In the sparkling conclusion to Mary Monroe’s bestselling God series, two forever friends face their biggest betrayals yet and learn the hard way that putting your trust in the wrong hands can change your life forever…
These days, Annette Goode Davis has a pretty full plate—literally and figuratively. Although she’s trying to reconcile with her husband, Pee Wee, she’s still seeing other men on the side. A woman’s got to cover her bases, right? With her love life hopping, Annette should be as pleased as punch. Instead, the stress has her eating everything in sight and packing on the pounds along the way.
Meanwhile, Annette’s best friend, Rhoda O’Toole, has her hands full—as usual—dealing with her wild child daughter. Jade has always been a cross to bear, but when her antics almost cost Rhoda her man, Rhoda throws Jade out on the street. But Jade soon finds a way to make Rhoda regret her choice….
Privately, Annette thanks her lucky stars that her daughter, Charlotte, has her head on straight. And she’s been doubly blessed to have a strait-laced neighbor look after Charlotte when she’s caught up in Pee Wee and Rhoda’s many problems. But when Annette’s world is rocked by a terrible revelation, she’ll discover that appearances can be very, very deceiving—and she’ll have to summon every ounce of strength she has to protect the ones she loves.
“Monroe is a masterful storyteller.” —Philadelphia Inquirer
Eight months earlier
MY MOTHER HAD TOLD ME YEARS AGO THAT IF I EVER GOT
married, I’d better keep a parachute nearby, because I was
probably going to have to jump out of the relationship sooner
or later. A parachute wouldn’t have done me much good. A
trampoline was what I needed. I did a lot of bouncing back and
forth with Pee Wee, my estranged husband. Despite our bitter
breakup several months ago, he still spent a lot of time in bed
“I guess I still got it, huh?” Pee Wee asked with an anxious
look on his dark, still-handsome face. Except for his receding
hairline and that spare tire around his waist, he was still attractive
for a man of forty-eight.
“Still got what?” I asked, with my eyes on the five crisp $100
bills that he had dropped onto the nightstand next to my
bed, just before he dropped his pants. Even though I had a
high-paying job and we didn’t have a financial arrangement,
he gave me a couple thousand dollars a month for me to
spend on myself and our daughter, Charlotte.
Pee Wee’s eyes got wide. “Don’t mess with me, woman. You
know what I’m talkin’ about. Judging from the way you was
whoopin’ and hollerin’ in that damn bed a few minutes ago, I
know I’m still handlin’ my manly job well for a man my age,”
I rolled my eyes and gave him an exasperated look. “So it’s
a job to you now,” I pouted. The last thing I wanted to hear
was the implication that sex with me was a “job,” because
that’s exactly what it had been to me at one time. I had made
my money working as a prostitute during my teens. When my
husband pulled out the $500 a few minutes ago, it brought
back some painful memories. “You make me feel like a prostitute....”
Pee Wee shook his head, rolled his eyes, and glanced at his
watch. “Look, I got to get to my shop and open up. I got a lot
of hair to cut today. So if you are tryin’ to tell me somethin’,
hurry up and tell me.”
“I did tell you something.”
“So what if I do make you feel like a prostitute? Whores
need love too.”
I threw up my hands. “If I were you, I’d stop while I was
ahead,” I warned. I rubbed the back of my neck and sucked
in some air. We had had conversations similar to this one so
many times that I felt like I was rehearsing for a play. “Look, I
think we can still work things out and not do . . . this,” I told
him, patting the bed and hoping that he wouldn’t agree with
my last statement. “Every time you come over here now, we
end up in bed. You don’t have to sleep with me, and you
don’t have to pay me to do it. That’s why I suggested we still
date other people, until we can decide if we want to reconcile
Pee Wee gave me a confused look. “Don’t you enjoy these
little get-togethers as much as I do?”
“I do, but I don’t want you to think that we have to do it.”
He gave me another confused look, this time blinking so
hard and fast I thought something had got caught in his eye.
“Why? Do you not want to make love with me? You don’t find
me attractive anymore?” he asked.
“Don’t be so sensitive,” I scolded. “You know I enjoy making
love with you. I always have.”
“Then why we talkin’ all this crap, baby? You know that the
money I give to you is for my daughter. I ain’t payin’ you to
make love with me. I ain’t never paid for no pussy before in
my life, and I never will. Not even with you.”
I didn’t see any reason to remind Pee Wee about the times
he’d told me that when he was in the army, he and every
other member of his platoon had paid Vietnamese prostitutes
“You don’t need to make our situation no messier than it
already is,” he reminded.
“I know, I know. It’s just that every time you come over
here, we...uh...we end up in bed and you hand me some
money. Just like I was still a . . .” Pee Wee knew that I had once
worked as a prostitute. Even though that dark episode had
occurred more than thirty years ago, I knew that he probably
still thought about it as much as I did.
“Let’s not bring up the past. We already have enough to
deal with in the present. My mechanic is comin’ by the
house next week to take a look under the hood of your car
to see why you keep hearin’ that buzzin’ noise. Do you need
any yard work or anything else done around the house,
“No, I don’t need anything like that,” I told him.
“Well,” he yawned as he rubbed his chest and licked his
lips. “I’m feelin’ real good. Even better than the last time I
was here. Thank you very much!” he exclaimed with a wink.
“Is there anything else we need to discuss before I leave?”
“Since you asked, there is just this one other thing.” I locked
eyes with Pee Wee. Then the words rolled out of my mouth
like marbles. “Will you tell your whore to stop calling my
His jaw dropped so fast I was surprised it didn’t lock in
place. “What? I—I ain’t got no whore! You know you are the
only woman that I’m involved with these days!” he yelled.
I gasped. “Is that right?” I asked, patting the side of my
head. I usually wore my medium-length hair in braids, but
lately I’d been getting by with a mild perm and a French twist.
It had come undone during my ten-minute romp with Pee
Wee. I could feel clumps of my hair standing up on my head,
pointing in all directions. I must have looked like Don King.
“But...but...I...I,” Pee Wee stuttered.
“Well, the woman I’m talking about is a straight-up whore!
I could see that my outburst had surprised Pee Wee. It had
been a while since I had mentioned the woman whom he left
me for last March. He folded his arms and a frightened look
appeared on his face. He knew that he had to be careful
about what he said to me, unless he wanted to deal with my
wrath. The day that he had brought his mistress to my house
to tell me that he was leaving me and moving in with her, I’d
knocked out one of his teeth. And I had given his mistress a
thorough, well-deserved ass whupping with my rolling pin.
“Are you talkin’ about Lizzie Stovall?” he asked dumbly,
shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
“Who else would I be talking about?” I hollered, giving him
an incredulous look. “Lizzie is the only one that I am aware
of! Was there another one?”
“No! No, there was no other woman other than Lizzie. You
know better. You know I don’t lie to you.”
My eyes got as big as saucers and I gasped. “You’re lying
“Aw, Annette, you know what I mean.”
“Do I?” I barked, giving him a critical look. “Whether I do
or not, it doesn’t matter. The thing is, that woman called here
last week—several times—and she called again yesterday.”
“She did? Uh, what did she want?”
“She was trying to catch up with you, fool! She claims she’s
been trying to reach you for days.”
“Oh. Well, it’s over between me and her, and has been
since she left me and moved in with Peabo Boykin. If she calls
here again, just hang up on her. That ought to stop her.”
“Don’t you think I’ve already tried that?” I snapped. “But
until you talk to her, she’s going to keep calling here.”