Meet Scarlette Rayne @ScarletteRayne1

hair_2Scarlette Rayne writes contemporary romance fiction, with elements of mystery, intrigue and suspense. An equal opportunity genre reader—she reads everything from crime thrillers to erotica, paranormal to horror as well as romance.
Some of her favorite books and authors include ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ series by the late Steig Larson, Jeff Lindsay’s ‘Dexter’ series, Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ Stephen Kings’ ‘The Stand,’ and Ernest Hemingway’s ‘A Moveable Feast.’
Scarlette grew up in New York and has lived in Florida, Georgia, and Colorado, but currently she resides in North Carolina.
The lover of horses enjoys the fall and winter and occasionally indulges in coffee, wine and chocolate. She likes rainy days, the mountains and an occasional trip to the beach.
Scarlette is currently working on her next novel, a mix of spy, comedy, drama with a touch of romance.

 

Scarlette’s work

Title: ‘Nocturne of Secrecy: A novella to The Symphony Noir Collection
Genre: Romance Suspense
Release Date: April 29th, 2016

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Alexis Angel is no stranger to bold invitations. Whether it’s being swept away to an exotic locale by a skillful lover–or a request to serenade elite audiences with her piano skills–she’s accustomed to the attention.
However, when seductive businessman Travis McGregor asks her to perform at his company’s charity event, Alexis is both intrigued and drawn to him like no other.
What begins as a cold, frigid evening, slowly turns into a whirlwind of intoxicating lust. Travis is different from many men Alexis has known–and certainly the steamy romance emerging between them won’t be a typical one.



Prague, Czech Republic
12 years ago

I stepped into the relentless, cold night from the hotel lobby. A strong gust of wind made me pull my elegant coat, tighter around the curves of my slender body. As I walked to the sleek, black limo, the attractive driver politely nodded in greeting as he opened the door for me. His roguish smile held a suggestive thought as his gaze met mine. I daintily eased into the car; a seductive smile played across my lips, shooting back to the driver my own silent innuen¬do. Despite the chilly temps, I deliberately allowed one bare leg to linger a bit longer than it should, offering the driver an eyeful of smooth, tan skin. I then slid my leg into the limo, where the warmth was a stark contrast to the cold snap outside.
I breathed in stale cigar smoke embedded in the limo’s leath¬er interior. Lingering cologne and previously spilled champagne added to the mix, giving away the fact this limo had seem some fun times. The driver got behind the wheel but took his sweet time adjusting the review mirror, his dark and voracious eyes met my alluring emerald greens in the reflection. I playfully ignored the fact he was trying to steal a look, so I casually opened the front of my coat. On display for him was the plunging neck-line of my black-laced cocktail dress, revealing my firm, soft-to-the-touch cleavage. I wanted the driver to drink in the sight of me, therefore I turned my head to the side to look out the window. A few ten¬drils of silky, raven locks fell softly upon my exposed collar bone. He cleared his throat and adjusted his driver’s cap. Then he began fixing the collar of his shirt then wiped his brow with the back of his hand. The driver’s body language amused me to where I had to hide my smirk. What? You never had an attractive female to chauffer around? As he swiftly drove off, it was apparent that frustration and need grew within him.
His impressive skills at maneuvering the busy streets of Prague led my thoughts to wonder how carefully he could handle me in the bedroom. With ease and tenderness? Perhaps it would be pas¬sion and a thirst for pleasing me until the sun rises. I inhaled, then exhaled deeply as a means to control my breathing. These thoughts were making me feel all worked up. I caught the driver glancing at me once more in his rear-view mirror. My breathing most likely captured his attention for a moment; he cleared his throat, rubbed the back of his neck once more and grunted softly. The kind of grunt a man makes when he sees something he ap¬proves of.
Needing some sort of distraction away from the driver, I looked out the window again; this time, paying mind to the view passing by. A steamy haze began to appear on the glass. I watched as tiny droplets of condensation took residence on the limo’s tinted glass, brought about by our hushed flirtations. It reminded me of what happens when two ravenous lovers indulge themselves in each other. I instantly imagined those lovers were the driver and me. So much for distracting myself.
I took my hand and wiped off some of the condensation from the glass to get a better view passing me by as we zipped down the busy streets. The sights of the city pleased me. The historic struc¬tures took my breath away, and the brilliant street lights casted an ethereal yellow glow on the night. I craned my neck a bit to get a better view of the ancient city shimmering and the grandeur of its Gothic and Romanesque architecture standing majestic and erect, as if welcoming my existence into their world. The driver made a sharp turn which made my coat fall slightly, exposing more of my shoulder, collar bone, and cleavage. I wouldn’t dare to glance over to see if the driver’s lustful eyes had happened to witness this. The thought alone was enough to provoke my sensual responses. I teas¬ingly removed my coat, then tossed my hair to one side. The driver cleared his throat yet again and accelerated his speed, running a red light. The increasing heat building within the limo was thrilling!
The haze on the windows reached its peak where I could no longer see anything, despite my best efforts to keep wiping away the mist. I rolled down my window to let the air in to help lessen some of the built-up haze. Right away, my ears were brimming with the heartbeat of Prague at 7:15 pm.



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Meet Brenda Stephens

Brenda Stephens is the author of two published novels and a devotional on divorce.

“The Christian books on the subject were few and far between so God told me to write one. It was several years in the making. I am now married to a wonderful man who I’ve been with three years. I have three amazing kids and two awesome grand kids.”

 

Brenda’s work

Title: Dark Winters Night
Genre: Spiritual, Devotional, Memoir
Release date: July 17, 2017

 

It’s every little girls dream. A Cinderella fantasy. Wedding day bells. Prince Charming. Two magic words are spoken – “I Do!” A little cottage with a white picket fence. And they lived happily ever after…. Or did they?
What happens when they don’t live happily ever after? This powerfully-written, profound book — Dark Winter’s Night — by Christian author Brenda Stevens is a raw, soul wrenching glimpse into the darkness of divorce — and the light that shines and will lead you or someone you love through that darkness. Through circumstances beyond her control Brenda walked the dark road of divorce, not once, not twice, but three times. Dark Winter’s Night will lead you through the darkness of divorce into God’s glorious light.

“Help me, Lord,” I cried. “It is too much. I can’t do this. I can’t be a single parent. There is no way,” my mind rebelled. “I can’t be both Mom and Dad. I can’t pay all the bills, keep the house clean, buy the groceries, maintain the car and computer, discipline the kids, help with homework, spend time with the kids, go to church, do good news club, do sleepovers and I couldn’t do anything else that my mind didn’t conjure up in that moment of panic. When would I have time for You, Lord, or any moment for me?
HELP, LORD! HELP!”

 



Faith like Diamonds

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, had he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

 

coverIt was a simple gold cross with diamond like stones on it. The kids gotten it for me for Easter and I wore it proudly. Church was basically the same Easter service as always. This year videos of “The Passion” are shown on the screen with the heart stirring music. But this year I didn’t feel the life. I only felt the sorrow, encased as I was in my depression. My husband wanted to end our marriage. The love of my adult life was throwing me away, rejecting me, telling me that once again, I wasn’t good enough.

As Hebrews 12:1-2 was read I followed along in my bible. One phrase jumped out at me. So different from any other time in my life: He endured, because joy would be the reward, He endured. He endured and gave us eternal life. If I could endure this trial, this time would become like one of the diamonds on my necklace. The tragedy I was facing, another divorce, my sorrow would be turned to joy. And my sorrow would be like diamonds on my cross.

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#Veterans, #MilitarySpouse & #ActiveDuty, Thank You For Your Service!

Thank you for your service.” I still feel awkward whenever someone says those words to me. After all, I served in the Navy for only four years.  I didn’t get to serve on a ship.  I didn’t see combat. And I didn’t have a designated specialty.

What I did do is security watch, serve food in the Coffee Mess, wash planes, clean the offices and issue the tools and equipment needed to maintain Navy aircraft. Nothing significant.

I also got to see Spain and Italy. I made some amazing friends with whom I went out every week to clubs or bars. During Mandatory Fun, I met the man who would become my husband. Work was a blast. After work was a blast. My life in the Navy felt like a four-year party. So now, years later when someone thanks me for serving, I can’t help thinking, “But all I did was have fun,” as I sheepishly reply with a shrug, “You’re welcome.”

Recently however, a fellow veteran reminded me that every job in the military is important. We work together as a team. Some fly planes, some repair planes and some – like myself, make sure the tools needed to work on those planes are available when needed and accounted for when each job is done.  Imagine if a mechanic forgot to pack up one of his tools after working on an aircraft engine. If there were no one accounting for every single tool during each shift, an item could be forgotten in, on or near a plane and potentially cause serious injury to the plane or to personnel.

So even though distributing and receiving tools seemed insignificant to me, it was actually a vital function in ensuring the safety of my team.

I look back on my time in the Navy with fondness and I wish I’d served longer. teaser 2Those feelings of nostalgia are what led to me writing about military service members. In my first book, Forbidden Kisses, Navy Lieutenant Ethan Parker falls head-over-heels for a woman he meets while he’s on leave to attend his best friend’s funeral.  The stunning beauty offers him emotional support, even while dealing with a stressful situation of her own.  By the time he discovers she’s also in the Navy and that her enlisted status means she’s off-limits according to military law, he’s already in too deep to simply give her up. He must decide whether to break both their hearts by ending their heated romance, or keep their relationship a secret and risk his career.  Get it here! 

Happy Veteran’s Day to all who have served, those currently serving and the military spouses and family members who love us.

 

 

Meet Angelia Vernon Menchan @AngelMenchan

Angelia Vernon Menchan is an author, publisher, mentor and creator of the #JUSTLOVEMINISTRY

Angelia’s work

Title: Grounded
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release date: June 2017

Marissa’s mother had passed away a few years ago and the man who fathered her and had been a secret, showed up at the funeral with his protective entourage. After two days, he disappeared again but several months ago, Marissa received an inheritance from him that changed if not her life, it completely changed her bottom line and she needed to get away. The only thing she hadn’t done was tell Tomas. It no longer mattered how he felt about it, she was done. At fifty-three it was time to become grounded in taking care of Marissa.

 

Excerpt

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Morgan arrived on time to escort his mom to La Sqala, a restaurant they could walk to. Unsure how to dress, Marissa wore a long flowing dress in dark orange that covered her up but was cool. Her locs were pulled up in a simple crown and she looked beautiful and rested. Morgan wore slacks and shirt which was so different from how she remembered her hip son but he was now an agent working on international affairs.

“I’m so proud of you, son.” Marissa said.

“Thanks mom, speaking of proud, my supervisor, General Dawes insisted on meeting us here and taking care of our meal. I kind of had to allow it.”

“No worries. Your supervisor is a general?”

“No, his name is General.” Morgan said, leading her to a table near lots of foliage where a tall, dark skinned man stood almost at attention. His presence was forceful and his face intense and non-smiling. His skin was smooth and his shoulders like boulders, Marissa noted. Damn, he’s good looking she thought.

“Mom, this is my supervisor, General Dawes. General, this is my mom, Marissa Sanders.” Marissa offered her hand and General took it shaking it firmly, looking down at Marissa who stared back.

“Hello Marissa, you must have been a child mother, you are beautiful.” General said, still holding her hand.

“No, I was quite grown. Thank you.” Marissa said, removing her hand from his and taking the chair, Morgan held out. Glancing at her son, she could sense some annoyance. After she was seated, Morgan and General took their seats.

“Marissa, I insisted on joining you tonight. Morgan is one of my most important assets and I needed to meet you. I apologize if it is an intrusion.” General said in a deep voice that sounded whisky soaked.

“It’s okay. I didn’t give him much notice and assets must do what assets do.” She said, picking up the menu. There was something about General that made her feel soft and warm and she was not in Morocco for that.

“The merquez is quite good.” General suggested.

“I don’t eat lamb or ground meat, but thanks for your suggestion.” Marissa said.
Glancing up, she told the waiter she wanted Maqualli which was chicken with citrine, couscous and baghrir, pancakes. She noted General watching her. After the men ordered, both lamb dishes, they engaged in conversation about Morocco and the area in general. General had been there for three years.

“What is it about Morocco you find so appealing General.” Marissa asked.

“I love the culture, the people and the access to other parts of the world. I have no reason to not be here. I’m no longer married and my family; meaning my parents are no longer alive. Work is my life.” He said and Morgan snorted, covering it up by coughing.
“Why are you here Marissa, other than to see Morgan?”

“I am at a crossroads….” She said simply and focused on her food. During dinner, Morgan’s phone buzzed and he excused himself to answer it.

“I’m taking you out tomorrow.” General said.

“Really?”

“Yes. I’m going to show you Morocco. I told Morgan.” Something about his words annoyed Marissa.

“That’s pretty arrogant. You are my son’s supervisor and you tell him you are taking me somewhere, knowing he can’t refuse. You are not my supervisor!” Marissa snapped. General’s mouth turned up in a small smile at her words.

“He could have refused but he chose to allow me to do this. Especially since Femma is graduating tomorrow and he wants to be there for her. What kind of mother would you be to get in the way of that?”

Marissa’s face flushed at his words but she didn’t say anything as Morgan returned to the table.
“Morgan, I told Marissa, I’ll be escorting her tomorrow while you attend Femma’s graduation.” Morgan’s eyes met Marissa’s.

“Mom…”

“It’s fine. I didn’t give you much time. I’m sure the hotel has tours.” Marissa said.
“That won’t be necessary. I’ll pick you up early.” General said.

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Meet Alishia Curtis @Chocol8_cake

Having spent most of her twenties navigating the minefield that is dating’s landscape, Alishia Curtis writes her debut novel from a humorous, yet honest perspective on what it’s like to be a young lady reluctantly looking for love in the 2000s.
A child of God, lover of shoes, cookies, candies, and music, the mother of one delivers Sex and the Single Girl as her first, but certainly not her last, novel.

Alishia’s work

Title: Sex and the Single Girl
Genre: Fiction, Erotica
Release date: October 11, 2017

coverMilan is a daddy’s girl who seems to have it all: she’s attractive, intelligent, comes from a good home, and has no problem getting attention from men. Only problem is she’s getting attention from every guy but the right guy. From the arrogant, but attractive neighbor with the noisy sex life, to the handsome musician that seems to be too good to be true, Milan must balance her struggling love life while keeping an eye on a sister that can’t seem to stay out of rehab and a mother finding love again after years as a widow.
With a degree she’s not using and a job she hates, Milan is a woman of today, experiencing what countless others have experienced upon graduating from college. In her quest for happiness, Milan leans on her best friends Cairo, the good-looking protector with a not so subtle secret and the incredibly honest Donatella, the conceited wild child with a foul mouth and insatiable appetite for men and money. Sex and the Single Girl follows Milan as she navigates her way through lustful, loveless relationships on her journey to find that perfect guy, who may have been right in her face the whole time.

 

Excerpt

“The funeral”

I remember that day as if it happened yesterday. I was sixteen years old and had just gotten home from school. I walked in to find my mother sitting on the floor in the middle of the living room, pictures strewn around her.

“Whatcha doin’?” I asked, plopping down on the chair closest to her.

That’s when I noticed the wetness on her cheeks and her smeared mascara. Nervousness caused my stomach to churn and I fought to swallow the lump that suddenly formed in my throat. As I took a closer look at the picture she held in her trembling hands, I knew something had happened. It was a photograph of her and my father, his hand resting on her prominent belly, a huge smile on his face.

“Mama? What’s the matter?”

I slid onto the floor beside her and when she looked at me with her swollen red eyes, I instinctively knew. I knew this time wasn’t like the others. This was more than just the usual disappearing act after an argument; this time he wasn’t coming back. We held onto each other, amongst pictures that contained years’ worth of memories, and we cried.

***

At the funeral, we sat on the front pew, accepting hugs and condolences from what seemed to be hundreds of mourners that had come to pay their last respects to my father. My mother sat beside me, quietly weeping behind the veil that covered her face. Suddenly a hush fell over the church as a woman dressed completely in red slowly walked up the aisle. There was a young girl about eleven years old, by her side.

The woman kept her eyes on my father and did not stop to acknowledge my mother and I as everyone else had done. Instead, she ran her red-gloved hand along the length of the polished mahogany coffin before stopping to stare into my father’s face. The people in the church began to murmur loudly. My mother’s body stiffened.

Noticing the change in her body language, I asked, “Mama? Do you know her? Who is that woman?”

My mother didn’t respond, but continued staring blankly ahead as the woman stood unsteadily, touching my father’s hands, then reaching out to touch his face. Her quiet sobs became a loud, painful cry and then she began to scream. She let go of the little girl’s hand and threw herself over my father’s body. The crowd let out a collective gasp!

“Don’t she know it’s unclean to touch a dead body?” someone said from the pew behind me.

Someone else yelled, “Somebody get her before she turns that casket over!”

All the while, the lady in red held onto my father wailing, screaming for him to wake up.

“No! No!” she wept. “This isn’t real! Wake up Stanley! Wake up! You can’t leave me!”

Some of the people who had come to stand behind her in line tried to pull her away, but she snatched away from them, holding on to my father’s lapel with one hand, and swinging wildly at them with the other.

“Leave me alone!” she yelled. “Leave me with my Stanley!”

Two ushers rushed down the aisle from their posts at the back of the church and succeeded in prying the irate woman’s hands from my father’s lifeless body.

“Why God? Why not me Lord? Take me too!” she screamed, the ushers all but dragging her flailing body down the center aisle of the church. My mother sat stone-still, her gaze unwavering as she stared straight ahead, eyes open but not seeing anything.
The young girl stood in the spot where her mother had left her, her head bowed and her eyes on the floor. Up until now, I hadn’t seen her face, but as she was led away by another of the church’s ushers, big doe eyes looked directly into mine. Shocked, my mouth dropped open and I blinked rapidly, perhaps trying to blink away what I was seeing, because the face that looked back at me was the mirror image of my own!

 

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Happy Release Day, Anne Kane! @AnneKane

Anne Kane lives in the beautiful Okanagan Valley with a bouncy little rescue dog who’s breed defies description, a cantankerous Himalayan cat, and too many fish to count. She spent many years trying to fit in and act normal, but finally gave up the effort. She started writing romance in 2008, and her fate was sealed when she won a publishing contract with Red Sage Publishing and just a month later Changeling Press accepted her first submission. Since then she had published more than thirty stories in a variety of sub-genres, all with a happily ever after.
Her hobbies, when she’s not playing with the characters in her head, include kayaking, hiking, swimming, playing guitar, singing and of course, reading.

Anne’s work

Happy Release Day!

Title – A Deliciously Bothersome Cyborg
Genre – Romance / Scifi
Release date – November 3rd

 

She wants him. He wants her. Now they just need to agree on the ground rules.

Liam is the most deliciously bothersome cyborg Emma has ever met. Like most of his kind, he’s arrogant, opinionated, and amazingly good in bed. When he rescues her from a kidnap attempt, he decides he needs more time to get to know her so he heads to the far side of the galaxy instead of taking her home.

Along the way they pick up a furry little creature who turns out to be quite capable of defending itself and are attacked by a ship full of pirates who want to get their hands on the little critter. Life is never dull when a cyborg has you in his sights!

 

Excerpt

51KQDZPM2PL (1)It felt as if an army of nasty little hammer-wielding cyborgs had taken up residence inside her head, and they were an energetic bunch, the blows raining down hard and fast.
Emma opened her eyes a slit, desperately trying to remember where she was, and how she’d gotten there. One thing she was sure of – this wasn’t the bunk on her cute little interplanetary shuttle. It was way too uncomfortable for that.
Despite the fact that she’d just regained consciousness, it felt like she was vertical, in a standing position. She attempted to move, but found she couldn’t. Strange. She really was vertical. Her hands were fastened to the wall above her head. She tugged experimentally, but they didn’t budge.
Mag-lok cuffs? Hadn’t they been outlawed in the last inter-species treaty?
She took a deep breath, willing the pounding in her head to settle down. She needed to be able to think. Maybe the hammer wielding psychos were ready for a coffee break? Or maybe she could have them murdered by a rogue asteroid. It felt like one of those had slammed into her midsection.
$What the hell happened to her?
The last thing she remembered, she’d been on a quick trip to one of the outer rim farming colonies to purchases some herbs for her store. Planet grown herbs were always preferable to the ones raised in the hydroponics labs on the orbital stations. She was pretty sure she hadn’t made it to her destination.
She remembered spotting an anomaly on her star holo-grid, out toward the energy ring that the high council had put in place to deflect incoming space debris. Common sense told her that it was probably a computer glitch, and she’d ignored it in her hurry to get her hands on some of the fresh, planet grown herbs. Try as she might, she couldn’t remember anything else. Maybe she’d been rammed by a bit of rogue space junk?
But that didn’t explain how she’d managed to end up attached to a wall.
A movement to her left caught her attention, and she tensed, turning her head to assess the new threat.
Bad move. Her stomach lurched, threatening to discharge her last meal. She took a deep breath and willed it under control.
“About time you came around. I was starting to think I’d mistakenly captured a pampered cyborg female. Can’t imagine a human female fainting just because she ran low on oxygen. Especially not one as delectable as you.”
A large male stalked into her line of vision. He turned to adjust something on the control panel in front of him and she realized it wasn’t just any male. It was Liam, the most deliciously bothersome cyborg on all of Terras Five. Her traitorous body reacted eagerly to the sight of the one man she’d never been able to forget.
Given the way their last meeting had ended, she supposed she should feel scared, but all she could manage was pissed off. He’d disappeared without so much as a goodbye. She might have understood if he’d been called away on some kind of cyborg emergency, but he hadn’t bothered to call and explain. He could have called. He should have called, damn it!
Hoping she looks at least half as angry as she felt, she glared at him. “You have one hell of a nerve! Now get me down from here.”
He turned and regarded her with cool amusement. “And why would I do that?”
She lifted her brows, her voice dripping ice. Right now, he was much more bothersome than delicious. “Because I’m a citizen of the Alliance and if you don’t I’m going to kick your ass ten ways to Venus when I manage to free myself.”
“Well then of course I’ll let you down.” He turned back to his control panel. “Just as soon as I get myself out of the mess you’ve landed us in.”
“Mess I landed us in? What the hell are you talking about? I was peacefully going about my business, last I recall. How I managed to land in your none too gentle care should be an interesting story. I’ll be sure the interplanetary council hears all about it as soon as we’re planet side.”
She tried folding her hand as small as it went, but she still couldn’t slide it out of the cuffs. She suspected Liam had managed to program them to sense movement and tighten accordingly. His cyborg implants made working with tech almost instinctive, something else she found annoying about him. Well that, and the way her body responded to the sight of his well-muscled torso.
“The Tra’an would never have risked slipping inside the energy ring if you hadn’t thrown yourself at them, which necessitated me coming out of hiding to save your sorry little human ass. Couldn’t very well let them get their claws on a tasty little morsel like you. ”His gaze flickered over her. “Especially since I haven’t finished with you yet.”

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Meet Meiah Shaun @MeiahShaun

Meiah Shaun pens fiction, non-fiction and plays with faith-based messages linking her personal life experiences with spiritual life lessons. She is a graduate of LeTourneau University. She’s a native of Orange, Texas and currently resides in the Dallas, Texas area. Her anticipated new release “Burnt Orange” is an inspirational coming-of-age story. In addition to writing, she’s an avid reader, a foodie, loves flowers and shoe shopping.

Meiah’s work

Title: Burnt Orange
Genre: African American Christian Fiction
Release date: September 28, 2017

A coming-of-age story of Erin and Erika, Texas twins in an abusive home in a town segregated by white and black color lines, who are wounded by the revealing of a shocking family secret and long to escape their circumstances and erase what they have been labeled.

 

Excerpt

Burnt Orange 9.8.17I enjoy viewing maps and the globes at school as it makes me dream. I live in the largest state of Texas, along the muggy and swampy Gulf coast. The summers are really hot and humid here. Folks call this area of southeast Texas the Golden Triangle, where there’s a large Cajun Texan population. In our Lapland, we have gumbo cook-offs, Cajun festivals, crawfish boils, and zydeco radio. The part of the Golden Triangle that my family lives in is Orange, Texas.
The year is 1991, and majority of our small town is segregated. We have pecan and moss trees canopying the paved streets. But somehow, the town was named Orange, like the fruit. You’ll hear some black folks call our town the Fruit.
Occasionally, I see prints of burnt orange and yellow tints in the late-evening hazy skyline far above me. Black birds fly high above, embracing the sunset, while crickets chirped throughout the night. Traffic parades through our neighborhood street every evening, with homeboys blasting the latest rap music rumbling in their dashboards and trunks. Some of our neighbors are to blame for most of the congested traffic. Our neighbors keep a lot of company over at their house, but their folks never block our driveway. I think that’s ’cause most people around here think my momma is the police ’cause she works at the county jailhouse.
Around here, blacks and white folks work and go to school together, but they hardly play together outside of that. There’s racial tension, and the railroad tracks divide our town along class status and color lines. We live on the east side of the tracks.
I’ve heard black folks complaining about how mean the white people are here in Orange especially in nearby Vidor, which has a history of the Klan. My folks believe some whites are mean too. They talk about how whites work hard to keep black folks down. Daddy complains about not finding a good job ’cause of the white man.
To me, if it’s that bad, then we all need to move away from here! There are a million places on this earth where we can live. It’s just that simple to me. I see myself living a new life away from here. I dream of living in a big city with crowded streets packed with all walks of life, tall skyscrapers, and the everyday hustle and bustle. But it’s just a dream I see every day in my head.
“Erin and Erika, get up and do yo’ chores! Da dishes are dirty, and fold up my clothes!” Daddy yells at the top of his lungs.
“In a minute, I wanna finish watching my show.”
Daddy stumbles over me and then steps over Erika, who is sitting Indian style on the living room floor. He turns the television off during the last five minutes of our program. It’s our Saturday off, and we love to watch Teen Summit on
BET. He never wants us to enjoy ourselves at anything.
Erika jumps up and runs to the TV. As I’m standing up to my feet, Daddy pushes Erika, and she falls into my chest.

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