A Pulled from the Headlines Read
© 2017 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author, Michelle Lindo-Rice's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
Enjoy the First Three Chapters of
This is too much for me. I’m not cut out for marriage. I’m done.
Geneva Samson almost dropped the phone. She tightened her grip and read the words again.
She shook her head. Who breaks off an engagement via text message? Joshua James, her boyfriend of three years and fiancé of eleven months, did. They had just attended church together the day before. Then today, Sunday, he sent her this text. Tears slid down her cheeks and down her neck.
She had been waiting for another text message to hit her phone saying he was joking or it was a mistake, but her phone had been silent—eerily so.
Geneva tossed the device on the bed and stuffed a fist in her mouth to keep from making a sound. She lived alone in her condo, but her walls were paper-thin. She didn’t want her neighbors hearing her wailing because Josh had ignored her seven responses and sent her calls to voicemail. He had also changed his social media status to single.
Like sugar ants, people were drawn to that kind of juicy news.
She bit back a scream. Josh could have at least told her to her face he no longer wanted to get married. That Josh didn’t think she was worth a decent conversation hurt.
They had met at Ohio State pursuing their master’s degrees at the College of Education and Human Ecology. Josh had found his niche as a middle school math teacher. Geneva hadn’t settled there. While she worked as a special educator, she had enrolled in the PhD program to major in Educational Leadership.
Geneva heard the doorbell ring. She snapped up. Josh. Josh had come. She tripped over her comforter and bumped her knee on the edge of the bed. “Ow!” She grabbed her knee and hobbled to answer the door.
Isabella Ortiz stood there with her coat in hand. Geneva had forwarded the text message to her best friend, so she wasn’t surprised by Isabella’s visit.
“Have you heard from him?” Isabella asked.
Geneva shook her head and stepped out of the way. “No. He’s not answering my calls.”
“Don’t look so happy to see me,” Isabella said, stomping the snow off her feet onto the doormat.
Geneva took her coat and placed it on the coatrack. “I thought it was…”
Isabella waved a hand. “That punk isn’t going to show up here,” she said, trailing behind Geneva. “What Josh did to you was real grimy. I’d better not see his face at church next week.”
Geneva retuned to her bedroom and sat cross-legged on her bed. “I don’t think he’ll be coming to Rock of Hope any time soon. When my father finds out…” She covered her face. “I don’t want to hear my dad say ‘I told you so’ and how I should’ve listened.”
Isabella settled beside her. “Do you think it had anything to do with the sermon? Pastor hit the book of James hard yesterday. His message on double-mindedness had me squirming in my seat.”
Geneva hunched her shoulders. “I don’t know.” Her father had been wary of Josh. He would purse his lips and say something about how Joshua didn’t gel with him. Geneva’s heart ached at how right her father had been.
Isabella tapped Geneva on the nose. “Be prepared. You know this is research for his next sermon.”
Despite her relationship troubles, Geneva chuckled. After her mother passed, Ernest Samson had never remarried. Geneva had been a strong-willed child. Some of her antics had made it into his sermons, causing much laughter in the congregation. Her father could use any situation and turn it into a message.
“I can hear him now,” she groaned, running her hands through her hair. Geneva avoided looking in the mirror. She knew her hair had to be a horrible mess. She kept her hair natural, opting to get it straightened biweekly at the salon.
“Oh, please. His little Genny can do no wrong. It’s Josh who should be worried. He must have forgotten your father has boxing gloves for hands.”
Geneva laughed. “Only you can make me crack up when I’m supposed to be crying.” She whispered her next words. “I’m in so much pain. I can’t believe Josh would do this to me.”
“Girl, be for real. You planned this entire wedding on your own without much input from him. And he’s been real shady these past weeks.” She counted off on her fingers. “Avoiding your phone calls, staying late at work—or so he says—not showing up for the cake tasting. You said yourself he’s been glued to his phone.”
“He was texting his best man…”
Isabella rolled her eyes. “I don’t believe that for one minute and neither do you. In my honest opinion, he did you a favor.”
Geneva scratched her head. “I asked him if he was getting cold feet, and he waved off my concerns. But he waits until weeks before our wedding, and the honeymoon is paid-in-full to pull this stunt.” Her chest heaved. “I can’t get my money back. In fact, I just paid up the balances on the wedding cake and banquet hall this morning, and they have a strict, no-refund policy.” She clenched her fists. “And he knew it because I told him last night.”
Isabella gave her a look. “Hmph. You know there are some names I could call him, but I’m saved.”
“I can think of some myself, but I’m not apologizing to God because of Josh.”
“That slime isn’t worth it.” Isabella tilted her head. “Are you sure you can’t get your money back?”
Geneva bit her lower lip and massaged her temples. “No. I feel bad knowing my father spent twenty-thousand dollars to give me my dream wedding.” She shook her head. “It will remain a dream.” More tears fell. She used her pajama sleeve to wipe them away.
Isabella rubbed her back. “You should sue that jerk. Make him pay half. Your father put that insurance money away for your college and your wedding.” She jabbed her finger into the comforter. “I know some good attorneys.”
Geneva’s heart constricted, and she clutched her stomach. “I feel like I squandered what Mommy had to die to give me.”
“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry,” Isabella said, enfolding her in a hug. “Don’t feel that way. You didn’t squander that money. You didn’t know this would happen, and you deserved this wedding.”
Geneva sobbed. “I’d give back every dime and be buried under student loans to have her here with me.
Margaret Samson had been a deli worker. She had had Geneva right after she graduated high school. For as long as Geneva could remember, her mother insisted Geneva would go to college and graduate debt free.
Isabella lifted Geneva’s chin with a finger. “I know she would be proud of the woman you’ve become.”
Geneva sniffled and wiped her face. “Would she? Because I don’t think my mother would have been played like this.”
Isabella’s jaw clenched. “We need to go find Josh. I have a black belt.”
Geneva gave a little laugh. “I don’t need you ending up in jail over me.”
“Just say the word,” Isabella said. “And you know I wouldn’t end up in jail.”
Geneva shook her head. “I don’t think any of those cops at the precinct would put a judge in jail.”
Isabella raised an eyebrow. Geneva knew Isabella was a woman of action. Isabella was the youngest Latina judge in their county. She had told Geneva she would get there and she had, despite her father and uncles being gang members.
Geneva squeezed her eyes shut. “Oh goodness! I forgot I defend my thesis tomorrow. How am I supposed to get up in front of a room full of people and talk about the effects of autism and career choice when my heart is breaking?”
She had intended to practice her oral presentation tomorrow and have Josh run her through possible questions. But here she was, with a broken engagement and broken promises, like a woman in a sad, love song video.
Her shoulders sagged. “My eyes are swollen and red. They might think I was puffing on something. I have to cancel.”
She bit her lip. Geneva had coordinated it so she would complete her doctorate before getting married. She would then go on her honeymoon and take off the rest of the school year to move into the role of wife. She had skimped and saved to be able to stay home during her first eight months of marriage. Maybe have a baby...
Her plan was that over the summer, if she wasn’t pregnant, she would pursue educational leadership positions or teach at the college level. Geneva had everything timed just right.
Everything except for Josh’s cowardice.
Isabella stood. “You can and you will do it. I don’t want to hear any talk of postponing your dissertation defense.” Her tone was firm. “I’m giving you five minutes,” she said, holding up a palm. “Five minutes is more than you should devote to crying over that loser. You’ve worked too hard and spent too many nights revising that two hundred-page document to quit now. Pull yourself together.”
Geneva bunched her fists. “I can’t.” She dissolved into tears and curled into a fetal position.
“Geneva Margaret Samson, get up. Put some cucumber on your eyes or some Visine drops, but I had better not see puffy, red eyes. I’m going to order us some Chinese, and we’re going to get you ready, Doctor.”
Geneva swung one leg off her bed to appease her friend.
“Good. I’ll order our faves.” Isabella left the room.
Geneva lowered her head. She couldn’t do this. Her nose ran and the tears wouldn’t end.
Geneva knew it wasn’t wise, but she went on social media and clicked on Josh’s page. She felt her eyes go wide. Josh had changed his picture. He was all hugged up with two young girls at a party. Her private message box overflowed. Geneva closed her eyes and put the phone on the bed, stifling a sob. She was crying and he was partying.
She lifted a chin. No way. She had to ride her pride through this humiliation. She had enough pride to last a lifetime.
Then she straightened. “Lord, help me stand,” she whispered, making a fist.
Slowly, she stood. Geneva wiped her face and took one step forward. She took another step and more until she was at her desk. Geneva picked up one of her mother’s favorite records and put it on the turntable.
Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” filled the room.
Geneva focused on the lyrics. Soon she began to sing along. She sang until she believed. She would survive. One step at a time.
“Congratulations, Dr. Samson,” Isabella said, pulling her in for a hug. “I’m glad I could listen in. You were amazing. ”
Geneva squeezed her friend tight. They rocked back and forth in their embrace. Hearing her professors introduce her as Dr. Samson had made all her late night studies and midnight papers worth it. Her eyes had misted, but she held it together as she shook hands and posed for pictures.
“Thanks for taking the day off to support me, Isabella, and for practicing with me last night. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.”
Ernest had insisted on coming to see his only daughter defend her thesis, but Geneva had stopped him. She didn’t want her father present if she failed. Besides, she had been counting on Josh’s presence. Thank God for friends.
Isabella broke the embrace and tucked her scarf into her coat. “Are you kidding? I had to be here. I’m glad I’m not sitting behind that dreary desk.”
Geneva laughed. “Yeah, right. You know you love going into that courtroom.”
Isabella snapped her fingers. “And you know it. Okay.” The wind blew the hat off her head. Isabella ran to get it. “It’s so cold out here. I wish I had worn my gloves.”
They hurried toward their vehicles. They were parked side by side. Isabella pressed the start button. Her car would be warm and toasty in a couple minutes.
Geneva pulled her wool coat close. “It has to be close to zero degrees. I bet we’re going to have snow.”
“I hope not.” Isabella moaned. “I haven’t gone shopping for boots yet.”
Geneva rolled her eyes. “You have at least ten pair of boots in your closet. It’s a good thing we wear the same shoe size. I’ve saved so much money because of you.”
Isabella gave her a playful slap. Then she shivered. “What I wouldn’t give to be in Jamaica right now.”
“Me too.” Geneva blew into her hands.
“What do you mean, me too?” Isabella put her hands on her hips. “You have a paid trip to Jamaica.”
Geneva raised a brow. “And?”
“Do you need me to spell it out?” Isabella asked. Then she wagged a finger. “I know you. I know you thought about it.”
Geneva touched her chin. “I did, but it’s the honeymoon suite. I’ll look pitiful curled up in there all by myself.”
“So? Call the resort and change rooms.” Isabella pointed to her head. “You’ve got to change your mindset. Consider that vacation your reward for earning your dissertation. You go, girl. You did it.” Isabella broke into a praise jig and then sang, “Dr. Samson in full effect.”
Geneva giggled. “Your age is showing. I don’t know who says that anymore.”
Isabella rolled her neck back and forth. “I do.” She broke into the Prep, a nineties hip hop dance move, and sang, “Geneva in full effect.”
“You taking it way back doing the Prep,” Geneva said, mimicking her.
They did a broke-down version of the Kid-N-Play, another dance move from the nineties, before they cracked up laughing.
“I love you, girl,” Geneva said. “It’s only with you I get this silly.”
“That’s what best friends are for.” Isabella gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I’d better get to the courthouse. My bailiff friend might be worried about me.” She unlocked her door and jumped inside.
“Leave those young men alone, Isabella.”
“Jennifer Lopez and Demi Moore have nothing on me.” With a wave, she pulled off.
Geneva entered her Camry and started the car. She shivered and turned up the heat. While the car warmed up, Geneva rested her head on the steering wheel and prayed.
“Lord, I thank You for seeing me through. I couldn’t have done this without You. Thank You for bringing everything back to my memory. Thank You for helping me rise above.”
She set her music to Kirk Franklin and sang along. Geneva was determined to praise her pain away. The more she sang, the less she thought of he-whose-name-shall-not-be-called.
Geneva pulled into the drive-thru of her favorite, fast food restaurant to get herself a burger and some fries. Her stomach had been in knots and she hadn’t eaten. She couldn’t risk throwing up in the middle of her presentation because of nerves.
She squinted. There was a brown Durango two cars ahead. Her heart slammed into her chest. That was Josh’s SUV.
Geneva blinked, tapping the steering wheel.
Then she pressed the redial button. “Guess who’s by the burger joint?”
“Don’t tell me it’s Josh,” Isabella said.
“Yep.” She gripped the wheel.
“I’m on my way.” The line went dead.
Mandisa’s “Overcomer” came on the radio. Geneva turned down the volume. She didn’t want to hear about overcoming nothing. She drove past the order window, still tapping the steering wheel. This time her left eye ticked. She watched Josh give his order and say something to make the busty girl at the window smile. He pulled his Durango into an empty space. Just as she knew he would. Josh always stopped to pour his fries into the bag and add salt.
She swerved out of the line, pulled behind him and locked him in so he couldn’t leave. Geneva watched his reverse lights come on and waited for him to glance in the rearview mirror. Then she turned off her engine and jumped out of the car with her keys in hand.
Geneva banged a fist on his window. “Open the door. I want to talk to you.”
A car honked. “Go around!” she yelled, cutting her eyes.
Then she glared at Josh. “Open the door.”
Josh cracked the window a sliver. “Geneva, get out of here. You’re making a scene.”
“I’m not going anywhere!” she screamed, bouncing her leg. “You’d better get out of that car and talk to me like a man.” She kicked the door.
“Leave that man alone,” somebody shouted.
“Mind your business,” Geneva snapped back.
Josh held up a hand before cracking the door open. One leg hit the ground. Geneva pushed her body against the door. Her chest heaved.
“Ow!” Josh screamed.
A small crowd gathered around them.
Geneva ignored the onlookers.
When he saw the crowd, Josh got out the car. “What the heck is the matter with you? You’re behaving like a madwoman.”
“You haven’t seen mad yet.” She got into his face. “Why didn’t you answer my text messages?” She growled.
He shrugged. “I didn’t have anything else to say.”
From the corner of her eye, Geneva saw Isabella pushing through the throng.
Geneva jabbed Josh on the forehead. “You don’t have anything to say to me? We were supposed to get married in two weeks, and you didn’t have the guts to tell me in person you were backing out. Instead you send me a text message.”
“Oh snap, that’s foul,” someone said.
Josh looked her in the eyes. “A broken engagement is better than a divorce.”
Geneva slapped him across the face so hard it sounded through the parking lot.
“Yow. You gon’ take that?” someone egged on.
Josh grabbed Geneva’s hand.
“Get your hand off her,” Isabella said, holding up her cell phone. “Or you’ll rot in jail.” Something about her presence made the crowd disperse.
Josh released Geneva’s hand. “I’m sorry,” he said. His tone said otherwise.
“Sorry!” Geneva punched him in the chest. “I was faithful to you. If it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t have graduated. I can’t believe you’d do this to me.”
She put a fist in her mouth, dreading the tears, but they burst out of her like an angry river. Her shoulders shook.
Isabella hugged Geneva close. “Hush. It’s okay.”
She buried her face into Isabella’s coat. She heard Josh’s voice behind her.
“I have to get back to work.”
“How could he do this to me?” she sobbed to Isabella, ignoring him. “I was good to him.”
“Yes, you were,” he said. “You are a good woman. But you aren’t the one for me. I shouldn’t have texted you, but I didn’t want to see you cry. I didn’t want to see the hurt on your face over me.”
Geneva wiped her nose and faced him. “I’m not crying over you. Don’t kid yourself.”
He snorted. “If that lie gets you through, then…” He shrugged.
Her eyes narrowed. She took a step.
Isabella squeezed Geneva’s shoulder and shook her head. “He’s not worth it. Let’s get out of here.”
Geneva nodded and started walking toward her car.
She turned to look at the man she thought she would live with into her golden years.
“Not once did you mention love,” he said.
She shook her head. “What are you talking about?
He shoved a hand into his slacks. “You stood there and mentioned how I should be grateful for all you did to help me, but you didn’t once talk about love.” He lifted his chin. “I don’t think you ever loved me.” He touched his chest. “I never felt it here.”
“You pile of crap. You have a lot of nerve. Don’t try to throw this on me. I would have been a good woman,” she said through gritted teeth.
He nodded. “Yes, you would have. But if I married you, I would have been settling.”
Geneva gasped and her body swayed from the impact of his words.
Isabella shoved past her and stomped into Josh’s face. “I suggest you shut your mouth and get in your car.”
Geneva trudged to her vehicle, got in, and rested her head on the steering wheel. Why had she gotten out of the car? She should have slipped on her sunglasses and rocked out to “You’re an Overcomer.” If Josh had spotted her, he would have seen her having a good time without him.
There was a rap on the glass. Geneva lifted her head and rolled down the window. Isabella beckoned for her to move. She started up the car and pulled into another empty spot.
Josh had the nerve to give her a wave before driving off.
She wished she had Cyclops’ eyes to set his car on fire. But instead, she drew deep breaths.
Isabella walked up to her. “You hungry?” She pulled off her gloves. “All this drama gave me an appetite.”
Geneva’s stomach growled. “I can’t believe I just acted a fool.” She rubbed her temples.
“You’re entitled. If it were me, his car would’ve been totaled. He’s lucky all he got for wasting your twenty grand was a slap in the face.”
“This is not how someone with a doctorate behaves.” Geneva got out of her car and followed her friend. “And what if one of my parents saw me behaving like this in the parking lot?”
“Girl, please. You’re a woman with a broken heart. You get a pass.”
The women went into the restaurant and ordered their meals.
Geneva snacked on the fries. She would eat the burger later. Soon Isabella had her laughing at her antics in parking lot.
She shook her head. “I can’t believe I lost my temper like that.”
“I know,” Isabella said. “You were in psycho mode.”
Geneva laughed to cover her embarrassment. She knew her cheeks flamed crimson red.
Isabella tilted her head. “Honestly, I think you’re exhausted.” She dipped her fry into her mayo and ketchup combination. “That’s why I think you should go on your honeymoon.”
“Not that again.”
“Yes, that again.” Isabella dusted the salt from her hands. “I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t go and enjoy yourself. You wouldn’t be the first person to do that. I’ve read about jilted brides who turn their wedding day into a party or feed the homeless.”
Geneva scrunched her nose. “I don’t know about that, but at least I don’t have to worry about the food. The flowers were already on special order, so I’m having them taken to nearby nursing homes and hospitals. I figure they’ll cheer up a lot of people on that day.”
Isabella smiled. “What a great idea.” She patted Geneva’s hand. “That’s real thoughtful of you to do that. That’s why I don’t want you burying yourself with doubts about Josh. He didn’t treasure you like he should have.”
“He said I didn’t love him.”
“Please. That fool wouldn’t know love if it bit him on his man parts.”
Geneva chuckled at Isabella’s phrasing. But deep inside, she pondered Josh’s words. He was right. She hadn’t spoken about love. Her brows knitted. Why?
Then she pushed the thought away. She didn’t need to speak about something they both knew she felt. He needed to go sit down somewhere with that sorry excuse. She wouldn’t have cried like that if she weren’t brokenhearted.