Authors: Angela Burt-Murray
OTHER TITLES BY ANGELA BURT-MURRAY
The Angry Black Woman’s Guide to Life
, coauthored by Denene Millner and Mitzi Miller
, coauthored by Denene Millner and Mi
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Text copyright © 2014 Angela Burt-Murray
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
Published by Thomas & Mercer, Seattle
Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Thomas & Mercer are trademarks of
, Inc., or its affiliates.
Cover design by Paul Barrett
Library of Congress Control Number: 2013920602
To my husband, Leonard, for always being my biggest cheerleader. To my parents, Diana and Howard, for unconditional love. To BCFL for friendship, laughter, and cupcakes!
t would be easy to get the key to the hotel’s penthouse suite. We had stayed at the Four Seasons several times, so no one would dare turn me away. And, of course, his sorry ass had been too lazy to find a different location to be with t
“Hello,” chirped Christian, the hotel’s concierge, as I approached the large walnut desk. “How may I
I forced a smile, shrugged my shoulders, and said, “Silly me, I forgot my key.” I adjusted the large tinted Chanel sunglasses that covered my puffy
“Of course, I’m more than happy to make you another key,” Christian said as he slid the card key into the machine and then came around the desk to present it to me. “We had some of your favorite champagne delivered about an hour ago,
I thanked him softly through clenched teeth, then tu
Key in hand, I walked across the busy Manhattan lobby, my black patent leather Christian Louboutin pumps clicking along the hotel’s marble floor. The weight of the gun in the pocket of my navy silk Burberry trench coat tapped lightly against my thigh as I walked to the private elevator. The gun gave me the confidence to do what I nee
ded to do.
After all, promises
Slipping the card key into the security slot in the elevator, I
pushed the button for the penthouse suite and leaned back against the mahogany-paneled wall. It was unfortunate that it had come to this, but he had given me
The elevator glided silently up to the fifty-second floor to the $35,000-a-night suite. The elevator doors opened directly into the luxurious penthouse, and I smiled tearfully at the memory of the many nights we had shared here. And now this was where our relationship
The forty-three-hundred-square-foot suite was so large that I knew they would never hear my arrival. I walked through the spacious living room and faced the panoramic view of the sun setting over New York City. A large bouquet of fragrant orchids sat in the center of the art deco glass coffee table. Pieces of clothing were strewn carelessly about the living room, and a pair of Nike sneakers had been kicked off under the coffee table. Two empty champagne flutes sat next to the flowers along with a half-empty bottle of Veuve Clicquot. I picked up the crystal flute and stared at the wine-colored lipstick print along the rim. I tossed the flute next to a lacy black La Perla bra, which lay on the buttery linen cou
I walked down the hall toward the master bedroom, my heels sinking into the thick dove-gray carpeting, which muffled my steps. One of the large onyx double doors to the bedroom was slightly open, and as I got closer, I could hear their moans. I slowly pushed the door open so that I could slip into the darkened room. The heavy gold damask curtains were closed, and the flame from a jasmine candle flickered on the nightstand next to the bed, casting dancing shadows on the creamy wall. I clutched the gun in my pocket, and saw the couple right where I
They were so caught up in their lovemaking, neither of them noticed they were no longer alone. I could see the outline of his long, lean frame, the silky white sheets tangled like vines around his muscled legs. She sat atop my man, thrusting her hips into him. His large hands, the ones I used to love, cupped and massaged her breasts as he pushed back up into her. She threw back her head and raked her long nails along his broad chest and moan
“Oh, baby,” she said in a husky voice as she now started to mo
His hands slid down her toned back and squeezed her round bottom as he pulled her
“Oh yes, baby,” she purred, leaning down to slip her tongue into his waiting mouth. My eyes narrowed as I watched them kiss each other passionately. I moved deeper into the room’s shadows and closer t
o the bed.
Suddenly he wrapped his arm around his lover and flipped her onto her back so that now he was on top. Now I knew I had the per
As my mind flashed back to memories of our relationship, tears began to stream down my cheeks behind my sunglasses. Slipping the gun out of my pocket, I stood at the foot of the bed and raised it level with his broad mus
And then I pulled th
After all, promises
Her limp naked form lay in the twisted heap of trash next to an overflowing garbage bin in a dark alley. Her battered face was partially obscured by a long curtain of dirty blond hair matted with blood. Two plainclothes cops warily surveyed the body, looking
“Damn shame,” muttered the police officer as he waved his flashlight around the crime scene. A scrawny gray cat stepped out of the shadows and tentatively sniffed the corpse before rubbing its body up against its dead
The dead woman suddenly sat up, sneezed, and pushed the
“Cut,” yelled the director, Rich Benson, as he jumped out of his chair and threw his script down on the sidewalk. A bell rang, and the bright lights came up, illuminating the dark downtown Los Angeles street. “What the hell are you doing, Dead Woman Number One? You’re supposed to be dead, for Chris
“I know, but I’m allergic to the frickin’ cat,” the dead woman whined with a thick New York accent as the wardrobe assistant threw her a robe to wrap around her shive
The frustrated director kicked a garbage bin. “This scene isn’t working for me,” he said to one of the writers as he raked his hand through dark brown hair that was a little too long for his age. “And tell casting we need a hotter dead woman who isn’t allergic to fuck
This scene wasn’t working for me, either, but since I was the senior entertainment editor for
magazine, it was my job to write about this shitty cable drama,
The show was about a precinct of New York City cops, who, in between hopping in and out of bed with one another, managed to solve a case or two. And tonight I had to craft a riveting cover story on Gabriella Rodriguez, the busty new starlet on the show that Deadline.com called “
Law & Order
.” Clearly, this assignment was totally worth the $186,000 I owed in Harvard stud
Everyone on the set was cold, pissy, and tired. It was two thirty in the morning, and they had been shooting the scene where Gabriella’s character, Officer Jessie Cortez, the hot new Latina rookie who just transferred into the seventy-eighth precinct, and Captain O’Leary, the rogue alcoholic veteran who ran the dysfunctional police unit, acted on the sexual tension that had been brewing between them over the past couple of episodes. The two horny coworkers had pulled into the dark alley to get it on, when the car’s headlights picked up the outline of
Sex would hav
e to wait.
But not for too long, of course. Rich insisted that every episode contain some sort of climax.
“Ritchie, I’m not happy with my scene,” Gabriella purred as she tottered in platform boots over to the director. She twisted one of the long black tendrils framing her toasted-brown face and caressed Rich’s arm through his leather jacket. As a former telenovela star, Gabriella tended to overdramatize every scene with her wide brown eyes, pouty red lips, heaving bosom, and heavily accented
Her signature tight black blouse skimmed faded low-rise jeans that looked like they were painted on her body. Her lush red lips were, of course, pouting. In yesterday morning’s
story meeting, the beauty director told me that Gabriella had just signed a cosmetics contract to be the spokesmodel for a new shade of red lipstick named after the show. Unfortunately, the makeup endorsement was not enough of a scoop for my boss, Kris Kensington, so I needed to find a story angle fast to keep her off my ass. Stuffing the last bite of a stale walnut brownie into my mouth, I scribbled down some more notes about the last scene and started to make my way over to Gabriella to finish our interview so that I could go the
But before I could catch her attention, Rich put his arm around Gabriella’s waist and walked her away from the garbage bin. They began to talk in hushed tones. I paced back and forth, waiting for them to finish so that I could follow up on Gabriella’s last comment that she thought her character could be a female role model. Given that the show’s only female viewers belonged to the Female Police Officers Union that was trying to get the show canceled due to its “misogynistic portrayals of women serving in the line of duty,” who was this chic
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Gabriella whisper something in Rich’s ear before her tongue snaked out and flicked his ear. Rich popped her on her ass and followed his star into her trailer. Clearly, the rumors whispered on the set and around town that they were sleeping together
Maybe there was a story here for me
Did she jus
t fire me?
Oh shit. Did this crazy heffa just fire me? My head was spinning as I tried to get my brain to focus. I saw my boss’s thin coral lips moving, but I was hearing no sound. She tapped one of her black patent leather Tory Burch flats on the glass coffee table strewn with
magazine layouts and cover mock-ups of Gabriella Rodriguez kneeling in the sand on the beach in a bright red
Could Kris have possibly come up with a less original cover-shoot concept? Demi Moore, Jennifer Aniston, Uma Thurman, ring a bell? I wanted to rip into her about her tired
rip-off, but this probably wasn’t
Mario, the manorexic weasel from human resources, sat next to her on the cream sofa in her office, absentmindedly picking at an old acne scar on his pockmar
“Look, Nia,” Kris snapped impatiently, “like I said, I’m sorry, but we have to le
t you go.”
“But why?” I said as I tried to regain my composure. I felt hot, and my hands were suddenly clammy like they used to get in seventh grade. “I routinely scoop the other celebrity magazines and even the blogs with my A-list sources, so what could you possibly be firin
g me for?”
“In the online teaser you posted on the website yesterday for your Gabriella Rodriguez cover story, you wrote that Gabriella and Rich Benson are having an affair. And that sloppy reporting has resulted in me having to spend my morning on the phone with Rich’s extremely irate publicist and our own legal team, as well as trying to kill Keith Kelly’s
New York Post
column on your whole screwup. Rich’s lawyer says they are going to sue if we don’t run a retraction. And the network is threatening to restrict our future access to
and all their other shows an
“Retraction?” I exclaimed. My mind quickly raced through the online teaser piece I wrote for the cover story that would hit the stands Friday as I tried to figure out what I could have written that would cause me to be fired. “
“For saying Gabriella and Rich are having an affair,” Kris said with an exasperated sigh. “This is a major embarrassment for both the studio and Rich. And Rich’s wife is already threatening
“Well, maybe Rich shouldn’t be fucking Gabriella Rodriguez, then,” I snapped. “Look, Kris, I saw them with my own two eyes making out on the set—I walked in on them in her trailer—and I merely wrote down what I saw. And when I asked Gabriella about it after Rich left, she gushed about how they were made for each other. She clearly wanted me to write about their rela
“It doesn’t matter, Nia,” Kris snapped back. She took a large manila envelope from Mario’s outstretched hand and slid it across the coffee table to me. “This has come down from corporate, and their decision is final, so we have to let you go. I think you’ll find our severance package very generous. Today is your
As the only black editor at
, I’ve paid my dues over the last five years. I’m used to getting my fair share of shit from this insecure woman and having to fight not only to get my stories the coverage they deserve but to get the magazine and website to give any coverage to black Hollywood. But I’ve never in my entire eight-year career as a journalist not been backed up by my boss when I wrote the truth. It’s just not done. But Kris and I never really got along because I’m not good at hiding how I feel about people I think are stupid. As my assistant, MJ, had warned me numerous times, my facial expression tended to say it all. But I’ve never seen Kris sacrifice one of her reporters when threatened by lawyers. After all, this is celebrity journalism we’re talking about; threats of lawsuits are par for t
“But I followed the editorial guidelines regarding legally sensitive stories and sent the piece to you prior to posting and asked for your comments,” I said as I suddenly realized what Kris was trying to do. “You never got ba
ck to me.”
It wasn’t unusual for Kris not to respond to flagged copy since she spent most of her time schmoozing publicists, lunching with her celeb friends, and party hopping as the face of the magazine. So in order to meet their daily deadlines, most of the reporters had gotten used to moving forward if they had the story cold, had all the proper backup, and hadn’t heard back from Kris within two hours of sending her a story. And usually she responded only if there was a problem. But it was clear this time that lazy-ass Kris hadn’t read my post, and now that corporate was up in arms, she was throwing me under the bus for not doing her own
“Nia, don’t try to blame me for your sloppy reporting,” Kris said in a bristling tone as she flicked an invisible piece of lint off her black pants. “It’s quite unfortunate. But you really should have proper sign-off before posting such a sensitive piece. The simple fact of the matter is that you went off on your own, without the proper approvals, and now you have to pay the cons
“Nia, I’m happy to walk you through the terms of the severance agreement back in my office if you like,” Mario said, jumping into the conversation. Kris was clearly finished with this matter and finishe
d with me.
“You don’t have to walk me through shit trying to get me to act like we all don’t know what’s really going on here, Mario.” Fighting back hot tears of frustration, I grabbed the envelope from the table and left Kris
Walking past the rows of cubicles in the
newsroom for the last time, I fought to keep my tears of humiliation in check and regain my composure. I buttoned the jacket of the olive-colored suit that my mom had ordered on Home Shopping Network for me last month. I had worn it because I had assumed I’d be doing TV interviews today for my big exclusive story. When I put it on this morning, I knew MJ would hate the suit, but my mom would love to see her baby wearing it on national TV. How was I going to tell my mom I got fired after all she had sacrificed to get me out of the South Side o
Whispered conversations among clusters of my former colleagues ceased as I made my way down the long corridor to my office. People wouldn’t even look me in the eye. Clearly, the word that I had been canned was already out. I squared my shoulders and stared strai
A movie scene suddenly flashed through my mind from Spike Lee’s
where Wesley Snipes’s character was forced out of the architectural firm he helped build. As he was storming out of the office, he pointed out and ripped down the model buildings hung up around the office that he created. I wanted to do the same as I passed the framed cover blowups on the wall. George Clooney’s humanitarian trip to Darfur? My exclusive. Julia Robert’s long-awaited
sequel? Absafuckinglutely mine. Jennifer Lopez’s implosion? All mine. Of course, none of the stories I wrote on black Hollywood made the walls. No Tyler Perry. No Wayans Brothers. No Steve Harvey. And not even the black Oscar-winning elite like Denzel Washington or Halle Berry was good enough for Kris’s precious wall of fame. As she would always say in our editorial meetings, “It’s not me. I’d love to put more black stars on the covers of
, but black talent just doesn’t sell m
I managed to suppress the overwhelming urge to jump up on the nearest desk and point out my obvious and meaningful contributions to this bullshit publication and the injustice
of it all.
As I neared my office at the end of the hallway, I saw MJ standing outside his cubicle. He was dressed in his favorite black skinny jeans, hot pink V-neck shirt, and fitted black blazer with the sleeves pushed up to his bony elbows. A large man in gray slacks and a blue blazer watched him put items into a box. Another similarly dressed man was stationed outside my office door. It then dawned on me that I was now to suffer further humiliation by being thrown out of the building by a wa