Greetings! As promised, here is a sneak preview of Total Eclipse of the Heart. I did not put the opening chapter because, quite frankly, the book starts off with a graphic sex scene that had both of my parents asking me, “Why did you have to have all of that on the first page?”-LOL
I hope that you enjoy this excerpt and the book itself. This is my first book available on audio as well. I am very excited and wondering how people will react to the novel. As always, my writing means a lot to me and I had to go deep inside myself—someplace else even—to find the inspiration and passion to write it.
Total Eclipse of the Heart by ZaneRelease Date: December 1, 2009
Order your copy at: http://www.amazon.com/Total-Eclipse-Heart-Zane/dp/0743499298/
Brooke Alexander, a waitress who has self-esteem issues regarding her lackluster existence and her fluctuating weight, is in love with Patrick Sterling, one of the most prominent attorneys in Washington, D.C. On his good days, Patrick is the man in every woman's dream. On his bad days, Patrick's behavior is demeaning and he is angry at the world.Damon Johnson, who's been married to Carleigh for four years, is one of "the last good men" -- compassionate and honest, he worships the ground his wife walks on. But Carleigh treats Damon like a trophy husband, allowing her friends to salivate over him and disrespect their happy home. Damon has dreams beyond his six-figure corporate job, and Carleigh views his life aspirations as a joke. Her selfish nature makes Damon wonder if he made the right decision when he asked for her hand in marriage.When a tragic event causes Brooke's and Damon's lives to intersect, truths unfold as they begin to reflect on their own relationships.In this provocative tale of love and heartbreak, Zane explores what happens when you cater to your emotional well-being and discover the meaning of unconditional love...or, rather, experience a total eclipse of the heart.
Damon JohnsonJuly 4, 2007Wheaton, MarylandCarleigh, I’m telling you. That motherfucker is too fine for words. I bet he blows your back out every damn night.”“You ain’t never lied, Jordan. Do you see that rocket in those shorts? I can see that damn thing all the way over here.”“Do I see it? Girl, it’s making me hungry. I’m starving and I’m not talking about those ribs on the grill.”“Yeah, forget about him cooking out here. I wouldn’t mind heating up some shit in the bedroom.”“Carleigh, tell us the truth. Can you even handle all that man? He looks like he needs at least four or five women to keep him satisfied.”“Ya’ll crazy. I keep my shit on point. Damon is well taken care of, thank you very much.”“Well, if you ever need some backup pussy, give a sister a call. You can call me twenty-four/seven.”“I know that’s right. Call me, too. Shit, I’ll settle for simply watching him go to work. Give me a bowl of buttered popcorn, a Pepsi, and a front-row seat.”“You all better find you a man on Damon’s website and leave mine to me.”“Please, those men on that website are full of crap. Last few good men, my ass.”“What about Bobby and Steve? They’re cute, in an old-fashioned sort of way.”“Carleigh, you need glasses. Those suckers aren’t cute by any stretch of the imagination.”“You hear those pigeons over there?” Steve asked, as I threw another slab of baby back ribs onto the grill.“How can I not hear them?” I replied. “Carleigh’s friends are a trip.”Bobby grabbed a barbecued chicken leg out of the pan and started gnawing it down to the bone. “Have any of them ever actually tried to get busy?”I smirked. “They have no shame in their game. I’ll leave it at that.”“Oh, come on,” Steve said. “Spill the beans. You know women aren’t the only ones who gossip.”“Don’t I know it,” I said. “You and Bobby are worse than any women that I’ve ever seen. All you chatter about is your sex lives, or lack thereof.”“Rub that shit in, why don’t you?” Bobby popped the tab on his third beer. “I’m this close to finding the lady of my dreams.” With his free hand he pressed his thumb and index fingers together. “I’m simply taking my time. I only plan on getting married once.”“Everybody only plans to get married once,” Steve said.“True,” Bobby admitted. “But I’m not going to end up like a lot of these peeps. I have zero intention of being on my third or fourth marriage by the time I’m forty. I want to settle down, father some legacies to carry on my name, and have readily available pussy in my bed every night.”I laughed. “Seems like you have it all figured out.”Steve looked at me. “When are you and Carleigh going to have some kids? You’ve been married for going on four years.”“Damn, you sound like my mother. Everything happens in due time.” I flipped the ribs over and took another sip of my orange juice. I don’t know why I felt like I had to defend my manhood, since neither of them were getting sex on the regular. Yet, I felt compelled to add, “It’s not from lack of sex that we don’t have a child. I can tell you that much.”Bobby glanced at my cup of juice and shook his head. “Damon, I don’t see how you do it.”“Do what?”“Refrain from drinking alcohol.”“Is liquor a requirement these days?” I asked.“No, but, shit, it helps take the edge off,” Bobby replied.I glanced down at Bobby’s beer gut and chuckled.“Preach!” Steve said, cosigning as he poured himself some whiskey—his drink of choice—into a cup. “Life is stressful and I need to be able to relax.”“Well, I work out to relax.”They both smirked, hating on me because of my body.Bobby looked over at the women sitting around the table on the deck still talking trash, and then back at me. “Damon, I have to admit. You have it all. A fine wife.”“Amen,” Steve said.“A nice crib.”“Amen.”“A good job.”“Amen again.”“One of the hottest up‑and-coming websites.”“Amen four times.”“And you’re cut like a statue.”Steve said, “I’m not commenting on another man’s body. There I draw the line; but amen to all that other shit.”We all laughed as I finished up the grilling so we could eat before the fireworks started later on that evening.As we sat around the deck eating, Carleigh’s friends continued on their tirade about how fine I was. They loved scoping out men in general, but they especially loved checking me out. Most women would feel uncomfortable if their girlfriends acted like they wanted to fuck their husband on sight, but not my Carleigh. She had me hooked and she knew it. In her mind, there was zero chance of me cheating on her. She was right.While Steve and Bobby were both single and looking, I will be the first to admit that most of my other buddies had a problem with being devoted to one woman, even if they had exchanged marriage vows. I’d taken mine seriously. Carleigh and I had been married for four glorious years and I wouldn’t have traded her for all the women in the world. Men tend to be egotistical creatures, and some of my married friends had the nerve to get pissed if their mistress or mistresses stepped out on them. That defied logic, but it made perfect sense to them.There are some decent men, but the silly, immature men make it hard for women to differentiate. On the other hand, so many women play games that men have to be damn near as cautious, or they’ll be somewhere feeling dejected or used. That was one reason why I was glad that I’d settled down early in life. Well, early for this day and age. During the last century, people married young—such as fifteen or sixteen—and had four or five kids by the time they were twenty-five. I got married at twenty-five; Carleigh was twenty-three; and while some of our friends had jumped the broom, most of them had not.Carleigh and I met at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. She was there with her best friends Jordan and Sharon, and I was there with my ex‑girlfriend. I know, I know. It makes me out to seem doggish, but I really am not. Fran and I were on our way downhill long before then. In fact, that trip was our last-ditch effort to make love out of nothing at all. We simply were not compatible, and it showed daily. Too many people stay, waiting for the other person to break it off. A lot of men start searching for their next woman so they won’t have a dry spell once the shit does hit the fan. I’ll admit that I was somewhere in limbo between those two things when I boarded that flight to Louisiana.Fran got down there and started flirting with men every chance that she got. I found her cuddled up in a corner with a man in the hotel lounge the very night we arrived. She claimed that they had known each other for years, but the lie was obvious. I could tell by the expression on his face that he had no clue what the fuck she was talking about. He was trolling for sex and thought he had got lucky. If I hadn’t come down to see what was taking Fran so long—she was supposed to be getting one drink “to knock the edge off ” and then coming back up—she would probably have ventured back to his room and got her freak on.I had suspected Fran of cheating for a while. The clues were there. Late nights at the office. Girlfriends with constant weekend emergencies. Her mother always needing a ride to a doctor’s appointment or the grocery store. Returning home looking guilty, every single time. Even though I suspected that she was disrespecting me, I still did the right thing.When I met Carleigh outside the Superdome on our last night, the magnetism was instant. She bumped into me while Fran was in the long-ass line for the ladies’ room. She had on a Washington Redskins T‑shirt, so I asked where she was from. I was pleasantly surprised when we realized that we were homies. People from the Washington, D.C., area say that they are from D.C. even if they live an hour out in the suburbs. Carleigh was from Largo, and I was currently living in Silver Spring.We exchanged business cards for purely innocent reasons. She was a Realtor and I was looking to purchase a new home. It was all legitimate, I swear. Fran didn’t see it that way. When she returned from the ladies’ room, she looked like she wanted to wring Carleigh’s neck. I introduced them, but Fran wouldn’t even shake Carleigh’s hand. Damn shame how some women act so catty.To make an extremely long-ass story short, when we returned home, I informed Fran that it was time for her to hit the road and make other living arrangements. She threatened to sue me or to keep it simple and sever my dick. That didn’t make me stay with her. For the life of me, I don’t understand the latest trend of people suing one another when they break up. If you are not married, what the hell should someone owe you? You both took a chance and the situation didn’t work out. Why should someone have to pay you to move your ass on? I have noticed the trait even more with men than women. Brothers demanding that a woman help pay their bills if they get kicked out of the woman’s home. First off, they should be the main provider and not be living off her in the first place. Second, if it is time to move the fuck on, just do it. Fran couldn’t grasp that reality.The situation was unhealthy for both of us and needed to end sooner as opposed to later. Fran accused me of fucking Carleigh in New Orleans. That was absurd, I informed her. I met Carleigh the last night of our trip, and Fran and I left the concert together, went to a late dinner, then hit the sack. There was zero space and even less opportunity for me to fuck anybody but her. Fran was determined to make that hypothesis work for her. She suggested that I may have drugged her, then snuck out of the room. That did it, because any woman who thought that I was that hard up or insane over getting pussy was a complete nut. I helped Fran pack and dropped her off at her sister’s condo in Rockville, then told her to misplace my number.Carleigh and I hooked up the following Saturday—not for sex but to check out offered properties. I will confess that I was checking out her body more than the houses, but it all worked itself out. I was the perfect gentleman the entire three months that she helped me to locate the idyllic home. It was even more crucial that I find a new house by then. I was trying to get absolute closure from my dealings with Fran, and we had shacked up together for over a year.While her name was never on the deed, her memory was still there, and I believed in starting anew.Fran thought that she would be moving with me when I found my new spot. That was another reason for the timing of our breakup. I didn’t want to give her the delusion that we would be setting up another home as a couple. For a minute, she had become a stalker, parking down the street and setting up overnight surveillance to see what I was doing. Yeah, I had to get the hell out of there.After I moved into my four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom, all-brick home in Wheaton, I decided to sever the business association with Carleigh and ask her out on an official date. We had been out to eat numerous times, but never as a prelude to the possibilities. I didn’t want her to feel any pressure to hook up with me based on making a real estate commission. Too many men make women feel uncomfortable with the “what I can do for you” bullshit.We dated for about six months and realized that we were true soul mates. Carleigh made me feel comfortable, and women don’t realize how important something so simple can mean to a man. I could be myself around her, and she would often express the same to me. I asked her father for her hand in marriage, and four years later, it was still all good. She was the yin to my yang, and we seemed to complement each other in every way.The fireworks that night were unremarkable. In our backyard, we could view those set off from a large, nearby park. Granted, we could have headed down to the National Mall in D.C. or to the Baltimore Harbor, but we were too full and preferred to chill out. Carleigh curled up beside me on a blanket on our back lawn. Some of our neighbors were shooting off little rockets and running around with sparklers. I remember doing that shit as a child. My boys and I thought we were pyrotechnic experts until Chris got burned on the arm. The next year, and every year after that, we didn’t touch anything hazardous. Instead, we watched other little knuckleheads get hurt and laughed at them.After the fireworks show was over, I went into the house to put my digital camera away in my home office. Jordan came in right behind me and shut the door. I hadn’t even seen the snake get up off the lawn, rather less slither behind me with her fangs exposed.“Yes?” I asked.“What are you doing?”“Putting my camera away. That should be obvious.” I knew where this was headed, so I asked, “Where’s Carleigh?”“In her skin.” She laughed, teasing her hair with her index finger like she had invented an original line instead of repeating a tired-ass one. “Why don’t you put the camera away and take something else out?”Yup, it was definitely headed there.“How many times do I have to tell you? I’m not fooling around with you. I don’t want you. I love Carleigh, and I have no intention of cheating. You need to get some of that built-up wax out your damn ears.”“Speaking of wax, I got a Brazilian the other day.”“I’m thrilled. Now, can you please step off?!” I waved her away like a wasp since that’s what she reminded me of. The female wasps can paralyze their prey with their sting. She was not about to reel me in. “You need to find a man someplace other than in this house.”“You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.”“And you’re beginning to act like a broken woman.” I plopped down in my leather desk chair. “Jordan, you’re an eye-catching woman. There are tons of single guys in the D.C. area. You need to stop harping on this shit with me. It’s nonsense and it’s not happening. Not today, not tomorrow, and not even when cars start flying.”She came closer and sat on top of my desk, lowering her tube top so I could see her breasts. “Do you like what you see?”“No, I don’t.”I sighed. “Every woman has a pair of tits; I’m not overwhelmed.”“What if I show you my pussy?”“Every woman has one of those, too. If you don’t stop harassing me every time you come over here, I will tell Carleigh.”“No, you won’t.”She pulled her top back up. “If you were going to tell, you would’ve done it already.”“The only reason that I haven’t said anything is because Carleigh will be harmed. She cares for you and thinks you’re her friend and—”“I am her friend. We go way back.”I have no clue why I continued the conversation, but the nature of a woman has always amazed me.“Since you go way back, why would you try to fuck me? I mean, what if I did it? Then what? You would be content to share me with her, or is your intention to take me away from her?”“Why don’t you give me a serious dick-down and find out?”That did it. “I don’t have time for this.” I got up from my chair and headed for the door. She tried to grab my wrist. “You really need to find a different ambition in life. You and I will never happen.”“Never say never,” Jordan whispered as I opened the door and left.When I got back into the yard, everyone was up dancing to “Milkshake” by Kelis.“Damn, did you all catch a second wind blowing through here or something?” I asked, pushing up on Carleigh, who was doing a poor rendition of the chicken-noodle-soup dance.“Dance with me, baby,” Carleigh said, pulling me to her and giving me one of those wet, sloppy kisses that I so adored.Carleigh was drunk, and even though I didn’t drink, when she got toasted, it meant that she would be ready to fuck me until I was damn near comatose once everyone else left. I glanced over at Steve, who was now grinding up against Jordan. She looked bored to tears. I hadn’t even noticed her slither back outside.“Steve, didn’t you say you have an early day tomorrow?”Steve smirked at me; he knew what was up. “No, I can hang out all night, if you all want to. I have a spare suit in my car.”I wanted to smack him. “Well, we’re not partying all night.”I was about to walk over and cut off the iPod when Casper’s “Cha Cha Slide” came on next. That was all she wrote; they all started clapping, hopping, and stomping, doing the popular line dance.I have to admit that something about women doing a line dance is sensual, whether it’s a country-music one, the electric slide, the booty call, or anything else. Seeing all those hips moving at the same time can make a man’s dick hard; imagining those same hips propped up on his lap and working over his dick. It is amazing how so many women can shake their asses on a dance floor but freeze in place if you ask them to get on top during sex. I gave in to the moment, sat down on a deck chair, and watched them to see how low they could go.Everyone finally left around 2:00 a.m. Carleigh was drunk as she walked Jordan to her car. Jordan had implied that I should be a gentleman and see her out, but I smirked and walked in the opposite direction instead. By the time Jordan and Carleigh finished running their mouths in the driveway, I had taken a hot shower and climbed into bed. Carleigh came in the room and collapsed beside me on the bed. By that point, I was exhausted and prepared to fall asleep without sex, but she made her move within seconds.“Damon, I’m horny,” she whispered, flinging the comforter off me and reaching into my pajama bottoms to caress my dick. “I need some of that good good.”Carleigh always referred to our sex as “that good good,” implying that it was so hot that she had to double up on the compliments.“You can have all the good good you want,” I said, reaching over and pulling up her top, exposing her breasts. “Why don’t you go take a shower first?”“I’m too drained to take a shower. I want you to put me to sleep with that dick.”After being outside all day, I was appalled that Carleigh would climb onto clean sheets with a dirty body. I was even more appalled at the thought of making love that way. The only place funk belongs is in the bass line of a Parliament song. I was about to insist that Carleigh bathe first, but before I could go there, she was already devouring my dick with her mouth. She definitely got a rise out of me so I put her to sleep in that good good way. I refused to eat her pussy without her bathing, but I did slide my dick in and out of her until she moaned, her toes curled, and her eyes rolled up into the back of her head. Even though I was tired, it still took me damn near an hour to climax. I have never been able to cum quick, which could be a blessing and a curse. Women love that I am not a two-minute man, but sometimes a man wants to be able to bust a nut and fall asleep. That has never been the case with me. Carleigh got what she wanted and then dozed off. I lay beside her, glanced out the window, and thought about Jordan. Not in a sexual manner—never that—but I wondered that if Jordan was capable of fucking Carleigh’s husband, what else was she capable of? I really needed to tell my wife that her friend was not a friend at all, but, ultimately, it would have devastated Carleigh. No matter what, I couldn’t be the one to take the light out of her eyes. I loved her way too much for that.
BrookeJuly 4, 2007Springfield, VirginiaBrooke, you look great in that dress!” Mrs. Sterling, holding true to form, was passing out insincere compliments. “Where did you get it?”“I got it from a designer sale at T.J.Maxx,” I replied, intentionally irritating her by mentioning a discount store. “You can get some great deals there, if you look hard enough.”She gasped like I’d shot somebody. “Thank goodness Nicholas and I don’t have to worry about prices. I could never be seen in such a bargain-basement establishment.”“For most of the working class, designer clothing costs are too extravagant, so we have to do the best we can.”“The operative words are working class. That is a category that I have never fit in.”Mrs. Sterling always made it a point to jog the memory of anyone who would listen that she and her husband were affluent. Standing there on the ten-acre estate made it obvious enough. They lived by the shore and Mr. Sterling’s yacht was docked so all the guests could eyeball it.“How many people are you expecting today?” I asked, trying to change the subject before she started talking bank-account balances.“Oh, about fifty or sixty. It’s a small gathering.”“In my entire life, my parents never had fifty people over to our house.”“That’s because your parents reside in a shack compared to this house, dear.”That was a nice stab. I had to give it to her. The gloves came off.“My parents may not reside in the lap of luxury, but they’re extremely happy and don’t hide their dirty little secrets behind stock portfolios and security bonds.”She grimaced at me and I smirked.Nice one, Brooke, I thought as I walked away from her to find Patrick. I could feel her eyes throwing daggers at my back.Mrs. Sterling hated my guts. I was not of the “social material” that she felt was worthy of her son. The first time he brought me to their home for dinner, she wanted to know my “lineage.” I quickly informed her that my father was a plumber and my mother was a schoolteacher, that I was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and that I had an older brother in the navy. She wanted to know if I was “world-traveled.”I told her that the only time that I’d been out of the metropolitan area was on a field trip to New York City when I was a senior in high school. She looked like someone had shoved a full enema bottle up her crusty old ass and squeezed. Mr. Sterling was kinder to me. For several months afterward I actually thought that he approved of me and Patrick. Then Patrick got angry one night and burst that bubble, informing me that his father “thought I was a fine piece of ass but not wife material.” Patrick said that his father suggested that he should fuck me for no more than six months, then find a high-class socialite to show off on his arm.Even though Patrick agreed with them—that became painfully obvious—he still kept me around. When I was evicted from my studio apartment in Adams Morgan, he insisted that I move into his Capitol Hill penthouse. I was reluctant but caught up in feelings at that time, so I agreed. My parents were cramped up in their three-bedroom with doodads and miscellaneous crap they had collected during their nearly thirty years of marriage. Moving back with them seemed like taking a step backward in my life. My reality check was discovering that I’d taken five steps back by being with Patrick.Patrick was a prominent attorney and was even voted one of the hottest bachelors in the area by Washingtonian magazine. I thought he was the moon, the sun, and the stars when we met at the restaurant where I was waiting tables. Patrick had what we women call swagger, and he was articulate and convincing. He charmed my pants—and my drawers—right off of me, even though he had been on a date when we met. He slipped me his cell number when she excused herself to the ladies’ room to powder her nose. I actually overheard her say that shit: “I’ll be right back. I’m excusing myself to go powder my nose.” That was some uppity nonsense right there. Women go to the ladies’ room to piss and shit, hopefully wash their hands, and possibly take a quick glance in the mirror. The only nose powdering done is when they snort blow.I called Patrick the next morning. He picked me up in a black Bentley, took me to his place, and fucked me like I’d never been fucked before. I didn’t realize that my body could be so flexible. The man could write a manual on sex positions. Over time, he convinced me to do some things sexually, swallowing his semen and engaging in anal sex, that I would never have fathomed before then.He had only insisted that I do anal a few times, unsuccessfully trying to convince me that I would develop a love for it. A couple of my friends swore by it, claiming that anal sex gave them more intense orgasms than vaginal sex. I refused to cosign on any of it. My ass started hurting at the mere thought of it.As the party went on that Fourth of July, more and more people showed up to feast on the lobsters, shrimp, and oysters. The Sterlings had a live band perform with the lakefront in the background, and all their stuck-up friends looked ridiculous trying to dance. I wanted some ribs, chicken, and hot dogs with chili and coleslaw. No such luck. I wanted to hear some Jay-Z,Prince, and Mariah Carey. No such luck. I wanted a rum and Coke, but settled for a French Connection—Grand Marnier and Hennessy cognac.Patrick was holding court on the side among a bunch of young socialites who wanted to take my spot. Shit, I was hoping one of them would make him dump me. I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t Brooke simply walk away? Like the saying goes, some things are easier said than done. I could have left Patrick, but there was no place better to go. I didn’t get involved with him because of his money. His wealth was an extension of his charm. I did love Patrick, but he didn’t appreciate my devotion. I believed that he loved me as well, but didn’t truly comprehend the definition of it. I was delusional enough to believe that he could, and would, change his ways for me . . . eventually.Patrick beckoned me to him as he moved away from all the designer-clad hoochies and over to the overpriced patio table where his parents were seated. It looked like something you would find in someone’s dining room instead of outside, but it was typical for them. I downed the rest of my drink, desperately needing another, and went to him.Mrs. Sterling was still determined to humiliate me, and now she had an audience. Two other couples were sitting with them. As I walked up, she said, “Here comes Patrick’s, um . . . play toy. Her name is Brooke.”I strained a smile and sat down next to Patrick. The people introduced themselves, and then, one lady, who had endured way too much plastic surgery and had been damn near botoxed to death, asked, “So, Brooke, are you a lawyer like Patrick?”Mrs. Sterling let out this hideous cackle, and Mr. Sterling gave her an evil glare. I think he had become torn between his personal outlook on me and the reality that his son had developed true feelings.“Actually, I’m in the food industry,” I replied uneasily.“Oh . . . ,” the woman said, playing with a string of luxurious pearls around her neck. “You’re a restaurateur. What’s the name of your establishment, and do you have more than one location?”“Ernestine, the girl is not on our level,” Mrs. Sterling said. “She’s a waitress—in a dump at that. She used to work in a nicer place, where Patrick picked her up along with his doggie bag, but she lost that job. She wasn’t quite up to their standards.”I pinched Patrick’s leg as hard as I could. He gave me a “You’re on your own” gaze and went back to drinking his top-shelf whiskey.“Are you really going to sit here and let your mother talk about me like that?” I asked bluntly. When he didn’t respond, I tried to get up, but he pulled me back down. I wrestled with him to get my wrist free. “Let me go. I’m ready to leave.”“Thank heaven,” his mother said.Mr. Sterling cleared his throat. “Brooke, I apologize for anything the missus might have said to offend you, but please stay and enjoy the fireworks. They’re set to begin in less than ten minutes.”My mouth flew open; then I gulped. “Anything she might have said to offend me? Are you for real?”Mrs. Sterling glared at me. “Look, dear, I was only speaking the truth. You had a halfway civilized job, even if it was still beneath anything my son had any business dealing with. You gained a bunch of weight and they got rid of you. And—”“You think I got fired because of my weight?” She didn’t reply but she and her friends shared comical glances.“The reason I gained so much weight is because your son has me stressed the fuck out!”“Brooke!” Patrick exclaimed. “Watch it!”“Oh, now you have a fucking tongue?” He finally let go of my wrist. I rose from the table. “All of you can kiss my monkey!”“Did she say ‘monkey’?” I heard the woman with the pearls ask.“Yeah, monkey, as in my pussy, my twat, my coochie!”The woman’s mouth flew open in shock as I turned my back on them.I stomped off in the direction of the front driveway, where cars were being valet-parked.I walked up to the three young men standing around in red jackets. “I don’t have the ticket but can you bring up Patrick Sterling’s Bentley?”“Sure thing,” one of them said, then took off running.“Where do you think you’re going?” Patrick asked, approaching me.“I’m getting the hell away from here.”He spotted his car pulling up. “Not in my car, you’re not. I can’t believe you told them to kiss your monkey.”I glared at him. “Patrick, I’m taking your car. You can either call the police and report it stolen or try to physically stop me in front of all these witnesses so I can file assault-and-battery charges.”The two young men standing there looked on while the third one was getting out of the driver’s side.Patrick shook his head. “I would never hit you, Brooke.”I shrugged. “At this point, I don’t know what you’re truly capable of. Until five minutes ago, I never thought that you’d sit there and let your mother talk shit about me in front of her friends. Granted, I realize she doesn’t like me and she takes potshots at me every chance she gets, but that’s in private. I can handle that, but she’s gone too far and you allowed it. You sat there and watched her humiliate me and did nothing.”Patrick’s eyes glassed over. “She’s my mother.”“And I’m your . . .” I paused. “I don’t know what the hell I am to you. Maybe you need to figure that shit out before you come home.”I went over to get in the car, tossing my purse on the passenger seat. “He’ll tip you,” I told the valet. “He has plenty of damn money.”“How am I supposed to get home?” Patrick asked.I snickered. “Patrick, you’re at your parents’ house. They have a dozen cars and a chauffeur. Give me a break.”I got settled in the car and floored it, having no clue where I was headed. I didn’t want to go home. I’d distanced myself from the majority of my friends and had no clue what they were doing for the Fourth. I decided to go see my parents. I sat there with them, on their balcony, watching the fireworks at the National Mall. Daddy had half a slab of ribs and two barbecued drumsticks left over. I gobbled them down with one of his Coronas. They were elated to see me and I them.“You can always come back home,” Mommy whispered to me later that night as I laid my head on her lap in my old bedroom.“I don’t know what’s wrong with him. I thought he loved me.”“He probably does love you, but he’s trying to satisfy everyone in his life, and no one’s ever accomplished that . . . not even Jesus himself.”Mommy always had a way to make sense out of things. She was right. Patrick was trying to please everyone, and it was stressing him out. In turn, he was taking his anxiety out on me. I was determined that we would smooth things out.“I’m going to make him happy, Mommy. No matter what it takes.”“Only if you’re happy, sweetheart. Don’t surrender your needs for someone else’s.”I fell asleep as she continued to play with my hair and sing softly to me. Patrick didn’t report his car stolen, but he blew up my cell phone a hundred times between midnight and noon the next day.My voice mail was full of messages from him pleading for me to call or come home. I had to work the three-to-eleven shift at the diner and decided to let him sweat. He was lying in wait when I pulled into the parking lot.I didn’t speak when I got out of his Bentley, determined to walk right past him. He was standing beside his father’s Porsche 911 and clinched me into his arms . . . into a loving embrace.“I’m sorry, baby. I had words with my mother.”“Had words? What does that mean?”“She promised that she’ll never do anything like that again.”I could feel his heart beating in his chest as he held me. I pulled away and gazed into his eyes. “Life is full of empty promises.”“Just give her a chance. Give me another chance.”“I’ll be home tonight. Wait up so we can talk.”He glanced at the dilapidated diner where I worked. “You know, you don’t have to work here. You don’t have to exert yourself at all. We can get married . . . tomorrow . . . even tonight, and—”I pressed my index finger to his lips. “We have way too many issues that need to be resolved before we can go there.”“And I’m prepared to resolve them.”He seemed genuine enough, but he always did after we had a blowup. After every time he called me out of my name and attacked my self-esteem, I kept telling myself that this time would be the last time, that he would see the light of day and somehow be the man that I needed.“I’ll see you later,” I said.We shared a brief kiss, then walked away from each other in silence.
Total Eclipse of the Heart by ZaneRelease Date: December 1, 2009
Order your copy at: http://www.amazon.com/Total-Eclipse-Heart-Zane/dp/0743499298/