meant for you.”

“Maybe, but it wasn’t because you had cancer. Don’t tell me you got sick so we would not get married. That’s messed up.” Unable to chew further, I tossed my wing on my plate. My mom didn’t even blink.

“Zachariah, you know that’s not what I meant. I got cancer because I got cancer. Melissa left because she wasn’t the woman you needed. She didn’t support you in your time of need, and I was the sick one. What do you think would have happened if you had gotten sick? The poor girl would probably have run home to her parents the moment she learned you were ill. Marriage vows include staying together through sickness and health, not just for richer or poorer.” She smirked. “I don’t think Melissa would have handled the ‘poorer part’ too well either.”

I wiped my hands on my napkin and allowed myself to smile. “Yeah, she was money hungry, which was not new. I would have provided for her, given her everything she wanted and then some.”

“True, and she would have drained you dry, financially and mentally,” she added, disposing of the wing she had finished. I held my breath and waited for her to pick up another one; she did.

“I know how to pick them, huh?”

My mother patted me on the knee. “One day, when you least expect it, the woman of your dreams is going to walk into your life and knock you sideways. Mark my words.”

I thought about the woman who’d come into my shop. Ms. Phillips was probably on the same high-maintenance level as Melissa. All beauty and attitude wrapped into one. I could imagine what her man put up with in order to be with her.

Then I pictured her body without the hip hugging skirt and low cut blouse covering what I imagined would be perfect breasts. One night with her would make a man overlook her issues.

I chuckled. “Glad at least one of us feels that way.”

I sure as hell didn’t.

####

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***JADED can be read as a stand-alone or as part of The Butterfly Memoirs series. Buy your copy today!***

 Autumn landscape

A devastating breakup leaves Yasmine Phillips in shambles. Unable to trust another man with her heart, she focuses on the one thing she can control—starting her own business.

 When her computer crashes, taking months of hard work with it, she must rely on computer genius Zachariah Givens to save her. A complete opposite of men from her past, she doesn’t expect the passion that ensues. But just as she finds happiness, she learns the truth about the other women in Zachariah’s life.

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***Read as a STAND-ALONE or as part of The Butterfly Memoirs series!***

Looking for Book 1? Follow this link to learn more about A Heart Not Easily Broken!

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MJ

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