If You Don't Know Me
Book 3: If I Can't Have You Series by Mary B. Morrison
WHEN IT’S TIME TO SETTLE OLD SCORES, NASTY HABITS DIE HARD!
If you can’t get enough of all things reality television get ready for the drama like only New York Times bestselling author MARY B. MORRISON can bring it in!
New York Times and #1 Essence best selling author Mary B. Morrison expertly blends steamy fiction with reality. Morrison has been captivating readers since 2001 when she introduced the Soul Mates Dissipate series which explored the topic that puzzles most of us: how to find— and keep — your soul mate. The series did so well that Morrison received a multi-film development deal. Publishers Weekly noted Morrison’s sensual novels “pack in dozens of juicy episodes” in her “high drama page turners” and described her as “prolific” noting with Darius Jones, “there's not a dull moment in this shamelessly flamboyant romp that Morrison's many fans are sure to devour.”
Meet Mary B. Morrison
New York Times bestselling author Mary B. Morrison believes that women should shape their own destiny. Born in Aurora, IL, and raised in New Orleans, LA, she took a chance and quit her near six-figure government job to self-publish her first book, Soulmates Dissipate, in 2000 and begin her literary career. Mary’s books have appeared on numerous bestseller lists, and she’s a frequent contributor to The Michael Baisden Show.
Mary is also actively involved in a variety of philanthropic endeavors, and in 2006 she sponsored the publication of an anthology written by 33 sixth-graders. In 2010, Mary produced a play based on her novel, Single Husbands, which she wrote under her pseudonym, HoneyB.
In addition to her novels and play, Mary has a multi-film development deal with Codeblack Entertainment for her Soulmates Dissipate series. Mary currently resides in Oakland, CA, with her wonderful son, Jesse Byrd, Jr., who is following in his mother’s creative footsteps and pursuing a career in TV/film and writing.
Visit Mary online at: www.marymorrison.com
MOVE OVER REAL HOUSEWIVES…
The If I Can't Have You series which introduced readers to sexy vixen Madison Taylor and a whole cast of juicy new characters has continued to keep readers panting with Elev8.com noting “Mary is at the top of the African-American fiction genre” and Library Journal praising the second installment and encouraging readers to “buy in anticipation of high demand.”
Mary returns in April with IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME; the third installment of the If I Can’t Have You series being published by Dafina Books in hardcover original,
Mar 25, 2014.
Two women, a sizzling wager, and the fallout that would turn their lives upside down, that’s exactly what readers will find in Mary B. Morrison’s newest release. Sindy Singleton isn’t about to lose Chicago DuBois to Madison again. But getting him to open his heart once more won’t be enough to satisfy her. Enlisting the help of Chicago’s worst enemy is the fastest way she knows to expose Madison’s most brazen deception yet. But Madison has more than one devastating card to play.
If there’s one thing Madison has learned from her disastrous bet, it’s how to turn catastrophe into opportunity. Playing on Chicago’s fatherly instincts will maintain her access to the DuBois fortune—and keep her family’s empire successful. Using sweet Sindy’s niceness against her will knock her out of the running. And the cherry on top: Madison’s got the perfect scheme to finally take care of her ex-lover, her rivals, and the husband she’ll never let go.
EXCERPT: IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME
"When he walks in, you'll walk out."
"Are you sure?" Nyle asked me after the prison guard closed the door to our private glass-enclosed room.
We sat facing each other. The chill from the stainless steel chair made me sit on the edge of my seat. The rectangular-shaped metal table was cold enough to keep my favorite butter pecan ice cream from melting. Three feet of space separated us.
I stared into his crystal-blue eyes as I said, "Help me get Granville Washington back behind bars and you'll be discharged the same day he's booked. The remaining two-and-a-half of your three-year sentence will be dismissed. You'll be on a one-year probation with an officer that you'll meet face-to-face one time. After that you'll check in over the phone. A few people owe me favors. If you complete the assignment to my satisfaction, your early release is guaranteed."
Nyle sighed heavily. His neatly arched brows drew close together. His eyes darted to the left. He blinked. When he opened his eyes, they were intensely on me. Instantly, I became motionless.
"I've already done what you've asked of me."
"Not exactly my ass." Veins protruded from his neck. His voice escalated in anger. "The outcome isn't what either of us anticipated but I did my part. Now you want me to do you another favor? Fuck the money you paid me. I want out of here today."
That wasn't happening. When we left this room, I was going home; he was headed back to his cell. I did not influence him to commit a crime. That was his choice. Helping him get out was mine.
"What if what you want now isn't what you expect later? Then what? You walk away and leave me to do all of my time?"
Precisely. In my mind, I nodded, but didn't move my head. He had nothing to lose. I did. I needed him to calm down so he could focus on what was important to me.
I softened my tone. "Fair enough. Regardless of what happens this time, I'll keep my word." Not sure if I were lying, I extended my hand and shook his. I had to tell Nyle what he needed to hear.
Getting men to do whatever I wanted—with the exception of my father—that was my strength. Loving another woman's husband was my weakness.
Better for me to pursue the man I wanted than to allow my dad to arrange for my husband the way he'd done with Siara. I missed her. Skype was nice but I hadn't seen my sister in person in twelve years. Her being sold by our father wasn't my fault but she didn't feel the same. Occasionally, she still says, "You are my big sister. You were supposed to protect me." I think our father or her husband told her not to come back to America and not to let me visit her in Paris. I wasn't sure how or when but one day we would reunite.
Trust your gut instincts. That was how I lived. My word used to be a firm commitment. Since I was a little girl, when Sindy Singleton made a promise, I kept it. Truth or lie, right or wrong, my love for Roosevelt "Chicago" Dubois was gradually overruling my senses. Lately I'd been doing what was in my best interest. When things didn't go my way, I didn't hesitate to change my mind.
This morning I'd smoothed back my long straight cinnamon hair and coiled it into a bun that sat at the nape of my neck. My cream-colored pants, which I only wore when I visited the Federal Detention Center, were loosely fitted. A simple short-sleeved matching blouse draped my hips. Comfortable leather flats clung to my feet. No lipstick. No perfume. No jewelry. My purse was in the trunk of my Bentley that I'd parked in a downtown lot a block away. My keys were secured in one of the small lockers in the lobby. My Texas driver's license was left with the guard at the security entrance.
Sitting in a room reserved for attorney/client visits, I was the attorney. Nyle Carter was my protégé. I needed this inmate's help the same as he desperately desired mine.
"Let me get this straight. I have to find a way to bring Granville back to prison before you'll get me out of here?" he lamented.
Peering through the glass door, I scanned the visitors' room. There was a handful of folks who had come to see what I called "the mentally ill and prayed up." Prison made grown men ask the Lord, Buddha, Allah, Jehovah, or whatever higher power they believed in to set them free. Forgiveness wasn't practical for repeat offenders. I wished repentance wasn't an option for them either.
A lot of the criminals I represented were guilty but the majority of them had raised their right hand and sworn on the Bible that they were innocent. I was paid to defend, not to judge. Ultimately, that was God's job.
Nyle had pleaded the Fifth on his charges and still had to do time. He'd become known to those on the inside as G-double-A. Some youngster by the name of No Chainz had given Nyle the name saying it meant "Got All the Answers." I wished that were true for me. I wouldn't be sitting in this cold room trying to convince a man to entrap another man so that I could be with the man I loved.
"I said you were to make sure he never got out."
Nyle remained quiet.
On a scale from one to ten, Nyle was handsome above average. Put a suit on him the way he used to dress prior to getting locked up and no one would believe he was forty years old when he was arrested. Not that there was a better age to be charged but with his thick blond curly hair and smooth pale skin he could easily pass for thirty.
"I paid you twenty thousand to give Granville advice that would get him convicted with two consecutive life sentences."
He slid his hand from his forehead to the nape of his neck. No response.
Nyle could benefit from a daily dose of natural vitamin D. The inmates didn't get much sunlight. Everything was indoors, including the gym. The few windows they had were high above the basketball court. Nyle deserved to be here but didn't belong. There were some people you never envisioned behind bars. Others you knew it wasn't if they were going to do time. It was when and for how long?
"Why did the judge overturn the jury's decision?" I asked.
Getting myself this involved, I could risk being disbarred and losing Roosevelt if he thought I was part of the conspiracy to kill him. I was undoubtedly determined to have that man.
The Series in Order of Publication
Book 3: If You Don't Know Me
Book 2: I'd Rather Be With You
Book 1: If I Can't Have You
Purchase the entire series today!
CHAPTER 1 Madison
Have you ever loved someone so much you could kill him? My signature was a heartbeat away from doing that. I’d signed the authorization to take my husband off life support. He was a good man. But there were times when being a good person wasn’t enough. Some would say he did all the right things in our relationship, but he did them for the wrong woman. I’d disagree. Unlike most women, I knew my self-worth. The brilliant diamond wedding ring on my finger was there because I’d earned it.
“Mrs. DuBois,” the doctor softly said. “I still have the paper in my hand. It’s not too late to have a change of heart.” He stood in front of me as though my time was up. In a small private space, there was a desk, two chairs, a computer, the doctor, and me. The door with a large square windowpane was closed.
The room suddenly got colder as though someone had locked me in a morgue, alone, with the Grim Reaper. The chill penetrated me so deep I froze from the inside out. Reminded me of a trip I’d taken to New York City to celebrate New Year’s Eve. I was in the midst of tens of thousands of people bundled in coats. Their faces were wrapped with scarves. My feet were stuffed in fur-lined boots. My hands were inside cashmere-coated gloves and I was in Times Square, freezing.
Tapered to my body, the sleeveless black dress I’d chosen to put on this morning was midthigh. The back of my legs stuck to the hard plastic chair. I hugged myself, then slid my hands up and down the chill bumps covering my arms. I wiggled my fingers; they were stiff. I pressed them together; then I rubbed them back and forth. I wanted to cry for my husband, for myself, but this was not the time to break down. There were too many what-ifs in my mind competing for attention; it felt like my head was going to explode. My unchanging heart was heavy and numb. I’d heard the doctor, but I didn’t respond.
I sat staring at the beige tile beneath my four-inch black platform stilettos. What if my husband died before I made it to the hospital’s exit? What if all of his football fans blamed me for his death? What if I hadn’t had sex with that idiot, Granville? What if the baby growing inside me was the result of my infidelity? What if the tape Granville stole from my house of us having sex ended up online for millions to see? What if I continued to delay having surgery for my breast cancer? What if something went wrong with my operation and I ended up on life support? Would I want someone to take me off?
Gazing into the doctor’s eyes, I told him, “My decision is final.”
He remained quiet for several minutes, then said, “Okay. I’m pretty sure you don’t want to be in the room when he’s disconnected from the machine, but I have to—”
“Ask?” I paused, then continued, “No, you don’t.”
Already dressed for the possibility of becoming a grieving widow, I stood, with one foot in front of him, and opened my mouth. I wanted to ask how long did he think it would be before I received the call saying my husband was dead.
Don’t do that, Madison. The doctor will think you’re insensitive.
The truth was, I did care for Roosevelt. Hopefully, his transition would happen within twenty-four hours. Just in case he lingered more than a day, I’d already approved comfort care for him. The staff could insert an IV and administer morphine as often as needed to eliminate the pain I had caused.
In the end I’d done what was best for my husband. Now it was time to start focusing on my health. My father had made arrangements for my mother and me to leave the country. At his request I’d given my dad full power of attorney to handle my business. Papa didn’t want me being constantly threatened by strangers, and Mama didn’t want me to be in a foreign place all by myself.
How hundreds of thousands of my husband’s fans could hate me, when they didn’t know me, meant Papa had done the right thing. I wished people would tend to their own situations and leave me the hell alone.
Mama and I would stay gone for almost a year, until I had my baby and recovered from surgery. Southerners were accustomed to sending pregnant teens away, letting them give birth, putting the baby up for adoption, then allowing them to return home as if nothing had happened.
My circumstances were different. I was a grown woman. Regardless who the father was, I was bringing my child back to America. By the time we returned, Papa believed things would’ve calmed down and someone else would be media worthy of inexplicable hatred.
A woman’s love for a dying man could make him want to live. Out of respect I should have wanted to say my last good-byes but I didn’t want to encourage Roosevelt to live longer. Tears burned my eyes. Was my husband scared? Was he tired of holding on and ready to let go? Without me by his side, my husband would soon exhale for the last time.
“Mrs. DuBois. Roosevelt is an icon in our community. Look, he’s the youngest GM in football. He’s on the league’s ethics committee. He’s brought our team back. He could possibly take us to the championship. More than just you love him. Are you absolutely sure you want to do this?” the doctor asked. His eyes watered with sadness. “It’s not too late to rip this up,” he said, waving the paper in my direction.
The doctor probably sensed I was torn, but it was my decision to make my life—make that our lives—easier. My husband wasn’t strong enough to survive on his own, and I didn’t want to spend our future taking care of him. I mean, what if I had to push him around in a wheelchair? Or hire someone to bathe and feed him? I was a beautiful, vibrant, sexy, thirty-five-years-young woman ready to share the spotlight of being an executive vice president/general manager’s wife. I didn’t sign a license to be his caretaker.
Oh, well. I’m convinced. A blissful marriage is never going to happen. At least not with Roosevelt “Chicago” DuBois. His professional administrative football career is over. Letting Roosevelt go was easier than telling my husband the threemonth-old baby inside me might not be his. There was a chance I could give birth to a child who would remind me every day that I’d cheated. Why? Because of the bet I’d made with my girlfriend.
Four weeks ago on my wedding day, I was the envy of all women—single and married—in Houston, including my so-called best friend, Loretta. Should’ve left her ass alone years ago. She was a real jealous bitch. If she wasn’t trying so hard to impress my husband, she might have one of her own.
Sadly I said, “Please leave.”
Soon as the doctor left the room, I cried out loud, “Dear God, what’s the lesson here? I know I’m not perfect, but what did I do to deserve—” I stopped. I threw my hands up, then added, “Don’t answer that.” I touched my stomach. My only prayer was “Let Roosevelt be the father.”
That way, I’d still have a piece of him to love. Our child needed a father, but not one who might be brain damaged. Roosevelt wasn’t the first man who proposed to me. He was the ninth. But he was the first one who loved me enough for me to marry him. When he died, I would become a lonely woman, but not for long. I’d scatter his ashes over the Gulf of Mexico, then celebrate the great memories we shared. We didn’t have a prenuptial, so legally I’d inherit his millions. Eventually another man would fall in love with me and help me raise my child.
Many would call me a bitch. Roosevelt’s mother, Helen DuBois, would be first in line. His only brother, Chaz, would stand beside her. What they didn’t know was, I was not responsible for Roosevelt getting shot. My so-called Christian girlfriend was. She was the one who’d insisted that I not hire security, and she’d shown up at my wedding reception with a gun in her purse. That’s what I’d heard from our friend Tisha.
In hindsight I realized Loretta could have pulled the trigger herself.
( Continued... )
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