The Maya Angelou stamps were issued today, and I had to go get them! A wonderful addition to my stamp collection!
The Maya Angelou stamps were issued today, and I had to go get them! A wonderful addition to my stamp collection!
“Mom, I think you might have Alzheimer’s.” Coming this spring.
I recently discovered that many readers would like to see longer book excerpts. So, with no further ado, here is an excerpt from ALL FOR LOVE, my classic romance of the love story of a business woman and the most famous entertainer in the world:
I eeny-meeny-miney-moed a decision to go left, and started out in search of the office. After wandering aimlessly for a minute or two, I heard an elevator bell from somewhere in front of me. I headed for the sound, hoping it was someone who could direct me.
I heard running footsteps, and a voice cried, “Look out, man!” a second before something big came flying around the corner I’d just reached and ran smack into me. I would have fallen, but a strong arm suddenly encircled my waist, and held me erect. I looked up into the deepest, darkest eyes I’d ever seen.
“Hey…Wow…I’m really sorry! Are you all right? Did I hurt you?”
“No…no, I’m fine,” I gasped. I wasn’t hurt, but sure had the wind knocked out of me.
“Man!” he said, looking down at the things that had flown out of my purse when I’d dropped it. “Look, let us pick these up. That’s the least I can do after almost maiming…” he turned and looked at my face for the first time, “you…” his voice trailed off.
That’s when I realized this man with his arm still around me was…Darryl Bridges!
He must have realized he was still holding me at the same time. We abruptly stepped apart. I was still trying to catch my breath. “What’s your hurry? Where’s the fire?”
“I’ve got a press conference across town in twenty minutes—though that’s no excuse for knocking a lady semi-conscious, Miss…?”
“Mrs….Delaney, Angela Delaney.”
“I’m Darryl Bridges.”
“Yes. I know.” This brilliant statement was all I could think of to say.
By this time a guy in Darryl’s sizable entourage had picked up my things, and handed me my purse.
“Well, I…Uh…could I drop you somewhere?” Darryl asked.
“No, I’m staying here. In fact, I just checked in.” I couldn’t resist adding, “Besides, if you get in any bigger rush, the reporters at that press conference will be interviewing a ball of flame.”
Darryl started laughing just as the older guy next to him said, “Yeah, we’d better light a fire under it, man. You’re due there in fifteen minutes. The limo’s waiting.” He gestured down the hallway. I surmised it connected with the parking structure next door. They were no doubt leaving this way to dodge the throng of press and fans out front.
“Yeah, Sam, okay.” Darryl answered him, while never taking his eyes off me. “Are you sure you’re all right?”
I smiled, “Positive. But you’d better hurry. After all, it’s not like they can start without you.”
He laughed again before turning to go. “Guess you’re right. Well…uh…goodbye.”
They started off again. Darryl turned and waved just before they rounded a corner.
Mercy! What a man! I almost said aloud. He’s even more handsome in person! And why can’t I find somebody that…nice? I had to laugh aloud at my own foolishness. Angie, you run into the most famous entertainer in the world, and all you can think of was that he was “nice?” But he was. Talking with him had been as easy and natural as if he was some guy I met in line at the grocery store. There wasn’t any “kiss my ring—I’m a star” about him.
I went through the discussion with the caterers, and my afternoon meeting in a daze. I was fortunate that my presentation wasn’t until the next day. I wasn’t thinking very clearly. I kept seeing Darryl’s dark, probing eyes before me. I was grateful to finally get to my room after the seminar ended.
I took a shower, and went over the notes and visual aids for my presentation. Just as I was nearing the end, the telephone rang. When I answered, a vaguely familiar voice said, “Hello? May I speak to Angela?”
I wasn’t sure who it was, but had the feeling it was someone I knew. “This is she,” I acknowledged, half my attention still on my materials.
“Hi…uh…this is Darryl Bridges.”
My first impulse was to say “Yeah, right—and I’m Aretha Franklin. Now who is this really?” But something stopped me. Now I recognized the voice—it really was him. I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t think of anything to say. After a few beats he asked, “Are you still there?”
I focused a bit then, and feeling like a real jerk, answered, “Yes…uh…I’m still here. I’m…I’m just so surprised…”
He cleared his throat, “I probably shouldn’t have called out of the blue like this….If it’s a bad time…”
That brought me back to life. “No…oh, no, Darryl. It’s not a bad time at all. Excuse me, I was so startled you were calling I forgot my manners. How are you?”
“Just fine. Listen, I had to see if you were all right after having me line block you this afternoon.” His warm mellow baritone sounded just as good spoken as it did in song.
“Right as rain. It’s really thoughtful of you to call.” Despite my best efforts, there was a small quiver in my voice.
“No problem. Sorry to just run off like that. Sometimes my schedule is tighter than a new shoe.”
“I can imagine. I heard you have a concert tomorrow in Miami?”
“Right. We’re on the way there now.”
“You’re driving down?”
“No, flying.” He paused, “Can’t see much, but I think we’re close to Orlando right now.”
“It must be exciting…traveling all over the world.”
“It can be, but it can get old, especially when I’m near the end of a long tour, like now. Do you travel much?”
“I travel a fair amount for my job, although most of my business trips are a lot closer to home than Atlanta.”
“Lansing…Lansing. That’s the state capital, right?”
“Yes. You know your geography…but then I guess you would.”
He laughed, “Yeah, I do move around a bit.” He paused then asked, “You live in Lansing with your…uh…family?”
“Most of my family lives in Detroit. I moved to Lansing two years ago for a promotion. But my daughter Tiffani lives with me.”
“Just your daughter? No Mr. Delaney? You’re divorced?”
“Oh.” He sounded ill at ease, “I’d noticed you weren’t wearing a wedding ring. I’m sorry. Was…was it recent?”
“No, it’s been sixteen years now. But enough about me,” I said, quickly changing the subject. “Where are you going after Miami?”
We began discussing his tour. From there the conversation went on to travel in general, and California, where he lived, when I told him I’d never been there. I was surprised he wanted to talk so long to me—someone he didn’t even know. But talk he did.
I got the feeling he not only wanted to, but needed to talk. It reminded me of years before, when I’d done volunteer work at a community center. He reminded me of some of the people I talked to then, especially some of the older people, who maybe lived alone, and had no one to talk to. Sometimes they’d go on and on while I was helping them, talking about everything under the sun. And I’d let them, knowing they were enjoying the opportunity to just talk to someone.
I got the same feeling with Darryl, but I enjoyed every minute of it. He was an awesome conversationalist. He expressed himself so well, and had such astute insights. I was caught off guard by how bright he was, and by his off-the-wall sense of humor. He’d traveled all over the world, and I loved hearing about the places he’d visited. And he had one rare additional quality—he was a great listener. He really listened to me, and his perceptive questions showed it.
We wound up talking almost an hour. Finally, he said, “We’re about to land, guess I’d better get ready. It’s been really great talking to you. Would…would you mind if I call you again sometime?”
I caught my breath. “No, of course not, Darryl.” I gave him my telephone numbers. “I’ll look forward to hearing from you.”
“Fantastic! Well, gotta run. Talk to you soon.”
I just sat for a while staring at the phone. Had I actually spent the past hour talking to Darryl Bridges?
I’m a HUGE Empire fan, and I just remembered that there’s an homage to Terrence Howard (who plays luscious Lucius) in my book, FANTASY:
“Hot damn! My brother, you look like Terrence Howard, Denzel, and President Obama all rolled into one!”
I incorporate Black History into my books, and as promised, throughout this month I have been posting excerpts from my books that reference Black history. I’m closing out Black History Month with this final excerpt from WISHING ON A STAR:
“Would that it were that simple–no pun intended. At least there was a President named Woodrow. My name’s not Woodrow, Shay.”
“It’s not? Well, what is it?”
Woody looked at her self-consciously for a beat before saying softly, “It’s Woodington.”
“It’s ‘Woodington’, Shay.”
Shay paused a moment before asking, “Uh…How did you wind up with a name like Woodington?”
He smiled resignedly, “Wait; it gets worse.” He stood, and drew himself up to his full height, “My full legal name is Woodington James Hollister–the third. So you see how I got it. I inherited it.”
Shay blinked, “Good Lord.”
“Woodington was my great-grandmother’s maiden name, and her father was born a slave. He was one of the first post-slavery blacks to get an education, and he became a teacher.” Wood paused a moment, remembering.
“I’m sure you know that during slavery it was illegal for blacks to learn to read,” he continued. “Anyone who taught a slave to read was severely punished. So my ancestor spent his life teaching other black people how to read. However, even though slavery had by then technically ended, he was caught teaching–and lost his life because of it.”
Shay looked up at Woody, spellbound by this tale.
“He had no sons. Understandably, my multi-grandma, his daughter, was proud of him, and didn’t want his name to die with him, so she named my grandfather Woodington.”
“What a sad–and beautiful–story. It’s a name you should be proud to bear.”
“It’s a mouthful. When I was a kid, I got teased, and sure got into enough fights because of it. But when I got old enough to understand… Yes, I am proud of it.”
Ernestine Johnson kicks off the Arsenio Hall Show with an amazing and moving performance of “The Average Black Girl.” You will get chills from this performance. Booking: Aris@xceltalent.com website: http://www.ernestinejohnson.com
I incorporate Black History into my books, and as promised, throughout this month I will be posting excerpts from my books that reference Black history. The excerpt that follows is from FANTASY:
“There before her was a set of bent, rusty shackles, and the crude document displayed next to it said in indelible words across the top—BILL OF SALE.
Sameerah closed her eyes and just stood trembling. Some soul, some poor human soul, had once worn those shackles. Had been sold like a piece of meat. And who knew—perhaps the blood of that hapless soul even now flowed through her own veins.
Sameerah forced herself to open her eyes, to gaze upon the sight. Whoever, whenever, this unknown ancestor had lived and died, Sameerah felt obligated to share a least this infinitely small portion of his/her pain.
And then she saw it. Throughout the years, throughout the centuries, a small drop of blood was still visible on the fetters, bonded now to the crumbling metal for all eternity.
Sameerah could take no more. She turned and ran blindly from the room, out into the fresh, flower scented air. She darted down a narrow pathway, and found a bench hidden behind a bush. Sitting down, she crossed her arms and hugged herself, rapidly rocking to and fro. Despite the dazzling sun and the heat of the day, she felt chilled, chilled to the bone.
“Sam?” Tony sat down next to Sameerah. “Sam, what’s the matter, baby?”
And Sameerah reached out to him, to his warmth, to his life force. She found herself in his arms, trembling. “Did you see them?” she hoarsely whispered.
“Yes,” Tony replied. He seemed to know nothing further was required, as he just sat beside her, cradling Sameerah in his arms.
“Oh, Tony,” Sameerah breathed at last. “You read about it. You hear about it. But to actually see those things. To know in your gut that they were…are real, that those things happened to someone that but for the mercy of time could have been you.”
“I know, Sameerah.” Tony didn’t speak for a long moment. “But I think it can work in the reverse, too, you know?” he finally whispered. “That maybe somehow, someway, they can see us. That they know the agonies they suffered are no more. And that seeing us makes their hearts glad.”
Sameerah peered up at Tony through her tears, a ghost of a smile on her lips, “Do you think so? Do you really think that could be?”
Tony smiled back at her. “Yes, I do.” He gently kissed Sameerah’s forehead, and looked off into the distance. “At least, I pray it is.”