It’s been eleven years in the making, but Destination Wedding is finally finished. My husband and I, actually outlined this novel in the car on the way home from a particular wedding that we attended. We wanted to know what would a wedding weekend look like where everything went wrong. We had been married ourselves a little over a year, and we faced many obstacles that led up to our big day. After witnessing a lot of drama and taking a lot of creative license, Destination Wedding practically wrote itself. A couple of months later, I was actually typing the words, “The End.” I couldn’t believe how the story came together. When I started this process, I sent my manuscript to a few publishers for consideration, but… that glaring “no” that jumped off the page of the rejection letter was like a knife to the heart. After being turned down a few times, I just put the manuscript away in a box. Back then, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I could publish Destination Wedding, but now there are self-publishing opportunities that weren’t available a short decade ago. So, after eleven years, I present to you, Destination Wedding.
The Promise of Palmettos is celebrating its one year Anniversary on October 12,2013. In celebration of this milestone event, The Promise of Palmettos with be absolutely free for that one day on Kindle.
The EBook version of Daufauskie Wedding will be coming out this fall, with the paperback to soon follow in the spring! Also don’t forget about The Promise of Palmettos and Marshland, still available online for purchase!
In the meantime, please enjoy an except of Daufuskie Wedding.
Instead of having the cab take him to his condo in Buckhead, Clay gave the driver Big Mama’s address off of Old National Highway. He could have headed to the house he and Marissa bought in Fayetteville, but it didn’t feel right without her in it and Clay wanted company tonight. The cab stopped in front of the small brick rancher and Clay paid the driver before making his way (not before tripping over one Big Mama’s ceramic garden gnomes) to the front door.
“Damn!” Clay shouted as he noted the grass stain on the knee of his new trousers. He’d wanted to pack them to wear on Daufuskie Island. Now he would have to put them in the cleaners tomorrow and pay for 24-service.
“Clay is that you?” called Big Mama from inside the house. Clay knew his grandmother would be up. She had always been a night owl, never going to sleep before seeing her late night shows.
Florine Hightower or Big Mama as everyone called her, raised her five grandsons after their mother, Mary disappeared two days after giving birth to Clay. She had not even given the tiny baby a name when she packed everything she owned and left in the middle of the night. Big Mama had the difficult task of raising five small children, four of which had already shown to be almost impossible to handle even at an early age. But with her youngest grandson only days old, Big Mama looked into his tiny face, saw promise and gave him the name “Clay”. She saw him as a work of art in progress that could be molded into someone worthwhile.
Growing up, Clay had known he was different as well. Big Mama loved all of her grandsons but she was always interested in what Clay was doing and he always made her proud. While his brothers were in the streets, Clay held down a job while maintaining good grades in school. With his academic achievement, Clay was able to get a partial scholarship to Morehouse College where he had recieved his business degree. With the help of Big Mama, his Aunt Lisa (Big Mama’s youngest daughter), and an anonymous benefactor, Clay was able to cover the rest of his expenses without having to work and he had been able to totally concentrate on his studies. He interned at a prominent African American firm, HJ Russell his junior and senior year where he was eventually hired. The downtown firm paid for his MBA which, he’d obtained from Emory University.
Clay pulled open the screen door and answered his grandmother. “Hey Big Mama, I just took a spill out there.” Clay went over to Big Mama and kissed her smooth cheek. She wrapped her thick arms around his neck taking in the smoke mixed in with his cologne.
At seventy-one, Big Mama was still a vibrant woman and had not one wrinkle. She was sitting in her favorite, worn, green chair, listening to a Shirley Caesar CD. Clay, feeling the makings of a small hangover, lowered the volume just a bit before collapsing onto the flowered sofa. The plastic crinkled under his weight.
“Where you comin’ from?” Big Mama asked him.
“Uh, the guys and I decided to hang out,” Clay skirted the truth.
“Hang out, my foot. Ya’ll were watchin’ ass shakin’, that’s where you was.”
Clay opened his mouth in horror. Not for his grandmother’s language, for she had cussed them all out growing up while at the same time being Born Again more times than Clay could count. What had shocked him was the fact hat he’d been busted by Big Mama, no less. If she knew, there was no way in hell he could keep tonight’s whereabouts a secret from Marissa.
“Oh relax yo’ mind boy. You smellin’ like a still and smoke and knowin’ how yo’ brothers like to send folks off, the only place you could be is the booty club. It don’t take no genius to figure that out.”
Clay laughed. “You’re right, Big Mama.”
“So how you feelin’ Clay, ‘sides horny?”
“Big Mama…” Clay groaned with embarrassment.
“Alright, I’ll be good. But seriously, how you doin’?”
“Son, it means so much to me that you made your brothers groomsmen. It means so much to them too.”
“Yeah, I just hope…” Clay trailed off.
“What son? What do you hope?”
Clay did not want to finish that sentence, which ended with “they don’t embarrass me.”
“Nothing, Big Mama,” Clay answered instead. “It’s going to be fine.”
“Of course it will. Ain’t nothin’ gonna go wrong ‘long as you let God into it. You was blessed to find a woman as special as Marissa.
Clay knew he was blessed. Big Mama had wrapped her arms around Marissa as soon as she had met her. With all of the trifling women his brothers had brought up into the house, he knew that Big Mama knew the real deal when she saw it and Marissa was the real deal. Clay could see that even his brothers knew that Marissa was a catch. The day Clay found Marissa he did not know that his life was about to be completed.
It was two years ago when Clay had just finished working on a major project for an important client and needed to unwind. He decided to get a drink and listen to some jazz at the Crow’s Nest Club. A peaceful night was not to be had that Thursday evening with the club being as crowded as it was. However, Clay didn’t want to leave without having at least one drink so he found the last empty booth. He was enjoying the group, It’s All Jazz when he was approached by a tall, very attractive, woman with a carefully made-up face holding a large pink drink with an umbrella sticking out of the glass. She boldly asked if she could sit down because there weren’t any more seats.
“I heard about It’s All Jazz and I just had to come see them,” she had said to him. “I guess everyone else did too.”
“Slide on in here, girl,” he had invited. “You’re an awfully brave girl to take a chance and sit next to me.”
“Why do you bite?” The smile never left her face. In fact her smile was the first thing Clay fell in love with. It was so bright and it lit up her entire face.
“As a matter of fact I don’t,” he answered with a grin but he thought, “But I could really sink my teeth into you. Hmph, hmph, humph!” Then suddenly Clay recognized her.
“Hey I know you, you’re Marissa Gardiner. You were a Lady Vol for the University of Tennessee and now you do play-by-play commentary for the Lady Panthers.” Clay was describing her job in addition to the position she held at CNN.
“A fan, I see. I’m flattered.” And Marissa was flattered. She was used to being recognized. What she was not used to, was the totally enthralled expressions this man was wearing.
“Fan is an understatement. You practically brought the Lady Vols to the 1996 Championship single handedly!”
“I was totally in love with you!” Clay blushed after that last part slipped out but Marissa wouldn’t let Clay be embarrassed.
“Well you know my name, what’s yours?” She asked looking at him with large bright eyes.
“I’m Clay Hightower.”
“Clay…is that short for anything?”
“Nope it’s just ‘Clay’.”
“A work of art,” said Marissa flashing another smile.
From that moment on, the two were inseparable.
My mother was determined to move into 122 by that particular Christmas, and we did. A lot of thought went into 122. The blueprints were carefully selected by my parents, complete with a sunken living space and a formal diningroom. And for those young people on HGTV who think that they’re so hip because they want their brand new home to include a kitchen with an “island” – My mother insisted on having an island for her kitchen long before it was a popular upgrade. Each room has a specific color scheme. My sister and I got to pick our own for our bedrooms. Carefully selected artwork, including grandchildren masterpieces adorn the wall, as well as posters for Michael Jordan and New Edition. Chewed up doorways made by bunny teeth, crayon markings on the walls, and a styrofoam 747 on the roof give 122 character. Pictures in the family room establish a timeline for its inhabitants. Displayed awards mark achievements in both academics and art.
122 is more than just brick and mortar. It’s a place of family dinners. It’s where dreams are discussed. It’s where report cards and college acceptance letters were read. The walls have heard a lot of laughter and have seen a lot of tears. It’s where teenaged rebellion occurred (not too much because we weren’t crazy all together). It’s where husbands were bought and where our children now make their own memories. Although the appearance has evolved over the years, 122 is unwavering and full of love just like the family within.
In anticipation of the release of my new novel Marshland, I am offering the e-book of my first book, The Promise of Palmettos, for $1.22 for a limited time for those who have not yet read the novel to enjoy.