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 (inspired by Michael Jackson):
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?