I’m excited that my ESSENCE Best Selling One Love will be relaunched in 2015 by Xpress Yourself Publishing with a new cover and slight modifications. I’m so proud of One Love because it was a well-written, entertaining novel about a handsome poet named Chris Harrington and a beautiful singer named Regina Simmons who discover that it’s a small world when it comes to love, family, friendship, and poetry. I’m looking forward to new readers to discover and fall in love with my characters.
So many individuals have asked me in the past, “Bill, are you going to write a sequel to One Love?” I did leave plenty of room for a potential sequel to be written someday, but I always uncertain where and how to begin. In addition, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to revisit these characters again since I began writing One Love over ten years ago. After much soul-searching and also doing some research about writing sequels (i.e., watching movies like The Best Man Holiday and reading novels like Marcus Major’s A Family Affair and Tery McMillan’s Getting to Happy), that day arrived two months ago in November 2014 when I sat down and began writing its sequel, I Can’t Tell You Why.
The following is an unedited excerpt from the manuscript to give you a sneak preview of what’s to come in the lives of Chris and Regina. I’ve only shared this excerpt with a few close friends and they loved what they read, waiting for more to come. Please feel free to share any feedback because your input does mean the world to me.
I Can’t Tell You Why
Chris and I had dinner at Chris’s Jazz Café in Center City on my 34th birthday. Carol Riddick was performing on that Thursday evening in March. I remembered the rain poured from the dark clouds in the grey sky onto Sansom St. that night. I almost had a change of heart about going out that evening since I hate rain. Chris insisted we did so because he didn’t want to celebrate my birthday at home.
My man looked so sexy and handsome dressed in a lavender dress shirt and black pinstripe slacks. I wore an olive green dress that complimented my cinnamon complexion and auburn hair. We sat at one of the white table clothed tables situated two rows from the front, holding hands, enjoying each other’s company and watching Carol’s performance. We knew her from back in the day from performing at Buttamilk and Blue Funk neo-soul/poetry functions around Philly. I could feel Chris squeezing my hand tighter when Carol started singing “Flirtatious,” mumbling an “Mm hmmm” underneath his breath.
“Ahem,” I said, clearing my throat.
“Huh,” Chris said, snapping out of his admiration.
I pulled my hand away. “Are you enjoying the show?”
“Yeah, she’s real good. I love this song.”
I crossed my arms. “Oh, really.”
Chris sighed. “Here you go, Gigi. You know she’s married.”
“I know that, Kid, and I’m glad you do, too.”
He shook his head. “Can’t take you nowhere.”
We both laughed and held hands again as Carol concluded the song and brought an end to her first set. The band was taking a brief 20 minute intermission to rest. Our waiter, Kelly, approached our table.
“How are you folks enjoying the show?” she asked.
“Dandy,” I replied while Chris nodded in agreement.
“Would you folks care for some dessert?”
I waved my hand. “I’ll pass.”
“I’d like to see a menu,” he said.
“I’ll be right back.”
Chris nodded his head with that glow in his eyes when he gets excited.
I cocked my eyebrow. Lord, I thought, he’s up to something. “What are you up to?”
He raised his hands in the air. “Nothin’!”
I started looking around. “Please don’t do anything to embarrass me. You know I don’t like surprises.”
“Relax, baby. Everything’s fine.” Chris began stroking my hands. “We’re here to celebrate your birthday. Chill, okay?”
Kelly returned with a menu and handed it to Chris. He ordered one slice of German chocolate cake, knowing darn well that was my personal favorite. I acquiesced and ordered the same from our waitress. Kelly informed us that she would return shortly with his order.
I shook my head and smiled. “You are so wrong, Kid.”
“You are so wrong for what you just did.”
“C’mon, Gigi, it’s your birthday,” he said, grasping my left hand and looking into my eyes. “Tonight is a very special night.”
I blushed, tilting my head and glancing at the candlelight illuminating at our table. “You always knew how to make me feel special.”
Chris inhaled a deep breath and sipped his Hennessey.
“Are you okay, baby?” I asked, rubbing his right forearm.
He nodded his head. “Mm hmmm.”
Something’s not right, I thought. Before I could say another word, Kelly returned to our table holding two plates in her hand. Another male waiter stood right behind her. “Here you go,” placing the plates on the table. She turned towards the waiter as he handed her a shiny silver box with multicolored stripes and a matching ribbon. “And here you go, ma’am. Happy Birthday!”
I inhaled and blushed. “No, you didn’t,” I replied, looking at Chris who was grinning.
He leaned over and kissed my lips. “Happy birthday, sweetie.”
Kelly clasped her hands and excused herself along with the other waiter.
“You…you…” I stuttered, looking at the box. “I…don’t believe you at times.” I pulled the ribbon, tore the wrapping paper, digging through the silver tissue paper to discover a smaller box with the same decoration. “Are you serious?” I asked, holding the box in my right hand.
“No, I’m Chris, and you’re Regina,” he sarcastically answered.
“Touché!” I responded, opening the box. “There better not be another box inside of this one.” He shrugged his shoulders as I unwrapped the next box to discover a smaller box with the same wrapping. “Okay, what gives?”
“You tell me,” Chris retorted.
“You tell me,” I said, mocking his voice. Shaking my head, I opened the smaller box to discover a little black box with a red ribbon adorned to its removable lid. I lifted the lid and gasped at the sight of the beautiful diamond engagement ring. “Oh my God,” I whispered, placing the small box on the table and gawking at Chris. My heart was palpitating and my right leg started shaking. I inhaled a deep breath to keep my emotions together, but I could feel the tears developing in my eyes.
Chris reached over, grabbed my left hand, and dropped to one knee. Several customers sitting at nearby tables were watching us. Clearing his throat, he looked into my eyes and started speaking. “Like I said, um, tonight is a very special night,” he paused, wiping the tears streaming down my cheek with his thumb. “Because you are someone very special to me, Regina. I’ve loved being, spending, and getting to know you every second, minute, hour, and day that we’ve been together for the past year. I don’t want to imagine living my life without you.”
I turned my head, biting my lip. This moment was too much for me.
He returned my head so that I could see his face. Chris picked up the ring and slid it on my left finger. It fit perfectly. “Will you marry me?”