A glimpse at Trouble Down the Road

This scene is not in the book, but gives an introduction to several characters (and points out an irony).


“Listen to me, Iris. We love each other. We should be together. Can we help it if we married the wrong people?”

“Oh, Wade.”

Suzanne watched with rapt attention the latest goings-on of her favorite soap opera, Facades. She loved this show. She could relate to it, since the plotlines revolved around people who were as beautiful as they were wealthy, and many of them, like herself, were African-American. They lived in beautiful houses, just like her and her husband Brad; and drove zippy late model cars, just like her and Brad. Best of all, the writers hadn’t stooped to making the characters stereotypical sports stars or entertainers, just businesspeople and medical and legal professionals, just like…well, like Brad, who was a doctor. Suzanne was a homemaker, and she kept a fabulous house. Her housekeeper kept it clean and kept the ironing done, and her good friend Paula Haines, a caterer, helped her make interesting meals.

When one of the frequent commercials played, Suzanne resumed peeling zucchini. It was hot in Jacksonville―it was always hot in Jacksonville―and Brad had asked her to make something light for dinner. Paula had suggested she sauté some fresh vegetables in olive oil, season them lightly and put some shredded cheese on top. Served with hot French bread, it would make the type of filling yet nutritious dinner Brad liked. He was as devoted to keeping himself fit and was very careful about what he ate. He was about to turn fifty, and she suspected he was concerned about getting older.

She understood how he felt. Suzanne would be forty-two herself later this year worked out daily herself. She was determined to always see that sparkle in Brad’s eyes when she slipped out of her clothes. Getting older was no picnic, and an incident at a Super Bowl party a few months back convinced her that at least one woman would love to push her under the wheels of a bus and step into her life. But if Micheline Trent thought she was going to snatch Brad Betancourt out of Suzanne’s grasp, she had another thought coming. After Micheline attended the spectacular birthday party Suzanne was giving for Brad and saw that she had all her man's needs taken care of, Micheline would have no choice but to give up on him and go after somebody else’s husband. Let her go after Darrell Canfield next door, Suzanne thought nastily. Wouldn’t that be nifty.

Darrell and his wife, Lisa, were more than just neighbors to Suzanne and Brad. In a twist worthy of being featured on Facades, they were extended family, for Lisa had formerly been married to Brad and was the mother of his firstborn child, Paige.
The tangled relationships didn’t stop there. Suzanne’s friend Paula had at one time been married to Darrell Canfield and was the mother of their daughter Devon. Paula had made the mistake of leaving Devon with Darrell and Lisa when she took a job in Texas, and Lisa had practically taken over. Devon even called her ‘Mom,’ while she called Paula by her first name. That was the type of thing Lisa did.

Well, maybe Paula did have something to do with it. She married a much younger man and didn’t want anyone to know her true age, so when Devon visited Paula told everyone she was the daughter of a close friend. That marked the kiss of death in the relationship between mother and daughter. Suzanne still couldn’t believe the astoundingly bad judgment the usually sensible Paula had used. Maybe it was really true that women tended to get downright stupid when there was a man involved. And in Paula’s case, that man hadn’t been around for long. She’d not only lost her daughter, but her husband as well.

Yep, the history in their two households was worthy of being a soap opera storyline. Not that anyone would believe it.

Suzanne returned her attention to the television screen after the commercial break. Iris’s mother was calling again. That woman was nothing but trouble, and Iris was too dumb to see it. She was always trying to do something for her other daughter, and getting Iris involved. If she wasn’t careful she was going to lose her husband and her home.

“Oh, you idiot!” Suzanne shouted at the screen as Iris appeared to be considering going along with her mother’s latest scheme. The camera focused on her for a close-up of her indecision before the fade-out. Suzanne and all the other viewers would have to wait until tomorrow to find out what Iris would do.

She’d barely sat for two minutes when her phone rang. “Hello…Oh, hi, Mom," she said, smiling.

Suzanne loved her mother. Arlene Hall had done her best with what little she had to give Suzanne and her three siblings everything she could.

“How much are you short?” Suzanne asked now. Then she made a distressed face. “Three hundred dollars! Mom, that’s a lot. Plus you haven’t paid me back the two hundred I gave you last month.”
"Well, Derrick's car needed new brakes, and he couldn't afford to get them. You don't want your brother driving around with bad brakes, do you? And then I had to get Kenya a new outfit to wear to her boyfriend's graduation from the university. You know she wants to marry him, Suzanne. I'd like nothing better than to see your sister with the type of life you've got."
Suzanne sighed. “All right. But you’ve got to do better next month. Stop by after work and I’ll give you the money.”

Suzanne went to her secret stash and pulled out six fifty-dollar bills, moving them to her pocket. Her mother would probably be by before Brad came home, but Brad might show up early. She wanted to slip her mother the money without him seeing.

Her mother had so much on her plate. All three of Suzanne’s siblings lived with her. They all worked, and Suzanne felt they could contribute enough to help her mother pay the rent on the house she rented from Brad, but as her mother pointed out, she’d already made it and her brothers and sister were still trying to find their way.

Of course, that meant Brad was helping them, because every dollar that came into their household had been earned by him. He viewed Suzanne’s family as a bunch of leeches and would have a cow if he knew what she was doing. He was always complaining about her mother being late with her rent. He'd even hinted at not renewing her lease. What else could she do?

Besides, there was no reason for Brad to ever find out.
This book will be in stores the last week of April, but you can get a copy before that. Join me next month for my annual movie quote trivia contest, just in time for the Oscars. The winner will receive an ARC of Trouble Down The Road, the 2nd place winner a copy of Save The Best For Last, and the 3rd place finisher a $10 Amazon gift card.


PatriciaW said...

Not in the book? Oh wow, well, the book sounds like one sassy dramedy. I can see myself reading with laughter at all the drama in Suzanne's life.

bettye griffin said...

Yeah, Patricia, this is more like a character sketch to introduce the characters.