Monday, April 28, 2014

Color Blind: Sample Chapters

The First Book in the "Able to Love" Series.
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Chapter One
Was that who he thought it was? Saul Sweeterman arched his wiry body over the steering wheel and peered through the windshield. His wiper blades sloshed away the fury of the pounding rain but it was difficult for him to see.
It was three o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon in May. Like clockwork, it was pouring rain. But even in the rain, he could see.
It was her.
He gazed at the passenger in the vehicle across the lane from him. Indeed, there sat his daughter, Cassandra Matthews, who hadn’t spoken to him in three long, agonizing years.
Sitting at the intersection of Veterans Blvd and Atwater Ave., he was glad for the red traffic light signal because he’d been given a precious glimpse of his beloved Cassandra. Eyeing her black, no, African-American, husband, Kellan Matthews, resentment filled his heart. Saul’s lips became as ugly as his feelings transforming into a harsh, angry line. Kellan was the reason he’d lost Cassandra.
Saul spotted a little head bouncing up and down in the rear seat behind his daughter’s seat. He tilted his head to get a better look. His granddaughter, Emily, was a beauty. There was no denying that. But, Saul’s problem was that she was biracial, and Saul couldn’t accept that. The races shouldn’t mix. He didn’t advocate slavery or apartheid, but Saul drew the line at interracial dating and marriage. It just shouldn’t be done. That’s what his parents had drilled into him from a child. It had been ingrained into his belief system. If pressed, he wouldn’t be able to provide a legitimate argument as to
why he held such a firm belief, but Saul didn’t need one for something so intrinsically unnatural.
He had friends who were of a different race, but he’d never crossed that line. He hadn’t felt the need to explain this to his daughter either. He had assumed that it was just understood. Saul had been wrong. He sighed. He’d made a fatal mistake when he hadn’t spelled things out to his daughter.
“But your best friend, Uncle Marvin, is black,” Cassandra protested the day she broke the news that she was pregnant and getting married to a black man. She pointed over to the picture frame displayed on the mantle.
Saul followed the direction of her finger and smiled with fondness. Marvin was a goofball and committed to the game. They’d spent hours bonding over basketball until an injury ended Marvin’s chances in the NBA. Marvin didn’t let that deter him, though. He kept on going. “Yes, but, that’s because we played ball together. Marvin Alton was the exception. He married his own kind.”
“You’re prejudiced!” Cassandra screamed. She clenched her fists and got right up in his face like she was ready to fight him. Like she wanted to hit him.
“Don’t you fix your mouth to say those words,” Saul said. “I’m not prejudiced—I just have my preferences. I’m being realistic. Your child will have a lot of issues to deal with. He or she will struggle with developing an identity.”
“Are you listening to yourself?” Cassandra scoffed. She turned her head away from him blocking him from reading her face.
Saul remembered turning her head to face him. He looked into blue eyes so like his own, and touched her corn silk blond hair before saying, “Don’t marry him, Cassandra. Don’t have this baby.”
She gasped and turned from him in one single motion. Shame crawled up his spine. Saul wasn’t going to take his words back. He didn’t believe in abortion, but this was a unique situation. This constituted an emergency.
“In this day and time you’re asking me to be ashamed that I’m in love? When I told you about Kellan you sang his praises and encouraged me not to let such a promising young man, as you called him, slip away.”
“Yes, but that was when I thought... I mean Kellan didn’t sound like a...” Saul sputtered.
“A what? A black name?” Cassandra’s eyebrows creased. She raised her hands to still his words. “Dad, please stop talking. You’re going off every stereotype in the book and it shocks and saddens me. You’re behaving like a dinosaur. I love Kellan and my baby, and we’re going to get married.”
With a patriarchal tone and a wide swoop of his hands, Saul dictated, “Well, I want no part of it. If you marry him, don’t expect me to walk you down the aisle and smile and pretend I’m all right with you marrying someone you barely know—what’s it been five months?”
Tears filled her eyes. Saul knew he’d hurt her, but he wasn’t backing down.
Cassandra was just as stubborn. She walked out of his house, married Kellan and had her child without him. The only move Cassandra made was to send him a picture of
Emily when she was born. Saul had the picture buried under some papers in his nightstand, but he never initiated contact.
The rain poured.. Saul drank in the sight of his daughter, as the minutes crept by. She looked so much like Nora. He could hardly bear it. He shifted his eyes to look in the rearview mirror.
“What the?” He scrunched forward. Was he seeing right? There was a semi speeding in his direction. The moron was driving too fast for the slick roads. He wouldn’t be able to brake in time. Saul’s body clenched. This was an accident waiting to happen and the driver showed no signs of slowing down.
“Slow down! Slow down!”
The truck jumped the midline. Oh, no! He was heading straight for Cassandra’s car. Saul’s heart rate escalated. His palms sweated. He turned his body to get a good look behind him. Oh, boy, the truck wasn’t going to stop. For a few tense seconds, Saul debated. He jumped out of his truck. “Cassandra! Kellan!” he yelled. They were playing with Emily in the back seat.
Soaked, Saul scuttled towards his truck. There was only one way to circumvent what was coming. Saul knew what he had to do. He started the engine and slammed on the accelerator, praying his sturdy F-150 could take a hit. The truck driver must have finally caught on. Saul heard the sharp squeal of brakes. The semi began to spin on the slick road.
Saul continued driving. Cassandra and Kellan saw him at the same time. Their faces mirrored expressions of shock and horror as they looked up and saw the Semi truck coming towards them. Saul registered their furious efforts to get Emily out of her car
seat. “Get out the car,” he roared. Kellan jumped into the rear seat and covered his daughter with his body.
A millisecond before impact, Saul swung his truck in front of their vehicle. The semi truck rear-ended him. Saul’s F150 swung out into the ditch. He felt the crushing effect of steel against steel. Saul’s body reeled as he narrowly missed being hurled into the street. Cassandra’s car was now an easy target and the semi truck screeched to a halt as it slammed into their car. Saul heard screams and then a boom as glass shattered.
“Cassandra!” he wailed, willing his body to move, to go to his daughter, but a strong force pulled him slowly into blackness. As he succumbed, Saul heard a faint whisper in his ear, “Saul.” The quiet voice soothed him and peace reigned as he drifted off. Then suddenly, all was silent and blessed quietness engulfed him.

Chapter Two
Six weeks later

Aniyah Hays knocked twice and then pushed the door open to Saul Sweeterman’s room in the rehab wing of Fawcett Memorial. The lights were off and the curtains drawn. For a moment, she entertained the notion that Dracula waited to suck her blood dry. She grinned. Dismissing her fanciful thoughts, she slid the curtains back and turned on the lights.
“I didn’t say come in.” Saul Sweeterman snarled.
Now she knew why everyone on the floor called him Meanerman. She rushed to identify herself. “Mr. Meaner—er—Sweeterman. I’m Annie Hays, your physical therapist.”
“I don’t need a physical therapist,” he answered. “I survived a punctured lung and a damaged spleen. I’m confident that in time, I’ll be able to walk just fine. What I need to do is get out of here.”
Annie counted to ten then employed de-escalation strategies, not wanting to rile his temper. With a light touch to his arm, she said, “Yes, in time, you will get out of here. But you’re looking at at least another month or so before you can walk on that foot.”
“Don’t patronize me. I’m not four years old!” In a swooping motion, he reacted, shrugging her hand off his arm. She wasn’t prepared for his strength and found herself flung across the room. She crashed into the food tray.
He swung his head in her direction. “I—ah—I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that.” His gruff manner depicted a man who was uncomfortable with apologizing.
Annie didn’t register his answer. Her mind was on two things. The first was that Saul Sweeterman had the most riveting pair of blue eyes she’d ever seen. The second was that they were unfocused and zoomed on a spot above her head. Sweeterman was blind. She’d read that when she reviewed his chart.
“Are you hurt? Ms. Hays, please answer me. I can’t see for myself.” He pointed out the obvious.
Annie nodded, before catching herself. She cleared her throat and found her voice. “Yes—I’m fine. No harm done.”
So the bear had a gentle side. Interesting. Since he couldn’t tell, she stared him down, taking in his blond hair and his imperial jawbone. He was super-hot. No one had mentioned that pertinent fact. And, those deep blue eyes reminded her of the clear Florida sky. Whew! She could stare into those orbs for days.
Then, he spoke. “You might as well leave and work on someone else because I’m not moving from this bed.”
And, the Beast is back. Annie rolled her eyes but ignored him. She hummed, Tamela Mann’s, “Take me to the King” and pulled the sheet back away from his leg. She wasn’t going to chance a kick to her rib cage, so she notified him of her intentions. “Mr. Sweeterman, I’m going to examine your leg.” Though she was petite, she had strong hands.
He jerked his foot in protest. “Don’t touch me.”
“I have to if I want to help you get back to normal. Dr. Pryor removed the cast, but you have pins and screws in your leg. You’ve been immobile and Dr. Pryor is thinking you’re healing well enough to put you in a plastic walking cast.” She made sure
to keep her tone firm, so he’d know she meant business. She’d handled football players and basketball players. Annie wasn’t about to let this one intimidate her.
“My left leg was broken in two places,” he growled. “But I’m able to get myself to the bathroom.”
“You shouldn’t have been out of bed and you need to wait for someone to assist you. She lifted his leg with expert precision. “Your muscles are sore and tense. I’ll work this out for you but you need to stay off your feet until Dr. Pryor says it’s okay.” She massaged both his legs.
He emitted a distinct masculine groan of pleasure, followed by a grunt of pain. Sympathy tore at her. “I’m sorry. It will feel better in a few minutes.”
The angry line that was his lips curved a little. She saw a hint of a smile. “I can’t wait to experience that feeling. It’s been awhile.”
She caught the double entendre. So, he was a flirt. She blushed and was surprised to find her heart beating faster. She cleared her throat and kept her tone professional. “I’m going to release the knots. It’ll be uncomfortable for a minute, but then...” she trailed off, continuing her ministrations, until she heard a distinct release of breath.
“Ahh, I had no idea I was in pain. My legs feel like butter.”
Annie had received this reaction from patients so many times in her career, that she’d been dubbed Magic Hands. With a pat on his leg, Annie said, “That’s it for today. Tomorrow we work on getting you fitted for your cast and on your feet.”
“Five more minutes please?” he begged.
Annie prided herself on her ability to remain detached. She had already stayed beyond the stipulated forty minutes. “A few more minutes, but then I have to go. I have other patients.”
She hummed while she continued her massage before she said, “I’ll be back on Wednesday to work with you again. In the meantime, please don’t overextend your leg.”
He nodded. “How many days will you be seeing me?”
“Twice a week.”
“Oh.” He sounded disappointed. She knew from the nurses that he hadn’t had any

visitors. Why should she care?
“I’m here in the hospital every day, though, so I’ll swing by and check on you.”

She could’ve bitten her tongue. Had she really uttered those words? She wondered as she departed his room.
“You survived Meanerman,” her best friend, nurse Sari Noonan, said.
Annie smiled and winked. “He was sort of sweet,” she mused, knowing she had a sappy look on her face.
Sari looked at her like she was crazy. “Sweet?
Annie grinned at the look on Sari’s face. As she strolled towards the elevator, she admitted she was actually looking forward to seeing Saul again. As luck would have it, she ran into Sari on her next scheduled visit.
Sari shook her head when she saw where she was headed. “Good luck with him. He’s in rare form. I told Dr. Pryor that I was through working with him. My job is to help and to heal not to be humiliated.”
“Keep your head up,” Annie reassured her friend. With a question in her eyes, she crept into the room. Her eyes scanned the tossed tray and the food contents splattered all across the room. Why had he done this? Lord, please guide me and lead me. She felt a tiny frisson of fear akin to Daniel entering the lion’s den. Annie berated herself. He’s a man, not a lion.
He could pass for one though. She placed a hand over her mouth with shock. Seeing his mane of hair all helter-skelter and his unshaven beard did sort of make him look like the king of the jungle.
“I can hear you breathing,” he spat. “So identify yourself. I’m blind, not deaf.”
His rudeness spurred her temper. She swooped all the contents off the floor and snatched one of the bed linens to clean the linoleum. She knew she could summon housekeeping, but Annie needed a moment to gather her wits or she was going to wring his neck with her bare hands.
“Are you going to answer me?” he hurled in her direction.
“Quit roaring at me,” she snapped and went into the bathroom to wash her hands. She strode towards the door. She didn’t have to put up with this rude behavior. Sari hadn’t warned her enough. “I don’t get paid enough to be insulted.”
“No, Annie, come back! Please!” he roared pulling himself upright.
Her hand stilled. He called her Annie. She spun around. “Being a patient doesn’t give you the right to be insufferable and mean.”
“You’re right,” he hung his head. “That explains why I’m alone.”
His puppy-dog face didn’t fool her. “Quit the act. You’re just trying to make me

feel sorry for you.”
“Is it working?” He gave her a lopsided grin.
Saul Sweeterman could be nice when he wanted. She chuckled and moved to undo his cast. She picked up his leg to give him a quick massage.
“So how come you’re alone?” she asked, shifting the conversation into less dangerous territory.
He rested his head back against the pillow. “Well, I wasn’t completely honest. I’ve ran off all my buddies from the dealership with my bad attitude. No one’s been to see me for weeks at my insistence,” he said.
“So, your being alone is your own fault. You need to call your friends and apologize. You have a long road ahead and you can’t do it by yourself.”
He had the grace to blush. She watched the red splash across his cheeks and her hands stilled for a second. She made herself get back to work.
“I also have a daughter and a granddaughter,” he chattered.
“What? You’re not old enough to be a grandfather.”
“I’m forty-three. Let me spare you the mental math by saying I was a young

father,” he drawled. His face depicted bliss from the work of her hands.
“Where do they live?” She switched to his other leg even though it didn’t need

massaging. “Make sure to keep exercising this leg. The other one you do with me.” He nodded and answered, “They’re here in town.”
“Really?” Her unspoken question hung in the air.
He must’ve been in need of a listening ear because Saul spilled. “I don’t have a

relationship with them because of my own stupidity. I didn’t approve of the man she
married and I allowed that to interfere with our relationship. I haven’t even met my granddaughter. Her name is Emily.”
She heard the regret in his tone but was surprised that he’d revealed so much of his business to a virtual stranger. “Why don’t you call her?”
“Believe me, I would, if she’d let me. She’s changed her number so I can’t call her. Cassandra, that’s her name—she blames me for her husband’s death.”

Chapter Three

Chanel No. 5. He’d know that scent anywhere.
“I didn’t think you’d be back,” Saul declared. In his mind, he pictured the willowy brunette with her body angled against the door. Macy Masters didn’t stand. A top model, she was always striking a pose.
He didn’t give her a chance to answer. “And, please don’t tell me you have your secret agents lurking about,” he added, referring to the dogged paparazzi men who popped up in the most unusual places.
“Don’t worry, I know how to ditch those eels. It’s just me, here. I value my privacy as much as you do,” she replied, not hiding her contempt.
Saul nodded knowing how Macy detested the downside of having a recognizable face. He teased, “Are you hiding under sunglasses with your hair stuffed under a hat? I’m surprised no one recognized you.”
Her laughter tickled his ears. “Don’t laugh at my inspector Gadget getup. It has done me well. I didn’t feel right leaving you here alone and if I have to come incognito, then so be it.”
Saul was touched, but he didn’t want to share his feelings. So he threw out a useless taunt. “Didn’t feel right leaving me alone while you spend my money?”
He heard a huge sigh and the clip-clop of her signature five-inch heels. Not that she needed them standing at five-eleven.

“Why is everything with us about money, Saul? Why does it have to be so cut and dry? I have money of my own. In fact, I have quadruple what you have so I don’t need your pittance.”
“Pittance? I’ve more than doubled my fortune since we met two years ago,” Saul bragged. Her hand grazed his cheek and he lifted his chin in her direction. He inhaled. She smelled so good.
“I’m here because I love you and you’re going to have to accept that,” she whispered in his ear.
Deep down, he knew she told the truth. Macy was a beauty inside and out. He hated that he didn’t return the sentiment. His accident had been the perfect excuse to push her away. He loved her but not in the way she craved. 
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