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Authors: Sammie Ward

It's in the Rhythm

BOOK: It's in the Rhythm
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It's in the Rhythm

Sammie Ward

Genesis Press, Inc.

Indigo Love Stories

An imprint of Genesis Press, Inc.

Publishing Company

Genesis Press, Inc.

P.O. Box 101

Columbus, MS 39703

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, not known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying, and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without written permission of the publisher, Genesis Press, Inc. For information write Genesis Press, Inc., P.O. Box 101, Columbus, MS 39703.

All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author and all incidents are pure invention.

Copyright© 2009 Sammie Ward

ISBN-13: 978-1-58571-605-0

ISBN-10: 1-58571-605-7

Manufactured in the United States of America

First Edition

Visit us at www.genesis-press.com or call at 1-888-Indigo-1-4-0

 

Acknowledgments

To my mother, Georgia Tims, thank you for all the love and spiritual support. To my sisters, Betty Fowler, Lisa Jenkins, Shirley Fowler-Tillman and Barbara Ezenkwe. Demarcus, Dominick and Eugina, you are the best. I love you.

Chapter 1

R & B singer Garrett Martindale stood backstage at the NAACP Awards Show. Adrenaline pumped through him as he waited to go on stage. He'd performed earlier in the show and was still a little nervous. No matter how often he went on stage, he had butterflies. Garrett took his cue from the instrumental music and walked on stage, heading toward the podium to present the award for Best New R& B Male Artist of the Year. He'd won the prestigious award several years ago when his debut CD,
Long Time Coming,
sold more than two million copies the week of its release.

The audience stood and applauded. He reveled in the accolade for a moment before waving the audience quiet.

“Thank you,” he said. “Thank you very much. How are you doing tonight?” Another round of applause, along with whistles, could be heard throughout the crowd. Garrett loved the fans as much as they loved him. He realized he wouldn't be where he was without them. “Tonight, I'm here to present the award for Best New R & B Artist of the Year.” He announced the names of each nominee before opening the envelope. “And the winner is Travis Hunt.” Travis was a smooth, soulful balladeer from Atlanta. His debut CD was in Garrett's own library.

Garrett congratulated Travis and left the podium. He saw Michelle Goodwin, a writer for
Black Flavor Magazine
, waiting for him backstage.

He watched Michelle rest her hands on her ample hips, tilt her head to one side, and plaster a fake smile on her face. He let out a slow breath. He'd been unavailable for an interview, barricading himself in the studio, completing work on his third album. Now that it was finished, he was on his way to the Los Angeles airport. He had arranged to leave immediately after his presentation. Tomorrow he would be among his family in Columbia, Maryland. He was looking forward to much-needed rest while with his family.

Michelle walked over to Garrett. She was a dark-skinned African-American woman with a beautiful oval face and a medium build.

“Garrett, I finally caught up with you,” she said. “I'm still trying to nail you down for that interview. I know you just completed your third album. The interview will be great publicity.” She flashed another smile, this one less fake than the first, and thrust her tape recorder in Garrett's face.

“I know.” Garrett said, then spoke into the recorder. “Well, the album is titled
Coming Back Strong
. I think it's my best work to date, and I wrote all the tracks. There are a variety of songs. Some up-tempo for the dance floor, some ballads for the heart, and some inspirational for the soul. The release date is September 30, so look for it.” He noticed the grimace on Michelle's face and added, “I don't mean to be rude, Michelle, but I have a plane to catch. I'm going home for two weeks.”

“Is Imani going with you?” Michelle asked. “Rumor has it you two are on again.”

Garrett knew interviews were important for publicity, but he was a private person. Reporters always wanted to know about his personal life. The way he saw it, who he was seeing was no one's business. As far as he was concerned the interview was over. He forced a smile. “I really have to go, Michelle.” He turned and hurried toward the back entrance.

Michelle followed him, but the bodyguard intervened and steered her in the opposite direction.

Garrett walked through a set of double doors and to a waiting limousine. As he settled into the spacious back seat, his cellular phone rang. He looked at the caller ID; it was Imani Washington. He'd been seeing her off and on for the past year, but they were more off than on. This morning they had another argument. She refused to accompany him to the award show. Imani wanted a commitment. Garrett hoped to settle down one day but it didn't mean he would settle down with her.

He had to admit that when they were together, they had a wonderful time. She was lovely, successful, and independent. Not only had she taken the fashion world by storm as a model, but she had also launched Sable, a cosmetic line for women of color. Any man would be proud to settle down with her. Although he cared about her, the main ingredient was missing—love. He just didn't love her.

His publicist, Collin Schwartz, believed they made the perfect power couple: the beautiful model and the popular singer. It didn't matter to Garrett; falling in love had nothing to do with business and publicity.

Garrett answered on the fourth ring. “Hello, Imani.”

“Still mad at me?” Imani's voice was soft and sultry.

“I was never mad,” Garrett replied. “We have a different opinion of where our relationship is going. I have always been honest with you about my feelings.”

“I know, baby. I respect you for that.” Imani sighed. “Where do we go from here?”

“That's up to you,” Garrett said. “If you still want to see me, we can go on as before.”

“You know I still want to see you, Garrett. I'm just not sure I wanted to be involved in a relationship that's not leading to a lasting commitment.”

Here we go again
, Garrett thought. “Maybe time apart will give us both time to think about the relationship.”

“How long will you be gone?” Imani asked.

“Two weeks.”

“Two weeks? I don't want to go that long without feeling your rhythm.”

Rhythm
was Imani's pet name for lovemaking. She said his rhythm, his loving and stroking, took her breath away. Although making love was good with Imani, Garrett had to admit it didn't curl his toes. And that's what he was looking for…toe-curling, hair-standing-on-end, making-his-heart-stop lovemaking.

Garrett was indifferent. “I'll be back before you know it.”

“I hope so.”

The limousine stopped in front of the airport.

“I'll talk to you later,” Garrett said.

“Okay, baby.” Imani blew a kiss into the receiver.

Garrett had already hung up.

* * *

Trinity Blake pulled her long, flowing hair into a ponytail, then looked into the bathroom mirror and grimaced.

“This is pathetic,” she muttered. She needed an appointment with Lucas, her beautician, as soon as possible. Until then, she had to make due.

Trinity glanced at her hair one last time and headed to the living room. She went to the entertainment center and turned on the VCR. Trinity had missed the NAACP Awards show because she had to attend a dinner with fellow fifth-grade math teachers. She fast-forwarded the award tape until she spotted Garrett's live performance. She and he sang in the Praise & Worship Gospel Choir at his father's church. A former music director, Garrett had led the choir to great stardom. The choir won competitions, performed concerts, and even landed a recording contract. After the CD, Garrett left to sing secular music—a decision his father was against, but one Garrett had always wanted. After Garrett left, the choir lost the hype he'd generated and choir members, including her, left.

She watched as he performed “Love Ballad,” originally done by Jeffrey Osborne. Garrett admired the crooner. Spellbound, she couldn't take her eyes off the television as he played, his fingers rippling over the piano keys in sync with the seductive lyrics. It was like he was singing only to her. She couldn't look away. Maybe it was because they had gone out on a date two years ago. Maybe it was the memory of how sweet he'd been. Of course, that was before he moved to Los Angeles and became a celebrity. He'd invited her to dinner to celebrate his recording contract and was a perfect gentleman throughout the date, ending with a kiss on the cheek at her front door.

A slow smile curved her lips as she remembered the times when they'd just hung out as friends. Trinity dismissed the memories. Anyway, she'd met Darius Childress six months after Garrett moved. It did no good to live in the past. She was sure Garrett wasn't lonely for company. The last she heard, he was dating Imani, the model whose face graced every major magazine cover, billboard, television commercial, and runway from New York to Milan.

Still, Trinity often wondered what would have happened between them if Garrett had remained. Would there have been more dates, or had he just wanted a good time? She was sure not all men were afraid of commitment, but since she ended the relationship with Darius, she was leery of entering into another. The next time she gave herself to a man, it would be on her wedding night.

The doorbell rang, interrupting her thoughts. She picked up the remote and clicked off the VCR. A moment later, she opened the door and found her father, Lyle Blake, on the doorstep.

“Dad, what are you doing here?” Trinity turned and walked back into the living room. Lyle followed.

“You didn't make it to church this morning. I stopped by to see if anything was wrong.”

“I'm fine. I just couldn't get up.”

“Couldn't get up?” He frowned. “What kind of excuse is that?”

“No excuse. It's the truth. I was out late last night at the annual faculty party. I slept in this morning.”

“God has been good to you. He blessed you with the job. The least you can do is give Him thanks one day out of the week.”

Trinity took a seat on the sofa and folded her legs underneath her.

“God knows I appreciate everything He has done in my life. Missing one Sunday isn't going to piss Him off.”

Her father's Caucasian blue eyes widened. “Trinity, stop talking like that. It's blasphemy.”

She looked up toward heaven and raised one hand in the air, showing God respect. “I'm sorry. I didn't mean it. I meant to say ‘anger.' ”

“That's better,” Lyle said quietly. “Your mother and I raised you better than that.”

Trinity was not in the mood to hear another one of her father's religious spiels. It was getting old. It wasn't that she didn't believe in God. She did. It's just that she didn't want to hear a sermon twenty-four hours a day.

Since her mother's death ten years ago, Trinity's father, a deacon at the James Martindale AME Church, was always preaching to her about the way she lived her life.

He first began attending church to help deal with the death of his wife, Elizabeth. Before her death, Lyle hadn't stepped foot inside in twenty years. Ordained as a deacon four years ago, his main focus was working with the youth department.

Her mother, Liz, an African-American, followed the Baptist faith. Her father, who was white, was raised Catholic. The two met as students at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, fell in love, and were married. The color of their skin was never an issue to them. Living in the Bible Belt in the early seventies, interracial dating, let alone marriage, was taboo. Everywhere they went there were stares, whispers, and racist remarks. Her parents refused to allow prejudice to come between them. For twenty years, their love remained strong until her death. Lyle's family never accepted the marriage or Trinity, and didn't attend the funeral. Trinity met her mother's parents for the first time at the funeral.

A year later, Lyle, then an engineer, took a job in Washington, D.C. A college sophomore, Trinity transferred to American University to be with him; ultimately, she received her bachelor's degree in education, and, two years later, her master's degree.

Believing she was about to hear another sermon, Trinity stood and headed into the kitchen. She might as well feed her hunger while she was berated, she thought. She scoured the refrigerator and removed lettuce, tomato, broccoli, red onion, and cucumber. She placed the vegetables on the counter for a salad.

“This is the Sunday you should have been there.” Lyle followed her into the kitchen.

Trinity opened the refrigerator door again and grabbed a bottle of Italian salad dressing. “Why? What did I miss?”

“Not
what. Who.

Trinity frowned. “Okay. Who?”

“Garrett Martindale, that's who.”

Trinity stood motionless for a moment before she spoke again. “Garrett is in town?”

The last time Garrett was home was over a year ago. Though she tried to keep up the pretense of disinterest, inside, Trinity's nerves popped.

“He got in last night from California.” Lyle arched his right eyebrow and added, “And he still managed to make it to church service this morning.”

Trinity sighed. She knew how her father felt about Garrett's arrival. Garrett's presence always caused a stir. Women who hadn't been to church in ages managed to show up. She took a knife from the utensil drawer.

“Garrett asked about you.”

She removed a salad bowl from the cabinet. “What?”

“He wanted to know how you were. If you were married, things like that.”

Trinity moved to the sink to wash the vegetables.

“You don't seem too excited.”

“Nothing to get excited about,” Trinity said over her right shoulder. Deep inside, she was doing her best not to let her emotions show.

“I agree,” Lyle replied. “I don't see what all the fuss is about. Word must have leaked out that he was here. The pews were full with women this morning. All dressed up. Some half dressed. I guess he wants to pick up where you and he left off.”

Trinity turned the water faucet off. “Dad, we're just friends.”

“Well, your friend, uh, said he would call you.” Lyle opened the cabinet, removing a glass. “Singing that music,” he grumbled. “Thinks he's Sam Cooke. Long way from it.”

Trinity had to laugh. “Garrett does not believe he's Sam Cooke. “He's…” she shrugged, “…just Garrett.”

Lyle opened the refrigerator, took out a bottle of water, and poured himself a glass. “I know how he used to be. Since he began singing that secular music, he's been a bad influence on the young people in the church. Some of them even want to follow in his footsteps.” He paused, taking a sip of water.

“Garrett is not a bad influence,” Trinity argued. “I admire him for following his dream. What is wrong with that?”

BOOK: It's in the Rhythm
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