Granville is desperate to hold on to Madison. The harder she tries to end contact with him, the harder he fights to stay connected to her. She’s captured his heart, and he’ll do whatever is necessary not to let her break it.
He knows she doesn’t love him the way he loves her–she’s repeatedly said so–but if she takes time to get to know the man behind the muscles, he’s convinced she’ll agree that they’re perfect for one another. And he’ll do whatever it takes to make her see that.
Read an Excerpt from Chapter Two
I stood naked in front of the bathroom mirror.
My once-size-six body wasn’t perfect anymore, but my heart was in the right place. Below my navel, I looked at the stretch marks on my stomach and upper thighs. I turned sideways to see more broken skin on my buttocks.
“Loretta, you are absolutely lovely,” I told myself. I smiled, but it wasn’t from the inside out. If I didn’t believe I was beautiful, it would show. Boosting my own self-esteem was harder than my friends and family thought.
Why hadn’t I attracted a good man to put a ring on my finger? A man who appreciated my size twelve and all the love I had to offer. Millions of men in Harris County and I end up with Granville.
What was it about him that constantly irritated me? That dumb look that was supposed to be sexy? Or his voice? It wasn’t his fault that he’d gotten shot. Well, actually it was. He’d told me that he wouldn’t stop pursuing another man’s wife after she’d slept with him. But when he told me that incident had happened twenty years ago, I figured he’d changed.
Should’ve listened to Tisha. She said people never changed. I believed people learned from their mistakes. And Madison didn’t care if they did or didn’t, as long as she got her way. Maybe this dare to have Madison sex and tame Granville was a bad idea.
I danced in the mirror, fighting back tears. My struggle for happiness was a tug-of-war. One minute I was cool; the next moment I was depressed.
If I were considerably lighter and could almost pass for white like my friend Madison, the scars that tore my flesh apart when I gained fifty pounds during my pregnancy wouldn’t be as visible. Thankfully, my gingersnap-colored breasts remained firm. My cinnamon areolas had grown wider during breast-feeding and stayed the width of my favorite cookies, Oreos. Fortunately, my nipples survived five months of gnawing; but at first I swore they were going to fall off from all the sucking, cracking, and bleeding.
I stopped dancing. I tucked my hair behind my ears, then stared into my eyes.
The physical pain during delivery and nursing didn’t last nearly as long as my heartache. I hated that I loved a man who didn’t feel the same way about me. It didn’t matter how many meals, pairs of underwear, gifts, or the engagement ring that Granville bought, he’d never be Raynard. No man had measured up to Raynard since our breakup six years ago.
Trusting a man who had lied to me so many times that I’d lost count made me part of the 70th percentile of African-American women who were single parents. I believed Raynard when he whispered in my ear, “We don’t need to use condoms anymore, Loretta. I’m your man. I’ll never leave you. You are the complete package. Beautiful. Intelligent. You own your house. You’re a pharmacist. Have a job earning over six figures a year. Have my baby and you can retire whenever you want.”
Madison warned me, “Don’t do it. If you give a man everything he wants before you get the ring, he has no incentive.”
She had her way of handling men and I had mine. I didn’t get pregnant right away; but two months after I did, Raynard started picking arguments. He blamed it on me, saying, “You’ve changed. Everything is about the baby, and the baby isn’t even here. Plus, you’re irritable all the time.”
I’d admit I was more sensitive, especially during my first trimester, but I hardly considered that irritable. Throwing up every morning for three months made me miserable. If my enthusiasm for sex and Raynard had faded, he’d made me that way when he began coming over late at night. By the time he got to my house, we had sex and went to sleep. He stopped having dinner and watching movies with me. Then some nights he wouldn’t come to my house at all.
Lying in the fetal position alone, hugging my stomach while crying myself to sleep, was not what I’d envisioned. After I started showing, my nose got wider, my face grew fuller, and my neck got darker. Raynard stopped being with me in public. When he did come by, his phone was ringing more than usual, even in the middle of the night. If it weren’t for my mom and my girls, Tisha and Madison, emotionally supporting me, I probably would’ve gone crazy.
It took a year for me to stop chasing Raynard. On our baby’s first birthday, I sobered up when he showed up late to the party, showing off his new girlfriend. She was nine months pregnant, and that was the first time I’d known he was dating someone. She clung to my daughter’s father damn near the entire hour they were there. Her other hand was constantly on her hip, thrusting her naked, stretch mark–free belly in front of my family, friends, and Raynell’s playmates.
Guess he’d told her the same thing he’d told me, except he must’ve meant whatever he’d said to her. Gloria was her name. Gloria Fountain. She looked like she’d swallowed a basketball. Maybe he was cool with her because she actually looked sexy carrying their unborn son.
Excerpted from If I Can’t Have You by MARY B. MORRISON Copyright © 2012 by Mary B. Morrison. Excerpted by permission of Dafina Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Purchase If I Can’t Have You by Mary B. Morrison
Meet the Author
New York Times bestselling author Mary B. Morrison writes under the pseudonym HoneyB. Mary’s books have appeared on numerous bestseller lists, and she’s a frequent contributor to The Michael Baisden Show. In 2010, Mary produced a play based on her novel, Single Husbands.
Mary currently resides in Oakland, CA, with her wonderful son Jesse, who is following in his mother’s creative footsteps and pursuing a career in TV/film. For more information, please visit www.marymorrison.com