Synopses & Reviews
Mel lit the candle, settled back onto the couch, and assumed the position. Slowly she dipped her chin to her chest, inhaled deeply, and then exhaled as her head rolled back. She repeated this action five times to regulate her breathing before settling into her daily meditation. Repeating her mantra, "I am," Mel waited expectantly to be o ertaken by the deliciously serene feeling of melting within herself.
Just as she began to feel herself slipping deeper into the comforting and familiar void, the shrill ring of the telephone shocked her back into the room. Melanie tried to ignore the interruption, concentrating on her breath and chanting her mantra with added determination.
The phone continued to ring and, surrendering in frustration, Melanie bounded from her seat and pounced on the offensive distraction. By the time she reached the handset, the caller had disconnected. She glanced down at the caller ID. It was a name and number she recognized. It was the same name and number she'd been trying to avoid for weeks.
The six weeks she'd been back in New York, living with Candace on Manhattan's Lower East Side, Melanie had successfully, though painfully, evaded any prolonged communication with Will. When she'd first left D.C., just a week following the disastrous engagement party, he had called or e-mailed at least twice a week, begging for some kind of rationale for her unexplained decision and hasty departure. Mel had put off his requests for clarification with a lame plea for time and space. She wasn't ignoring his outreach to be cruel. Melanie simply didn't know what to say to the man whose dreams she'd shattered.
"I left some clothes on your bed for you tosend to your Mississippi 'kinfolk, '" Candace said, walking into the room dressed in her Saturday workout clothes and carrying a spoon and a pint of coffee Hä agen-Dazs ice cream.
"Thanks. I'm sending their box down this week," Mel said, speaking of the rural family she'd "adopted" through the Box Project, an organization established in 1962 to help fight poverty in America.
"Who was on the phone?"
"Take a wild guess."
"Eventually you're going to have to talk to the boy. You can't go on dodging Will like he's some annoying bill collector."
"I don't know what to say to him, Candy. He wants answers and I don't have any to give him. I really can't talk about this now. I was just getting ready to meditate."
"Not this time, Melo. You'e been holed up in my apartment for weeks refusing to talk to me or your parents and hiding from the one person you really owe an explanation to. I don't get you, Melanie Hitts. You'e snagged a successful, handsome man and you're willing to throw it all away because he had the audacity to buy you a house? What the hell kind of sense does that make?" Candace asked in a tone underscored with irritation.
"The issue is not buying the house, it's the fact that he didn't tell me."
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a surprise supposed to be kept secret?"
"This isn't as simple as being disappointed with some gift. Look at the reality of the situation, Candace. Will and I met in February, got engaged after three months, and were supposed to get married two weeks ago just five months after our first hello. Everything happened so fast -- too fast. Will insisted on a July wedding, my mother was intent on throwing that stupid engagementparty, which was more about her than me, and I was coming backand forth to New York working my butt off on the show house and worrying about my dad the entire time. I didn't have time to really think about all of the ramifications of my decision. It was like I was caught up in the eye of this monster hurricane and the next thing I know I'm standing up in front of a hundred people engaged to a man I barely know," Melanie tried to explain.
"So why call off the engagement -- in public, no less? Why not just postpone the wedding?" Candace continued to probe.
"Because it just felt like the right thing to do. Do you know what I was thinking about the entire time I was standing up there? Divorce. In five generations of the Hitts family, there has never been a failed marriage, and all I kept thinking was that mine would be the first."
"I'm your best friend and you never once mentioned to me that you were having second thoughts," Candace pointed out.
"I thought they were just normal jitters. I knew that I loved Will. I thought things would be okay."
"You love him and it's been damn obvious that he worships your dirty draws. That's not enough?"
"It's not that simple," Melanie repeated slowly, her frustration apparent. How could she make her parents and friends understand how she felt? It wasn't that she didn't "want to be married to Will. Until William Freedman, Melanie had met no other man with whom she'd even considered sharing her life. It was simply that she didn't know "how to be married to him, or to anyone, for that matter. While her kinfolk held up traditional beliefs and customs as the glue that kept family together, o Melanie they represented just the opposite. InMel's mind, the conventions of married life symbolized the strangulation of her independence and individuality -- two itally important characteristics in the makeup and survival of any creative person's soul.
"If you ask me, you're being a real chickenshit about this whole marriage thing."
“A fast-paced and engrossing story. A definite hot-seller.” Booklist on Read Between the Lines
An award-winning writer pens a thoughtful, entertaining tale of life, love, marriage, and career set against the glittering backdrop of New York City.
Two people, separated by age and color but united in love, find themselves headed down an uncertain path -- a path the head rejects, but the heart demands be followed ...
Melanie Hitts is a charming African-American woman who is attractive, professional,and fiercely independent. Following a whirlwind romance, she accepts the proposal of successful and devoted Will Freedman, only to walk away several months later convinced that giving in to love means giving up her dreams. Melanie heads to Manhattan to heal her heart and embark on a career as an interior designer.
Soon after, she meets John Carlson, an older, white, internationally famous architect, who is dangling precariously at the end of his creative rope. Brought together as muse and mentor, a spark between them ignites and -- despite his twenty-three-year marriage -- John and Melanie come together.
Through her relationship with John, and with her former fiancé Will in hot pursuit,Melanie sets off on a path of discovery. But once she decides that she's ready to go from a Hitts to a Mrs. will the man she chooses be available?
About the Author
Lori Bryant-Woolridge is a fifteen-year veteran of the television broadcast business and the recipient of an Emmy Award for individual achievement in writing. She is the author of the bestselling novel Read Between the Lies and a contributing author to several top anthologies, including the award-winning Gumbo: A Celebration of African-American Writing. She lives in South Orange, New Jersey, with her husband and two children.