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The Eternal Engagement

Mary B. Morrison

ISBN 9780758222640
Publish Date 6/26/2012
Format Trade Paperback
Categories Dafina, Fiction

From New York Times bestselling author Mary B. Morrison comes a moving, unforgettable story of lives at a crossroads, love lost and found, and the price of secrets…

After her high school sweetheart proposed and joined the military, Mona Lisa Ellington thought she’d never love again. So she settled, making a new life for herself with a man who cherished her…and made his living hurting others. Despite her reality, she prayed her fiancé would one day return.

Before becoming a T.V. reporter, Katherine Clinton knew she’d marry her high school sweetheart and live happily ever after. But when he left for the military, she had to make new plans for her and their son. Despite his long absence, Katherine dreamed of the day her fiancé would return.

William Lincoln joined the military to make his grandfather proud. He never imagined he would be gone so long, or that the fiancées he left behind would reignite emotions he thought he’d never feel again. But his selfish proposal to two women is the least of his problems, because all three will face the consequences of too much deception.…

“Mix dirty red drama, relationship scandals, suspense, love and you get my girl Mary B. Morrison.” —Vickie Stringer

“Full of betrayal, greed, and sex that will have…fans clamoring for more.” —Publishers Weekly

Mona

Prologue

May 2000

“Promise me you won’t get upset.” Why did he have to say that, knowing she’d ask, “Upset about what?”

“I’ll tell you in a minute, but first you have to promise me,” he insisted.

Graduation day they sat in the empty stadium at their high school. The two of them. Alone. Surrounded by the morning’s humidity and sunshine, they were draped in their royal blue gowns and caps with dangling golden tassels. The plastic-plated 2000 charm symbolized the end of their preadult years.

Batting her long lashes, she stood and gazed out over the field. Football season was over for him. Dating him was over for her. There were no new beginnings for them. Just old memories.

Licking the same soft, drizzling vanilla, their tongues would circle the sugar cone until their lips met. His kisses were sweeter than the melted yogurt she’d suck from his mouth. As they talked all night on the phone, his voice comforted her. Making love for the first time to Usher’s “Nice and Slow” made the little girl inside her feel all grown up. The way Lincoln had moved his body—teasing, grinding, pleasing, winding, thrusting, easing his way inside of her—made her cry.

When you’re a teenager, you think all there is to love is a feeling. A feeling that’ll never end. You believe your world is perfect and you’re invincible. No worries about having your heart broken. No cares about partying all night, where your next meal would come from, gas money to cruise around town in your bucket with your friends, or how your college tuition is going to get paid. Those worries were for parents, not children.

Their relationship had ended when he’d started showing interest in another girl. She knew there was someone else when he began looking through her, not at her. His walk was a little taller. Smile was a lot wider. He laughed louder than usual at things that weren’t meant to be funny. Wow, there was another girl that excited him more than she had. She’d never imagined that happening. But it had. That’s when they’d become friendly. The first day of eleventh grade, her friendship with him was never the same.

“Lincoln, how do I know if I’ll be upset if you won’t tell me?”

“Mona Lisa, please,” he begged. “Just promise me.”

If only he knew how many times she fantasized about walking down the aisle with him. She’d have the whitest white wedding dress with a train so long, two people would have to carry it. Going to his college football games would make her beam brighter than the panels of lights illuminating the field. She pictured what their babies would look like with his eyes and her nose. His hair and her smile. He was the only boy, soon to be a man, who had made her feel pretty inside and out. He was her first love, first lover, first real boyfriend. Steven Cunningham from the second grade didn’t count.

Funny how the first could never be anything except. No one came inside of her before him. No one made her daydream in class, cut class, or have sex in an empty classroom, locker room, or backseat of her bucket, before him. She still loved him. Probably would always be in love with him.

He kissed her, then said, “If I don’t tell you now, I won’t be able to tell you after we walk across the stage.”

His large, light brown eyes pleaded more than his words. His dark, short curly hair was twisted into perfect coils. One stood out atop his head. Gently she fingered it into place.

Standing before his six-foot-four-inch, one hundred ninety pounds, she held the back of his head, pressed his cheek against her stomach. She held his face there, this moment she’d cherish forever. She tried to sense if his news was good or bad. Not really sure, she opened her eyes, and whispered, “Then don’t tell me.”

His grandparents were well known throughout their community. They had raised him well. He was a true gentleman. She hated that he’d broken up with her two years ago, but she had to respect the way he’d done it. He hadn’t embarrassed her after a game, in front of his teammates, or at a gathering with their friends. Hadn’t called her out of her name or acted as though their breakup was her fault. One Sunday afternoon he’d come to her house, sat on the front porch with her, held her hands, looked into her eyes, then told her, “I’m going to ask Katherine Clinton to be my girlfriend. And if she says, ‘Yes,’ then our relationship has to end.”

Lincoln grabbed her hand, the same way he’d done two years ago. He scooted back on the shiny metal bleachers, pulled her toward him. “Mona Lisa, please.” He sat her down beside him. “I wanted to say I’m sorry for breaking up with you, man. You were nothing but good to me. I was stupid for that. Kather—”

Removing her cap, she placed it in her lap, then lamented, “Do not mention her name to me. You’ve been with her for two years. I’ve moved on. You got who you wanted.”

Her pride said she’d move on. Her heart begged to differ. Lincoln was different from the other football players. He was the starting running back. He held the school’s record for the most yards and the most touchdowns. He could’ve scored with any girl in Selma, and a few moms too, if he wanted. But he didn’t. He stayed faithful to her until Katherine accepted his offer. Then he came back to her house, sat on her porch, and let her know his new relationship was official.

Squeezing her hands, he said, “But that’s just it. I don’t have who I need. I need you. I need you to pray for me. Pray for me every day. Pray I don’t get killed. Pray I return home safe. I love you, Mona Lisa. I really do.”

His kiss on her cheek was warm. He gently stroked his thumb over the spot he’d kissed. Like when they were a couple, everything Lincoln had done was passionate and deliberate.

“Why do you love me so much?” she asked him for the first time.

She knew her unique beauty wasn’t what the girls consider commercially appealing. The bridge of her nose aligned with her forehead. No dip between the eyes like most people. Her nostrils, so close to the bridge they almost blended. Her upper lip was full and wide with a tiny V that pointed to a small bubble centered in her top lip. Her mother had told her, “That was no accident. God made you that way.” He also divided her lower lip with an indentation, making it seem like two halves instead of one whole. Her cheeks were flat. Nothing a little blush couldn’t redefine. Ears flat as though fading into the sides of her head instead of standing out. Nothing her hair couldn’t conceal when she wanted.

Individually, her features could have made her appear freakish. But Lincoln loved kissing her succulent mouth. She didn’t have a curvaceous ass, big breasts, or thick legs. She deemed herself a goddess worthy of royal treatment by all guys, but Lincoln was the one who mattered the most.

Tears dampened the cap covering her thighs. She fingered his gold tassel. Somewhat understanding what he meant by not getting killed and returning home safe, silently she said a little prayer for him. Prayed he hadn’t done what some of the other graduates had done.

“I turned down all my D-1 football scholarships. I signed up for the Marines. My recruiter is coming to get me right after I accept my diploma.”

Suddenly, her tears were accompanied by a downpour and an outburst. “Why, Lincoln? Why did you join the military without checking with me?” she cried. “Oh, my gosh, they brainwashed you into not taking a full ride? I would’ve begged you, told you to wait. Wait until we graduated from college, got married, had a few babies. That way you wouldn’t be leaving me alone.” She smothered his face with kisses.

“What am I going to do without you? It’s not too late to change your mind. Take one of those scholarship offers and go to college with me like we’d planned. That way we can be . . .” Her Southern drawl faded with sadness as her words trailed off.

For a moment she’d forgotten he wasn’t hers.

The dream she’d dreamt for them ended two years ago. But it still felt like their breakup was yesterday. She tightened her lips, blinked to force back new tears. Lincoln shoved his hand in his pocket, pulled out a silver band. “I won’t be gone for long. I’ll be back in four years. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I want to serve my country. My grandfather said enlisting means more than football. And you mean more to me than her. This here is an engagement ring. Promise me no matter what happens, we’ll be friends forever. Promise me, Mona Lisa Ellington, that when I come back from the military—” He paused, held her hand in his as he slid the silver band on her left ring finger and asked, “Mona Lisa, will you marry me?”

This was a good time to exercise the fifth amendment. Not answering him wasn’t the same as lying. Mona kissed him. Unzipped his robe, turned it inside out, laid it between the bleachers.

“Make love to me, Lincoln. Right here. Right now.”

“I didn’t ask you to marry me so I can have sex with you. I—”

“Hush,” she whispered. She unbuckled his pants, lowered them to his thighs. “Lay down for me.”

Raising her dress, she pulled her panties to the side, straddled him. She held his beautiful, rock-hard dick in her hand, then guided him inside her. The second his head entered her vagina, she felt all grown up again. This was her first time having unprotected sex, and it made her feel like a woman.

“You need to get up,” Lincoln said. “I’m about to cum.”

She knew she should’ve done as he’d asked, but her body tingled with pleasure she’d never experienced. Rotating her hips deeper into his pelvis, she trembled uncontrollably.

“So that’s what all the excitement is about,” she said, standing over him. Her panties were wet. “I came too. That’s another first for me, for us.”

She’d never cheated on her new boyfriend, Steven Cunningham, until now. Steven had never given her an orgasm. Mona had to know if she could experience that again, but she couldn’t tell Steven the truth. That would give him one more reason to hate Lincoln.

Lincoln stood, buckled his pants, put on his robe. “You didn’t answer my question.”

Mona kissed him. Her body burst with energy. They were both in relationships with other people. What he’d asked wasn’t realistic.

“If this is good-bye, if going to the military is what you truly want, and I don’t believe it is, especially after what just happened between us, I’ll just say, I hope that works out for you. I’ll keep your ring. And when you get back, we’ll see.”

As much as she loved Lincoln, there was no way she’d place her life on hold for four years waiting for him.

About Mary B. Morrison:

New York Times bestselling author Mary B. Morrison believes that women should shape their own destiny. Born in Aurora, IL, and raised in New Orleans, LA, she took a chance and quit her near six-figure government job to self-publish her first book, Soulmates Dissipate, in 2000 and begin her literary career. Mary’s books have appeared on numerous bestseller lists. Mary is actively involved in a variety of philanthropic endeavors, and in 2006 she sponsored the publication of an anthology written by 33 sixth-graders. In 2010 and 2014, Mary produced a play based on her novel, Single Husbands, which she wrote under her pseudonym, HoneyB. Her wonderful son, Jesse Byrd, Jr., is the owner of Oiseau Clothes and writing novels for adolescents. Mary currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Visit Mary Honey B Morrison on Facebook, Twitter @ marybmorrison, and at MaryMorrison.com.

Photo Credit: AJ Alexander Parhm


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