Damon Myers-Jones despised the awkward hyphenated name forced upon him at birth because it represented two things Damon would rather forget: his adopted father’s death and his real father’s absence. Now thirty years old, newly engaged Damon struggles with the constant tug-of-war with the women in his life.
His mother, Laverne Myers-Jones, who cloaked him with his name in the first place, wants to extend her influence to his choice of mate. Damon’s fiancée, Hope Daniels, can’t see beyond her longing to keep what she deems the perfect man and plans for her happily ever after.
In a desperate attempt to find himself, Damon impulsively sets out on a mission’s trip to Haiti in search of his birth father where he experiences a shift that changes his world. Will his personal mission coincide with what God has in store for him?
I have watched Sherryle Kiser Jackson grow tremendously as a writer for the last five years. I love her books because they are all layered with a rich appreciation for our heritage; showing the best and worst of society from the eyes of a believer. Her writing opens our eyes to so many subjects that we might now be comfortable acknowledging in anything other than a novel! Her stories are authentic, her messages uplift the readers and her characters are memorable, because they represent diverse groups who need to believe in a higher power. She is the epitome of a master storyteller.
—Ella D. Curry, President of EDC Creations Media Group
Sherryle Kiser Jackson is to be commended for creating an emotionally authentic tale of redemption and one man’s search for love. Fans of her other works will not be disappointed, and new readers prepare to discover your new favorite author.
— Booker T. Mattison, filmmaker and author of Unsigned Hype and Snitch.
He boarded first at Shady Grove station. She boarded six stops later at Bethesda. They rode another six stops together. She exited before him at DuPont Circle. He held his spot until Judiciary Square. The red line of the Washington, DC Metropolitan area subway system-or Metro, as it is called-represented the vein of their relationship-a mastery of timing and schedules. A twenty-eight-minute ride, five times a week that became thirty-three minutes the midst of rush hour, was the delicate tissue that covered that vein. It provided a great quantity of quality time for their relationship.
Today was the beginning of a typical workweek for them, but it felt like anything but to Damon Myers-Jones. He glanced down at a text message summoning him and his teammates to a mandatory meeting, which would take place first thing this morning. Ever since the previous evening, when he first spotted the text, he’d tried to figure out what the meeting could be about. His preoccupation seemed to throw him off, to swirl in the nauseating abyss that immersed his life nowadays.
Damon missed the opening and closing of the doors, and his fiancée, Hope, entering the subway car, with her carefully rehabbed right leg, encumbered by a slight limp, moving toward him. He had muscled his way to a seat when he boarded, and used his bag to save the vacant seat beside him for her.
“What, no bagels?” Hope Daniels said, as she shifted his bag and plopped down beside him, wearing a waist-length leather jacket and a Wrangler satchel strewn about her body to tie together her outerwear.
“I’ve got that meeting,” Damon said.
“Yeah, that’s right, the mystery meeting,” she said. “Well, at least we both got seats.”
Staring at him with one arched eyebrow, a jutted chin and a smile begging him to smother her with his lips, a peck was the best he could do. He had too much angst for anything else. He had not always been reluctant to participate in the public displays of affection she craved. Now engaged, and although the ring had unlocked chambers and doors, a big part of his reluctance was because it didn’t get him any closer to the vault of physicality, the war chest of sex that he craved from her. A smaller portion of his reluctance was also due to the guilt he felt that he had not yet told his mom of the seriousness of his relationship with Hope, and that her little boy had taken the ultimate big-boy step. For that, he felt as if he were being watched, and the lookout would report the ring size, cut and clarity of the diamond directly to his mom before he had the chance to tell her himself. Still, a fraction of that guilt was reserved for the itch of an impulse that he kept a secret from both his ladies. So, as far as he was concerned, and with all he had going on, Hope’s engagement ring and Facebook profile would have to suffice her need to flaunt their upgraded relationship status right now.
Leaning forward, he rested his arms on his thighs amongst the butts and guts of passengers forced to stand in front of them. Once again, he checked his text message, as if it had changed in the last ten minutes.
“Damon, stop obsessing,” Hope said, stroking his back with her right hand. “Wait, look, I got something to show you.”
Damon watched her pull out a stack of papers with a section of the New York Times on top. He determined that if she started in on him about moving to New York again he would exit the train at the Van Ness station, leaving her alone, and connect with another train there.
“You know the extra credit vocabulary I like to assign from the crossword puzzle each week? Well, guess who came up with the right answer this week?” she gloated. She began shuffling through the pile of corrected papers. “A six-letter word that means spread dirt on someone crossed with a thirteen-letter word meaning the race for the highest office in a state, each starting with the letter G.”
Relieved, Damon sat up and began pointing at his fingers, as if he were counting. She punched him, and he smiled. “You got me. I’m the numbers man, remember?”
When Hope found the paper she was searching for, she bent the corner toward her so Damon couldn’t see the name. “Gossip and gubernatorial are the answers. Challenging, right? Guess who got the answer correct?”
“Dumb Donald,” he ventured, guessing Donald Hendricks, one of her notoriously off-tasked students at the high-priced prep school where she taught.
There was a pause. He noticed Hope get suddenly solemn and scrunch up her face in disapproval.
“Why would you say that? I have never called him dumb, Damon. I would never call one of my students dumb.”
They were only a month and a half into the school year, and she talked about Donald all the time. Donald and his cronies’ antics were the reason Damon would find himself stopping off at her job on the ride back in, coaxing her off the emotional ledge and into a nearby happy hour spot to unwind before seeing her home. Anything for Hope.
“Dumb Donald is a character; you know, from Fat Albert,” Damon said.
A blank stare replaced the animation of anger on her face.
He tried again to jar her memory. “You know, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids?”
“You mean the Cosby Show?”
Who didn’t know Fat Albert? Damon desperately tried to explain. “It was before the Cosby Show, before our time, really, but you could catch it on cable. It was a cartoon. They remade it as a movie,” he paused, feeling defeated. “Never mind.”
She looked away from him, but not before looking at him as if she had somehow disappointed him. Damon didn’t know if she was even aware of the look of contrition she sometimes gave when she didn’t get a cultural reference of his, especially when they first started going out. He knew in those moments she didn’t feel good enough for him, almost as if she worried about being “Black” enough. The fact is she wasn’t Black.
He didn’t plan to fall in love with a white woman. She didn’t look like anyone he had previously found aesthetically pleasing enough to date. Pale-skinned, thin-lipped, and brunette, she was ultra-cool, mega-smart and what he considered hella-sexy. Along with those features, she stood out to him in another way. She was not another conquest or female “friend” he hung out with on the outskirts of his real life until it became both ridiculous and mundane to continue to do so. It was her principles and the way she communicated them, and her passion that caused his curiosity and ultimately their connection.
They sat shoulder-to-shoulder, and he bumped her playfully just to get her eye again. He felt them both sigh heavily, but silently.
“Bill Cosby is from New York, right?” She picked up her copy of The New York Times, folded back to the daily crossword and waved it in front of him.
Oh, now she is a Cosby expert, he thought.
“I’m definitely in a New York state of mind. I just think the time is right. We should plan to move next fall after the wedding. My place is cozier, but your place is bigger and farther out. It would solve our dilemma of where to live if we start fresh across the board.”
He pursed his lips. “Oh my gosh, what a weak segue! I knew this was coming. I knew it.”
“You act as if we’ve never talked about you working in the Financial District. Remember Wall Street? I can teach anywhere, but there is nothing like the vibe there, the art and theatre. I can get a dog and run through Central Park. C’mon Damon, admit it; New York was always a part of our discussion of settling down. Well guess what?” She wiggled her left hand in his face. “We’re settling down.”
“Chill, will you?” He looked around for his mom’s lookout. “There are some things that can’t be discussed on the Metro. I’m so serious right now. I’m trying to mentally preset for this meeting.”
He was relieved that she left him alone with his thoughts, as scattered as they were. It gave her time to shove her papers back in her bag and stand instinctively as the subway car came to a halt at the station before her stop. He almost reached out for her hips to help steady her, but she grabbed for the nearby pole, held by several others, taking her slightly out of his reach. She was preset.
“Should I bring something to your mother’s this weekend?” Hope asked casually as she looked at her cuticles on her free hand.
She looked at him incredulously. “Food, Damon, duh?”
“Yeah, sure,” he said absentmindedly until he thought about how his mother would somehow misconstrue Hope’s kindness for smugness. When his mom cooked, she covered all bases. With the bombshell they were going to drop on her, he didn’t want to give his mom an additional excuse to find contempt for his future wife. “Uh, you know what? On second thought, no. I don’t think that will be necessary.”
Once again, Hope painted on a blank stare. “I can’t show up empty-handed. That’s tacky.”
He leaned forward and raised her left hand. “This is not exactly empty-handed.”
She held on to his hand, although it was a stretch for him to hold on. “So, six tonight? We can just do dinner somewhere.”
“I don’t want you waiting around, especially not knowing the outcome or ramifications of this meeting. If you get a text from me that says ‘I’m at O’Donnell’s,’ just know that it was bad.”
“I’m sure it’s nothing but another asinine project that’s due right away. Have you heard talk that they’re laying more people off? I mean, lay-offs are preceded by rumors, right, like the time they let that Chuck guy go?”
He added her last comments and her safety to his worries. “Get home as soon as you can. I’ll call you.”
Releasing the pole, Hope stepped forward to stand without assistance. She was testing him-testing that leg. He rose and took her by the arms. His body served as a buffer, as the train slowed and then surged forward to a stop at DuPont Circle. She smiled as if they both had passed the test. Before departing the train, she returned his smack from earlier in the middle of his lips.
Damon immediately noticed a woman, who wasn’t a regular on their commute, staring at him as if he were a suspicious package she should report. He would have thought she was his mother’s lookout, but she was white with even whiter hair. He never really noticed the subtle stuff like stares, which he imagined were rare, when he and Hope were in their own little bubble. He chose to ignore this one. He sat for the rest of the ride, choosing to obsess rather than getting preset for his meeting.
( Continued… )
© 2014 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Sherryle Kiser Jackson. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the publisher’s written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. Share a link to this page or the author’s website if you really like this promotional excerpt.
Sherryle Kiser Jackson is a multi-published Christian Fiction author. Her brand of Soul-Satisfying Reads is her honest commentary on life. Her most recent work, Submissionary will be released in paperback and digital formats April of this year.
Her triumphant debut novel, Soon and Very Soon (2007) was followed up by her sophomore release, The Manual (2009), Soon After (2010), Taylor- Made (2011), Land of Promiscuity (2012) and Path to Promise (2013) for Urban Christian Books. She lives in Maryland with her husband and daughter.
Submissionary by Sherryle Kiser Jackson is published by Holy*Ghost*Writing* Publishing. Website: www.sherrylejackson.com