Sample text for Mistakes men make / by Byron Harmon.


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Chapter One

Eric Swift had always dreamed of making love to Janet Jackson, and tonight his dream was about to come true. Ever since he'd moved from Washington, D.C., to New York to take a top anchoring job at ABC eight months before, he'd had one conquest after another. On the career front, it was clear to everyone he worked with that his star was on the rise. As the sports anchor for an early morning show he brought an exciting spin to sports reporting. Most days his schedule allowed him to get off work by noon. That left him with plenty of free time, and so far he'd made the most of it -- with the ladies. He'd been out with nearly a dozen different women, but this was the first time he'd bought a brand-new outfit for a date. That's if you wanted to call it a date. Actually, they were going to have dinner and drinks in her suite at the posh W Hotel on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. Janet had said she was tired and not up for the crowds of people who would definitely be out on such a hot Friday evening in May. Eric had tried, without success, to convince her to come to his apartment at Trump Place, a new luxury development on the Upper West Side.

As he slid his toned arms inside the beige linen three-button Prada suit jacket, Eric smiled at the way the light set off the silk mustard yellow shirt. He left the two top buttons undone to showcase his muscular neck and strong jaw. The tailored suit fit him like a glove, but he frowned at his footwear.

No, no, he thought. These are just too old.

He strolled over to the walk-in closet of his impressive master bedroom. He'd had his decorator copy a room that he'd seen showcased in Architectural Digest. It was an exact replica, from the mini crystal chandelier to the thick mocha-colored carpet.

Despite being a playboy and former NFL cornerback, Eric was no dumb jock. He was very well read and had a particular fondness for ancient cultures and history. The decor was Old World Spanish with a dash of Middle East. His king-sized antique bed with matching nightstands was at least one hundred years old. The bedroom set was made of heavy oak and Pledged to perfection. The thick maroon and brown Ralph Lauren duvet and pillows matched the heavy silk curtains. The bedroom looked like an expensive Moroccan hotel room.

Gracing the brass lamp-lit walls were tasteful prints by prominent African American artists. The prints, as well as the African and Arabic sculptures nestled in custom-built oak bookshelves, were his prized possessions. Among them, the sculpture closest to his heart was a wooden Black Madonna and child from Ethiopia. It had once been part of an altar in one of the oldest Coptic churches in Addis Ababa. Eric had to jump through major customs hoops to get it out of the country.

Switching on the overhead light in the closet, he scanned the neat boxes of shoes until his gaze rested on the perfect pair. "Yes, these babies will do," he said.

Eric was a freak for shoes, but not just any shoes. He only wore Mezlans, an expensive brand imported from Spain. He carefully slipped on a brand-new brown pair along with a matching belt.

Impressed with his reflection, he said "Goddamn!" to the mirror hanging inside one of the double doors of the closet.

Eric couldn't believe how lucky he was. Who knew that his friend Dre would know a woman as fly as Janet Jackson? Kenneth Andre, aka Dirty Dre or Stuttering Dre, wasn't known for his taste in pretty women. Not that he didn't have any women. In fact, Dirty Dre was quite a player. It's just that his team wore ugly uniforms. "Ugly women need d-d-dick too" was his motto. It didn't matter if the club or party was full of dozens of blind, naked, and horny Tyra Banks look-alikes, Dirty Dre would somehow manage to leave with the Bride of Frankenstein. That's why Eric had demanded proof of Janet's beauty when Dre told him about her a month ago. He wanted to see for himself if she looked as fine as the real Janet Jackson.

"N-n-n-nigga, you want proof?" Dirty Dre had said, reaching into his back pocket for his wallet. "Here's your proof."

Eric held the photograph up to the light and studied it. He was impressed. Too impressed.

"This picture came with your wallet," he cracked.

Dirty Dre frowned.

"Well, I'll be damned, Dirty. How did you meet her?"

"She go way b-b-back with my sister. They um, did like ballet or some sh-sh-shit together when they were little girls."

"Well, Janet Jackson ain't no little girl no mo," Eric said, his hand on his crotch. "She looks old enough to 'control' this. You didn't hit it, huh, Dirty?"

"H-hell no," he shot back. "She too damn pretty."

If Janet lived up to her picture, he thought he might have to settle down. He'd called Janet later that week and they hit it off great. She was funny, charming, and above all, sounded fine as hell on the phone. He couldn't wait to hook up with her. Pops, Eric's father and confidant, was even excited and had told him to call after they hooked up to give him the play-by-play.

Early-evening traffic in Manhattan was always crazy, and Eric arrived at the W Hotel about twenty minutes late. Fuck it, he thought. I'm late, but I'm fashionably late. Plus I'm fly as hell.

He started humming the chorus to Michael Jackson's "Beat It" as he pushed the elevator button. That's exactly what he planned to do to Janet. He couldn't believe how nasty she'd talked on the phone. By the time he knocked on Janet's hotel door, his heart was racing with excitement.

"Just a minute," Janet said through the door.

"Oh, it's gon' be more than just a minute," Eric muttered to himself. With a smirk he stuck his right hand in his pants pocket and cocked his chin a few degrees to the left, his most Mac-a-licious pose. The door swung open and there stood Janet Jackson in all her glory. Eric thought he heard trumpets blaring and angels singing. She had on a sexy form-fitting white dress with a V-neck that ended at her navel. Her right foot, barely peeking out from under the dress, was balanced in a three-inch-heeled pink and white Jimmy Choo sandal, which matched the pink flower in her long black hair. On her neck and wrist was a matching platinum diamond necklace and bracelet set. It was hard for Eric to believe, but she looked even better than her picture.

Eric had planned to say some smooth shit, but all he could spit out was "Damn!"

Janet's laugh was high and sweet. "Is that all you got to say, Eric?"

"If I say what I'm thinking, you might call hotel security," he said, shaking his head.

Janet smirked. "Go ahead. I'm sure I've heard it before."

Eric got down on one knee. "Will you marry me?"

"What? Boy, you are even crazier than Dre said."

"Look, I know a preacher who makes booty calls, I mean house calls. I got his two-way number and I can get him here right now."

"Your pastor has a two-way? Wait a second, what would we do for a ring?"

Standing up, he twisted the ring off his finger. "You can wear this."

"That's a graduation ring."

"It's solid gold."

"Boy, come in here."

"I plan to."

Janet grinned and turned around slowly. Eric's gaze followed her shapely ass as if he was watching a scene in digital slow motion, one cheek after the other. As she walked farther into the room, Eric blinked and rubbed his eyes. Then he blinked again.

"What the fuck?" he mumbled.

Janet was limping. Not a simple sprained-ankle limp but a full-blown she-must-have-had-polio-as-a-little-girl limp.

She looked over her shoulder. "Don't be scared. Walk this way."

"I can't walk that way," Eric said, dazed and confused.

Janet looked surprised. "What's wrong? Didn't Dre tell you?"

"Tell me what?"

"That I had a prosthetic leg."

Still standing in the doorway, Eric swallowed hard, eyes bugging. "You got only one leg?"

"Yeah, I had a traffic accident about five years ago and they had to amputate my left leg."

"Huh?" Eric stuttered. "You left your leg? I mean, you lost your left leg?"

"I can't believe Andre didn't tell you."

"Mother-fuck!" Eric said, shaking his head.

"What did you say?"

"Oh. Um, I said you had some tough luck."

"It's okay. At least I'm alive."

Eric looked at his watch. "Yeah, that's one way of looking at it."

"So what now? You don't wanna come in?"

"Oh yeah, I'm cool." Okay, how do I get out of this?

Eric closed the door behind him and leaned back against it. It sounded like a cell door clanking on death row. He tugged at his shirt collar and cleared his throat. "You have anything to drink in here? I'm feeling a lil' parched."

"Yeah, I ordered a nice bottle of wine."

"What kind?"

"A Merlot."

Eric frowned.

"You don't like Merlot? I can order something else. What would you like?"

"Some Mad Dog twenty-twenty."

It was the drink of choice for what he imagined would be an Olympian sex effort. No, it was worse than that....Tonight was shaping up to be a Special Olympics.

Copyright © 2005 by Byron Harmon




Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Television news anchors -- Fiction.
Self-destructive behavior -- Fiction.
Loss (Psychology) -- Fiction.
New York (N.Y.) -- Fiction.