Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The saga of a broken mind #MFRWHooks

Love is a mystery ... an indecipherable   MYSTERY 

#Love #Betrayal #Vengeance

A compelling backward journey through a broken mind.


Blurb:

Paige Lyman, an accomplished psychiatrist, is on the verge of madness but she doesn’t know it yet. The madness begins when she gets it into her head to write her memoirs. As her brilliant mind assembles bits and pieces of her life for the book, ugly skeletons, long forgotten in the closet, rear their heads.

It had all begun with a simple act of love. And love, for her, was a blond-haired Irish boy named Bill, so when Bill abandoned her for priesthood, the world around her collapsed. Seized by a different passion—vengeance—she seeks her proverbial pound of flesh in the beds of various priests.
But that was before she met Stern W, a medical researcher who swept into her life like a hurricane and married her. And they lived happily after until he died in a helicopter crash and she discovered the startling truth about who he really was. Now, transformed from a psychiatrist to a patient, Paige is saddled with a damning memory that she must decipher to be free.
Take Back the Memory is the saga of her compelling backward journey through her own life on a psychotherapist’s couch.


The Hook - {Book Excerpt}

       The door of the consulting studio swung open at 9.00 a.m. and Dr. Wilson, a slender, pipe-smoking clinical psychologist stuck his hoary head in the doorway. His face lit up at the sight of Paige sitting cross-legged in the cozy waiting room.
        “Hello Dr. Lyman,” he smiled courteously, “I had no idea you were here already.”
        Paige glanced up, her face a frozen scowl, and gazed at him. She had expected them to be on a first-name basis this morning; the unexpected formality fazed her quite a bit.  
        “Good morning, Dr. Wilson,” she said wryly. “Sorry I’m early, a habit, I guess.”
        “Oh, that’s all right,” he said quickly, the smile on his lips waning. “I’ll be with you in a minute.”
         She nodded and looked away as he disappeared back into the consulting room. Left alone, she gazed across the lounge. The psychotherapist’s studio was illuminated by the sun’s rays through an opened Venetian blind, and the balmy sunlit ambiance fascinated her. 
         “Like the cheery whisper of an admirer after a heartbreak,” she said wistfully and rose.
          As she did so, echoes of distant traffic momentarily brought her to a state of mental alertness. Palms sweaty, Paige walked to the window and opened it. She gazed, mesmerized, at the sun-drenched avenue on the breezy late September morning and noted the peak time for fall foliage in New York was weeks away yet. She closed the window.
Shrugging, she walked back to her seat and plopped down. Her hand trembled slightly on the black zebra-print clutch bag in her lap.
“Darn,” she mumbled, her thoughts turning to her daughter who had convinced her to come.
“I shouldn’t be here, Diane,” she whispered savagely. “I just shouldn’t.”
Anxious to gain control of herself, she heaved a sigh and leaned back on the comfortable davenport, puckering her lips.
She was wearing a rose-tinted shirt with a low-cut neckline that revealed abundant cleavage. A cherry, handcrafted silk scarf encircled her neck. Her knee-high black boots matched the color of her fringed skirt, accentuating its beauty. Angry with herself for letting Diane convince her to come, she started at the sound of a latch unfastening as the door of the consulting room swung open again.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Dr. Wilson said from the doorway and then walked to where she was sitting.
Paige rose slowly. Her eyes on his face, she smoothed her skirt and noticed his courteous smile had not waned completely. Without altering his gait, Dr. Wilson thrust his hand in front of her. Paige took the outstretched hand and shook it gently.
“Can I come in now?”
“Yes, please do,” he said, gesturing with his hand.
Clean-shaven, he wore no tie. His fawn-striped shirt, unlike hers, was buttoned up. Expensive clothing testified to a successful practice. He wore black semi-brogues and walked with a slight shuffle. Paige followed him into his office, full of expectation.
“Please sit down,” he indicated a black, buckskin couch. “Would you like some coffee?”
“No, thank you.”
Paige sat on the familiar couch, and as she gazed at him from the corner of her eyes on the chair that should be hers, the magnitude of the moment escaped her.
In the magnifying silence of the room, Dr. Wilson sat composed on his standard, comfortable chair, the tip of his pen held against his lip the way men who smoked would usually hold a pipe. His eyes remained on her, and hers were on his. For several seconds their eyes locked; at first warily, like two professionals trying to find a meeting ground, a starting point.
“Diane made me come,” she said, frowning. “Frankly, I don’t know why I’m here.”
“You’re here to talk to me,” he said, crossing one leg over the other. “I guess both as a colleague and as a patient, and I’ll love to listen to you as much as I’ve loved reading your work.”
She uncrossed her legs and quickly re-crossed them, and then she leaned back on the couch, her fringed skirt shifting upwards. She noticed his eyes, unlike those of most men, remained on her face and not on her legs.
“Don’t patronize me. Even my daughter thinks I’m going mad. Don’t lie to me. You think so, too, but I can still sit on that chair and listen to patients.”
“You certainly can,” he responded indulgently. “You were one of the best. However, we both know things aren’t the way they used to be. If you were on this chair, the first thing you would tell the patient would be to admit their situation and talk to you about it.” He paused a moment. “I think you have admitted that much within you,” he said without looking at her. “That’s why you allowed Diane to convince you to come. So, let’s talk, my friend. Let’s talk about the situation.”
Paige regarded him suspiciously. Let’s talk about the situation. Talk about the situation? Dr. Wilson’s words jangled in her head like the howl of a campanile. What was there to talk about?
Irritation rose inside her like the beginning of a toothache. Yet, she knew he was right. Things were not the way they used to be. In the course of her checkered life and career, especially in recent years, nothing was the same. It hurt her quite a bit the way everyone seemed to think she had gone mad, the way she had been transformed from psychiatrist to patient.
“Be frank with me,” she said. “Do you think I’m crazy?”
“Aren’t we all?” he laughed mirthlessly. “Come on, this is not about you being crazy.”
“What is it about?”
“It’s about you and me having a nice little talk so we can understand how things are.”
She was silent for a while. She wished he could give her a reason to scream. She wanted desperately to scream at someone this morning, so why not this psychotherapist with calm, upper-class manners? After what seemed like a long time, she realized, not without some satisfaction, that he was determined to be courteous with her this morning.
“I’m at a loss,” she whined and turned on the couch to face away from him. “I don’t know where to begin. I don’t even know what to talk about. I mean, there are so many things to explore.”
“Let’s start with the endearing subject of your book. Are you convinced you want to tell it as it is?”
“Yes.”
“Everything?”
“Every little detail.”
He watched her calmly. “I know you’ve never been afraid to bare your mind, but between me and you, is there any aspect of this memoir that disturbs you a bit?”
“Yes,” she turned and smiled at him. “But an autobiography has to be frank. What’s the point of writing it if you are going to shy away from the ugly part? I can’t keep it all inside. I want to let it out.”
“Very well,” he said, his eyes agreeing with her. “Maybe we should talk about some of the traumatizing aspects of the experiences you have recalled and want to write about.”
She gazed at him without a word. Her mind began to tumble backward slowly, very slowly.
“I think it all began with a simple act of love,” she said at length, her voice surprisingly nostalgic. “A simple act of love,” she emphasized, “between me and Bill when we were kids.”
“I’m listening.”
She sat upright on the couch. “My life is like a soap opera,” she muttered, grimacing. “A distressing mélange spiced with love, heartbreak, and vengeance. It will silence your thoughts.”
“I take it you loved this Bill.”
“Don’t interrupt me,” she snapped at him and the psychotherapist pursed his lips but did not smile. “What Bill and I shared wasn’t a sensual scream, okay? We were kids.”
“Okay,” he mumbled, nodding.
“We grew up together in Kenya,” she told him. “We were on an unending safari. Bill was a handsome Irish boy. You must understand, there weren’t many white boys around to connect to, so I fell desperately in love with him and thought I would marry him someday.” She paused and stared at the rug on the floor of the consulting room, her thoughts a riot.
She hated to remember that back then while she was nursing her infantile dreams of matrimony, Bill’s father was formulating a different program for his son. “Into the service of God you’ll go,” he had told the boy. “A priest, that’s what you are going to be.” Paige glanced up sharply and thoughts jangled in her head. It might have been different, she mused, if Bill had been a Protestant Irish and not Catholic.
She gazed at Dr. Wilson’s shoes as memories flooded her mind. She tried to speak
and her voice broke, but the psychotherapist’s gentle manners soothed her. She and Bill had attended the same school for expatriate kids in Nairobi, she explained. After the boy’s primary school education, his father bundled him into the junior seminary in Ireland and the world was never the same again. With all contact between them lost, she willed herself to be heartbroken for long, sad years while Bill went on to earn a degree in Theology and was subsequently ordained a priest, or so she thought.
“Did you eventually recover from this heartbreak?” Dr. Wilson said.
“Maybe I did, in my way.”
“What happened when you recovered?” His voice was wary.
Her eyes didn’t meet his, “A different passion engulfed me then.”
“What kind of passion?”
“Maybe you’ll call it vengeance.”     
“Was it vengeance?” Dr. Wilson, like her, uncrossed and re-crossed his legs.
“Yes. A strange kind though.”
Their eyes locked. “A strange kind of vengeance, you say?”
Paige nodded and looked away. “It was priesthood that caused Bill to jilt me,” she said in a defensive voice. “So, I figured a settling of scores might heal me.” She paused, sighed, and then spoke. “I decided to wage a very personal war against priests.”
Dr. Wilson narrowed his eyes. “You mean, like secretly assassinating priests?”
“No,” she frowned, staring at her skirt.
“But a personal war...”
“A personal war that made nonsense of their vow, if you know what I mean.”
“Not really.”
She gritted her teeth. “I seduced them, damn it, and then I made them suffer.”
Wilson gaped at her, “You seduced priests to get back at Bill for abandoning you for priesthood?”
“Yes.” She looked up at him now. “But that is only a small part of the story.”

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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Greatest Gift #MFRWhooks

Electrifying Poetry Collection


#Poetry #Odes #LoveSongs


A #MustRead for anyone who has ever experienced love, pain, defeat, or joy...


An International Book Awards Finalist -



Blurb:

Flashes of Emotion is a book of romantic poetry, considered both timely and timeless. The selection allows us to tap into the poet’s insights on a wide variety of topics from life and love to death and drudgery. It is contemporary poetry with a classical, electrifying edge, highlighting a lively, refreshing, and innovative style.

Amazon Hall of Fame says the poems glow with musical invention and the manner in which the poet elects to place his words on the page enhances the meaning and the beauty of these works... Liquid flowing music from a poet who understands passion. His eloquent poems speak to each of us as private as a whispered conversation. Brilliant.

And the Kindle Book Review says the poet’s style may take a bit of getting used to, but that voice produced several favorites in my notes. 5-stars it is, and extremely recommended.

The Hook - {Poem Excerpt}


Autumn in Florence
is a mélange of the elements of charm,
a yawn away from the steady shivers lying beyond
At dusk, a wistful stroll along eclectic memoried boulevards,   
with echoes of church bells in tow
unveils a canny sense of things
A nostalgic glimpse of old things,
old people, old places,
bequeathing their secrets unreservedly,
at the end of a tacky, melancholic day

It is autumn in Florence…   
even the blind can tell,
for a whiff of that dry Tuscan air,
disguised as a romantic breath on the cheek
now wafts soothingly, alluringly,
like the caressing whisper of a lover at dawn
The gaiety, the gossip, 
the veritable quality of the decline of the year,
all of it a mishmash of this season of gloom,
and caught in the midst of it, you and me,
‘cause in our souls, a conscious dread had sprung      
                       
It is autumn in Florence…
even a tot can tell
from the inexorable surge of parched foliage and withering flora
now palpable like a beauty queen wilting with the passage of time
as an impotent sun looms
with a staggering degree of poetic frenzy, like a bad omen
over that little piazza that I call lair and you call refuge  
Jaded, like the dream that steered us here
nadir, like our possibilities, and poised to snap,
like the fragile thread holding our sanity together

It is autumn in Florence…
even the inebriated can tell,
for the Tuscan sky is daubed with gray-hued awnings
a kaleidoscope of waning streaks, epitomizing
the artistic finesse of the heavens,
a subtle connotation, a riveting verity that
four times a year the seasons change without fail,
that now leaves must turn sallow and plummet, and flowers must wither
And with them, everything except us,
must leap beyond their prime

It is autumn in Florence…  
Spanish edition
even a troll can tell,
from that lingering mystery of vitality and lethargy,
so exquisite, so sophisticated
which no longer obscures the daunting haze that strains the air
In the flush and bloom of early womanhood, you …
radiant like a new moon on a starlit night
cunningly oblivious of the secrets of my tears
paying no heed to the disheartening dread that swathes me,                  
for in this season, with every leaf that falls,
and every flower that withers, your days are numbered

It is autumn in Florence…
even an obtuse can tell,
from the stunning sight of Fiesole transformed into violet by the magic of twilight
And now, here we are—you and me—ensnared by a dream
unraveled by a foe, invincible and vile
like injured rebels ferried home to roost
Desolate hands too volatile to reach
ardent eyes too doleful to watch
as your frailty eats you up with delicious cruelty 
the way a vulture does a prey
causing every fantasy within the limits of our amorous deeds  
to evaporate, along with the last breath in your lungs

It is autumn in Florence… 
even dreamers can tell, for
the vestiges these bleak nights amass were once stacks of hope
on which now abide memories undimmed 
A better friend than you life never gave  
you were the bloom that autumn failed to erode 
the warmth that winter couldn’t pinch from me
the wind that summer could not smother
the flare that’ll forever be my spring
But more than all this, my love, 
You were life’s
Greatest gift
To
Me.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

High Stakes & Scandals in High Places #MFRWhooks


The Conspiracy of Silence

#Mystery #Suspense #Thriller

A depiction of the life-and-death struggle of a gutsy female lawyer who goes to great lengths to save her lover from a murder rap.

Blurb:

The conscience of a town steeped in sexism, vanity, and hypocrisy is pricked by the brutal murder of a mysterious woman in a park in Los Angeles. But the shock is transformed into a steamy, seductive scandal when the body turns out to be that of Susan Whitaker, the flamboyant wife of the governor of California.
Soon, a dazzlingly intricate shuffle of volatile links lead the police to the delicate theory of a secret lover/blackmailer, and to the indictment of Benjamin Carlton, Hollywood’s most influential black celebrity. 
Then curious things begin to happen when Carlton’s ambitious girlfriend, Rita Spencer suddenly unearths the shocking secret that Susan Whitaker did not, in fact, exist. She little realizes however that her discovery of this colossal fraud is a mere curtain-raiser to a chilling world of ugly skeletons dating back to the assassination of a U.S. senator in a Washington hotel sauna, skeletons connected to riveting sex scandals in high places, skeletons the FBI and political king-makers will kill for...

The Hook - {Book Excerpt}


The dim figure lurked in the dusking patch of tangled shrubbery until darkness enveloped him. Then he choked and swore and frothed at the mouth, and went down on all fours. After a while, he clambered out of the shrubbery like a ghost, picked himself up, and wiped his hand across his brow. Tall, with an athletic build, he covered his hands with fleeced gloves and masked his face with a hood. He had a definite presence in spite of the aura of repulsion that swelled around him like foul breath. For a moment, he stood in death-like silence in a navy hooded sweatshirt, a pair of matching pants, and black running shoes. His dark brown eyes studied his environment like a bloodhound determined to unearth a misplaced object without losing its sense of smell.
A short distance away, small cylindrical light bulbs cast an eerie glow over the lush greenery of Glennon Park, capturing its beauty in a halo of kaleidoscopic brilliance. And then a throng of men in fancy tee shirts and short pants intermixed with women in jeans and sleeveless tops whisked into view. The dim figure, hearing their muffled voices over the sound of the fountain’s cascading waters, stiffened. Like him, the fountain stood in an unlit area of the park. Surrounded by luxuriant shrubs, it was the place where randy youths who often exploited the shadows for romantic mischief loved to loiter.

But on this particular night, there were no lovers necking by the fountain, something else had taken their place. A black diamond Cadillac stood beside the fountain. The unusual sight caused the dim figure’s hands to shake with excitement. Cars were not allowed that far into the park, so whatever fantasies within the limits of human accomplishment the Cadillac’s driver had conceived, this was the wrong night for it, he mused. This will be my last murder, he decided, the climax of a long, enterprising career as the greatest hitman of all time. He was a killer so efficient and so elusive that even the FBI nicknamed him Shadow of Death for his uncanny ability to dissolve into a penumbra after every hit.

He looked up and recognized the wonderful head of hair and the slender, sensual neck as the lone occupant of the Cadillac appeared in silhouette against the fountain. His pulse quickened at once. He mopped his brow with a handkerchief and contemplated the lady’s mesmerizing beauty. Thinking of her now as a victim seemed odd to him. He had loved her once; in fact, he still loved her, a reality that put him in a quandary—a lethal clash between his obsession and his survival instinct. The survival instinct, he knew, had to win, for between them now stood the only thing that love could not subdue—a dark secret.
The Shadow of Death moved with stealth in the semi-darkness toward the Cadillac, his hands shaking with excitement with every step he took.  His only accomplice was his own shadow, perceptible to no eye but his. It seemed innocuous even to him, like a specter, only there to see, not to arbitrate. It moved when the killer moved and stopped when he did, like a minion with no initiative of its own, an android programmed to repeat the action of its mentor, as only a ghost would, only to be saddled thereafter with the damning knowledge of the truth, a truth that would elude the rest of the world—an everlasting witness, a ghost that would never die.
There was deafening silence inside the Cadillac. All around it, darkness closed in as slowly and unfalteringly as the approaching evil. The killer’s face was impassive, his heartbeat regular, but his muscles were taut as he strained to open the driver’s door with his gloved hand.
She did not see him, could not see him, because she was leaning face downward on the steering wheel.
Gripped by a morbid fascination with death, he stared down at her, the roaring tension inside him silenced by his cold determination. Everything would depend on this moment, this act, he mulled over, staring around the fountain. He wanted no interruption and there was none. He reached for her throat, giving her no chance to react.
There must be no error, he steeled himself against the guilt he knew was coming. His pressure on her throat was fierce. Time, thoughts, fear, regrets, all ceased to exist as an eternity seemed to roll by in a matter of seconds. And then relief flooded his being.

It was over, he almost smiled. It bore the mark of his usual professional touch—smooth, fast, painless, and very peaceful...

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

#MFRWhooks: Young, Carefree and Broke…

 A black man, a white girl, and a deceptive job offer


#RomanticThriller #Interracial #Blackmail 






Femi, a young, black graduate with a First Class degree in Chemistry, has no long-term ambitions until he meets Jessica Rhodes, a blonde exchange student from San Diego. When they land two spectacular job offers within the first week of graduation, their bleak honeymoon is transformed into a dream. Egged on by a free trip to New York to evaluate one offer and a 30-day grace period to accept the other, they are surprised to find their future dangling over a multi-billion dollar cliff-hanger as they hop across the Atlantic. What they don't know is that undisclosed details of the deal will not only pitch them against each other but will also drag them to the place where dreams end and nightmares begin. 
Will their fragile marriage survive the greed, the captivating allure of Black Gold, and that vile, ancient tradition that seeks to determine who should be married and to whom? 

Blurb

He’s black. She’s white. And they think nothing of it until he takes her home...

The scene where the young man takes his new American bride back to visit his parents without having first informed them of her existence is riveting, agonizing, and devastating as he runs unsuspectingly into a titanic clash between his parents’ traditional values and his European education, and this passage stands out as a gem in 𝐁𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐆𝐨𝐥𝐝.

The Hook - {Book Excerpt}

The splendid country-style bistro named Replay Café was located on Rue Grimaldi in the heart of Monte Carlo. It was a chic spot for high rollers and charming tourists, and its best-selling drink was the champagne-based l’apèritif Stephanie, a compulsive choice for the glamorous people who patronized it.
This evening—the last day of Femi and Jessica’s short-lived honeymoon—the bistro was packed, as usual, with many of its patrons waiting in line for a chance to enter. Notwithstanding the long queue, the honeymooning couple successfully bluffed their way in and found a table at the rear of the café beside a group of young, extravagant tourists, who were guzzling the expensive, sought-after drink and chattering away in French.
No sooner had they settled in than a waiter stepped forward, making them exchange gloomy glances. “Should we stay?”
Jessica’s gaze dropped to the fancy tablecloth. Teeth gritted, she sat still, unsure of what to do.
Femi gazed at her in trepidation, embarrassment oozing from every pore of his skin the way sweat seeps through a runner’s shirt. Short on cash, he realized he couldn’t afford two glasses of the drink though he was eager to treat her to it.
The waiter reached their table. “Hi,” she smiled.
Jessica lifted her face. “L’apèritif Stephanie,” she said in a steady voice. “One glass.”
The waiter glanced sideways at Femi, nodded and turned without speaking.
“We can afford one glass, right?” Jessica mumbled, averting her gaze. “I think it’s better than walking out in embarrassment, don’t you agree?”
“I agree,” Femi’s gaze remained on her face. “One day…” he said.
Jessica waved him to silence. “We’ll share it,” she offered, reaching for his hand on the table. “I understand, okay? Now, don’t give me that look.”
His gaze moved from her face to their clasped hands. He grimaced. “Okay.”
They lapsed into silence until the drink arrived. The surrounding noise increased. Gleeful laughter filled the bistro. Several couples, including new arrivals, chatted, laughed, and kissed. In silence, the duo sipped the drink through two straws, listening to the loud chatter at the nearby table with increasing discomfort.
“It’s the eve of our D-day…” Femi whispered, watching Jessica over his straw.
“Don’t say that,” she rebuked him in a mild voice. “It’s just the beginning. We have two offers on the table; we only have to decide which one to accept.”
Femi exhaled. “We know nothing about this VenChemical Group except that it is based in New York and its chairman is Italian,” he paused and regarded her. “If we accept their offer, we don’t quite know where they’ll send us.”
“New York,” Jessica said without hesitation.
“I doubt it. I was interviewed for their Africa Operations Unit, I’m not sure that’s based in New York.”
Jessica sipped the champagne-based drink and gazed thoughtfully at him. “Well, we’ll be in New York in the first week of your employment, isn’t that what they said? The orientation…”
“Yes, yes,” he nodded. “The orientation program comes first and then the moment of truth.”
“You aren’t considering the NNPC offer first, are you?”
Femi puffed his cheeks in thought.
“I mean, they gave you until the end of the month to respond…”
“I know,” he averted his gaze, pondering the job offer from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation—NNPC—a seemingly simple decision that was somehow enmeshed in the complexity of his craving for foreign currency.
Jessica regarded him. “If you choose the NNPC, I’ll understand,” she hesitated for a fraction of a second. “It’ll be like a homecoming for you, right?” She breathed. “You know I’ll live with you anywhere but if you think about it, the VenChemical Group is offering you a better condition of service and they’ll be paying you in dollars.”
Femi did not respond.
“Listen, seeing as we have until the end of the month to respond to the NNPC, why don’t we play all the cards?”
He looked up. “You mean, going to New York tomorrow to assess the VenChemical offer?”
“Right,” Jessica beamed. “After all it’s an all-expenses-paid trip. If it works out, we stay, if not we go to Lagos and take up the NNPC job.”
Their eyes locked.
She softened her face when he smiled. “Would you have acted differently if I were the one with two job offers on the table?”
“Nope,” he shook his head and a broad smile crossed his face.

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Please take a few minutes to check out the other Book Hooks this week!