Now that Rachel Jackson Adams’ husband has won the coveted position of president of the American Baptist Coalition, Jasmine Larson Bush has concocted a scheme to one-up her rival—by promoting her new community center on the nation’s #1 television talk show!
The power play won’t stop Rachel, who jets from Houston to Chicago to sabotage Jasmine’s TV appearance. But Chicago is the last place Rachel should be when one of the Coalition’s heaviest hitters turns up dead— and Rachel looks guilty as sin. Will her nemesis leave her stranded and let her take the rap? Or will Jasmine help Rachel hunt down a killer? Could danger this deep turn the enemies into BFFs? After all, miracles do happen. . . .
Friends & Foes Book Review
“Frenetic and deliciously slapstick sequel to Sinners & Saints…These frenemies [Rachel Jackson Adams and Jasmine Larson Bush] are drama queens at their best and smartest, a combination that will leave fans praying for their further misadventures.” (Publishers Weekly )
Sneak Peek from Jasmine Larson Bush’s Story
Chapter Two Friends & Foes
Jasmine swung her bare legs over the floorboard of the Escalade SUV and right away, she felt the sting of the October air. New York may have been setting record temperatures with an Indian summer heatwave, but it was clear that Chicago knew what was up. The chill of the Windy City reminded everyone that it was closer to winter than summer and even though Jasmine stood in the indoor parking lot of Harpo Studios, that reminder made her tug on the collar of her leather coat, wrapping it a bit more snug around her neck.
“Are you ready for this?” Yvette Holloway, the PR representative for the American Baptist Coalition, whispered as she jumped out of the SUV behind Jasmine. Jasmine couldn’t hide her grin from the woman who was responsible for getting her this gig on “Oprah.” Yvette may have been hired by Lester and the board of the ABC, but from the moment she came on, Jasmine felt as if the public relations guru had been working for her.
It had started three months ago when, at Lester’s suggestion, Yvette had flown to New York to meet the runner-up.
According to Lester, he may have won the ABC election to become president, but he was sure that there was much the esteemed Pastor Hosea Bush could bring to the coalition. He wanted Yvette to spend a little time with Pastor and First Lady Bush to see how the two might be able to assist in the organization’s growth.
After sitting down with Jasmine and Hosea for three days, Yvette agreed that indeed, the Bushes had much to offer. During lunch on Yvette’s final day in town, she’d confided in Jasmine.
“Can I tell you something?” Yvette had asked when Hosea had stepped away from their table in the Four Seasons hotel’s five-star restaurant.
“I’ve had a great time with you and Pastor.”
“We’ve enjoyed you, too.”
After a moment, Yvette had inhaled, then said, “I have a lot of contacts, but up ’til this point, I haven’t really taken the ABC onto the national stage.”
Jasmine shrugged. “From what you’ve told us, I think you’ve been doing a great job so far.”
“Thank you.” She paused. “I hope you won’t think I’m conceited, but I’m capable of doing a whole lot more. I can get the ABC all over television; I have contacts that will get us on major network shows.”
“If you can get them on TV,” Jasmine had chuckled, “do it.”
“I can, and I will, but…I’m not quite sure how to do it.” When Jasmine frowned, Yvette gently placed her fork on her plate, and looked straight at Jasmine. “There are lots of things I have to consider.”
Yvette didn’t even blink when she said, “Like are the right people in front of the camera?”
It only took Jasmine a second to figure out the sentiments behind Yvette’s words.
“Oh!” Jasmine had said. “The right people, the best people.”
“Exactly!” Yvette exclaimed, surprised and relieved that she didn’t have to put it all the way out there for Jasmine to understand. “I’d actually thought about calling Cecelia and asking her to step in.”
“You know her?” Jasmine had asked, her forehead creased with a deep frown.
“Yeah.” Yvette had shrugged as if it was no big deal.
Jasmine had shaken her head, patted Yvette on the hand, and told her not to worry. “You don’t have to call Cecelia. She and her husband may be de facto members of the board, but
technically, she’s not part of the ABC anymore.” Jasmine hadn’t bothered to mention that she couldn’t stand that woman. She really wanted to warn Yvette to stay away from anyone in the King family. But all Jasmine said was, “No worries at all. Hosea and I will be available for any appearances for you – television or otherwise.”
With a loud exhale, Yvette said, “I hope you don’t think I’m unprofessional. I really like Rachel….”
Stop lyin’. But aloud, Jasmine only said, “You’re just doing your job; you need someone who’s articulate, someone who’s knowledgeable about not only the Coalition, but about world events, as well. Rachel cannot be the face of the ABC. You can’t put a trollop on TV and expect anyone to let you come back. You’ll lose all your credibility and contacts that way.”
Jasmine almost laughed now as she remembered the pure shock on Yvette’s face when she’d referred to Rachel as a trollop.
But it was true and Yvette knew it. Jasmine wasn’t talking about the girl’s looks; Rachel was attractive in a Flava-Flav-reality-show-contestant sort of way. But that was where her assets ended. There was no telling what Rachel would do if she was on camera. She wasn’t intelligent enough to speak coherently. She had no poise, no class, it was a wonder she was even able to handle her responsibilities as a wife and a mother, though if those ghetto-brats she was raising was any indication
of her skills, Jasmine needed to help the county find those children a new home.
So since Rachel was clearly not the one, it was Jasmine’s pleasure to save the Coalition.
And save the Coalition she did. From that point, Yvette had set up all kinds of appearances for her and Hosea: on the local morning talk shows and even a segment on “Good Morning America.” But what was about to go down now – sitting down with Lady O – was on a whole ‘nother level.
Rachel and Lester may have been the first couple of the American Baptist Coalition, but she and Hosea were clearly the king and queen, and royalty always trumped peasants.
“Jasmine, are you okay?”
Her eyelids fluttered, bringing her back to the present. Jasmine had to take a quick look around the parking lot to remind herself where she was. “Yes,” she said to Yvette. “I’m more than ready for this.”
Before Yvette could respond, a red-freckled face woman who was more round than curvy rushed to the car.
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Bush,” she said, sounding as if she was out of breath. “I’m Jane, one of Oprah’s producers. I should’ve been here to meet you.”
“That’s all right,” Jasmine said, smiling. In the past, she would’ve had a major problem waiting for anyone. But this was Oprah; if she’d been left outside in the garage for an hour, it would’ve been all right with her.
Jane shook hands with Yvette, then led the two women into the building. “Will there be anyone else joining you?” she asked.
“No.” Jasmine shook her head. “It’s just me and Yvette.”
“Actually,” Yvette interrupted, “we will have two other people joining us. Pastor Earl Griffith and Cecelia King should be here any moment. They’ll probably be coming together.”
Jasmine spun her head around so quickly, she was sure she’d end up with whiplash. Why in the world were they coming?
“Great!” Jane said before Jasmine could ask a question. “I’ll have someone on the lookout for them, but in the meantime, we’re so excited to have you here,” Jane chatted as she led Jasmine and Yvette down a hallway lined with photographs of the famous and infamous who’d spent an hour or two with Oprah on her couch. Oprah and John Travolta. Oprah and Will Smith. Oprah and Julia Roberts. Jasmine shuddered as she imagined the new picture that would be gracing this wall soon – Jasmine and Oprah!
Jane’s high-pitched tone knocked through Jasmine’s thoughts. “When we told Oprah your story, she cried.”
“Uh-huh. To have your little girl kidnapped like that and then to turn it into something so positive. We’re excited about what you’re doing with Jacqueline’s Hope. This was just the kind of project Oprah was looking for when she had her Angel Network and that’s why she wanted you to be a part of her final season.”
There weren’t too many times when Jasmine was rendered speechless, but she couldn’t think of a thing to say. The fact that her name had been part of Oprah’s conversation took every thought out of her head and every word out of her mouth.
“Okay, here we are,” Jane said as she stopped. “Please make yourself comfortable.”
The moment Jasmine took the first step into the Green Room, she sunk into the plushness of the salmon-colored carpet. The room seemed like it had been set up for a small celebration – with a spread of bagels, and fruit, and yogurt laid out on a lace cloth-covered table against one wall. There were seven carafes with a variety of juices and a coffee machine next to that.
The rest of the room was all mirrors, reflecting the whitewashed furniture that looked like each piece had been
designed just for this space. This may have been where many of the guests waited for the start of the show, but the room could have been a featured layout in Architectural Digest.
Jane glanced at her watch. “We have an hour before we go live. You did remember that today is a live show, right?”
“Yes,” Jasmine and Yvette said together.
“Great, because that means we have to start right on time. We’ll send the make-up artist in here in just a bit, okay?”
Jasmine and Yvette nodded.
“This is so wonderful,” Jane said with such cheer that Jasmine was sure she was about to break out in a song and dance. “If you need anything,” Jane continued, “just let me know. No matter what it is.”
“I’m going to let Oprah know that you’re here.”
“Will Mrs. Bush be meeting Oprah before the show?” Yvette asked.
“No. She’s read up on everything and is very well prepared. But she likes to meet her guests at the same time as the audience. Is that okay?”
“Definitely,” Jasmine and Yvette said together.
When Jane left them alone, Jasmine wanted to jump up and down, do a happy-dance. But that was just the kind of thing
that Rachel would do, so she certainly couldn’t do that in front of Yvette.
“Isn’t this something?” Yvette asked, spinning around slowly, taking in all four corners of the Green Room.
I guess she’s as impressed as I am. “Yeah.”
“Listen,” Yvette said as she grabbed a banana from the table. “I have to make a few calls before the show.”
“Wait, before you go, I have a question.”
“Sure. What’s up?”
“Cecelia King and Pastor Griffith – why are they coming?”
“Oh,” Yvette waved her hand as if it was no big deal. “You know how Oprah likes to do things. She wanted me to invite a few other people from the Coalition.”
“Well, I can understand Pastor Griffith,” Jasmine said, almost gritting her teeth as she said that man’s name. “But I told you before, Cecelia is not part of the Coalition.”
Yvette’s eyes darkened as the smile fell from her face. “Let me handle my business, Jasmine.”
Jasmine stepped back, crossed her arms and let her eyes roam over Yvette from top to bottom and then back up again. Who did this young girl think she was talking to? And what was up with her defense of Cecelia King?
“Look,” Yvette said, softening her eyes and stance as if she wanted to squelch the conflict before it got started. “I
know what I’m doing. Mrs. King and Pastor Griffith are just in the audience; you are the star.”
The star. Well, at least Yvette had that part right. Up to now, she had always allowed Jasmine to be the star. And when Jasmine thought about it, it made sense that Pastor Griffith was invited since he lived in Chicago and reluctantly, she admitted that even Cecelia might be able to add a little something to the show.
“All right,” Jasmine said. “I just want to make sure that we do everything right for not only the Coalition, but for Jacqueline’s Hope, too.”
“I promise you this will work,” Yvette said. And then she chuckled. “Pastor Griffith being here is strategic. When those women get a look at that fine man, they’ll be throwing money your way for your center.”
Jasmine had to take a deep breath. Yvette was telling the stone-cold truth. Pastor Griffith was a looker, but with all she knew about him, she didn’t want him, nor his poison or his money, anywhere near her, Hosea, and Jacqueline’s Hope.
“So, are we cool?” Yvette said.
It took Jasmine a second to respond as she wondered what Yvette would think if she knew what was really going on with Pastor Griffith. “Yeah,” Jasmine replied. Maybe one day, she’d sit down with Yvette and school her on the truth behind that
crooked pastor. But for now, Jasmine would let this just play out. Like Yvette said, she was the star.
Yvette’s cell vibrated and when she glanced down at the screen, she frowned. “Look, I really have to take this call,” she said before she rushed out of the room.
Jasmine stared at the door for a moment and played over the conversation she’d just had. Then, she inhaled deeply before she exhaled slowly. “Calm down,” she whispered to herself. There was no need to get worked up before her big moment. The truth of it all was she was about to go on stage with Oprah to talk about the charity that was dearest to her heart.
As she took another glance around the room, Jasmine’s lips slowly curled into a grin. She was actually in Chicago, at Harpo Studios, in the Green Room, about to meet the Queen herself.
Jasmine kicked up her heels and did a happy dance. She swung her arms in the air, then broke into a little jig that looked something like the old-school running man. She didn’t stop until her knees began to ache and then she fell onto the sofa that perfectly matched the carpet.
“I cannot believe this,” Jasmine laughed. “Rachel Adams, eat your heart out!”
While Jasmine was absolutely thrilled to be meeting Oprah, part of the satisfaction was that she was doing this and Rachel was not.
When Jasmine and Rachel had been forced to work together during the presidential elections for the coalition, Jasmine had actually almost, just a little bit, kinda started to care for the girl. Yes, she wasn’t very bright, but it wasn’t her fault that she was a country and ghetto. That had to be a hard load to carry.
At one point, Jasmine had thought that she might even help Rachel, be her mentor, give her some class through osmosis.
Copyright © 2013 by Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley. All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the publisher’s written permission. Share a link to this page or the author’s website if you really like this promotional excerpt.
Meet ReShonda Tate Billingsley
ReShonda Tate Billingsley is the national bestselling author of 26 titles. Her novel, Let the Church Say Amen, has been made into a movie with actress Regina King directing and Queen Latifah among the producers. Several of her other titles have also been optioned for film.
ReShonda’s novel, Say Amen, Again, received a 2012 NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literature. She was nominated again in 2013 for her book, The Secret She Kept. An accomplished public speaker and former TV news reporter, ReShonda is considered one of the top Inspirational Fiction authors in the country.
Meet Victoria Christopher Murray
Victoria Christopher Murray is a graduate of Hampton University and received her MBA from New York University. She self-published her first novel, Temptation before Time Warner re-released it. Since then, Victoria has written twenty novels, including her four-book Divine Divas teen series.
Victoria is a two-time NAACP Image Award nominee, and the winner of six African American Literary Awards. Her latest novel, Friends and Foes is her second collaboration with ReShonda Tate Billingsley. Currently, Victoria is in negotiations for her novel, The Ex Files and her teen series, The Divine Divas to become movies.