Before Single Ladies returns to our TV screens in January, a three-part e-book series written by New York Times bestselling author Ashley Antoinette is hitting stores so fans can get their fill of their favorite women from the ATL. The series is set between the finale of season two and the premiere of season three and focuses on the individual lives and loves of the show’s leading ladies. Today we bring you an exclusive, free excerpt from the second book in the series which is all about Raquel, entitled Trois.
Dismal. Lonely. Overwhelmed. Raquel stood in the middle of her living room, staring at the mess that surrounded her. The disarray was a perfect reflection of the current state of her life. Everything was in utter chaos. Shattered glass crunched beneath her feet as she made her way around the room. The plastic trash bag that she clutched was no match for the disaster zone that her apartment had morphed into. Every odd sound made her jump out of her skin as she looked around, intimidated, a stranger in her own home. Her nerves were frayed. The fact that Keisha’s stalker had invaded her home left Raquel feeling completely uneasy. The beautiful apartment that she had fallen in love with upon first glance, now felt…
“Unsafe,” she whispered.
A chill ran down her spine causing the delicate tendrils on the back of her neck to stand. Goosebumps appeared on her arms. “Just like you, Keisha, to leave me here to clean up your mess,” she mumbled. She was livid, but she couldn’t pinpoint exactly where the anger originated. Was she mad at Keisha because she just disappeared into Malcolm’s world of money and luxury without even a goodbye? Or was she pissed at Charles for allowing his ex-girlfriend, Padma, back into his life? Better yet, was she upset at herself for not locking Charles down when she had the chance? She had poured her heart out to him days ago and she hadn’t heard from him since. Maybe it was a combination of all these things that had her feeling out of sorts. All Raquel knew for certain was that she was emotionally drained. All it would have taken was three little words to get Charles to commit. I love you. That’s all he wanted to hear from her but, instead, when he expressed his sentiments she froze, leaving him standing there, feeling stupid. That had been an epic fuck up. Now she was bitter and lonely, the knots in her stomach so crippling that it was hard to function. Lovesick. That was her self-diagnosis. Whoever said it was better to have loved and lost had gotten it all the way wrong. Losing the love of her life sucked and she felt like she was spinning into a downward spiral of endless misery. She had felt it before. Every woman who had ever loved a man was familiar with the sinking feeling that remained once that man was gone. Her experience with Charles however, cut deeper than anything that she had ever felt before. Now she was throwing herself the ultimate pity party.
Raquel bent over to pick up the large pieces of debris only to cut her finger on a sharp piece of glass. “Ow!” she exclaimed as she stood upright suddenly, gripping her injured finger. Frustrated, she threw down the garbage bag.
The doorbell rang and Raquel blew out an exasperated sigh as she made her way through the clutter to answer the door. She pulled it open.
“Hi,” she greeted with a sad face as she stepped aside to allow April to enter. “Welcome to hell.”
April’s bright smile instantly fell into shock and dismay. “Oh my God, Raquel, your apartment!” she shrieked. “It looks like a bomb went off in here,”
“Yeah, tell me about it,” Raquel quipped. “Thank you for offering to help, April, but I think I’m just going to leave it up to the professionals. I’ll call someone in the morning and just check into a suite at the W until it’s done.”
April could sense Raquel’s angst and hugged her supportively. “Aww, honey, you can always stay with me,” she offered.
“Thanks, April, but I couldn’t impose. I’m thinking of just redecorating the entire place and that will take weeks. I just want to redo everything. Make it fresh and new. Hopefully it’ll give me something to take my mind off of Charles,” Raquel said.
“Still no word from him, huh?” April was empathetic to that struggle. It was only a few weeks ago when her boyfriend, Reggie, had pulled a disappearing act. Luckily, he had come to his senses before she moved on. She only hoped that Charles would do the same.
Raquel opened her mouth to answer, but the ringing of her laptop interrupted them. Raquel rushed into her room to answer. “April, its Keisha! She’s Skyping in!” she called out.
April and Raquel huddled in front of the laptop.
“Hey,” Keisha greeted them with a beaming smile as she appeared on the screen, wearing a plush white hotel robe.
“Hey, yourself! Where the hell are you?” April asked. “Are you okay?”
“I’m in Thailand,” Keisha bragged.
“What?” April exclaimed.
“Who just picks up and leaves after being stalked and attacked?!” Raquel exclaimed. “You didn’t even say goodbye!”
“What time is it there?” April asked, her usual flighty self as she frowned.
“Too damn early to be going back and forth with you two. I just woke up to give you a call and let you both know I’m fine,” Keisha assured. “Malcolm is taking good care of me.”
“I’ll bet he is,” April said with a knowing smirk.
Raquel nudged April with her arm and said, “Well we’re glad you’re fine, Keisha, but what about the apartment? What about your job? Your friends? I’m going through…”
“Look ladies, I have to go. Our room service is here,” Keisha said. “Breakfast in bed. Raquel, I’ll wire you a check for the damage. You can handle the rest. I just need to put some distance between myself and Atlanta for a while. It was all starting to be a bit too predictable. I know my leaving was sudden but, right now, I’m doing what’s best for me. My problems are so much bigger than boyfriend drama,” Keisha said with a frown. “Malcolm and I have a lot of catching up to do and we plan to do that as we explore the world. I’m a little tired of Atlanta right now. That scene is played out for me. I want to see Greece and France, and Brazil, hell the entire world. No offense, but, I just want to forget about everything in Atlanta for a while, and get my strength back.”
Raquel cringed on the inside and recoiled as Keisha’s words hit her like a slap to the face. She seemed so dismissive of everything that Raquel was going through. Raquel could recall being by Keisha’s side through all of her ‘woe is me’ moments. Now that Raquel really needed her, Keisha was in the wind. Same self-absorbed Keisha, she thought. To speak on it would make her seem like a hater. Keisha’s love life was finally coming together as Raquel’s was falling apart. She took a deep breath and bit her tongue to avoid confrontation.
“Aww, that’s sweet,” April said. “I’m going to miss you around here.”
“I promise to Skype every day,” Keisha said. “I’ve got to go. See you ladies at the end of the summer. Now get off my screen. I have a full day planned. I want to learn the native tongue. Ciao.” Keisha blew a kiss to her friends.
“That’s not Thai, that’s Italian,” April said laughing.
“Whatever! Bye!” Keisha said with a wink just before the screen went blank.
April backpedaled until her legs were halted by Raquel’s bed and she let her body fall backward onto the mattress.
Raquel joined her on the bed. “Why do I feel like there is something you aren’t telling me?” she asked.
April sat up and with a half-hearted smile and said, “I’m going to New York for the summer. I’m leaving tomorrow.”
Raquel’s heart sank as her face fell. “What? I thought you weren’t leaving for a few more months! I need you here, April. You’re the only one left to keep me sane.”
“You have Omar,” April offered with a smile.
“I love him, but Omar will drive me nuts,” Raquel said. “Well, I’m happy for you, April. I hope you and Reggie are very happy in New York.”
The two women hugged. “Call me everyday?” Raquel suggested.
“We have Skype dates, remember?” April said enthusiastically.
Raquel nodded as April turned to the door. “Make sure you stop by Indulgence before you leave. This can’t be our official goodbye,” she said as they waved and blew air kisses.
“Absolutely. I’ll stop by before we head out,” April promised before making her exit.
Sadness and a sense of abandonment filled her as she closed the door. There was nothing better than a group of good girl friends when you were going through a break-up. Keisha and April were the pieces of her heart that she thought would always remain intact. Suddenly she seemed to be losing them as well. My life is completely falling apart, she thought dismally. Raquel rushed to her room, packed a bag full of clothing then exited her apartment in haste. A suite at the W was calling her name. The hip, luxury hotel was just the type of escape she needed at a time like this.