Un-Nappily in Love: A Novel

Un-Nappily in Love: A Novel

by Trisha R. Thomas
Un-Nappily in Love: A Novel

Un-Nappily in Love: A Novel

by Trisha R. Thomas

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Overview

In Un-Nappily in Love, a Nappily novel from award-winning author Trisha R. Thomas, Venus' husband begins on a bright new movie career, forcing her to pull out all the stops to save both him and their marriage from his all too-sexy co-star.

Venus is ecstatic about her husband's rising movie star career thanks to a role in a searing romantic drama with co-star Sirena Lassiter. Jake and Sirena's relationship, Venus quickly learns, goes back further than Jake wants to admit. Venus isn't happy when the new "it" team's hectic promotion schedule takes them to exotic locations while Venus must stay behind with a business to run and a daughter to raise.

However, it's not long before Venus senses danger. When she receives advice from her one time arch enemy, Trevelle Doval the queen of late night evangelical TV, Venus, in her trademark style, decides to save her marriage by any means necessary.

But when the paparazzi get involved, all hell breaks loose. Will Venus be able to keep her man or has she lost Jake forever?

Trisha R. Thomas' Nappily Ever After is now a Netflix Original movie.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250623904
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/10/2020
Series: Nappily , #5
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.41(w) x 8.29(h) x 0.81(d)

About the Author

Trisha R. Thomas is an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work finalist. She’s a Literary Lion Award honoree by the King County Library Foundation and was voted Best New Writer by the Black Writer’s Alliance. Her debut novel, Nappily Ever After is now a Netflix movie. O, The Oprah Magazine featured her novels in Books That Matter for delving into the self-esteem of young women of color and the insurmountable expectations they face starting at an early age. She lives in California with her family where she continues to write the Nappily Series.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The Incredible Shrinking Wife

Several Months Earlier

"This way, over here, JP." The long lens of the camera pointed our way. The frenzy of photo hounds jostling for spots to get better angles made me nervous. I squinted from the bright flash and saw a long slender arm reach toward me. I recognized the garish diamond-and-ruby bracelet before I saw the rest of Jake's publicist, Ramona Scarsdale. She bore a striking resemblance to the actress Lynda Carter circa 1975 as the comic-book heroine Wonder Woman. Her dark hair freeze-framed high and away from her face cascaded down her back. Her cheekbones and red lips were artificially enhanced, making her look like a wax figure instead of the real thing.

She slipped her cold fingers around my wrist and gave me a tug. "Wait over here," she growled, adding a nudge that made me lose my balance.

"Owww." The wail came from behind me, though the young woman was expressing my sentiments exactly. "You stepped on my toe," she squealed.

My ankle had twisted awkwardly in the five-inch heels I'd yet to master, so I was only half concerned with her pain and thinking about my own. Four inches used to be the legal limit until someone had upped the ante, making it even more difficult to walk, talk, and look beautiful at the same time. "I'm sorry. I fell off balance."

"I had the perfect shot and you got in my way." She had a ring in her nose, one in her bottom lip, and three in each ear. She held up her phone, which was in camera mode. "Okay, so like, move," she ordered with a lisp, indicating a piercing on her tongue too.

"Sure." I scooted a bit to the right while she took the picture.

"He is so fine. Even cuter up close and personal. JPeeee ..." she sang out.

"Yes, he's gorgeous," I said, watching proudly as my husband stood against the gold backdrop poised and looking like a million bucks. His tux was custom designed and fit over his toned physique.

My hubby's new world was filled with flashing lights and admiring fans. Exotic locales for filming and promoting his new career as a movie star. One day he was my house husband, basically sitting around waiting for tomorrow and more broken promises from his agent, and the next he was being asked to co-star in a movie with Sirena Lassiter, the Billboard-topping "it" girl turned actress. Jake and Sirena Lassiter knew each other back when Jake — or JP, as everyone knows him — had been a rap artist.

We met six years ago when he'd hired me as a marketing consultant for his hip-hop clothing line, JP Wear. At the time I was engaged to another man but Jake didn't see that as a hindrance to getting what he wanted. At the time it was me, Venus Johnston, thirtysomething, with — as Jake described — "hips you can't miss, lips that you want to sink into, and eyes that save the day." He's a songwriter by nature, so he's a bit poetic in his descriptions. But on the inside I was closed off and a bit lost. He found me.

Till this day I question his good sense, especially since I'd just found out my mother had breast cancer and my fiancé was under investigation for securities fraud. I was hardly considered an ideal good time. But that didn't stop Jake. He stepped right up to the plate determined to hit a home run. He was confident like that. Forget about a base hit, getting to second, and hoping to slide into home. He was an all or nothing kind of guy.

Looking at him now, thinking about all we'd been through together, made me puff up with pride. The man was smooth, elegant, with integrity to boot. I slid the tear aside that escaped, threatening to mess up my airbrushed makeup. In such a short time, our lives had come so far. We had a daughter, a beautiful home in Atlanta, and enough history, love, and intrigue between us to make a Friday-night movie on a steamy channel seem pretty tame.

We fought for each other when we had nothing left to fight for ourselves.

The minute the crowd started cheering and screaming I knew why. Sirena Lassiter had arrived at Jake's side. He slipped an arm around her waist. She kissed him on the cheek. The on-screen couple oozed chemistry, the kind that made it easy to believe he'd take a bullet for her the way he had in this sure-to-be box-office hit, True Beauty.

"Sirena, JP, over here. You guys are hot." The cameraman with the best pictures would get the most money from the celebrity-filled magazines. JP gave a sexy smile then turned toward Sirena, who was already staring up at him.

Perfect shot. I could already see the headline, especially since she was engaged to be married to Earl Benning, CEO of Rise Records and also producer of the film. Anywhere Earl Benning walked, a camera followed. Anywhere Sirena Lassiter sneezed, a newshound reported and offered tissue. Having Jake in the fold gave them something about which to speculate. Was Sirena Lassiter falling for her co-star even though she was engaged to one of the most powerful men in the business?

Not a chance. It was all an act. The way she looked at him was planned and rehearsed simply to keep everyone speculating long enough to get them to the box office. In a nutshell, I wasn't worried about Sirena Lassiter or anyone else. Jake and I were locked and loaded. Nothing could come between us. We'd proven it time and time again.

"Okay, this way. Let's move." Ramona waved the order and her two assistants closed ranks. Each assistant took Sirena and Jake by the elbow. We were on the move until I was suddenly stuck behind a barricade.

"Wait a minute. I'm with them," I told the large man wearing a suit jacket over a yellow security T-shirt. Jake stopped abruptly as if he'd forgotten something. I lifted my arm and waved, glad I'd been waxed under the armpit instead of my usual cheap shave. "I'm over here, baby."

I knew he wouldn't leave me behind. After six years of a rocky marital ride, we'd made it through the storm. The official report was in, we were no good without each other. Side by side, ready to get through any crisis. I was the index finger and he was the thumb, or vice versa. I tried not to quibble about who was in charge.

Ramona whispered something in his ear. He nodded and then kept marching as she'd ordered.

"Ramona, I'm over here."

She looked back and barely swept her eyes across the crowd. How many fans were dressed in a red shiny tight dress? I stood out like a chili pepper. It was my first thought when the dress had been sent over by the stylist, hired by Ramona, handpicked especially for you, the note read. The stiff fold on one side kept poking me in the ear. "Ramona!" I screamed, the same way I'd done a few hours ago squeezing into this damn dress. And now she couldn't see me. Beautiful.

I scooted to the last pole of the velvet rope. I tapped a female security staffer on the shoulder. She was mountain-large with a melon-sized hair bun.

"My husband is Jake Parson."

"Who?"

"Can you please let me through? My husband is JP," I confirmed. J-P — just two initials, like the diamond-laced bling he wore with a swoop on the end. Sirena had it custom-made for him as an end-of-filming gift. I thought about him wearing the chain around his neck. Not until this very moment had it bothered me.

The female security guard kept her eyes straight ahead. "Sorry, not without ID."

"Do I look like one of the gang? I'm freezing out here in this dress with shoes that are killing my feet."

Her eyes rode me up and down, then focused on my glowing shoulders. I'd been spray tanned with Honey Gold #6, the darkest color on the chart, yet I still turned out radioactive red. Enough said. She unclipped the velvet rope and stood aside to let me through.

CHAPTER 2

Close Your Eyes This Won't Hurt a Bit

Two things you never forget: the first time your period started, and how you met your husband. Everything in between fades to obscurity. I tried to emphasize this very fact to Mya, our five-year-old daughter, when she's having a kiddy breakdown, recounting when someone was mean to her at school or her socks didn't match in the bright light. Or one shoestring was longer than the other. Or when, by the end of the day, she's counted how many times her teacher has called on Suzy more than her.

In twenty years you won't remember. Life becomes a figment of your imagination. I reminded myself of this fact while tiptoeing in my high heels down the aisle to the front of the theater, where as soon as I got there, I realized there was no seat open for me.

Ramona sat on one side and Sirena was on the other. I stood on the edge of the aisle and gave a baby wave to Ramona. "Remember me?" I even forced my lips to curve in a not-as-angry-as-I-feel smile.

Jake stood up. "Baby, I was worried about you." He gave my hand a gentlemanly kiss then pulled me forward, until I nearly stumbled over Ramona's pressed knees. I landed in his lap.

"Oh, sorry," I said, having nearly landed on her as well. I pulled myself up but Jake gave me an exaggerated kiss, making me fall back again.

I heard the very familiar sound of a camera clicking, but what I was most aware of at that moment was Sirena staring and examining every kinky spiraled strand of my hair up close, doing her uncertain best at trying to make me feel insecure.

I'd defected from the ritual of chemically straightening my hair years ago and happily accepted my nappy tresses for what they were. And like my grandmother used to say, "God don't make no mistakes, baby. You are who you are." I wasn't born with natural curly locks. Then again, seeing as how my mother started chemically straightening my hair when I was only three years old, I wasn't sure what I was born with. I wasn't old enough to write my own name, but I knew how to spell Ultra Sheen, the white jar that housed the creamy product that made my hair shiny and straight. I was one of millions of little girls who would grow up not knowing any other way. All was good and right in the world as long as our edges were straight and our ends were clipped and flipped.

Of course, it was hard to explain all this on a first meeting with someone. They generally thought I'd gone cuckoo and was rebelling against the status quo. Partly true. I was born and raised in the late boom of middle-class Los Angeles.

Californians were normally known for being open to change, and new lifestyles, not withstanding the scorned hope of Proposition 8. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the people who opposed the gay marriage bill were from somewhere else and had secretly invaded the California ballot boxes. There was really no other explanation. It was an embarrassment and made me stop telling people I was a Southern Cali girl, plain and simple.

All I knew was that I'd learned early to accept change, roll with the tremors, as it were. You had a different outlook on life growing up fearlessly awaiting the next earthquake to shake you to your core. When I was little, I thought it was God's hand telling me to wake up. Just about once a week, in the middle of the night, the rumbling would start. My mother wouldn't even stir; my father's snoring would stay steady. While I would be on my feet standing in my flannel nightie in the doorway as I'd been trained since kindergarten. At school, we were prepared for the Big One, emergency snacks written with your name on the plastic bag so no one else could claim your canned tuna, crackers, and bottled water. At the end of the school year you got to take it home and were reminded that summer didn't mean you could let down your guard. The Big One could strike when you least expected. Always be prepared.

Eventually I stopped following earthquake preparedness protocol. I stayed tucked under the cover and waited for the shaking to stop like everyone else. It was never the Big One.

I felt a nudge and realized Sirena's elbow had conveniently connected to the back of my head where I'd invaded her space; I also realized I'd been waiting for her all along, like the earthquake. She was the Big One.

"Oh, I'm sorry," she almost mimicked in a sweet melodic voice like a high school cheerleader you'd better not turn your back on.

"It's okay." I sat up, best I could with the constraints of a dress that had no give in the fabric.

Ramona stood. "I was just going over a few details. Please —" She opened her hand, offering the warmed seat.

"I think I'll stay here." I kissed Jake on the nose.

"You'll save that for when you two are alone," Ramona chastised, checking over her shoulder for random looky-looers.

Jake gave me a lift on my bottom with his wide palm. I took my seat, feeling scolded by the teacher and sent to the principal's office.

The lights dimmed and the screen came to life. I'd seen True Beauty five times. Breaking things down to numerology takes the emotion out of it. Tonight would be the sixth time I've seen my husband use those same wide palms of his to lift Sirena off the ground while he steamrolls into her against the wall. The skin of his moist muscular back flexing with every movement. Twelve unbearable seconds and then a cutaway to morning while they bask in each other's spearmint-sprayed breath.

The bedroom scene floated around in my head and I repeated to myself, In twenty years you won't remember. I hoped and prayed it didn't take that long. I hoped it only took me not having to see it again and again, every time I closed my eyes, or drove my car, or took a shower, or ran on the treadmill. I'd memorized the way Sirena's hands trailed Jake's back then stopped at the base of his head, massaging in between moans. I'd even imagined myself in the shot up to the moment he whips her around and her hair cascades over her shoulder and down her back.

"Here we go." Jake's voice sounded even more distant than my mind had ventured. He was already tending to the big screen. His eyes glazed over in the movie light. If I'd seen it five times, he'd seen it at least twenty. I decided to close mine through the entire movie, for whatever good it would do, and told myself, In twenty years it won't matter.

* * *

The next step was the afterparty, which was hardly a party. More like a train stop — All aboard! — at which not-so-busy actors made desperate attempts for a last chance to made the weekly entertainment pages. Who wore what to what had gotten to the point where real models weren't used anymore to show off fashion. The modeling profession had essentially collapsed, taken over by celebrities whose only job now was to look hot while shopping, walking the dog, or going out to dinner.

One cameraman pointed his lens in my direction, then lowered the camera when he realized I wasn't Jada Pinkett Smith — and even if I was, today didn't seem to warrant a photo op.

"Your flight leaves at six in the morning. You may want to get a move on, catch a few hours of sleep." Ramona sipped her shimmering pink martini, the signature drink of True Beauty. "I'll have the driver take you to the hotel."

I could barely breathe in my dress so I stayed with water and a wedge of lemon. "No, I'd rather stay." I peered at Jake, who was yucking it up with a popular celebrity who'd gone from female rapper to actress. Sirena stood in the middle like they all went way back, and I'm sure they did. Good memories for all. Since Jake wasn't the type to name-drop after spending many years in the music industry, I wasn't privy to who his industry friends were. He never talked about the celebrities he knew. He always said everyone knew everyone but no one really knew anyone.

Sirena Lassiter's name especially never came up. Not once after watching one of her many movies on DVD did he roll over and say, That Sirena's a cool gal. She and I used to party together. You'd like her. It was only when Jake was faced with a life-or-death situation that Sirena miraculously appeared in our lives.

About a year ago, henchmen in a case of mistaken identity had accosted me. Before Jake could come rescue me he had to make sure Mya was safe. He had no one else. Sirena was the first person who came to mind, someone he could trust. The famous Sirena Lassiter had picked up my daughter and brought her home safely. No one could've been more grateful than me. I thanked her profusely. I had her over for dinner. She came bearing gifts — for Mya a princess Nokia doll, for me a Marc Jacobs bag, one she was given for promotion, for Jake, a pricey aged cognac that made him nervous just holding the bottle. I'd made lasagna that night. She cleaned her plate like it was her last meal. The girl could eat.

We made small talk. She asked about the flower business. I asked about her next movie, still impressed to have Sirena Lassiter at my dinner table. Four hours later, and I just wanted her to go home. I stretched and yawned, and started cleaning up the kitchen. Sirena didn't budge. She stayed at the table laughing and talking with Jake as if I were the busboy.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Un-Nappily in Love"
by .
Copyright © 2010 Trisha R. Thomas.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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