Helen wasn’t just born the devious vixen of New Day Temple of Faith. There had to be something rooted deep within her to make her inflict and feed off of other people’s pain. Perhaps it was her own pain that she had suppressed for so many years-an unimaginable pain-that created an internal prison of which her mind was the only captive. But once the demons within her break free, those around her better beware, as Helen surely becomes the epitome of the saying, “Hurt people, hurt people.”
In I Ain’t Me No More, Helen has no shame displaying that she hasn’t been saved all her life. Will the divas of New Day Temple of Faith think Helen’s worth saving? But more importantly, can God save Helen from not only her evil past; can He save her from herself?
I Ain’t Me No More by E. N. Joy
First Chapter Excerpt
Man, I hate the cleaning guy! Why does he have to do his job so well? Can’t he ever leave just one spot, smear or smudge on this dang stripper pole? Something so that I don’t have to see myself so painfully visible like this? What makes him think I want to be able to see myself twirling around this pole like some skilled monkey—caught up in the powerful grip of the almighty dollar; a grip known to have choked the life out of many while leaving others gasping for their last breath?
“That’s for you,” Damon spoke out over R. Kelly’s “Your Body’s Calling.” With his chestnut brown, bald head and facial hair that is edged up nice and clean, Damon licks his thumb and uses it to flick a twenty dollar bill off the stack of money he’s palming.
I swivel my body down to the ground the way the vanilla and chocolate swirl ice cream at the DQ makes its way from the machine to the cone. “Baby, you know it takes gas to keep a Cadillac like myself going,” I say to Damon. “As long as you keep filling up the tank, I’ma go-go all night.” I swivel my body back up to a standing position while adding, “In any direction you want me to go.”
Damon’s lips part into that sexy signature smile of his.
“Whatever you want,” Damon said. “It’s your Caddy. I’ll drive, ride, heck, I’ll even be a backseat passenger. Just know that I got you, Ma.” Damon begins to flick off bills like he’s the dealer in a game of spades.
I’m very much content with the hand I’m being dealt. So much so that I want to drop to my knees and begin scooping like a kid standing under a piñata that has just been busted open. But I don’t want to appear too desperate. Resolving to strip in the first place was out of desperation. At the time of making the decision I felt trapped, like Jonah in the belly of the big fish. I was always trying to make ends meet, but neither of my ends were the least bit interested in getting to know one another. Bills were due. I weighed some options on my immoral scale of desperation and stripping was a less load to travel with in my mental carry-on. I mean, at least I’m not selling my whole self –just bartering off a piece of me.
“Go on, Go-Go Girl. You know you wanna bend that thang over and pick up that loot.”
Once again, Damon licks his thumb and lightens his pile of money as he flicks a couple more bills onto the stage at my feet. “Come on, just show me a li’l sumpin’-sumpin’,” Damon urges. His eyes peruse my body from head to toe, wetting his thumb in preparation to keep making it rain.
And this was rain, might I add. Ones being flicked off; that’s a chance of rain. Fives being flicked off; that’s a little drizzle. Tens being flicked off; that’s a scattered shower. Twenties; that’s rain. Benjamins; an all-out thunderstorm!
“Come on, Damon, you know the rules. You don’t want me to break the rules and get put on punishment do you?” I ask, making a puppy dog face.
“Forget the rules,” Damon barks like the big dawg he is. “And if all that is worthy of just a peek,” he says, referring to all the money he’s laid at my feet, “I can only imagine what this will get me.”
I freeze on the stage, which means the bill Damon is now displaying must be triggering some type of ice storm. Until this very moment, I never even knew that such a bill exists.
“What’s the matter, Go-Go Girl? You ain’t never seen a five hundred dollar bill before?” He chuckles. “So what do you say you make tonight a first for a lot of things?”
All of a sudden I’m starting to think about church, kicking myself for not having paid my respects (or tithes) to the house of the Lord in a couple of months. At the same time I’m trying my hardest to recall one of those messages that have to do with temptation-a scripture or something- because to tell the truth and shame the devil, I am beyond tempted to take Damon up on his offer.
“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches…” That isn’t exactly the scripture I’m grappling for, but it still seems fitting.
My name; Helen Lannden. How much is it worth today? Twenty-five year old Helen Lannden. How much will my name be worth tomorrow, especially if I trick for this money today?
( Continues… )
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I Ain’t Me No More: Book One of the Always Diva Series by E.N. Joy