Some rules are made to be broken…
About the Book
Deniece Malcolm is shocked and heartbroken when she finds out her baby sister, Janette, is marrying Terrance Wright, because she was the one who was supposed to marry him! Everybody knows there’s a rule about dating exes. Janette is pregnant and not only is this wedding happening, but Deniece has to arrange the festivities.
Deniece’s feelings and pride are hurt, but surprisingly, Terrance’s younger, sexier, cousin, Ethan Wright, is there to provide a listening ear and a strong bicep to cry on. Ethan’s interested in Deniece, but she has a rule about dating younger men. Despite her resistance, things heat up between them and Deniece begins to wonder if it’s time to break a few rules of her own.
The First Chapter –
I know I hadn’t heard this heifer correctly. Her statement almost made me drop my brand new seven hundred dollar phone in the toilet. I pulled it away from my ear, set it on the knee wall next to me and pushed the speaker button.
“I know you’re probably shocked, but I’m so happy I could cry!”
I closed my eyes to the sound of her voice. She hadn’t said what I thought she’d said. She hadn’t said she was marrying Terrance Wright. She couldn’t have said that.
“Deniece, I know you’re still there. I can hear those stupid wind chimes in your bathroom window.”
I peeked over my shoulder at the noisy ornament that had betrayed me and smirked. Even though she knew I was present, I considered pushing the end button and pretending the call had dropped. But I knew there was no point in doing that. My pesky sister would only call back until I answered.
I swallowed, lowered the toilet seat lid and plopped my “needed to lose twenty pounds” behind down. “I’m here,” I croaked like I’d sucked in a room full of dry air.
“I know you’re surprised and all, because who would have thought I’d be interested in your leftovers, but it’s a long story how we got to know each other and although I feel kind of bad that he’s kinda ex-ish for you, I can’t help but be happy because I’ve found the man I want to spend the rest of my life with.”
I shook my head. This was crazy. Way out there for a pre-coffee conversation. Kind of ex-ish? Had my sister lost her mind?
“He proposed last night. I was going to call you when I got home but it was close to midnight and I can never remember if you’re in a different time zone.”
I rolled my eyes. “New York is on the east coast just like you are, Janette, but I was asleep at midnight so I appreciate you holding off on your news,” I refused to say good, “until this morning.”
“I have so much to do. I need your help like yesterday. Do you think we could talk about some wedding stuff?”
I stared at the phone, tempted once again to push the end button and disconnect the call. “No, boo. I’m not even dressed and I have an appointment to get to, so I most definitely can’t talk about this right now. I’ll call you later.”
“Wait!” Janette shrieked. “There’s one more thing. I need a favor.”
My baby sister was and had always been oblivious to my feelings. It would never occur to her to ask, “Are you okay with me marrying the only guy you have ever loved?”
I swallowed again. This lump went down harder than the last one, because it was a knot full of regrets. My sister didn’t really know how I felt about Terrance. I’d done much too good of job denying and disguising that fact all those years ago to really hold her accountable for my heartache, but still, the backstabber knew there was a rule that all black women held fast to…never date your girl’s exes. Surely, she knew the rule applied to sisters as well.
“What’s the favor?” I asked, rolling off a few sheets of toilet paper. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t dare ruin my makeup. I had to be out of the door at a meeting with a new client in fifteen minutes.
“I need you to come home as soon as possible and pull the wedding together for me.”
I popped to my feet like someone had sprung me from a Jack-in-the-box. “Janette Malcolm,” I said, using the sir name we shared. “I know you aren’t asking me to plan a wedding for you and my ex-boyfriend.”
Janette’s spoiled attitude came through on the phone. “Why not? You’re a wedding planner. That’s what you do for a living and besides it’s not like he’s a new ex. There’s a string of exes between him and you.”
I kept my mouth shut, because my temper was rising. My sister continued. “The favor is for me not him. I’m the one who needs the help. All Terrance will do is get a tux and show up.”
Terrance in a tux, the image took me back to high school. Specifically, to prom night which was the last time I’d seen Terrance in a tuxedo. He’d been wearing it for me, because he was my date. How crazy that the next time I’d see him in one he’d have my sister on his arm. That wasn’t right. In fact, it was all kinds of wrong.
I picked up the phone, walked into my closet and removed the dress I planning to wear. “I’m really booked out right now. There’s no way I can fit an out of state wedding in my schedule. Hire a local wedding planner.”
“I don’t have money for a wedding planner,” Janette protested, “and the only one who is the least bit reasonable is booked up for our date.”
“Choose another date. I mean, it’s not like you guys can’t move it. He just asked you to marry him last night.”
“We can’t move the date.” Janette hesitated. There was a nervous pause in the air and then she continued, “The wedding is in a month.”
“A month?” I dropped my dress. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck. “Why the rush?”
“We need to have it really soon. Remember, I said I had two things to tell you?” Janette paused again. “I’m six months pregnant.”
* * *
Gayle Lincoln, my assistant and best friend hovered over my desk. “Are you going to do it?”
I took a deep breath. “I don’t think I have a choice.”
Gayle crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Of course you do. We all have choices.”
“She’s my sister.” I dropped my eyes to the paperwork in front of me. I could sense Gayle rolling hers above me.
“She’s being unfair.” Gayle tapped the end of her pen on the desk as if to get my attention. “If she’s going to marry him, which I suppose she nearly has to at this point, she should at least have the decency to do it in Vegas or something.”
I had considered suggesting that or even a wedding honeymoon combination on a tropical island or cruise ship, but Janette was too pregnant for that kind of travel. Even if she wasn’t she wouldn’t do it. I raised my eyes to meet Gayle’s. “You don’t know Janette. She’s dreamed of having a big wedding her entire life. Every year when we were children she’d get a wedding dress for her Barbie doll. She’s been watching those wedding and Bridezilla shows for years.”
“So,” Gayle said, “I repeat. She should plan something small if she can’t hire someone to handle it.”
I tightened my grip on the arms of my chair. “I know I sound crazy, but at the end of the day, after the weddings done and even after she has the baby, she’s going to be my sister. That’s never going to change. I don’t have much family. I can’t cut her off over a man, even if he was mine.” I rolled my eyes.
Gayle grunted like she always did when she was frustrated with me. “I’m not saying cut her off. I’m saying tell her off. Be angry. Let her know how you feel.”
“What’s getting all worked up on the phone going to solve?”
“You’ll be able to check it off the to-do list before you get to Garrison. You don’t want to blow up there. You’ll be in the same house.”
I picked up my cell phone and push the gallery icon for the picture Janette had sent to me just this morning. It was a sideways view of her belly. The corners of my mouth turned up. I shook my head. “Fighting isn’t good for pregnant women.”
“Puleeze, pregnant women don’t get a pass on everything.”
I sighed and threw up my hands. “You’ve met her. She’s fragile.”
Gayle pinned me with a look.
I smirked. “Okay, she’s manipulative, but that’s not changing.”
“And you’re allowing yourself to be manipulated which apparently isn’t changing either.” Gayle took a seat. “What’s up with this Terrance anyway? You’ve never really talked about him before this. How do you feel about him?”
I let out a long breath and closed my eyes. “I don’t know.” I shook my head. “I haven’t really seen him in a few years. The last time I was home he was dating some woman from Atlanta, but that didn’t work out.”
“So, you keep up with his comings and goings.”
“No, my sister gossips about everybody in Garrison. I listen.”
“How do you feel when she talks about him?”
I shrugged. “Ambivalent. It’s like I want him to move on, but I don’t.”
Gayle nodded. “I’m not trying to be a shrink here, but have you ever thought about why?”
I dropped my head to the side like Gayle had asked me a stupid question. “Because he’s the only man who has ever asked me to marry him. That’s a big deal. I want to keep him on a shelf for that.”
Gayle looked confused. “I never wanted to keep anyone on a shelf because they proposed to me.”
I smirked again. “Gayle, you’re gorgeous. You get a marriage proposal every day on the subway.”
“From crazy men,” she retorted.
“Well you had four from men who weren’t crazy before you finally accepted the fifth. Women like me don’t have men falling all over us.”
Gayle narrowed her glare. “What do you mean women like you?”
I wasn’t sure what I meant. I let my words swirl around in my head before I responded. “Look, I know I’m pretty,” I started. That was true, I wasn’t as skinny as I wanted to be, but my smooth mocha brown skin and large dark eyes had always been assets men complimented me on. I was also a little on the tall side, five seven to be exact. My legs went on forever in the four inch heels I hiked around in everyday. Men couldn’t seem to get enough of those either, but that had been in my twenties and early thirties. The cat calls were less frequent now and seemed to come from the mouths of drunks rather than good looking men who were actually trying to holler. The ones who weren’t drunk were five foot five and balding. I sighed and waved my hand. “Let’s move on.”
Gayle slid a folder in front of me. “I did the things you asked. I reserved the banquet hall, the videographer and photographer. Those are the contracts from the vendors and your payment receipts. I’ll email everything so you have digital copies.”
“Fantastic! What would I do without you?”
“Hire two hardworking people to take my place.” She chuckled. “I also have a call in to the D.J. and limousine company.”
I sucked in a cleansing breath and fanned my fingers out across the desk. “Great, that’s a big help.”
“Did you want me to get you a list of caterers?”
“Some back ups. I have a small company in town I’d like to use. I’m going to call them myself. They’re family friends and I’m sure they could use the business.”
Gayle put the pen she’d borrowed back in my pencil holder. “Any thing else?”
“Yes,” I replied. “You can book me a flight to Atlanta. I’m headed to Garrison, Georgia, whether I want to or not.”
Breaking All The Rules will be available for Kindle and Nook for $2.99 on 9/19/2013.
About the Author
Rhonda McKnight is the author of the Black Expressions Top 20 bestsellers, A Woman’s Revenge (Mar 2013), What Kind of Fool (Feb 2012), An Inconvenient Friend (Aug 2010) and Secrets and Lies (Dec 2009). She was a 2010 nominee for the African-American Literary Award in the categories of Best Christian Fiction Novel and Best Anthology. She was the winner of the 2010 Emma Award for Favorite Debut Author and the 2009 Shades of Romance Award for Best Christian Fiction Novel. Originally from a small, coastal town in New Jersey, she’s called Atlanta, Georgia home for fifteen years. Visit her at www.rhondamcknight.net and www.facebook.com/booksbyrhonda