Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Excerpt from The Highest Price for Passion by Laurinda D. Brown








ZANE COMMENT



What happens when a slave master and his wife both fall for the same woman? A slave named Passion? Creatively and beautifully written, Laurinda D. Brown weaves a great tale about history and lust, as it existed in a time period that none of us were around to see. If you have ever wondered how they had sex back in the day, or think that people only got freaky within the last generation, you are in for a surprise. Blessings, Zane

BOOK DESCRIPTION



A century of unrest equals ten decades of change.



The Highest Price for Passion reflects one hundred years of the most volatile era to divide American soil, interspersed with the uncontrollable fervor from the most unlikeliest of sources -- when both master and mistress vie for the affections of a slave too beautiful to destroy, with a quiet intelligence neither can outwit. Discover a time when the concept of family paled against the principle of human bondage.



Fight for the cause. Die for the freedom...to live, to choose, to love.



Unyielding. Uncompromising. Undeniable. These are the qualities that make The Highest Price for Passion...unforgettable.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR





Laurinda D. Brown uses her writing to tell universal stories that apply to all cross-sections of society. A graduate of Howard University, she writes about life, not lifestyles. She currently resides in the Atlanta metro area with her two daughters. Visit www.ldbrownbooks.com, www.myspace.com/laurindadbrown and www.myspace.com/TheHighestPriceforPassion.


EXCERPT FROM THE HIGHEST PRICE FOR PASSION BY LAURINDA BROWN

CHAPTER 2


Dinner was eaten in silence as Hattie and Quincy asked and answered questions within themselves. Hattie was unsure about how to explain what had happened earlier, and Quincy wasn’t sure how to explain what he had seen. They had come to Baltimore from Savannah, Georgia to escape death, and Quincy said he would die first before going back there. It had taken him years to regain his dignity, and now, with Ambrose proving he was like the rest, he was watching himself lose it again. While he wanted to believe none of what he had seen was Hattie’s fault, he did not see her trying to fight off the man. Quincy wanted to believe that his love for Hattie would keep him from thinking she had been about to give in to human nature, and not forcefulness, that afternoon.


“You wus lettin’ him tetch ya,” he said softly as he slowly pushed a corn cake into his mouth. “You won’t tryin’ to fight ’em.”


Sitting at the table, staring at her food, Hattie swallowed hard as if she were trying to remove a rock lodged in her throat, and then said, “Wut I’se s’pose to do, Quincy? He come at me and I do the only thang I knowed to do.”


“It ain’t s’pose to be lak dat up norf. De massas, dey s’pose to be betta than dat,” Quincy said disgustedly. Highly disappointed in Ambrose’s actions, he continued, “He jes lak de res uh dem.”


“Dey’s gon be de same no matta whar we go,” Hattie assured him. “I knowed one thang, tho. Us cain’t go back to Joe-jee.”


“Wut chos us got, Hattie?”


“Us kin run.”


“Te whar? Us ain’t got no whars else te go,” Quincy said, slamming his hand against the table. “Massa knowed I’se ain’t gon let ya leave widout me. He knowed dat.”


“Quincy, you knowed dey gon kill ya if dey find ya down dere, an dey might as well take me on wid ya cus I’se ain’t gon be no use to a soul widout ya.”


Quincy got up from the table and walked over to where Hattie sat. Standing over her, he embraced her shoulders and pressed her back into his body. “I’se gon be fine, Hattie. I’se tole ya I’se always protek ya. Us gon be alright. Us gon go wid massa if-n he say so. He seh he gon protek us,” he said. “He kin protek us from de uh-ders.”


Hattie did not trust that. Just like Ambrose had made it a point to remind Quincy he could take her against her will if he wanted, she knew Ambrose, or some other White man, would betray them if it ever came down to it.
***


By the way Massa Theron Gray ran his plantation, Grayson Manor, it was hard to tell there had ever been a ban on slavery in Savannah. With nearly a third of the colony’s people being slaves, most every one of them belonged, or used to belong to Massa Gray or somebody in his family. No one was really sure what went on with that family to make them stop looking for and caring after one of their own, but none of them had anything to do with Massa Gray. They would see him on the square in town and turn their heads when they saw him coming, and his slaves were not treated any better. When they found out a nigger was belonging to him, they were extra nasty by spitting on them and beating them in the streets.


Marriages on the plantation were forbidden because they interfered with work and loyalty to Massa Gray. The cabins were made of logs, and each cabin was big enough to hold two families; if necessary. The spaces between the logs were filled with mud and straw, rarely keeping the wind and rain from entering. There was no glass in the windows – only shutters that were rarely closed, for keeping out the glory of God was simply unheard of. Although the floors were made of dirt, many of the slaves made the best of their homes and kept them well-maintained. All of the women and children lived on one side of the quarters, and the men lived on the other. One would think that it would be strange to prevent breeding and deny oneself the chance to make money, but, for Massa Gray, there was more to life than money. When he needed more help, he relied on a slave trader to go to the auctions near the port of Savannah and bring him back some good help. Sometimes it was really hard to tell where he got those niggers from because they all looked different, and had many stories inside them to tell about their people. Late at night, after the lights went out in the main house, they sat around the fire and talked about where they came from and all the places they had been to, before sailing to the states. For many of them, their entire families had been torn apart or had died while on the cargo ships. Day after day, bodies were thrown from the boats – some of them were still holding on to their lives, and others had given up the day they were put in chains.


Massa Gray did not have any children, and not once in his years had he been married. He was a fine man who looked straight through you with his cold, light-brown eyes that were empty of any emotion and exposed a man with no soul. His sandy, brown hair was thin but curly, and when he sweated, his curls were matted to his pea-sized head. Because he never lifted a finger to do a thing, he was fleshy with pockets of fat under his neck and beneath his stomach. When he whipped you, that pocket of meat beneath his chin snapped whenever the whip cracked. He struck until he got tired, and if you died before he finished, then so be it. No one was ever able to mourn. The dead were drug off to the pasture and burned in a bonfire. Massa Gray refused to waste his land on graves for slaves.


“Those holes in the ground can be used for planting – not wasted on domesticated animals. A dead nigger can’t make nobody no money, but a cabbage patch sure can,” he always said.


Not many folks ever came to visit Grayson Manor. On occasion, a few of the other planters came by to talk about the weather and things like that, but they did not stay very long. The only person that visited regularly was an acquaintance by the name of Silas Strong – the slave trader. It was usually around supper time when he came, but no one was sure when he left.






One evening while Quincy was sitting around the fireplace with some of the others, they spotted Silas riding in on his horse. But before he got off, he trotted over to where they were gathered. As the fire crackled, each of the men sat motionless. William, a boy of about sixteen whose twin brother had run off one night and was never seen again, stared into the flames; even though he wanted so much to ask Silas where his brother was. The last time anybody had seen him, he was with Silas. Instead, he focused on the fire. Vincent, who had lost his left eye when Massa Gray got upset with him for not putting the right amount of coals in a fire and stuck him in the eye with a hot poker, put his attention on a cricket whose crooning joined into the popping of the burning wood. Quincy kept it easy and lowered his head as Silas gently paraded behind them.


“You darkies sho’ is quiet. When I rode up, I could hear you laughin’ clear back down to the edge of the road,” Silas said. “What is it y’all talkin’ about?”


No one said a word at first. Then Vincent spoke up, “Us wus jes foolin’ ’rown, Massa. Dets all us wus doin’.”


“Does Master Gray know y’all out here without nothin’ to do? I mean, it’s plenty to be done this time of night. Ain’t that right, William?” Silas jumped off his horse into the dirt—dust bellowing up to his braces—and pulled some oats out of his satchel. First he tossed a handful in the fire, and then he started feeding the rest to his horse.




“Yessuh,” William responded quietly, still gazing into the fire.


Tossing one of the oats into the air and catching it with his open mouth, Silas kept his eye on Quincy but continued to direct his questions at William. His looks were wicked and sinful. “Heard anythin’ from that brother of yours, William?”


“No, suh. I ain’t.” By now, sweat beads were popping off William’s forehead like hot kernels of corn.


“Well, that’s too bad. He was a good nigger.” Silas walked with his horse until he got behind Quincy. “Boy, stand up,” he said, leaning over from behind. “Let me take a look at you. I been talkin’ to Theron about you comin’ over to my place to take care of a few things.” Quincy didn’t move. He didn’t like Silas and was willing to take whatever punishment he had to in order to prove his point. “Nigger, I know you ain’t hard of hearin’ ‘cause I see you runnin’ up behind that wench Hattie when she calls for you.” Quincy still didn’t move. “Okay, I see you want to be a hard ass.”


When he saw that Quincy wasn’t going to move, Silas started rustling with his horse until the ass of the horse was right over Quincy’s head. Fortunately, the horse was gentle, but that was not what Quincy should have been counting on. “You know, boy, I came out here lookin’ for no trouble, but I guess that when you go to lookin’ for shit, you eventually step in it.” He laughed. “What you think, boy?” Then all of them heard the horse grunt and saw him unleash his business onto Quincy’s shoulders. “Well, guess it’s time for me to get on up to the house.” Silas mounted his horse, galloping back up the path to where Massa was standing outside waiting.


William finally looked up and saw Quincy sitting there, petrified. with the horse mess still dropping from his body. “I hear he a sissy and so is Massa.”


At first no one knew what to say, but, as the night hurried on, Vincent spoke first. “Yeh, dey say him and Massa be in der doin’ thangs God neva meant for mens te do. Say Massa be in der ben ova de side uh de bed wit Massa Silas right up ’hind ’em. U kin heer dem sum-times late in de night.”


“I heared dat, too,” William said. “Seh dey gat a posse uh dem dat go ’rown skerrin’ the slaves at night. I’se believe dat wut happ’n te my brudda.”


“Wut? Dat Massa Silas got te ‘um?”


“Yeah, but ain’t no need’n talkin’ ’bout it. Ye knowed dey prolly kilt ’em. Des rott-n like dat.” William started throwing dirt on the fire, signaling it was time to turn in for the night. As the orange faded from the ashes, they watched Quincy work to get himself cleaned off, but offered no assistance.

Walking down to the river at night was something most of the slaves never did, let alone walking down there by themselves. While it was always beautiful to see the moon sitting up there against the blue-black sky and hear the crickets singing their songs, it could quickly become the longest walk anybody could ever take. Quincy had asked Vincent to take the walk with him, but Vincent insisted he was tired and needed to go to bed. The others had disappeared shortly after Silas had left.


As he walked along the red clay sodden from an earlier rain, Quincy heard the owls and the night creatures carrying on as they normally did. The river was about a mile from the quarters, and the closer Quincy got to the rushing water, the further away it seemed. Step by barefoot step, he watched his large footprints squish into the earth, which made him remember the day he had met Hattie. She was sitting in the middle of the yard next to a Magnolia tree with Eunice playing in the mud, and she was about six years old at the time. The two of them were sitting knee deep in a pile of wet earth, making and selling mud pies.


“Ya want one uh dees?” she asked. “Dey cost uh nickel but Ise givs it t’ya fa free.”


Quincy was ten and had been working in the fields with his father for years. Hattie was only old enough to fetch things for Massa Gray; he did not have much for the younger niggers to do. Smiling with his crooked yellow-stained teeth gleaming in the sunshine, Quincy reached for the mud pie and said, “Well, th-th-th-thank ya. I’se gonna eat it all up, too!”


From that moment on, Quincy and Hattie played together when time would let them, and, as she grew older, Hattie felt a sense of protection with him. By the time Quincy was seventeen, he was a big man with round, chipped golden brown muscles from the top of his shoulders to the bottom of his thighs. Hattie had seen thirteen birthdays, and, despite their difference in age and her massa’s rules about relations in the quarters, she had promised herself to Quincy.




The second she set her eyes on Quincy, she knew he would have her heart forever. Her friends often teased her about her glassy stares when she spoke his name. She had taught herself to make simple stitches in fabric by watching Eunice’s grandmother make Massa Gray’s shirts. Daily, Hattie would ask for the scraps so she could practice and perhaps one day help make Massa Gray’s clothes. Before too long, she had enough scraps to make a shirt that she gave to Quincy, and, from the time she gave it to him, he wore that shirt every single day and nothing kept him from it. Whenever they were less than only a few feet from one another, Hattie memorized his scent and fixed it in her nose so she would know when he had just left a room or space she entered. With his shadow absorbing her tiny frame whenever they stood close, she became one with him, knowing he would always protect her. In their quarters, the females were supposed to do all the cooking and cleaning for the men. After they finished in the main house, they planted flowers around the bushes and up and down the path leading to the main road. Just as the other females her age, Hattie’s responsibilities were few but sometimes difficult. If she had to wheel dirt to the front yard for planting, she did it with all her might, but, within an instant, Quincy would appear. If she had to go out back and kill a chicken for dinner, she would get as far as picking out the chicken and taking it to the backyard. Having to step away to check the pot of boiling water, she’d return to the chicken, finding its neck already wrung and its head cut off. Once the chores of the main house were tended to, the females returned to the quarters to prepare dinner for the men who had been in the fields all day. Every night since the first day she had laid eyes on Quincy, there was a sunflower from massa’s flower bed laying atop the single blanket on which she slept. She knew that whenever that stopped, Quincy’s love for her was gone, or he was dead.

The night marched on to the rhythm of Quincy’s footsteps, and the sound of the water had gotten louder. Quincy knew it would take a while, if ever, to get the odor out of his skin, and then next he was going to have to wash his clothes. As he approached the river, he could smell the muscadine patches that enveloped the trees alongside the banks. Taking great care in where he stepped because cotton mouths lingered around the brushes for the nectar of the muscadines, Quincy began to disrobe, piece by piece, and then entered the water, taking his clothes with him.
In one deep breath, Quincy submerged himself, cleansing his body and his clothes in the muddied waters. When he came to the surface and was preparing to step back onto the bank, he noticed an uneasy calm surrounding him. The river was still as it appeared flat against the moonlight. There were no crickets, no owls, not one sound coming from the nature around him. Quickly, Quincy twisted the water from his pants and put on his shirt, still dripping with water. Hurriedly passing through the muscadine patches and mashing the sugary juices between his toes, he stopped just beyond the edge of the brush, hearing what he thought to be a horse trying to catch its breath. In the darkness and unsure about which way to turn, Quincy tried desperately to listen for the rippling of the river, but he couldn’t hear it. He did, however, hear the whinny of a horse and its anger with being held back. As his heart began to race, and realizing that he was not alone, Quincy started running and thought to himself to never look back. The only thing he wanted to do was to get back to the quarters so he could see Hattie.




CRACK! The blow to his skull made him fall to the ground face first.


With the earth below him saturating his tongue, Quincy’s trousers were ripped from his lower body like paper exposing his backside and the miniscule curly, black hairs that covered his skin. It felt to him that each one of them was standing straight in the air as he was rammed in the rectum with another man’s wooden peck. He was ordered to lie still and threatened with castration if he made a sound or tried to get away. “Don’t fight me, nigger, or I’ll get that winch of yours and do the same, if not worse, to her.”


Quincy recognized the voice above him as that of Silas, but there was another he also recognized. Soon the other voice, that of Massa Gray who had knelt between the V-shaped contour of Quincy’s anatomy, was right in his ear, and he entered Quincy’s shell with a hardened cock, causing him to tense his muscles even harder.


“That’s a good nigger,” he soothed. “Hold it right there.”


A single tear rolled from the corner of his eye down his cheek and onto his hand that was flat beneath his face. His other hand was pinned behind him. One thrust after another, the attack went on for what seemed like forever until the walls of Quincy’s bowels could not take it anymore, and he let loose like a rabbit that had gotten hold of some bad grass.




“You fucking nigger!” Massa Gray shouted. “You’re going to pay for this with your life!”


Both men, with themselves still at attention, scrambled to their feet to get to their holsters they had tossed into the brush. While they tousled through the darkness, Quincy, lying there with his manhood stripped from him, braced himself to make a run for his life. Slowly raising to his feet just enough so as to not be seen, Quincy took off like a bolt of lightning, being guided by only the moonlight. Every stride he took, with bullets blasting past his head, was for the life he wanted with Hattie, but he knew would never have that at Grayson Manor.
***


Runaways were simply considered “missing.” In the company of servants, Silas, known for his sometimes barbaric antics, was asked by Massa Gray to keep a watchful eye out for those who had escaped and to deal with them accordingly if they were ever caught outside the boundaries of the plantation. Nearly everyone knew that Silas and Massa Gray had something to do with the disappearances. They had never raised a fuss about it more than a day or two. None of the women rarely, if ever, tried to leave. For the most part, they were safe and were rewarded for their obedience and loyalty. For the men, however, there was something different. While, on the surface, they had no reason to run away, there existed a reason that remained within the confines of their quarters. Most times they were singled out in front of their counterparts and subsequently taunted and humiliated to the point of self-destruction. In the case of William’s twin brother, Wayne, Massa Gray and Silas had followed him into the corn fields one morning and tailed him until they had reached a section where the crows had gotten to the stalks.


“Wayne, what you go and let them birds eat up my corn for?” Massa Gray asked.


Wayne, looking around at the others in the field with him until he laid his eyes upon his brother, answered, “Suh, I ain’t knowed dees burds wus comin’ out heer lak dis. I’se kin git a scahrcrow uh sumthin’ te make dem goes away.”


Silas walked over to Wayne and grabbed him by the front of his shirt. “Boy, why should you go through all that when you got a scarecrow already out here?”


“Suh?” Wayne asked baffled.


Then Silas snatched off Wayne’s shirt and slammed it to the ground. “We got you!” He cackled, studying Wayne’s bare chest. Silas got closer to Wayne and began making circles with his fingertips. “You is all we need out here. You black, you ugly, and I’m pretty sho’ you can scare away a bunch of little bitty ol’ birds.”


Shirtless, Wayne stood there waiting for Massa Gray to say something, but no words ever came. “Massa Silas, suh, wuh you want me te do, suh?”


As Silas stood there with his hazel-green eyes piercing through the sweaty flesh of William’s twin brother, he replied, “I want you to get up there on that there pole and scare them crows off your master’s crops.”


“Yessuh,” Wayne offered silently and proceeded to climb up the pole to take his stand.


Laughing out loud and looking to Massa Gray for approval, Silas called out, “You sho’ is a dumb nigger.”


Wayne looked confused as he stepped back onto the ground. “Iz der sumthin’ ’rong, suh?”


“Well, hell, yes, somethin’s wrong. You ain’t no damn good to the them crows with your pants on. You gotta get up there on that pole and show them birds how ugly you is. I want you to take your pants off and get on up there and scare them birds away.”




Under the apologetic eyes of the other field hands, Wayne removed his pants and got up on the pole and sat perched in the sun until his skin and the bird droppings melted into one. Later in the night, Wayne took a walk down to the river, and a few minutes later Silas left the house going in the same direction. Wayne was never seen again.


A whole day had gone by, and Hattie had not seen Quincy. Although she did not mind doing the chores without his assistance, she thought perhaps Quincy was too busy to help her at different times throughout the day. Massa Gray was good for hiring out some of the men to work for others, and they may be gone for days at a time. Even then, though, Quincy made his way back to the quarters to put a sunflower on Hattie’s blanket. When she got home that night, there was no flower waiting for her.


After the lights went out in the main house, that’s when the men and women would sneak out of their cabins and meet around a small fire at the back of quarters; closest to the edge of the woods. Those that had eyes for each other sat and held hands until the sun had started to brighten the sky. Others who had gone beyond hand-holding disappeared into the trees and did what came naturally to them. On the few occasions that a wench ended up with child, Massa Gray sold her at the auction. To punish her for disobeying him, he had Silas cut a deal with the new owner by refunding his money and paying him back twice what he had paid, if he gave the baby back to Massa Gray when it was born. And that is exactly how Hattie ended up on the plantation.


Hattie looked out her back door and saw the others getting on and laughing around the fire but didn’t see Quincy. She contemplated going out to ask where he was, but she did not want to spoil the evening for the others. Taking a seat in a chair next to the table where she kept an arrangement of sunflowers, Hattie released a waterfall from her eyes. She knew she had done nothing to make Quincy stop loving her; therefore, she had no choice but to think otherwise. Then, as she buried her head into her folded arms on the table, there was a soft knock at the door.


Wiping away her tears and drying her hands against her gingham dress, Hattie opened the door and saw Vincent, with Eunice by his side, standing before her with his head hung low. “Uh, Miss Hattie, uh, how ye dis evenin’?”


Hattie replied calmly, “I’se gettin’ long fine, Vincent. Wut kin I do fa ye?”


“Miss Hattie, me and the fellas out der knowed ’bout you and Quancy,” he responded. “Us knowed he quite fond uh ya. Dat’s why sumbody needed te come tell ya ’bout last night.”


“Please, c’mon in. Tells me er’ythang.”


By the time Vincent finished telling her all that had happened, Hattie had no life left in her and fell into his arms, continuing to weep uncontrollably.


Eunice helped take Hattie from Vincent’s arms. “I gots hur. Gone bak outside fo’ ya gits ketched in here wid us.” Until Hattie started falling asleep, Eunice sat with her and wiped her tears as they flowed into her lap. “Miss Hattie, I’ma get on home unlessen ya needs me te stay here wid ya.”


Her eyes wet as rain puddles, she told Eunice to go on home so she could spend some time talking with Jesus. A short time later, there was another knock at the door, and Hattie thought maybe Eunice had decided to come back to check on her. But when she opened the door, no one was there. Standing in the door’s threshold, a gentle wind passed by, and with it was the scent of Quincy. Hattie closed the door and headed toward the corner where she slept, but noticed the back door was slightly open. She got up and closed it, peeping through the crack to see if someone had tried to get in. With the flames of a nearby candle flickering against the wooden floor, her eyes fell upon the top of the pile of straw where she slept. Against her blanket was a sunflower. When she leaned over to pick it up, her senses detected an odor enhanced by the scent of her man. “Quincy?” she called out.


Emerging from the corner of the room that received the least amount of light was Quincy.




“Shhhh,” he directed with his finger pressed against his lips.


“But wut…”


Having returned to the site where he was attacked to get his pants, Quincy was clothed, but his shirt and pants were in shreds. “I’se need ya te get ya thangs real quick, Hattie, and comes wid me.”


Without hesitation, Hattie grabbed her blanket and her flowers. “I’se ready.” Disappearing into the night, the two runaways left their troubles behind and sought freedom.

The next morning it was quickly discovered that Hattie was missing since she worked in the main house from time to time, being responsible for bringing Massa Gray his breakfast. By the break of dawn, he was coming down the stairs, and, before the sun could shed light into the east side of the house, he was sitting at the table with his breakfast of eggs, bacon, and biscuits waiting for him. Ever since Hattie had been working in the house, that was the routine, but on this particular morning, there was no smell of bacon frying or biscuits baking. The minute Massa Gray got to the top of the stairs he knew something was wrong, and, instead of going to the table, he went to the barn to get his horse and headed over to see Silas.


“We got a problem, Silas. Hattie’s run off,” Massa Gray said as he walked toward Silas, who was about to sit down to his breakfast of eggs, grits and hoecakes.


“Well, then, you must be hungry. Have some,” Silas joked, gesturing for his servant, Nan, to fix Massa Gray a plate. Checking to see if Nan was out of sight, he continued. “I know you ain’t surprised. We was shootin’ bullets in the dark, and you musta missed.” He laughed.


“Silas, we can’t afford to have that nigger out there. He could…”


“He could what? Tell? Tell who? He wouldn’t live a second longer if he opened up his mouth to a


White man about it, and he too shamed to tell another nigger. We ain’t got nothin’ to worry about.”


Massa Gray sat there still looking concerned. He was spiteful and evil when he wanted to be.




“We need him dead, Silas. We can’t risk somebody finding out.”


Silas, shoveling hot grits in his mouth with one hand, put his other hand on Massa Gray’s thigh and started rubbing his hand up and down and around his cock. “Tell you what. I got an idea.”


“What?”


“We can post a reward for Hattie. Now you and I both know we don’t give a damn about her. Wherever we find Hattie, we find Quincy.”

If you enjoyed this excerpt and would like to purchase this book, please visit your local bookstore or order it online at: http://www.amazon.com/Highest-Price-Passion-Laurinda-Brown/dp/1593090536/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246990382&sr=1-1

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