Search This Blog

Monday, April 27, 2009

Betting on Love Blast!


Pre-order your copy today at www.amazon.com

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Upcoming Book signings

April 26th
Spring Fling
A Celebration of North Carolina Romance Authors at the East Regional
Library on Sunday April 26th at 2:00 pm.
Directions:

Take the ramp onto I-40 E

Merge onto I-440 E

Take US-64/13-B New Bern Ave exit

Merge onto New Bern Ave/Rt 64

Continue to follow New Bern Avenue

You will pass Golden Corral on your left, DQ on your right

You will pass Lonestar and Target on your left, Lowes Food Store on your
right

Turn left at Smithfield Rd-that intersection has a Hardees, Walgreens, CVS
and Exxon at
its corner

You will go up a small hill (Martial Arts studio on your left)

The East Regional Library is on your left across from the Lockhart
Elementary School
(if you see Forestville Rd you have gone about a block too far)

May 2:
Borders at Stonecrest Mall
Lithonia, Ga
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

May 16:
Barnes and Nobles
Magnolia Mall
Florence, South Carolina
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Your Free Weekly Read: From The Ex Files

The moment I got in my car, I knew I needed to call the tribe. I could imagine what my best friend, Eva, would say about Xavier’s invitation and my acceptance of it. Still, she was the first person I called.
“Eva Rice,” she said when she answered the phone.
“What’s up, E?”
“Pilar Brooks, what’s going on?”
“Do you have plans this weekend?”
“Umm, a stack of manuscripts to edit, but nothing fun and exciting, why?”
Sighing, I steeled myself to hear my friend tell me how crazy I am. “I’m going to a wedding reception and I need you to go with me.”
“Who’s getting married?” Eva asked.
“Xavier.”
“Hold on,” she said. In the background, a door slammed. This is it, she’s about to let me have it.
“You mean Xavier Brooks, my goddaughter’s father and your ex husband is going to get married and you’re going to the reception? Have you fell and bumped your crazy head?” Eva snapped. “And you want me to go for what reason? Xavier and I have never gotten along.”
“If you don’t go, them I’m not going to have anyone to talk to. Kendall is probably going to be up under her daddy. Go with me, please.”
“What’s in it for me?” Eva asked.
“Whatever you want,” I said, then immediately regretted it.
“All right, I’ll go, but don’t expect me to be on my best behavior. By the way, I’m coming to your house with a bottle of chardonnay, cook dinner.”
“You got it,” I said.
“And don’t bring something home from the restaurant either,” Eva warned as if she saw inside my brain.
Moments later, I pulled into the parking lot of Miss Cherry’s Dance Studio to pick up my six year old daughter. Kendall is the light of my life and proof that my marriage to Xavier wasn’t a waste of seven years. I watched my daughter, her head filled with brown braids dance out of the front door of the studio. The smile on her cocoa brown face reminded me of her father, but the way she moved her small body took me back to a time when all I had to worry about were dance recitals and practicing the piano. Now, it was all about protecting her. Rising from the car, I crossed the parking lot to Kendall.
“Hey, Mommy,” she cried excitedly as I bent down to hug her.
“Did you have a good practice?”
Kendall shook her head. “I’m going to be the lead swan! Daddy’s going to come see me dance, right?”
Forcing a tight smile on my lips I nodded. “He said he’s going to be there. I’m so proud of you. What do you say, I make your favorite dinner and we celebrate, after you do your homework.”
“Okay,” she said.
We piled into the car and headed home, though part of me wanted to go check on my other pride and joy, The Sweet Spot. But going there would mean my night would end because my staff would show me problems or I’d spot them myself. Besides, it was Xavier’s night to pretend he was the general manager of our restaurant. The Sweet Spot was the other thing that made me realize Xavier and I didn’t have horrible marriage. When I told him that I wanted to open my own restaurant, one that specialized in decadent desserts and southern meals, he was all for it. Xavier encouraged me to quit my bland office job, cash out my 401 (k) and live my dream. For the first year, money was tight and Xavier took care of the house hold bills. When I was about to give up, because the restaurant didn’t seem to be making it, Eva and Xavier gave me the kick in the behind that I needed.
Eva, who ran a public relations firm, created a media campaign that got me and my restaurant featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Essence, Ebony, Black Enterprise and Everyday With Rachel Ray. The business picked up almost overnight. Soon, the Sweet Spot was one of Atlanta’s elite restaurants and I was pregnant with Kendall. It should’ve been a happy time for me, but it was around this time when my marriage began to crumble. Xavier and I argued all the time. Sometimes it was because the kitchen was cluttered or there were too many baby things sitting around the house.
Sometimes, I felt as if he didn’t want our child and I questioned him about it several times.
“Of course I want this baby,” he’d say. “This is just too much, the restaurant and . . . Pilar, I love you and I’m always going to be here for our baby.”
But what about me, I’d wonder, but never say. It wasn’t until Eva showed up on my door step one night at eleven-thirty, that I knew something was wrong.
“Where is your fucking husband?” she’d demanded when I opened the door.
“Eva, what’s going on?”
My friend dropped her head and tugged at her growing locs. When she looked up at me, her eyes flashed anger, then sadness. “You know you’re like the sister I never had and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t know what I’m about to say is a fact.”
“You’re scaring me,” I’d said as I clutched my stomach. Kendall had been kicking up a storm.
Eva placed her hand on my shoulder, “Are you okay? Do you need to sit down?”
“No, the baby is kicking like crazy. He does this every night.”
“I hope it’s a girl,” Eva said as she’d walked into the foyer. “Because if it’s a boy, he might turn out like his dad.”
Needless to say, my then husband and best friend didn’t like each other. They merely tolerated each other out of respect for me.
I led Eva into the kitchen and poured us two glasses of milk. She’d looked at the milk and shook her head. “I’m going to need the wine you’d drink if you weren’t pregnant.” She stood up and walked over to the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of wine. Without even asking, as was the way we did things, Eva had retrieved the wine bottle opener. As she twisted the cork, she turned to me.
“I fired Debbie today.”
“I thought she was the best assistant you’ve ever had?” I’d asked as I sipped my milk.
“Because the bitch is pregnant,” Eva said harshly as she popped the wine cork out.
“You know that’s illegal.”
“Well,” Eva said as she filled a large plastic cup, “I fired her because she said the father is. . .” She took a huge gulp of wine before saying, “Xavier.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Life on the mid list

My life on the mid-list

Published 02.03.09

Every year — probably every day — thousands of people chase the dream of being a published author.

In 2001, I made a $99 investment in my own literary fantasies. Eight years later, with nine books in print, I'm living the dream ... sort of. Sure, I write books that get published, but I'm stuck on what's known as the "mid-list."

A mid-list author, like me, is considered to be someone worth publishing because their books make money ... just not millions.

As an author of romance novels, my books aren't hardcover, which makes it even harder to get on the bestsellers list. But romance-themed books are some of the top-selling titles out there, especially when the cover price of a new novel in paperback is under $7 and hardcover novels are at least $25.

I've signed with an agent, and I have a contract with the New York publishing house Kensington Books. I've even tried to be prolific like Prince and push out a book a year. So far, it's been working. When reviewers get my books now, it's not a question of who I am anymore. But that still doesn't make me rich or famous.

But, it's better than it was when my first book went on sale via the Internet.

Print-on-demand publishing was just getting started, and I was working as a journalist in Winston-Salem, N.C. After I wrote the last sentence in my book, I recalled an interview I'd done with author Natasha Munson. Munson published a self-help book with the online service Iuniverse.com. I looked up the Web site, and that week they were running a special; I was so excited. I thought: "Hell, I'd blow $100 on something over the next week anyway; why not put it to good use?" Then, I'd either get the writing bug out of my system or I'd be the next Terry McMillan or John Grisham.

Keep in mind, I'd been trying to get published since high school and had foolishly sent my full manuscript to Penguin Books. (And yes, I still have that rejection letter.)

As the arts and entertainment editor at The Winston-Salem Chronicle, I'd been talking to a lot of authors who were self-publishing. It seemed to be the way to go to get your book out there.

What they failed to tell me, and what I didn't know, was that bookstores don't order books they can't return. And guess what's non-returnable? You got it: self-published books.

But I digress.

It took three months for my book, Searching For Paradise, to be published; there were revisions and a job change. I left Winston-Salem and went to High Point. Paradise was a coming-of-age novel based on the life of women just graduating from college. Like most first-time authors, I chose to write about something I had the most knowledge about. I was fresh out of college, and it wasn't at all what I thought it was going to be. I wanted my next book to be something different. And since the majority of my day was spent covering catastrophes as a police reporter with the News & Record, I needed a release.

That's when I decided to write my first romance novel.

In two months, I was done with my first draft. But unlike my first book, I wanted someone to pay me to be published, instead of the other way around.

This time, I did the research and found a publisher who accepted manuscript proposals from new writers without agents. That was me all day. And I was tired of searching for a literary agent -- because most of them were just scammers. Why pay a fee when reputable agents charge you nothing up-front?

I sent one prospective agent a query letter and some sample chapters; he wrote me back requesting the entire manuscript. When I received that letter, I pumped my fist and jumped around my apartment as if Publisher's Clearing House had just knocked on my door. This was a New York agent. Simon and Schuster is in New York. I was on my way ... or so I thought.

Two weeks later, the agent sent another letter that grounded me like a lead balloon: "I received your manuscript; however, your check for the $150 reading fee was not included. Please send the check as soon as possible or the manuscript will be destroyed."

Instead, this "agent" received a self-addressed stamped envelope and a request for my work back.

I would've given up, but my new book Revelations was special to me, and I decided to find my own publisher. I was determined not to go the self-publishing route again. Authors who have success publishing and selling their own books are a special breed. They have to go out and convince booksellers to give them a chance. Back in the day, there were plenty of independent bookstores that would allow a self-published author to come in and have a signing (for a percentage, of course). But many of those stores are gone now. And while online sales are great, I've learned that if readers like your books, they want to meet you. You'd better damned well hope they like you, too, because your sales will suffer if they don't.

I wanted my book on the shelves of bookstores. I had never read a story like mine, and I was sure that other people would relate to it or at least like it. Then, I'd be Nora Roberts. And my book would be made into a cheesy Lifetime movie, and I could move to New York and write from a sidewalk café all day. (Yeah, I had very unrealistic expectations. But, if you're going to dream, why not dream big?)

I joined every online writer's group I could find, hoping that networking with other writers would point me toward that coveted bestsellers list. By this time, I'd interviewed a dozen or so best-selling authors. They'd all had one common thread: They faced rejection before hitting the big time.

I could do this. I was born to do this. And then it happened: I received a letter that didn't say "no."

Genesis Press wanted Revelations. I thought this was fitting and funny. Less than three years ago, they'd turned down my first book. At the same time I was offered a contract from Genesis, I found an ad from a new literary agent out of Maryland. Though I had been offered a two-book deal, something told me to go ahead and reach out to this agent. I had hopes that I wouldn't be greeted by another scam or rejection.

I e-mailed Sha-Shana Crichton and, to my surprise, she e-mailed me back the same day. My synopsis had caught her eye, and she wanted the entire manuscript. Yes! When I told her that I had been offered a contract, she seemed even more interested in signing me as a client. And signing with her was a good thing because she renegotiated the contract that I was ready to sign and secured a better two-book deal for me as well.

It was 2002, and I knew it was only a matter of time until I was sipping espresso in Greenwich Village.

What I didn't know was that unless you're with a large publishing house, like a Random House, and your name is Dan Brown or Eric Jerome Dickey, you've got to do your own publicity.

It'd be great if people just picked up your book because they wanted to give a new author a chance, but that isn't the case. Just read the reviews of books on Amazon.com.

And when authors call bookstores and ask to set up a signing, the response isn't very positive. It's as if the bookseller is wondering, "If you're going to sell so many books, why are you calling and not your publicist?"

But who could afford to pay a publicist upwards of $400 a month? That money doesn't guarantee that you'd get coverage in regional, local or national publications or that your book would be reviewed.

I figured: If I can write a book, I can write a press release. It also helped that, working as an editor, I saw press releases on a daily basis; some were good, some bad. So, I tried being my own publicist for about a week, and let's just say a full-time job, a deadline for book two and life in general made it a little difficult to keep up with details like who had received a press release and the location of my next signing.

Thank God for friends. One of my good buddies works in public relations and was ready to start her own company right around the time that I realized I needed a publicist. We came to an agreement: She handed over her contacts, and I sent out the press releases from her e-mail address.

It worked. By 2006 when my book, The Business of Love, was released, I was finally getting the publicity I wanted.

Book signings are another way to meet the public and another way to find out that being famous on MySpace doesn't always translate into sales.

I've had the pleasure of attending some great signings -- like the time the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library hosted me at the Beatties Ford Road branch the day after Valentine's Day. While my ego would love to take the credit for packing the house, it was probably the free chocolate that got people in the door.

I've been invited to discuss my work with two book clubs in Charlotte and one in Jacksonville, Fla. Those women take to your books and while you're in their presence, you feel like your work actually matters. You can look over your shoulder and see Hollywood calling.

Then, you have an experience like the one I had in Columbus, Ga.

Part of me always looks for a chance to get to Atlanta. A few of my books have been set in Atlanta, and when I was invited by a book club to come to Columbus for a meeting, I jumped at the chance. The meeting was on a Sunday, so that meant I could spend Saturday in Atlanta with my best friend. I was looking forward to this meeting, hoping that I was really expanding my reach and would soon be off the mid-list.

Columbus is about two hours from Atlanta, which makes it about six hours from the Queen City -- and that's not counting traffic and road construction.

So, we were to meet at a local Cheddar's restaurant; however, when I arrived, there was only one person in attendance. Part of me wanted to turn around and leave, especially since I had thoughts of canceling earlier that day. But I took a deep breath and decided to stay. The conversation was great, and after dinner, I was ready to go. But, another book club member showed up. Now, I could say two people in Columbus knew who I was.

The drive back to Charlotte was hell on wheels. When I got on to I-85 North, a wave of sleepiness washed over me. I was too far from my friend's house to go back and too close to South Carolina to stop. "This is just great," I said aloud as I rolled the window down to let the cool air slap me in my face. "I'm going to die before I make it to Oprah." I think laughing at myself (and nasty truck stop coffee) kept me awake long enough to make it back to Charlotte.

Once you show a bookseller that you can sell books, they don't mind having you back for a signing. But in these economic times, it's nothing to call up a store where you had a good showing only to find out that it's permanently closed.

This happened to me in both Atlanta and Raleigh.

The former B. Dalton at Crabtree Valley Mall was the first place I really felt like a star. By the time my 2006 titles, Second Chances at Love and The Business of Love were released, B. Dalton was closed.

And as plans were being made for my book tour in support of More Than He Can Handle, my favorite store in the Atlanta area, Waldenbooks in North DeKalb Mall, was no more. That bookstore had the perfect location for a signing: right next to the bathroom and the movie theater. People couldn't help but stop by your table. Most of the time they bought a book; but more often than not, you got people who would say, "I'll be back." And when they did return, they zoomed past you so quickly, you forgot that you were supposed to sell them a book.

Dealing with chain bookstores when you're not a bestseller is akin to pulling teeth at times, even with a publicist. Phone calls go unanswered, and messages and e-mails don't get returned. It's enough to make you want to scream. But Charlotte is a city with great independently owned bookstores and booksellers who want to help local authors. And let's be real: When a bookstore hosts a signing, the store isn't taking a big risk because what books they don't sell they can return -- unless the author signs every book. (Yes, I've done that before.)

Being a mid-list author means you're always in danger of losing your contract, so you do whatever you can to get those numbers up. You have book signings in hair salons, you send out 1,500 e-mails each week and you pray that someone connected to Oprah reads your book.

But all that said, all you can do is hope that the reviews are kind.

They aren't always.

Of course, one person's one-star book is another reader's favorite. A lot of times, a critic's favorite isn't always the author's top pick.

For instance, Let's Get It On was one of my favorite titles. I wrote about Charlotte, football and sex. It gets no better. Romantic Times Magazine didn't like it so much.

In a two-star review, the magazine said, "there's no connection, emotionally, to the main characters, which makes it hard to cheer for them."

Getting a bad review is like someone telling you that your child is ugly. I've always believed that I can learn from each review, good or bad -- but, hey, it stings.

Then you read what the readers have to say.

"I loved this book!" D. Lee wrote on Amazon. And countless other e-mails I received about this book just let me know that you can't please everybody.

It takes a lot to make it on the mid-list. I'm more than aware that there are plenty of people who'd like to be in my shoes. I'm thankful to have a contract, especially when Publishers Weekly constantly reminds you that the publishing industry is in big trouble with layoffs at big publishing houses. Maybe that's why being a bestseller has become part of my mission these days.

That's also why it's good to have friends and family on board with your dream. So many times my sister has been in Wal-Mart and sold my book to a shopper wandering around the book section. My mom sells my books in church -- and I'm certain we're going to hell for that because these novels are really steamy. When my dad was waiting for a kidney transplant and had to undergo dialysis, he got his nurses hooked on my books.

So, my plan for 2009 is to kick it up a notch. It's time to step out of my comfort zone and hit cities that I've never visited before to build a bigger fan base.

I'm hoping that if I make the right moves, then maybe I'll be able to write my own happy ending.

The Betting On Love cover


WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS…

High-stakes action and even hotter men are all Jade Christian wants now that her scheming boyfriend has aced her out of his bed and their successful company. But her Vegas weekend spree has turned into several nights of steamy no-strings sex with easygoing businessman James Goings—and he’s becoming the one bet she can’t resist …

IS JUST THE BEGINNING…

Growing up in the shadow of his famous athlete brother taught James that focusing on his career was far safer than trusting beautiful women. His sizzling encounters with Jade could almost change his mind … if he wasn’t afraid she’d use him for revenge on her ex. But the more he sees of the real, down-to-earth woman behind the seductress, the more James will risk to win her love for a lifetime…

An Interview with Eric Benet

Singer loving life
Eric Benet’s brings new outlook on Love and Life to Charlotte
By Cheris Hodges
The last time we saw R&B singer Eric Benet, he was defending himself against his divorce from Academy Award winning actress Halle Berry.
For a while, people knew Benet as Mr. Halle.
“Take that as an occupational hazard,” he said of his time with Berry. “I was with somebody who was internationally famous and successful. Had I been a recording artist who made the mistakes that I did with someone who wasn’t famous it definitely wouldn’t have been quite as earth shattering to the press. But it overshadowed things for a while.”
Those days are gone and with his latest CD “Love & Life,” Benet has shown that he’s moved on to better things and the focus is back where it belongs—on his music.
“I’m at this really great place in my life right now where I like singing, dancing and laughing and making love and just experiencing the fruits of being a little wiser and a little older,” says Benet. “It feels good. People have been listening to this record and they tell me first it sounds good and the songs just make me feel good.”
The singer who performed in Charlotte on Oct, 12 at the Neighborhood Theatre and if you want to be seduced lyrically, you want to be in the audience.
Just what is one of his favorite songs to sing on stage?
“My favorite song to perform is ‘Chocolate Legs.’ The reaction to ‘Chocolate Legs’ is incredible. It just touches people, specifically women with chocolate legs in a powerful way,” Benet says. By the time he reaches the second verse of the sensual song, he said the crowd is whipped up in a frenzy.
How could they not be? Check out these lyrics:
“Your cocoa skin against mine, babe/Is all I need to help revive me
Just touch me and I feel pure, pure love/You're the only thing I'm ever sure of(your love I'm sure of)/I need some reminding/That God is still, He's still behind me/Baby, come take my soul and set me free/When you come wrap your chocolate legs 'round me.”
And when he’s done crooning about “Chocolate Legs,” Benet said the crowd wants to hear “Femininity,” a single from his 1996 “True To Myself” album, “A Love of My Own,” from 1999’s “A Day In the Life” and “Spend My Life” the hit single he made with Tamia. Who probably won’t show up at the Neighborhood Theatre with Benet. “That would be nice but she just had another baby and she and Grant [Hill] are doing their thing and being wonderful, happy, beautiful couple.”
Benet oozes sexuality without the overt crassness of some R&B artists [R. Kelly]. “When the idea of a sexy song comes to me, I just treat that with what I find sexy to me,” he said. “I think when you’re too overt and try to hit someone over the head, it’s not as sexy as the subtleties and the creativeness of it. I think that’s a lot more sexy and I come from the school of the Isley Brothers, making love between the sheets and Marvin Gaye, let’s get it on and sexual healing. Those songs were extremely sexy but not vulgar.”
Take the lyrics to his song “The Hunger,” while there’s no doubt that he’s talking about the newness of a sexual relationship, the lyrics are smooth as silk.
“Did you know that you smile when you're asleep?/Is it there all the time?/Or only when you're with me?/When the morning sun shines on your face/Let me be the first breath you take.”
But sex isn’t all Benet sings about on the new album, he touches on the war in Iraq.
“The best music comes authentically from the heart and that’s just been the best way for me to write. I’ve always been the kind of song writer that where ever I am in my life that’s going to come through in the music.”
And the other stuff that’s happened in his life has taught Benet a few lessons as well.
“Most of my life I feel like I’ve been the kind of person who looks for validation or wants people to like me to feel good about myself,” he said. But after the media storm during his marriage to Berry, Benet said he doesn’t rely on that anymore.
“For a while, I couldn’t rely on that. I had to love me for me and keep it moving,” he said.

My interview with Terry McMillan


Acclaimed author Terry McMillan is coming to Charlotte.

McMillan will take the stage with fellow New York Times Bestselling author Omar Tyree on Saturday at the McGlohon Theatre.

This event is a part of the "Change is Coming to Charlotte" Event Series. Sponsored by RealEyes Bookstore and the Charlotte Literary Festival, the "Change is Coming to Charlotte" Event Series is a fundraiser for the Charlotte Literary Festival and the Kickoff to Writing Scholarship Program.

But before McMillan hits the stage, she gave Creative Loafing 15 minutes to pick her brain.

Creative Loafing: What do you think of the current state of the literary market?

Terry McMillan: Based on what's going on with the economy, the market is tougher, especially for African American writers. And there's so much of the street fiction out there that it's starting to cancel each other out. As far as African American writers in general, there are a lot of fine young writers out here, who are not getting the kind of attention that they deserve. Good quality fiction has seemed to fascinate the publishing industry as much as some of this other stuff, because it doesn't seem to have been selling. But, I think publishers are getting tired of this fiction that is written with all of this gratuitous sex and violence. It doesn't represent what's going on. It's not even pleasurable to read. Some of that stuff is scary.

So, what are you currently reading?

I just started reading James McBride, "Song Yet Sung." And I started reading a memoir by a writer, a southern writer, his name is Rick Bragg.

Do you plan on ever writing a memoir?

No. My life hasn't been tragic enough and plus, I don't think my life is all that interesting. And I don't want people to know--this is my business. I write fiction to express and explain a lot of things that I see happen to people and some of which that has happened to me, emotionally, but I can dispense with it through my characters. To me, it is a lot more redeeming. I love memoirs, especially really good ones. But there have been some horrific things that have happened to people, but I don't think that one of the things you need to write a good one. But what's been happening over the last few years is the more shocking it is, the more they think it is interesting. You don't have to have a catastrophic life to write a good memoir.

What are you working on now?

I'm working a novel, yes, Lord. I just changed the title of a chapter. What was it called? "If I Sit Still Long Enough." That's not the chapter now; it's called "14 Years." That's the name of a chapter, but the novel is called "Getting Back To Happy." I'm about two-thirds through it. I'm going to read from it in North Carolina. I cannot believe how many times I've been to North Carolina. I just came back from North Carolina, I was in Greensboro, I was at Wake Forest [University].

Oprah Winfrey bought the movie rights to your novel, "The Interruption of Everything." Are we ever going to see this book on the big screen?
Want to read more? Log on to: http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/theclog/2009/04/14/fifteen-minutes-with-terry-mcmillian/

Monday, April 13, 2009

Your Free Weekly Read: From The Ex Files

The economy is tight for all of us and as much as I want everybody to buy my books, I know some people might not be able to pick up one right now. That's cool, hopefully in November, you'll be able to pick up "Betting On Love."
You can always check out my books on Amazon.

But until then, I want to share a short story with you, titled From The Ex Files. I plan to update it for the next four weeks until the story is done.

From The Ex Files
By Cheris Hodges

As my ex-husband sat across from me at Starbuck’s holding my hand and pleading with me to attend his wedding reception the next weekend, I realized why our marriage didn’t last.
This man didn’t understand the meaning of the word no. Or as my brain was screaming, hell no.
“Pilar, we’ve always been friends, I want you to be there.”
“But I don’t want to be there,” I replied as I took a sip from my frothy latte. “Kendall will be there, I’m going to see to it.”
Xavier Brooks smiled at me as he did when we were students at North Carolina A&T University and my heart did the same somersault that it did that first day he’d said hello. If only I could reach into my chest and replace that organ with one that wasn’t effected by Xavier’s bright smile and white teeth.
“I’ve known you a lot longer than I’ve known Kendall,” he said.
Part of me wanted to toss my coffee in his face. “You idiot, Kendall’s your daughter.”
Xavier’s smile faded. “I know that, but once upon a time you were my best friend and that’s all I was trying to remind you of. This is a special day for me.”
And your new wife is a damned bitch, I don’t like her and I don’t want to be around the two of you, is what I wanted to say and what I should’ve said, instead, my reply was, “Fine, Xavier, I’ll be there.”
Reaching across the table, he took my free hand in his and kissed it gently. “Thank you.”
Despite my smile, what I was saying to my ex in my head wasn’t nice at all. “I have to go,” I said. “Kendall’s going to be done with her dance rehearsal soon. You will be here for her recital next Sunday, right?”
“Umm, I think . . .”
“I think you’d better be there or I’m going to kick your ass.” Rising to my feet, I was beginning to see another reason why Xavier and I had divorced. He was quite the disappointment and he was selfish. “Kendall will be looking for you and if I show up at this reception of yours, you’d better have your ass on the front row watching our baby dance like a swan.”
Xavier gave me a mock salute. “Yes, ma’am. And Pilar, thanks.”
Turning my back to him, I grabbed my purse and car keys. I was not going to tell him that he was welcomed.