by Deatri King-Bey
I could not imagine social services coming into my home and taking my children. That’s a horror story, not a romance. Or is it? I’ve been known to take non-conventional themes and spin them into romances.
In my new romantic suspense, Gina Guy’s daughter witnessed a murder. Now the murderer is after the little girl. Child Protective Services is manipulated into the picture, and Jarvis Martin, a manager within the agency, steps in to protect the Guys’ rights.
From the moment Gina meets Jarvis, she feels she can depend on him, but life has proven to her that the only person she can count on is Gina. Will they be able to stop the murderer? Can Jarvis earn her trust and love?
Here’s a little sample:
He squinted at the seven-story condominium complex. She thinks by moving into a secured building she can protect you from me. His gaze traveled along the building and settled on the third floor, second unit from the right. Humph, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
Brenda ran out of the building.
Quickly, he ducked behind a tree. Reveling in a surge of satisfaction, he returned his focus to the third story window. Soon all of my worries will be over. Whistling a happy tune, he walked away.
* * *
The superintendent flipped through his keys, unwilling to select the correct one. “I assure you, she didn’t leave her child. I would know. There must be a mistake. Miss Guy is one of my best tenants. Someone made a prank call.”
Arms folded over her ample chest, Mrs. Clark tapped her foot and waited beside the police officer. “I hope you’re correct, but someone reported a baby being left alone for hours, so we must investigate.”
“Benda!” he heard the voice of a little girl on the opposite side of the door cry. It sounded like Tiara, Miss Guy’s daughter. “Where you at? I ascared.”
“Hurry.” Mrs. Clark pressed herself against the door. “Don’t worry, honey. Someone's here.”
The superintendent’s fat, fumbly fingers worked the keys double-time to unlock the door. Something wasn’t right. Miss Guy wouldn’t leave Tiara alone. Maybe Miss Guy had fainted or was injured. He opened the door.
Mrs. Clark rushed into the apartment toward the screaming toddler and tumbled over the edge of the coffee table. Tiara stopped screaming, spun around and ran into a bedroom.
The officer helped the social worker stand. “Are you hurt?”
Mrs. Clark rubbed her shin. “It smarts, but I’ll be fine. Thank you.” She limped into the bedroom with the others following close behind.
Tiara was nowhere in sight.
“Come out, honey,” said the social worker.
She pointed at the twin-sized princess canopy bed. The officer knelt and lifted the comforter to check under the bed. No little girls.
The small bedroom only contained one other potential hiding place. The case manager searched through the closet, but still no child.
Confused, the superintendent sat on the dresser. It creaked under his weight. “Well, she couldn’t have disappeared.” A faint groan caught his ear. He nodded toward the space between the dresser and the wall. “I think we have mice.”
* * *
Fear raced through Gina’s veins as she dragged Brenda into the back office for privacy. “What do you mean they took her? Who took her? Calm down and tell me where my baby is.”
Shaking her head, Brenda rocked back and forth. “I… I saw the police and panicked. I’m so sorry. Please don’t be mad at me. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”
She grabbed Brenda by the shoulders and shook. “If you do not tell me where my baby is this instant, I swear I’ll kill you.”
* * *
Hollering, Tiara darted for the pile of blocks that sat on the middle of the toddler table in Observation Room three.
Helen Clark shook her head as she lowered herself to the couch. “Play with the blocks like a good girl.”
Jarvis watched the little hellion through the double mirror. Knowing she hadn’t finished yet, he grinned. Her screams when they’d entered the office were what had drawn his attention. This child had a serious set of lungs on her.
Now quiet and calm, Tiara carefully sorted through the blocks. Jarvis was rarely wrong where children were concerned, but it looked as if he’d been wrong this time. Tiara had found something more interesting than screaming her head off. Meticulously, she measured the blocks, then selected the largest one and threw it at the case manager.
Shocked, he rushed for the door as the block soared through the air and slammed square into Helen’s nose.
“Leave me ‘lone you mean o’ crow.”
Holding her nose, Helen cursed the child and stormed out as he entered.
“I hate you, you mean o’ meanie!”
Standing in the doorway, Jarvis remained silent. He’d deal with Helen for cursing in the presence of a child later. Tiara stopped yelling. Her eyes traveled from his shoes, along his legs, torso, then she craned her neck way back to see his face. Over six feet, he knew he was huge to the little girl. Hands shaking, she held up a block.
Arms folded over his chest, he raised a brow. “If you throw that at me, I’ll throw it back.”
She swallowed hard, then dropped the block, crossed her arms over her chest and raised her brow, impersonating his stance. “My mommy gonna get that mean o’ crow.”
“I’m sure she will.” He stifled a grin. “Let’s clean this mess.”
She stood still, blinking away the tears, fighting the oncoming cry. “You find my mommy? She doesn’t know where I’m at. She’ll be ascared.”
“She’ll be afraid.” He lowered himself to her level and held his hand out. “I’ll find your mommy.”
She ran to him, jumped into his arms and hugged him tightly. “I like you.”
“I like you, too.” Tired of the neglect, he shook his head. He became a social worker to protect children. To give them the childhood he had in a loving family. All children deserved to be loved. “What’s your name?” He released her. Though he already knew her name, he wanted to continue breaking the ice with her.
She stepped away and curtsied. “Tiawa Wose Guy.”
“Jarvis Neal Martin at your service.” Heart smiling, he placed his hand on his chest and bowed his head slightly. “You may call me Jarvis.” He settled on the floor beside her and helped pile the blocks on the Big Bird toddler table. “Do you know where I can find your mommy?”
Tugging on his arm, she tried to pull him toward the door. “You go get her? She’s at work. With the pancakes.”
Lifting Tiara, he stood and placed her on his hip. “How old are you?”
“Twee. Go get Mommy. She’s at the pancake place.” She pointed at the door. “She doesn’t know I’m here with you. You go get her. I’ll show you. That mean o’ crow took me. My mommy’s gonna get her.”
He walked to the front desk. “Where’s Helen? I need the file on Tiara.”
Mary, the office assistant, smiled at Tiara. “This can’t possibly be the little terror who came in kicking and screaming earlier. Oh no. This young lady is much too beautiful.” Tiara hid her face in the crook of Jarvis’s neck and giggled. “She’s in the process of being told off by,” she nodded toward Tiara, “a certain young lady’s mother. Helen may need to be saved. Room six.” Mary took Tiara from Jarvis.
Just what he needed, another substandard parent who didn’t give a darn about her child until the authorities were brought in. He stopped his train of thought. Just because the overwhelming majority of cases he’d seen of late had been proven cases of neglect and abuse, didn’t mean this one was also.
About the author:
When Deatri was six years old, her mother was told that because of Deatri’s dyslexia, she’d probably never learn how to read. At that time it was recommended Deatri partake in a specialized reading curriculum. Unbeknownst to Deatri’s parents, this additional help their daughter would need was actually Deatri being taken out of reading class to sit in the hallway with a tape recorder for a teacher. When Deatri entered the fourth grade at a different school, her parents were terrified to learn their daughter couldn’t read. For years she’d been reciting the bedtime stories to her mother from memory instead of actually reading the written words from the pages.
My have times changed. In 1999, Deatri was a technical writer at a telecommunications company with dreams of joining the publishing world as a content editor and author. Mind made up, she returned to school and soon started as an editorial intern at Third World Press, Inc., one of the oldest independent, African-American owned publishing houses in the world. Shortly thereafter, her skills were recognized, and she became a more permanent fixture at Third World Press, Inc. Though Deatri believes in Third World Press’s mission, fiction is her true love, so in 2004 she began focusing her editing skills on fiction.
Dozens of manuscripts later, she still hasn’t figured out she wasn’t supposed to learn how to read. February 2006, the second half of Deatri’s dream came true with the release of her debut novel Caught Up. In 2008, Deatri won the coveted Emma Award for Best Steamy Romance of the year with her title Whisper Something Sweet. Currently, she is reading, editing, conducting writing workshops, and writing her next novels.
Copyright © Deatri Kiing-Bey. All Rights Reserved