|'Tis'the season for romance...a romance novel that is.|
Here is a Christmas excerpt from my African American Women's fiction novella—His Fact Her Truth:
Several weeks later, Melanie was sweeping her gaze across the green garland and blinking Christmas lights strung in decorative loops over doorways and across the walls of the Shelby Community Center. All of it was the work of famed set designer, Rick Rivera, who Melanie had managed to hire for the decor. She took it all in as she swayed and hummed along to “Joy to the World,” played by the Shelby wind ensemble and sung by a melodious choir wearing crisp red robes.
The song ended, and Melanie wished everyone she passed, “Happy Holidays,” as she wandered over to the evergreen, five times the height and girth of most Christmas trees, with shiny red balls, five times the size of most ornaments, hanging from its feathery branches. She breathed in the fresh, spicy pine fragrance as she gazed at all the boxes full of toys for Shelby’s underprivileged children.
Jeremiah hadn’t been able to make it. But all of Melanie’s hard work on the committee for the annual holiday soiree and charity drive paid off. She strolled over to the buffet table wishing everyone she saw, “Happy Holidays,” as she inhaled the savory and sweet aromas of the Christmas feast, The spread included fruitcakes, gingerbread men, powdered sugar snow scene cakes, cherry pies, cookies covered in red and green sugar, mincemeat pies, sweet potato casseroles, mashed potatoes, ambrosia, green bean casseroles, succulent carved turkeys, hams, and roast beef, hot chocolate, fruit punch., and the desert she’d made—a red velvet cake.
As she poured herself a glass of wassail punch, someone came up behind her, breath hot against her neck. A whiff of his musky aftershave told her it was Caleb.
He whispered in her ear, “Meet me outside. I have to talk to you now.”
The tingling in the pit of her belly at the sound of his raspy whisper reminded her how much she’d missed him. She spun around in time to glimpse Caleb dashing out the side door to the courtyard.
Melanie looked around to see that no one was watching, then followed him. Outside, she clutched her shoulders against the chill as she stepped up to him.
“I didn’t know why you stopped replying to my texts. It drove me crazy. I was afraid something had happened to you or that your husband had found out about us,” Caleb said.
“That was wrong of me.” She slowly brushed her hand across her head. “I should have explained. But I didn’t know how to tell you. I felt if I tried to talk to you about breaking it off, I’d change my mind.” Standing next to him, she couldn’t ignore the rush of sultry heat he exuded.
“What is it you couldn’t tell me? The reason you wanted to say goodbye? Is it that you don’t like me? I know better than that. I could tell by the way you kissed me that you’re as mad for me as I am for you.”
“You’re right. It wasn’t you. It was me…and my family. Not just Jeremiah, but Ava, and my father, and mother. I couldn’t stand it if they ever found out about us.”
“You should have at least shown me the respect of saying goodbye to me. Of telling me you had changed your mind.”
Her heart hammered. “I handled it badly. I mean, I felt the only thing to do was to avoid you as best I could.” While she desperately tried to explain the ghosting, her longing for him rose in a swoop of intense passion. The separation from him had her yearning for his touch, his kiss…more than ever.
“You said yourself, we keep running into each other at community events.” Caleb shrugged, and his lips curled into a wry smile. “Shelby’s a small town. Avoiding each other is hard.”
“You’re right.” She slowly swept her gaze down his tall, virile body. “I suppose it was just a matter of time before we ended up at the same community event.” As she looked him in the eye, her breath grew shallow. “And, I didn’t mean to disrespect you. I was confused. Now, I see that I should have been upfront with you.”
“So, that’s it? Our relationship is over before it even began?”
“I thought so, but now…what’s happening here is stronger than I am.”
“What are you saying?” Caleb’s brows arched.
The time she’d spent apart from him only intensified his impact on her emotions. “I have to tell you, I’m ready to get to know you to give us a real chance.” Her admission was dredged from a place beyond logic and reason. The same place the overwhelming urge to rush into his arms and crush her lips against his came from.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” That was all Melanie could say. She couldn’t offer any explanation. Her need for him shocked her. A need she wasn’t strong enough to deny. She’d already tried.