Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bejeweled: Standing Strong by Chelle Ramsey


Olivia has overcome many challenges and disappointments in her life. Yet, when faced with an unexpected death of a family member, and witnessing the murder of someone she cares for, she isn’t sure she can survive. The losses incurred on this journey may cause her to pay the ultimate sacrifice.
The return of Black and Kianna means the puzzle pieces of Angel’s life are finally locking into place. The picture is different than she envisioned. Angel must determine if uncovering the truth of their past, is worth the sacrifice of her new relationship.
Kianna’s played dirty in the past, but this time the fight is deadly. She’s willing to go all in to expose the truth, which will cause everyone in the game to ante up. Will her sacrifice be more than she bargained for?
Black’s gambled several times in the past, but this time the stakes are high. With his life and those of his family serving as the bargaining chips, it isn’t that easy to fold. To protect those he loves the most, he may have to sacrifice his own life to save theirs.
Angel. Kianna. Black. In the end everyone must bear their cross. And the truth is so explosive, the House will never be the same. One will stand strong and walk away. One will stand strong and make the ultimate sacrifice. And one will stand strong and won’t survive!

Angel had been sitting in the waiting room for several hours with Georgette beside her. On her way to the hospital, Angel called Black’s mom to let her know what happened. She promised Angel she would be on the next flight in from DC and catch a cab to the hospital. Angel expected she would arrive at any moment.
“Mrs. Franklin,” a nurse greeted, entering the waiting room and approaching Angel.
“Yes?” Angel replied, standing up.
“Terrence is out of surgery now. He was back in recovery for the last half an hour, and they just rolled him up to his room. You can see him for a brief moment. Please follow me, Mrs. Franklin,” the nurse said. Her name tag read, “Ophelia.”
Angel looked back at Georgette who nodded her head reassuringly. She folded her arms across herself as she nervously followed the nurse through the blue swinging double doors marked Intensive Care Unit 1 {ICU 1}. Georgette had stayed behind in the waiting area, because no one was allowed back but family. Angel had told the nurse upon her arrival she was his wife, conveniently leaving the “ex” off.
Despite all the hell Black had taken her through with his years of selling drugs and cheating, she didn’t want any harm to come to him. There were more years with him as his woman and wife than not. Not to mention he was the father of her child. Although she would not admit it to anyone else, she still cared about Black.
She paused momentarily as the nurse came to a stop outside a room two doors down from the nurses’ reception desk. Angel looked through the glass partition of the ICU room Black was in. Gasping, she placed her hand to her mouth to stifle the sob that threatened to break forth. Angel didn’t try to stop the tears that flooded her eyes, running down her face. She had to be strong right now, for him and her little boy.
“Are you up to this, honey?” Ophelia asked. She placed a tiny, cool hand on Angel’s wrist and cast a warm, blue gaze at Angel.
Inhaling deeply, unable to find her voice, Angel shook her head “yes.” Following the nurse into the room, she warily took in her surroundings. The monitors stood guard over his bed like night watchmen, bleeping out readings that wouldn’t make sense to her in a million years. To the left of his bed stood two machines. According to Nurse Ophelia, one recorded his heart rate and monitored his blood pressure, while the other monitored his oxygen level. A saline drip was attached to his left hand and another pole with a plastic packet stood next to it. She was unsure as to what it was for, but the tubing attached to it; snaked its way underneath the covers to his pelvic region.
Her heart skipped a beat when she found the courage to lift her eyes to see Black lying inert in the bed. He was on a ventilator. Her Black who was so full of life, so flirtatious and fun one moment and so hardcore the next, but always talking. There were no sounds coming from him now. The endotracheal tube made sure of that. No sounds other than the low beeping and the whooshing of the equipment could be heard.
“Why is he on a ventilator?” Angel found her voice.
“It’s to assist him with breathing until he is able to do so on his own. It’s not abnormal. It just ensures that if he misses a breath, the machine will do the breathing for him. This tubing here,” Ophelia pointed at the plastic tube coming from his nose, “is a feeding tube that will give him all the nutrients he needs until he’s off the ventilator and able to eat on his own.”
“Do we know how long he’ll be here in ICU?”
“That always varies depending on the patient, their response to treatment, and how soon he begins coming around. It’s really difficult to say. But what you can do while he’s here is just talk to him, as you normally would. Just be careful not to say anything that might be upsetting to him. It’s okay to rub his hand or arm; you can even kiss him on his forehead if you would like.”
Angel shook her head and sniffed as she blinked back tears.
“All right, I’m going to step out, and I’ll be at the nurses’ station if you need anything. Its 4:30 now,” Ophelia stated, looking at her wrist watch. “You have 15 minutes with him, and then you’ll have to leave until 8:30 tonight. That’s our next visiting time.”
Angel cautiously sat in the chair on the right side of his bed. She wasn’t sure what to do with herself or how to even respond to him. A part of her continued to wait for him to wake up and say something sarcastic to her at any moment, or even ask about his son.
After sitting there for almost five minutes, she tentatively reached out her hand and touched his wrist. “Black…what happened? Who did this to you? I told you! I told you if you didn’t change your lifestyle…” Angel shook her head, recalling the nurse’s advice.
“I’m sorry,” she tried again, “I don’t know who did this to you, or why, but I’m sure we’re gonna bring them to justice.” She sat rocking back and forth for a few moments more, staring at him.
“I don’t know what I’m gonna tell TJ. He was looking forward to spending this weekend with you. Maybe I’ll just say you aren’t feeling well. I know we’ve been through so much, but that little boy loves you. And neither of you deserves this. There’s a lot of things I didn’t say throughout our marriage, which I should have said. But the one thing I never failed to tell you is you’re a wonderful father. You’ve always been the best father that little boy could have. You’re strong, smart, funny, and you have so much love in you for him. And he needs that. So if for no other reason, you have to get well for TJ, Black.” She rubbed his hand and stared at him, fighting back the tears.

It was always so much easier to give it when it didn’t impact you directly. The benefit of the doubt. That’s what Olivia was thinking about. There were so many things that needed her attention at the moment, but she couldn’t move past the funeral. Bethany’s funeral had been explosive in more ways than one. She had been strong through it all, even when Anne, Bethany’s mother, had announced in front of just over a hundred strangers that Raymond had been trying to re-ignite his marriage to Bethany and had even shared her bed after marrying Olivia.
A weaker woman would have broken. A weaker woman would not have walked out of the funeral home with her head held high. A weaker woman would not have held her composure on the ride back to the hotel with her husband and step-children, or on the return flight home. But Olivia was anything but weak. Her strength and faith in God kept her through it all…until they returned home.
Throughout it all, Raymond had attempted to explain it. She told him in no uncertain terms she didn’t want to discuss it until they returned home.
They had arrived back at their house just after midnight on Sunday. She pretended to be asleep even when Raymond reached for her in bed. She had pulled away and spent the remainder of the night with questions floating in her head. She would have her say. But not in front of the children. So the next day when her father asked if he could take the children for ice cream, she jumped at the opportunity.
“Baby, I’m telling you, Anne is evil. She twisted everything into something ugly. It never happened like she said,” Raymond pleaded, as he sat on the bed bench with his hands clasped between his knees.
Olivia sat at her dressing table with her back to her husband.
“Why would she lie about something like that, Ray?”
“Because she’s hateful. She wants to see me unhappy and miserable,” Raymond reasoned.
“But why, Ray? What have you done to her that would make her so angry she would tell such vile lies?” Olivia asked. She still refused to turn around and face him.
“I don’t know, baby. She’s angry because her daughter died, and she’s always hated me. The woman is prejudiced. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she loves black people as long as we’re not mixing with her precious blue blood. But once you cross that line you’re an enemy for life,” Raymond clarified.
“Raymond, this is the worst excuse I’ve ever heard. Tell me,” she said, turning around in her chair and facing her husband for the first time. “Did you tell Bethany you wanted to work on your marriage?”
“No!” Raymond adamantly denied.
“Did you ever want to work on your marriage?” Olivia interrogated.
“No, baby. At least not once I decided to divorce her. By the time you and I got together, I had left all of that behind me,” he explained.
Olivia could see the pain in his eyes, but she couldn’t help but think of all the return trips he made to Boston in the beginning of their marriage. Many of those trips had resulted in an argument between her and her husband.
“She said there were times you were staying up there and the kids were with her and Cal. What about that, Ray? How do you explain that?” she asked, pursing her lips.
“Beth knew I was coming to see the kids, but hadn’t told them. On a couple of occasions they asked if they could spend the night with their grandparents. And she took them, never telling them I was on the way into town. I usually didn’t arrive until that night some time, and it would be too late to get them by then. So I would have to wait until the next day to pick them up,” he explained. Raymond stood up and began crossing the room to his wife.
Olivia held up her hand to stop him in his path.
“Did you ever sleep in the same bed as her, Raymond?” Olivia asked. Her heart fell when her husband lowered his head. “Ray-did-you-ever-sleep-in-the-same-bed-with-Beth?” Olivia asked in a slow, drawn-out tone.
He held his head up and looked her in the eyes. “Yes, but—”
“Get the hell out of my home! Now!” she screamed, when it took a moment for him to take in what she was saying. “Get out!”
She fast-walked to the closet and began pulling his clothes out and throwing them at him.
“Ivy…baby, listen!” Raymond pleaded, pulling on her arm.
“Raymond, don’t you dare touch me! Get the hell out, now!” she growled.
He began picking up his items from the floor and left the home before the kids returned.
All alone in her bedroom, she screamed until she grew hoarse, and then she lay down and wept until she fell asleep.

She needed to figure out how to calm the firestorm of her marriage. She would not allow her family issues to become fuel for the gossip mill. As if catching a vibe, her cell phone began to buzz at that moment. She glanced down and saw Raymond’s smiling face on the phone.
“Hey, ladies, I’ll be right back,” she said, walking back towards her office.
She hit the answer button before she made it there. “Hold on for a moment,” she said into the phone.
Closing the door behind her, she sat in her office chair and slowly put the phone to her ear.
“Yes, Raymond,” she answered in a sharp tone.
“We need to talk, Olivia.”
“About what?”
“I don’t want to do this over the phone. We’ve been going at it like this for the last couple of days. We can’t keep telling the kids I’m out of town for a work conference.”
“That was your idea, Raymond! You better not dare try to turn this around on me. I have not interfered with your right to your children. I have no right to do that, and I wouldn’t try. You’re the one who decided you didn’t want—”
“You’re damned right, I decided!” Raymond interrupted. “They are going through enough right now and the last thing I want is for them to know we’re on the outs.”
“I don’t care what you want, Ray! Your wants don’t matter to me!”
“They had better matter. Especially where those kids are involved, Olivia. Look, I know you’re angry with me right now. But this isn’t about you and me. It’s about what they need. And what they need is to see strength and unity and love. They don’t need to see us falling apart. You’re their stepmother, and as a parent you’re a role model whether you like it or not. I’m coming home this evening. And we can talk or not, but I’m coming back home and I’m not leaving again, Olivia,” Ray shot back.
“Fine then! I will!” Olivia insisted, and clicked the phone off.
She got up from her office chair and sat on the couch. Her hands were shaking and she, felt ready to explode. She dropped her head into her hands and released the tears of hurt and frustration.
“Father what am I going to do? I’ve given this man all of my heart and all of my love. I can’t take this hurt and pain. How can I be there for these children or this man right now, when I don’t have strength for myself? How could he do this to us, Lord? I trusted him more than I’ve ever trusted another person in my life! Oh, God…whyyyyyy?” she sobbed.
Olivia’s shoulders shook with each sob that wracked her body. She thought about how all she had done was cry all weekend long. And each time was at the hands of Raymond, the man who had sworn to love, protect, and cherish her. He’d failed miserably. She wondered if he had ever gotten over his first wife. She had asked him that early on in the relationship. He’d sworn he was over Bethany. Now she began to question everything.
He wouldn’t make a fool out of her. Olivia was a good, strong woman who deserved better. This she knew. And she could show him better than she could tell him. She had a bathroom there at the shop and an extra change of clothes. She wouldn’t be going home tonight.

An original Georgia Peach, Chelle Ramsey is a fiction author, writing stories to encourage, empower, entertain and strengthen readers. Many of her stories are based in her birthplace of Atlanta or her husband’s hometown of Cincinnati, where readers can relate to local hot spots and events. She wants her readers (women and men) to become empowered to rise above adversity, with faith in God, and belief in themselves.
Chelle holds an MBA in Human Resource Management, which she puts to use in her HR generalist role by day, while she writes her women’s fiction and Christian fiction novels by night. She is also a romance ghostwriter, a genre very diverse from her own.
Her most important roles are those of a wife and mother of three. During her “me time,” she loves listening to music, and becomes enraptured with the enthralling stories of Terry McMillan, and Nora Roberts. She especially relishes trying to solve the engaging mysteries of James Patterson and Stuart Woods, while eating a bowl of her favorite butter pecan ice cream. Chelle resides in a rural community of Atlanta, GA and enjoys writing, family time, and watching NBA games with her husband.

BLOG:  www.chelleramsey.com/beautifully-inspired-blog
WEBSITE: www.chelleramsey.com
FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorChelleRamsey?ref=hl
FACEBOOK_NOVEL: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-House-of-BeJeweled-Novels/385049478363422?ref=hl
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/ChellesBooks
EMAIL: chelleramseywrites@gmail.com
INSTAGRAM: https://instagram.com/chelleramseybooks/
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscom_Chelle


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