Friday, February 17, 2012

Chapter Seven Excerpt

How about another excerpt...

“Tell the truth, Dino.” Poppa C spoke in the soft, easy tone Marcus was accustomed to. “Did you even eat dinner?”

“I had dinner with my son’s mother, Granddad. C’mon now.”

“You had dinner with her or you made her dinner?”

“Why you gotta be old and nasty?”

“Boy, please. I know you. You wanna tell me I’m wrong?”

“You wrong, C.”

“You lying, Marcus. You didn’t eat dinner at Renee’s?”

“Yes, I had dinner with, Em.”

“What was she wearing?”

“I don’t know.” Marcus laughed.

“’Cause she wasn’t wearing nothing, that’s why.”

“God, you are sick.” Marcus hooped with laughter. “Dude, Jelly Roll. Can we get back there, please?”

“It’s well after two in the morning. You laughing and happy and shit. Ain’t even asked me for a hit of this.”

“You want me to hit it, C? Give it here.” The younger Clayton extended his hand to his grandfather.

“Hell, naw. You be don’ choked to death on this. You ain’t used to this shit no more.”

“You gon’ let me hit it or not?”
Smiling, Poppa C handed Marcus the joint. He watched him take the toke, hold it, swallow slowly. No coughing.

“Well, damn. Maybe you are used to this.”

“Um hmm,” Marcus mumbled as he handed the joint off and laid his head back on the couch.

His grandfather watched him and waited before he spoke again. “Dino,” Robert Clayton called softly.


“You smell like a girl.” The old Indian chuckled.

“Whatever, old dude. You nasty. Don’t project your horny wishes on me ’cause you can’t break Ebony off.”

“Well,” Poppa C said, taking another hit, “I do pretty damn good breaking her off. Still got her ass running up the wall.”

“Them little blue pills is bad for your heart, C,” Marcus teased.

“Then you better stop taking them. This is all natural, boy.”

“Jokes, the old dude got jokes.”

“And the young dude done blew his baby mama’s back out, but playing coy. I know yo’ ass, Dino.”

The two sat quietly and listened to the calming Jazz music.

“What she call you, ‘Dee?’ She say it so sweet, makes me almost like white women. That what she call you tonight?”

Marcus refused to answer. After thirty minutes, he was sleepy and ready to retire to his old bedroom. Standing, he surveyed his grandfather’s barber shop, took in all the old sights. Heading toward the staircase, he patted Poppa C’s shoulder and bid him good night.

“Can’t hang with the big dogs, huh, pretty boy?”

“Guess not.” Marcus placed one foot on the bottom step before turning back to his grandfather. “And she calls me ‘daddy’ when I’m hitting it right. Said that like five times tonight.”

Robert Clayton waited for the basement door to close before he burst out in laughter. “That boy is a fool.”

Meet the Cover Model

Angie Lucas is the cover model for the new release, Smoke and Mirrors. Angie's reflection appears in the mirror on the front of the release. Angie? Are you there? How did you get involved in the project? Did you know you were acting as Lynette for this cover? What have been your experiences since the project began?

Meet the Cover Model

Erin Dane is our very first cover model. She appeared on the cover of the debut novel in 2009. Erin? Are you there? Tell us about the debut project. What were some of your experiences? What was it like being "Lynette" for the What's Done in the Dark cover?

Fun Fact #3 + Flashback

Smoke and Mirrors picks up where What’s Done in the Dark left off. Need a little reminder…

Marcus returned home on a Saturday. He packed his bags, gave his notice, and went back to his family. He had discussed the move extensively with his father and had gotten comfortable with the idea of seeing Lynette full-time again. When he arrived, the house was empty. He looked around the kitchen for something to eat. Everything was in its same place. Noticing Lynette hadn’t prepared anything, Marcus started dinner. He was nearly done when his family walked in the house.

“Daddy!” The children screeched, running to their father.

Lynette walked into the house and closed the door behind her. She proceeded to her bedroom without a word. Today was no different than any other day, she wasn’t feeling well and the smell of dinner cooking didn’t help that fact. Downstairs, she could hear Marcus telling the children to wash their hands as he clanged plates together. She knew by the silence that Joshua and Maleah were eating. She had just closed her eyes when Marcus walked into the room.

“Hey,” He said cautiously. He kneeled down and rested his arms gently on the foot of the bed. “Are you OK?”

“I’m fine, thanks.” Lynette hadn’t shared any of her difficulties with Marcus.

“Are you hungry? I made chili.” He hoped to coax her into talking.

“No. Thank you.” Lynette remained very short and to the point, as the pattern had been over the last few months.

“Babe,” Marcus said rubbing Lynette’s foot. “What’s wrong?” He asked, feeling awkward about feeling awkward.

Lynette kept her eyes closed as she noticed Marcus’ tone and his term of endearment.
“I‘m fine, thanks.” She repeated, moving her foot.

“Nette. Look at me. Look at me, Baby,” Marcus’ request was somewhat desperate. “I know something’s wrong. Will you please tell me what it is?”

Lynette felt very reluctant about talking to Marcus about this baby. “I’m just not well, Marcus. That’s all.”

“What do you mean ‘not well’?” He climbed slowly into the bed and lie down facing her.

“A lot of things are not going like they should. My doctor is monitoring everything on a weekly basis.”

“That doesn’t sound like ‘fine, thanks,’ Nette.”

“I’ve got great doctors. I’m doing OK.”

“Yeah, but just OK. At this point with Josh and Lele, you were energetic and full of life. You were tired, but you were energetic,” He reached out and touched her stomach, “And you looked like you would explode.”

“Things are different, I guess.” She said as she pulled away.

“Nette,” Marcus said changing the subject. “I brought my things back. I want to come back home if it’s OK with you.”

“It’s your home Marcus. You can do as you please.”

“No, Baby. This is our home and I want to be here with you. I need to be here. I should have never left. I was just so angry and I still am, a little. I just need to be here, Nette. That’s all.”

Lynette took offense at her husband’s comments. “Why do you think you need to be here now, Marcus? I’m fine. I can handle the kids and I’m working from home. Why all of a sudden do you think you need to be here now?”

Marcus was shocked by her response. “Sweetheart…I just want to be here. I’m not trying to take over. I just want to be with my family. Baby, I still love you very much. That never changed.”

“Stay or leave Marcus. It doesn’t matter to me. Like I said, this is your home.”

“Nette, don’t say that. This is our home, Baby. We built this. We are the only people who can tear it down. I know this is hard for you, but I want to be here. Can we make this work again? Please, Baby?”

“What’s left to work with Marcus? I know you don’t want me anymore and you certainly don’t want this child. Don’t force yourself to be somewhere you don’t want to be with someone you don’t want to be with. When I deliver I plan to move, so you don’t…”

“Wait, wait, wait. What? What are you saying? Nette,” Marcus sat up in the bed and reached for his wife’s hand. He pulled her up gently, placing his hand on her belly.

“Baby, don’t talk like that. You giving up on me? Baby, please don’t. I need you and this baby needs us.”

“Marcus don’t do this, OK. I’ve made my decision.” Lynette said as she began to cry.

“Please reconsider. I don’t want any of this without you. Don’t you know that? I’m hurting, Nette. The same way you hurt all those years. I just need time to get through it, but I can’t get through this without you. Please Baby. Will you stay here with me? Not just now, but after you have our baby?”

Lynette covered her face and cried. She had wanted to hear those words for so long. Now she didn’t know how to respond. Marcus held her close and rocked her. He kissed her head and smoothed her hair. He dried her tears with his fingers and kissed her lips tenderly.

“Lynette Clayton, I love you more than anything on this earth. If you leave me, I will die,” Marcus looked his wife in the eyes as he spoke those words. He kissed her again. “Tell me yes. Please, Nette, tell me yes.”

Through her tears, Lynette surrendered to her husband. He held her all night. They talked, they cried, they rediscovered what they loved about one another.

Chapter Three Excerpt

No sooner than Marcus had turned the showerhead on and stepped inside, the bedroom door flung open and four little Claytons poured inside. Renee had just pulled her shirt down over her bare bottom. Now seated on the bed, she reached for Malauna who had obviously been crying.

“What’s wrong with the baby, Josh?” Renee asked, placing Marcus’ daughter on her lap.

“Austin’s being mean to her and Lele. He bit Launi and he took Lele’s cupcake.”

“Did not,” Austin yelled.

“Did, too,” Joshua yelled back as he shoved his brother. “You’re a bully.”

“Bully,” Maleah shouted her agreement.

“Okay, okay. Austin, why did you bite your sister?” Renee asked as she dried Malauna’s tears and kissed her fat cheeks. She loved kissing the baby’s face. Malauna had dimples, just like her father and sister, but her eyes were grey like her grandmother’s, instead of hazel like Maleah’s and Marcus’.

“Mean brother bit that baby.” Renee held the toddler tight and rocked her. “Bite him back, Lele. Bite him for Launi.”

With that, Maleah bit Austin squarely on the cheek. She didn’t press hard, but she got her point across. A shocked look spread across Austin’s face as he tried to push his sister away. Joshua caught his hands. When the deed was done, Austin’s right cheek was covered with tears and slobber.

“Go wash your face,” Renee instructed. “But first, kiss your sister and tell her you’re sorry.”

Austin complied.

“Never fight your sisters, little boy. Hear me?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Austin mumbled as he went to his bathroom and washed his face. Joshua followed behind him, taunting him in Spanish.

“I want another cupcake, please, Mommy.”

“No more cupcakes, juice bars. I’ll get you one when I come downstairs, okay?”


Kissing Malauna once more, Renee stood her beside Maleah and placed their hands together. “Take sissy downstairs and watch cartoons. Tell Josh to fix the channel.”

“Thank you, Mommy. Love you.”

“Love you, too, Lele. Love you, Launi.”

“My, my, my, quite the referee.” Marcus beamed from the doorway of the master bath.

“Put some clothes on,” Renee said as she shut the bedroom door and walked toward the bathroom. “And get the kids some juice bars.”

Fun Fact #2

The first three releases of the Lost & Found series include: What’s Done in the Dark/ What’s Done in the Dark – Alternate Ending Release (2008/2009), Song of the Siren (2009), Bastards (2010).

Hero or Ego Interview with Pat Bertram

Marcus sat down with book expert Pat Bertram last month. One can only imagine who authorized that. Here's a little bit of what was said:

Welcome. Who are you?
My given name is Marcus LaMont Clayton.

Are you the hero of your own story?
Am I the hero of What’s Done in the Dark? I guess it depends on who’s reading the story. I definitely wouldn’t call myself the villain.

What is your problem in the story?
I prefer to think of them as challenges. On the surface, most people say I have no self-control, that I let my libido runaway with me. Of course, there are always multiple sides to every story. Can we talk about it in length?

Do you have a problem that wasn’t mentioned in the story?
Not at all. I’m very open. I’ve shared my soul… but maybe you won’t see it that way.

Do you run from conflict?
I don’t run from anything, especially conflict. My grandfather taught me to face my fears. I definitely do that in the Lost & Found series.

How do you see yourself?
I see myself as misunderstood. Many have read only part of my story and made a snap judgment. They think they’ve seen it all, read it all, before. I would caution them against thinking I’m as simple as their first impression.

How does the author see you?
Avah LaReaux is my author. She thinks she knows me, thinks because she created me she has all the answers. I issue her the same caution: I’m not as simple as many assume. My levels go deeper than even I know. How can Avah possibly really know me?

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?
I think Avah did an excellent job introducing me to the world, but I am the only person qualified to tell my story, the Clayton story.

What do you think of yourself?
I love me some Marcus. How could I not? Anyone who doesn’t love themselves is suffering from something that only a person with a degree can help with. The real question is, “Do I like myself?” Well, that’s a question for another day.

Read the entire interview here.