ANOTHER MAN WILL by Daaimah S. Poole
Romance Times RT Rating Reviewed By: Robin R. Pendleton
Dana Turner is tired of watching her co-workers get married and wondering what she’s missing… Single mother Crystal Turner works triple-overtime to give her three children a good life… And Yvette Turner’s marriage just imploded, taking all her hard-earned money with it. These sisters can’t wait any longer for some good black men to sweep them off their feet. It’s time to try something new …
With her new attitude, Dana can’t resist a sizzling connection with a handsome white accountant—even though the perfect brother just walked into her life. Meanwhile, Crystal is gambling big-time that her struggling ex-classmate will be the answer to her prayers. And with a dashing older man unexpectedly courting her, Yvette must choose between stability and playing the field. Soon, all three will learn that real love comes in different forms—and what one man won’t provide, another man will… IN ALL BOOKSTORES Amazon.com BarnesandNoble.com,BooksAmillion.com, and Indiebound.org
“Dana, don’t forget that I have to take the DNA test tomorrow.”
“Right, right, okay. I’m glad you reminded me. I have a meeting, but as soon as I’m done, I’m coming straight to you. Ooooh, I hate Kenneth so much for making you go through this.”
“I know, but once he gets the results, I think he will step up and do what he is supposed to do.”
“He better, because this doesn’t make any sense. My beautiful niece doesn’t deserve this, and neither do you. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Okay, see you then,” I said. Then I took a few deep breaths and prepared to go back into work. I was on minute eleven of my fifteen-minute break, and I didn’t need another write-up. I hurried back inside.
I boarded the elevator and rode back up to my floor, the ACR Cable Vision headquarters. I thought about what my sister Dana had said and had to agree that nobody should have to go to court to prove the paternity of their child. Let me take that back. In some situations paternity tests were very necessary, but not in my case. I knew Kenneth Dontae Haines was the father of my three-month-old daughter, Kori. I was positive because we were in a committed relationship for several years, and during that time I wasn’t with anyone else. I asked my younger sister, Dana, to go with me because she was levelheaded, and I want to have support just in case he brought his sometimes bigmouthed butch sister, Syreeta, with him.
Ever since I was a young kid, all I had ever wanted was to have a family and be happily married like my parents. My mom and dad had been together for thirty-five years. You’d think I’d follow in their footsteps, but it was hard for me to stay with anyone for more than a few years. I had three kids and three different baby fathers. The minute I told someone this, they automatically formed a negative opinion of me. Sometimes it bothered me, but most times it didn’t. I hadn’t planned for it to turn out like this. I had really believed that I was going to be with each one of my children’s fathers forever, but it didn’t happen that way. So, I just got up and went to work every single day and provided for my children as best I could.
Jason, who was my oldest daughter, Jewel’s, father, and I were together from eighth grade until I was twenty-one. Jason got locked up when I seven months pregnant. When he first went away, I did the jail thing: the visits, sending letters, putting money on his books. But he eventually told me to stop. He said he didn’t want to hold me back, and to go and live my life. That was eight years ago. He still had another seven years to go before he got out.
Then there was Maurice, my son, Nasir’s, dad. I really cared about Maurice. He was very smart and motivated. I met him in the coffee shop down the street from my job. We were truly opposites. He was working on his third degree, while I had finished only high school. Initially, we were inseparable. He taught me so much about the world, and I really thought we had a chance. I was in love with him, but something about our relationship couldn’t work. I think it was because Maurice saw me as his little project, like I was his “ghetto girl,” whom he was going to refine. I wouldn’t have minded being his project, but he wasn’t trying to make me a better person. He was trying to mold me into something that I wasn’t. After a while I got tired of him talking down to me. He wasn’t physically abusive, but I knew he would never consider me his equal. His treatment of me probably bordered on emotional abuse. He rarely gave me money for Nasir, and he married some older woman, so I just acted like he didn’t exist.
And lastly, there was Kenneth, the deadbeat baby daddy of my youngest child, Kori. In my defense, I could honestly say that Kenneth begged and pleaded with me to have his child. I loved my daughter, but I wasn’t ready to be a mom again. I was actually on birth control, but obviously, it didn’t work. I had planned on aborting her, but Kenneth cried. The man actually shed tears, whole tears. Trying to make me feel guilty, he said, “You had two babies for dudes that didn’t love you. I’m the one here with you, loving you and your kids, but you wanna kill my baby?”
So I caved and went through with the pregnancy. And at first it seemed like we were going to make it. Kenneth was great during my entire pregnancy. He went to every doctor’s appointment, was in the delivery room, holding my hand, telling me to breathe and to push when I went into labor. Kenneth even cut the umbilical cord and began kissing and snapping pictures of our baby daughter as soon as he saw her. He was a doting father for the entire half hour before his sister, Syreeta, arrived. Once she got there, everything changed. From my hospital bed, I saw her in the corner, whispering to him. I didn’t know what they were talking about, but I soon found out.
Syreeta had a major issue with Kori’s complexion. She said my baby looked like she was mixed with something, and that she was too light to be Kenneth’s child. Now, I would admit, usually when two brown-skinned people had a child, you got a brown baby. However, I was smart enough to know about something called genes. Genes could cause traits and characteristics, like a child’s complexion, to skip a generation.
Unfortunately, Kenneth and Syreeta weren’t aware of these things, because all of a sudden Kenneth started having doubts. He was asking me questions like “Is Kori mine?” “Did you cheat on me?” “Why is she so light?” I thought it was funny, because when would I have time to cheat on him? I had a full-time job, two kids, and since Kenneth practically lived with me, he got a lot of my time and attention, as well. A part of me understood that in his sister’s mind, she was looking out for her little brother, but Kenneth should’ve stood up like a man and told his sister that Kori was his daughter. He should have, but he didn’t.
He asked me to take a DNA test, and I told him to kiss my ass. I asked him if he could just look at her and see that she was his. She had the same mouth, ears, nose, and had a head full of hair, just like him. But the only thing he could think to say was, “I don’t trust a face test.” Then he mumbled something about this bull on his job who got burnt that way. His denial of his daughter was unacceptable. He even refused to sign her birth certificate, so I broke up with him. My response to all of that was, “Fuck you.” I wasn’t about to poke or swab my baby for him or anyone else. If he didn’t want to be bothered, then fine. It was his loss, not mine.
I eventually changed my mind and agreed to have her tested, and I suggested that we order an at-home DNA test. We could get the results online or in the mail, but Kenneth wouldn’t go for that. He said that his sister had warned him that with an at-home test, I could tamper with the results, and so they wanted an official test done by professionals. So tomorrow was D-day, and I hoped we could finally put all this ghetto mess behind us. He’d have proof that Kori was his child, and his sister could shut the hell up.
The marketing firm I worked for was having its annual customer appreciation dinner at the Arts at Piazza in downtown Philadelphia. It was a big event where we got to wine and dine with our clients, all on the company’s tab. Meeting clients socially was always good. They were relaxed and not in business mode. You could do the right amount of schmoozing without looking like you were kissing up to them.
The night was going extremely well; actually, the night was almost perfect. I was wearing an off-the-shoulder, lilac-colored dress that hung great on my size six curves and accented my cherrywood brown skin. I had on my favorite pair of peep-toe shoes, which made my five-three look like five-eight. My beautiful, big layered silver necklace was making a grand statement and rested right above my cleavage. My long, wavy weave was pulled up into a sloppy, loose bun, which was set off with just the right amount of makeup.
The food was delicious; the cocktails had the perfect blend of sweetness, and only a trace of liquor was detectable. I was in the great company of my coworker Reshma Patel and her fiancé, Zyeed, and my other coworker, Leah Oliver, who had brought her boyfriend, Stephen. The only thing that was off was the empty chair that was next to me. It was reserved for my no-call, no-show date, Todd.
Leah was from rural upstate Pennsylvania. She was bubbly and fun and always made me laugh with her off-color humor. She had a few freckles, rust-colored hair, and brown eyes. Leah and I had interned together, and Reshma had come in a few months afterward. Reshma was a quiet, sweet-hearted first-generation American of Indian descent. We all got along so well, yet we were all so different, but we made the perfect little marketing dream team.
We all worked for Millennium Concepts Agency. We provided marketing and branding services for small and large companies—from the huge billboards you saw on highways to the tiny advertisements above your head on the train.
“So where is that boyfriend of yours, missy?” Leah inquired.
“He should be on his way. I was about to call him and see where he is,” I said.
Reshma grabbed my hand and tried to contain her laughter as she pushed her straight black hair in front of her wheat skin to block her smirk. “It’s okay, sweetie. You can stop lying. We know you don’t really have a date.”
I frowned. “Reshma, this is not funny. That’s really sad that you would think I would make up having a date. I told you, Todd said he was coming. He’ll be here.”
Reshma looked at Leah and made a face. They both began to laugh at my expense as their guys stood around, looking bored and making light conversation with one another.
My eyes were focused on the entrance. “I’ll be right back. Let me see if he is on his way,” I said as I excused myself from the table. I was trying to act nonchalant, but I was so angry at Todd, I could feel my blood pressure rising.
I exited the crowded party, hoping to see Todd parking or walking toward the restaurant, but no such luck. I didn’t see him. So I called his phone and listened to it ring about four times and then heard, “You have reached Todd Montgomery. Unfortunately, I’m not available. . . .” I listened as I looked up and down the street once more, before leaving a message. “Todd, where are you? I hope you are on your way. I’m still at the Arts at Piazza on Fourth Street. Call me and let me know what’s going on.” I really hoped Todd would make it. He said he would. But he said a lot of things. Todd was not my real boyfriend. We were in a six-month relationship about a year ago; then things got complicated. Our relationship was going so good. I mean, really, really, really well. But then work got in the way.
He said our relationship was taking up too much of his time and that he needed to focus on his architectural career. He said I required so much and he couldn’t give me everything I deserved. So we semi broke up but never stopped seeing each other. Our relationship was downgraded to that fuzzy place commonly referred to as “friends with benefits.” Which meant that we hooked up occasionally. I kept thinking if I hung in there for a while, he’d realize that we should be back in an official relationship. Plus, I loved a career-driven man, and Todd was definitely that. Believe me, there were far worse things that a guy could be doing besides working nonstop. Especially in this economy, when so many people couldn’t find jobs and others were losing their homes. And I knew he didn’t have anyone else, unless she lived under his desk at his job. But then it was evenings like this one, when he stood me up, and it didn’t seem worth it or fair.
I walked back to the party, and my phone rang. Todd’s name appeared on the screen.
“Hey. Are you on your way?” I asked.
“No, not exactly,” he said.
“What does ‘not exactly’ mean?” I already knew what that meant, but still I asked.
“Sorry. I can’t make it. Listen, don’t be upset with me. I can’t leave this office. I have so much work. I really want to be there with you, but my work is my priority.”
Instead of giving him the artificial “Okay. I understand”—that was what I usually said—I just gave a defeated, “You never can make it, can you, Todd?”
“Why are you being sarcastic, Dana? What do you want me to do?”
“I don’t know. You promised me. I told you about this party how many weeks ago? And you said, ‘I promise I’ll be there.’”
“Yes, I said I would be there. However, I can’t always predict what’s going to happen. Things change on a daily basis at this company. . . . Once again, I’m sorry, Dana. I have to go. I didn’t eat, and I’m very frustrated. I’ll be at the office for a while. Feel free to stop by.”
“Okay,” I said as I twisted my mouth and tried to control my anger and not let tears escape my eyes. He wasn’t able to be with me, but at least I could be with him later. I felt a little better, even though I was at another event alone. I walked to the restroom to make sure my eye makeup hadn’t smudged. Leah and Reshma were exiting the ladies’ room.
“We were looking for you. Are you okay? So is he coming?” Reshma asked.
“No, he is working.”
“Well, one thing is for sure, when you get married, you will be provided for,” Leah joked as they walked me into the restroom. I began to fix my clothes and reapply my eyeliner and blush. I tried to remain calm, but I was so upset.
Leah looked at me in the mirror above the sink and said, “Dana, I can’t understand why you put yourself through this. You are a beautiful girl. You can find someone else.”
“You deserve a real boyfriend.” Reshma giggled, breaking the serious tone.
“You guys are full of jokes tonight.”
“No, really, you need to be dating, having fun. You need a guy that doesn’t stand you up all the time,” said Leah. “You’re beautiful, you have a great personality, and you’re successful. I’m sure lots of guys would love to date you.”
“If it was only that simple,” I snapped back at them. “Listen, ladies, there aren’t that many black men like Todd.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?” Reshma asked.
“It means it is different for us,” I replied.
“What do you mean, us?” said Leah.
“Us, means black women. We don’t have as many options as you guys. There aren’t thousands of black architects running around Philadelphia.”
“I don’t believe that. That’s just a myth. It’s all the same. There are as many jerks who are white men, Asian, and Indian men as there are those who are black,” Leah responded.
“Nope, not the case. There are plenty of white men for you to marry and lots of Indian men for Reshma. I have to work with what I have. Todd is a great catch, and I’m not letting him get away.”
“Great catch or not, he doesn’t treat you well. Seriously, I don’t like seeing my friend upset,” Reshma said.
“I have to say one thing. You won’t find anyone as long as you won’t let go of an old relationship,” Leah retorted..
Reshma nodded her head in agreement and said, “Remember that crazy Indian guy I dated before I met Zyeed? After him I didn’t think there was any hope that I was going to ever meet anyone—and now I’m getting married in two weeks. As a matter of fact, there will be a lot of single guys at my wedding.”
“And I could introduce you to one of Stephen’s friends if you like,” Leah added.
“I don’t want to be hooked up with anyone. I’m happy with what and who I have. And besides, I want a black man.”
“You’re telling us you’d rather have a so-so good black man over a nice guy of another race?” Reshama asked perplexed.
“Yeah. I mean no. I just want a good man, but I would prefer if he is black. Besides I have one and we are not having this discussion anymore.”
“If you say so.” Leah looked at me like I wasn’t making sense. I wasn’t . . . but I was. I knew what I wanted.
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