Monday, September 21, 2009

In the beginning....

Click here to listen to Rhonda read the story:

When the novel Secrets and Lies opens Jonah and Faith Morgan have been married for ten years. I thought it would be fun to share some of their courtship with readers and generate interest about what went wrong? What happened to the marriage? It's a good question, because even Faith and Jonah are wondering. So here's short story #1:

A prequel to the novel, Secrets and Lies
Rhonda McKnight

“Forget it. I’m not calling.” Jonah Morgan pushed the end button on the phone and dropped onto the sofa. Faith Andrews was the woman he’d been looking for his entire adult life. All he had to do was ask her out, but he was trippin’.

“You need to go on and call her,” Les Abrams, his best friend channel surfed with the remote control. “Ya’ old behind is almost thirty. It’s time to get married.”

Jonah craned his neck in Les’s direction. They had been friends since their freshman year at Morehouse. “How you advocating marriage when all you do is complain about your wife?”

Les settled on the Knicks game and picked up the bowl of popcorn in front of him. “Look, negro, all I’m saying is you practically a monk. Why not give this one a try, especially since it seems like she’s not feeling you anyway. You need the challenge.”

Jonah reached for a pillow to his right and threw it at Les’ head. “Very funny.”

Les caught the object mid-flight and laughed. “You been sending flowers and trying to be all suave with this sister. She has your number and I know you ain’t seen those digits on the Caller I.D.,” Les said. “That’s a first for you. Usually your woman have to be taken away by the police and served with a restraining order.”

“Like you haven’t had a stalker or two in your past.”

“Yeah, but marriage ends all that. I mean you still got women trying to throw behind your way, but they can’t blow up your phone and wait outside your house no more.”

Jonah considered what Les was saying. Especially the monk part. He needed some female companionship, but he wanted someone who had a little something going on. Someone like Faith.

“Unless you holding out because of the kid?” Les added, with raised eyebrows.

Jonah thought about Faith’s seven month old. Yeah, she came as a package. “Nah, dude. I don’t have a problem with kids as long as there’s no baby daddy drama.” No chance of that, the baby’s father was dead.

The image of Faith floated into his mind. Not that it ever seemed to float out. He’d met her two months ago when she’d bought her son into the emergency room. He’d admitted the child into the hospital and spent time getting to know Faith while they were there. He liked her a lot. Heck, who was he kidding, a brother was sprung. “I’m going to my room to make this call,” Jonah said, standing. “I don’t need background noise.”

“Make it quick. They finna hoop,” Les said. “And I need you to see yaself lose this twenty we got on the game.”

Jonah laughed. Les was dreaming. Even the struggling Hawks would beat the Knicks this year. He entered his bedroom and dialed the number he’d committed to memory. He had to do this quick, or he’d punk out again.

“Hello.” Faith’s sultry voice greeted him after the third ring and caressed him like a familiar lover.

Jonah cleared his throat. “Faith, this is Jonah. Dr. Morgan from the hospital.”

She laughed, a deep, throaty, sexy sound that told him he’d said something funny, but he couldn’t imagine what. He didn’t want to be a joke. “I remember you Jonah. How could I forget? The flowers you sent have this entire apartment smelling like a garden.”

Relief washed over him. “Well, a brother never knows who else might be sending flowers.”

“How are you this evening?” she asked. So she wasn’t going to volunteer that no one else sent Valentine’s Day flowers.

“I’m good.” Great now that I’m hearing your incredible voice.

“I thought you’d be watching the game. I know you’re a diehard Hawks fan.”

And a brother was feeling like he could get some play because she remembered. “Tip off is in five minutes,” he replied. “I just wanted to call. See how you’re doing. Check on Eric.”

She was silent for a moment. A moment too long and he thought he’d lost her. “I’m good. Eric is fine.”

He’d observed that she was an excellent mother. Just the kind of woman he wanted to raise his kids. No I didn’t. He shook his head. “I’m glad to hear that, but how are you, Faith. I mean really?” Her husband had been dead almost a year and she was young; had to be hard.

“I’m okay.” But he noted she didn’t really sound like it. He heard something in her voice that resonated in his own. Loneliness, an ache, a feeling like you’re only half of a set of two. He was sick of it.

“Look, Faith. I think it’s kind of obvious that I’m attracted to you.” Halfway there. “ I’d like you to have dinner with me.” Bam, there it was. He wasn’t a punk. She’d have to be crazy to say no. I’m a black doctor. Every woman wants me. Right?

“Jonah, I’m flattered, but I don’t know. I,” she hesitated. “I just don’t know if I’m ready to start dating again.”

Jonah took a deep breath. Okay, so every woman doesn’t want him. He was going to have to push harder. She was just scared. Scared to stick her foot in the pool, scared the water would be cold. There was nothing about him that would shock her nerve endings. He just had to get her to stick her toe out. “Don’t think of it as a date. Think of it as dinner between friends.”

She laughed again, “I haven’t known you long enough to call you a friend.”

“Funny, I feel like I’ve known you all my life.” Did he think that or say it? He said it. Faith wasn’t responding. Cool points were way down. He took a deep breath. “Friday night, seven. I promise I won’t bite. We’ll have dinner, and I can get tickets to that Jazzy Sleeping Beauty Show.”

She’d told him she loved ethnic ballet, and tickets were hard to get. He had a hook-up. Les’s wife was on the Atlanta Arts Council.

“Very tempting.”

Jonah could hear a smile in her voice. He could see it in his memory. Cool points had to come up with Ballethnic tickets. “I’m trying my very best,” he said. He liked this woman. Liked that she wasn’t dying to go out with him. Liked that he had to work for it.

A long pause and then a promising murmur. “It would be nice to get out.”

Yes. Jonah’s fist went up victoriously. “Okay, then I’ll see you at let’s say seven on Friday.”

“Seven is good.”

Jonah reentered the living room, poked out his chest and flashed a wide grin. Les scanned him from head to toe and took another sip of his drink. “Sucker. You’ll be married by this time next year.”

Jonah guffawed as his backside hit the sofa. He couldn’t help thinking that didn’t sound half bad.

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