The Prodigal Son

by Kimberla Lawson Roby

The Reverend Curtis Black hasn't spoken to his son, Matthew, in over a year-not since Matthew dropped out of Harvard to marry his girlfriend, Racquel, and be a full-time father to their infant son. Curtis knows that it was he and his wife, Charlotte, who drove Matthew away, but he prays that one day his son will forgive them and come home.

Matthew, however, can't seem to forget the pain his parents caused him and Racquel. Still, he wonders if maybe they'd been right, as fatherhood is not what he expected, and Racquel's behavior has become increasingly erratic. Matthew genuinely wants to be a good husband, though, and swears he'll never repeat his parents' mistakes. But when an old friend expresses her desire for Matthew, the temptation may be too great to resist...

Then, there's Dillon Whitfield, Curtis's long-lost-son, who has settled in as a member of the Black family. Yet the transition has been anything but easy. Charlotte, convinced he's only after Curtis's money, wishes he would move back to where he came from. Dillon, however, has no intention of going anywhere. After a lifetime in the shadows, he's determined to take his rightful place as Curtis's first-born son and heir, and he'll do whatever it takes to win his father's affection-even if it means playing dirty...

As jealousy builds and secrets pile up, both of Curtis's sons will be pushed over the edge and forced to take drastic action. Can these two troubled young men find their way back into the Black family fold, or will their family ties be undone once and for all?

Kimberla's novels are categorized as Contemporary Mainstream Fiction. Her target audience is primarily women of all ages, but men read her novels as well. The primary subject matter discussed in THE PRODIGAL SON is family drama relating to both marriage and sibling rivalry.


Chapter 1

Matthew stared at his wife of ten months and shook his head. Racquel, who was sitting at the opposite end of the chocolate brown, leather sofa, looked over at him and frowned. “What?”

Matthew shook his head again. This time, his eyes screamed disappointment. But all Racquel did was purse her lips and turn her attention back to the flat screen television. It was a noticeably warm Friday evening in May, and though Matthew was a bit tired from his long day at work, he would have loved nothing more than for the two of them to be out somewhere together; maybe have a nice dinner and catch whatever new movie was playing. But as usual, Racquel was contently curled up—like an unconcerned couch potato—doing what she did best: watching some awful, ungodly reality show.

Matthew leaned his head back onto the sofa and closed his eyes. Not in his wildest imagination—not in a thousand lifetimes—would he have ever pictured himself being so miserable. But miserable he was, and worse, he now realized that getting married at the young age of nineteen had turned out to be a horrible mistake. He’d now turned twenty, but he could kick himself for giving up a full, four-year, academic scholarship to Harvard University, something he’d worked very hard for his entire childhood—and now this was all he had to show for it? This, a tiny, two-bedroom apartment, a twelve-dollar-an-hour job at a bank, and no love life of any kind to speak of?

Not since the day he’d been born had he ever had to struggle financially. Even before he’d met his father, which hadn’t happened until he was seven years old, Matthew had lived a pretty good life because his maternal grandparents had always seen to it. Then, of course, when his mom had married his dad, he hadn’t gone without anything.

He must have been crazy in love or crazy out of his mind to think he was doing the right thing by getting married. He also couldn’t deny how right his mother had been, every time she’d warned him about having unprotected sex. He still hadn’t spoken to either of his parents in more than a year—not even when they’d mailed him a ten-thousand-dollar check, and he’d torn it up—but his mom had been correct in her thinking. Matthew wasn’t sure why he’d been so careless and irresponsible. Although, he was proud of the fact that he’d immediately manned up as soon as he’d learned of Racquel’s pregnancy and had decided to be there for both her and the baby.

Then, as it had turned out, Racquel’s parents had told him that they would take care of little MJ until he and Racquel finished college—since Racquel had been scheduled to attend MIT a few months after the baby was born. They’d also wanted Matthew to get his education without any worries, so off to Boston he had gone—and life had been great until that dreadful day in January when Racquel had gone into labor much too early. A huge blowup had ensued between his mother and Vanessa, the two grandmothers to be, at Racquel’s baby shower, and Racquel had gotten herself all worked up over it. Next thing anyone had known, her water had broken and she’d been rushed to the hospital.

Matthew remembered how terrified he’d been that Racquel would lose the baby, but thank God, everything had turned out well. Little MJ had been born with a respiratory problem, but he’d ended up being released from the hospital just a few days later. Although, the more Matthew thought about all that had evolved, he was saddened further because none of what had occurred on the day of the baby shower could compare to any of what had happened a few weeks afterward. His mother had concocted the most outlandish scheme, and before long, the Division of Children and Family Services had come knocking at the front door of Racquel’s parents’, stating that they’d received two phone calls claiming child abuse. Of course, none of this had been true, and although in the end, the truth had been exposed and Charlotte had been arrested, the whole idea of little MJ being snatched away from Racquel had been too much for her to handle. It was the reason she now regularly obsessed over their one-year-old son, and she never felt comfortable leaving him with her own parents, let alone anyone else.

She wasn’t even okay with Matthew taking MJ to see his sister, Alicia, or his great-aunt, Emma because she feared something might happen to him or that he might be kidnapped. That whole DCFS incident had ruined Racquel emotionally, and Matthew had a feeling things would never be normal for them again. As it was, she rarely left the house, and she no longer visited any of her friends when they came home from school for the weekend. She never invited anyone over to the apartment either.

Matthew opened his eyes and turned his head toward Racquel. At first she ignored him, even though he knew she saw him looking at her, but finally, she turned toward him in a huff.

“Why do you keep staring at me?”

Matthew gazed at her. “Because.”

“Because what, Matt?”

“Look at you? All that long, beautiful hair. When was the last time you even bothered to comb it? Or put on a little makeup?”

“Excuse me? Well, in case you haven’t noticed, I have a baby to take care of. So trying to look beautiful is the very least of my worries.”

“Maybe. But have you taken a good look at this place?” Matthew scanned the living room and looked toward the kitchen. Her and MJ’s dirty clothes, were scattered everywhere. He also saw just about every toy MJ owned strewn across the floor. “It’s a complete mess, Racquel. We’re practically living in filth, and you stroll around here like it’s clean as a whistle.”

“Like I said, I have a baby to take care of.”

“Is that also the reason we don’t make love anymore?”

Racquel squint her eyes. “Is that all you care about?”

“No, but I think it’s a cryin’ shame that I’m a married man, yet I haven’t had sex in over two months. And even when we did it then, I had to nag you for three days about it.”

Racquel rolled her eyes and turned back to the television.

Matthew snatched the remote control from the sofa and turned it off.

Racquel stood up. “Are you crazy? What’s wrong with you?”

“Everything, Racquel! I’m sick of this. All you do is watch those mindless reality shows, eat a ton of junk food and then you watch more stupid reality shows. And I’m not sure how much more I can take.”

“Oh really? Well, why don’t you leave then? Why don’t you just file for a divorce, because nobody’s forcing you to be here.”

Matthew swallowed hard. He’d known for a while that they had major marital problems, but he hadn’t expected her to suggest a breakup so quickly. “Wow. So that’s how you feel about me?”

“You’re the one complaining, Matt, so if you want out I won’t try to stop you. If you’re that miserable and unhappy, then what’s the point?”

“Are you saying you don’t love me anymore?”

“I’m not saying that at all, but you’re mother ruined everything for us. She had my child taken from me, Matt. She made false accusations about me and my mom, even though neither of us would ever do anything to hurt little MJ. I nearly had a nervous breakdown over that nonsense.”

“I understand that, baby, but my mother hasn’t been in the picture for a while. I cut her off because of what she did, and then I married you. I stuck by you, because I love you.”

Racquel didn’t respond and walked into the kitchen. Matthew wasn’t sure whether to follow her or not. He knew she’d been traumatized, but he also didn’t think it was fair for her to blame him for his mother’s actions. He hadn’t done anything to cause her pain, and actually, all he’d done was try to love her and be there for her. He’d given up Harvard, a close relationship with his parents, and a comfortable way of living—all of which he hadn’t minded doing as long as he had his wife and son.

Racquel walked back into the living room with a can of orange soda in her hand and a package of cookies and dropped back down on the sofa. She sat as close to the arm of the couch as she could and as far away from Matthew as possible.

“Maybe we should see a counselor,” he said.

Racquel picked up the selector and turned the TV back on, but she never looked at him. “I don’t think so.”


“Because there’s nothing wrong with me.”

“Maybe not, baby, but you just said a few minutes ago yourself that you nearly had a nervous breakdown.”

“That was then, but I’m fine now. I’m good.”

“No, you’re not, and neither are we as a couple.”

Racquel sighed loudly and pulled her legs under her behind. She flipped through a few channels and finally settled on…another reality show.

Matthew wanted to protest—wanted to shut the TV off again, but instead, he got up and went into their bedroom. He dove face first onto the bed and took a deep breath. A ton of thoughts gyrated through his mind but there was one thought that troubled him a great deal: he regretted ever marrying Racquel. He did still love her he guessed, but he was starting not to like her very much and this wasn’t good. As a matter of fact, to him, not liking the person you were married to was a lot worse than not being in love with them. If you didn’t like someone, you almost hated having to be around them. Then, you eventually got to a point where you avoided them completely, and there was usually no turning back from that. Matthew hated the way he was feeling because something told him that his once happy marriage was only going to crumble even further—not just slightly but to the extreme.

( Continued... )

© 2014 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Kimberla Lawson Roby. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Share a link to this page or the author's website if you really like this sneak peek.

The Prodigal Son by Kimberla Lawson Roby
Series: A Reverend Curtis Black Novel

Meet the Author

Kimberla Lawson Roby is a New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of 19 novels, with her 20th novel, THE PRODIGAL SON being released, May 13, 2014. She is also releasing her 1st Christmas novella in November 2014. Kimberla is the 2013 NAACP Image Award winner for Outstanding Literary Work - Fiction and lives in Illinois with her husband, Will.


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