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Like Slow Sweet Molasses by Mickie Sherwood

Like Slow Sweet Molasses

by Mickie Sherwood

Red Rose Publishing

eBook ISBN: 978-1-4543-0256-8

Teacher Angela Munso has lost control—of her spiraling life. She can control the fallout of recent news from whose loins she sprang as easily as she can her heart’s pitter-patter for arrogant Lt. Brock Alexander, whom she now wants to hate. Will love intervene and school their arrested hearts?

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Red Rose Publishing

Chapter One

The first day of school muddled along with a huge number of challenges surfacing, seemingly bent on destroying the enthusiasm of children and grownups alike. Insufficient materials for learning: from text books to instructional manuals, visual aids to computers; the school lacked everything. To the present day, hope remained, though the brutal reality simply boiled down to the fact that the fight to recover from Hurricane Katrina wasn’t over, even six years later. Devastation etched the faces of older children and haunted the wide eyes of the younger ones. That look would shake even the most hardened soul. Pain and despair combined to form a kind of salve that treated the festering wounds of desolation while leaving behind a scab easily broken, if pricked.
“Hey, are you ready to go?”
Pausing from her study of the lesson plan before her, Angela looked up to smile at the petite twenty-something first year teacher poking her head into the room. “Not yet,” she answered, checking her watch to see if she missed their appointed departure time, also taking in Sheryl’s air of impatience. “I have a few loose ends to tie up.”
Their classrooms were side-by-side which set the stage for the friendly rapport that existed between them. Sheryl’s disappointed expression reminded Angela of the imposition she had probably placed on her new friend. She hadn’t asked her for the ride home that day, but Sheryl volunteered when she passed her waiting at the bus stop after school one afternoon, and the practice became an off and on tradition, until today.
“You go on. I’ll catch the bus.”
“Are you sure?” Sheryl asked, barely containing her elation, a mischievous grin revealing a gold sparkle. “I have an engagement I can’t be late for.”
Angela’s translation after their brief acquaintance; Sheryl had met a man.
“Get out of here,” Angela chirped, containing the mild flare of jealousy.
“See you tomorrow.” Sheryl didn’t have to be told twice as she vanished from the doorway.
Angela set about straightening up the classroom, putting order to desks that circled one side. It was here that she introduced her students to what she believed was a spirit-lifting experience. The financial investment was well worth it, even if it ate a good-sized portion of her car down payment, for the children reimbursed her with smiles and eruptions of giggles throughout the day.
She fingered a shiny gold triangle, tapping it rhythmically with the matching rod to make a soothing tinkly sound. Her satisfied laughter floated gently on the air. She couldn’t wait until tomorrow. Another day to impact young minds with the joys of music. Perhaps music would lead some yearning soul to a complete healing. All she could do was share her knowledge. That she was happy to do.
The precious viola that played during the music sessions today rested safely in its carrying case before the lid clinked shut.
She peered through the sparkling window panes at the grayness of the August sky, realizing she’d likely get a good rain-soaking on the way home. This was the time of year in New Orleans for afternoon and evening showers, no matter how bright and sunny the day dawned. One carried an umbrella to at least shield their upper torso from the drenching. Did she forget her girl scout’s motto to be prepared?
She was umbrella-less. So, the answer was y-e-s. Angela moved to shuffle the papers on her desk after depositing cymbals, bongos, tambourines, triangles and sticks in their respective bins along the opposite wall. If she hurried, she’d just make the three o’clock metro, having an earlier bus ride to the Garden District than originally planned.
She gave one last visual check, then closed the door. The lock clicked and she was on her way.
“How did it go, Ms. Munso?”
Angela recognized the nasal tone before turning in the direction of Principal Dauchex’s voice. The tall, full figured woman loped towards her, closing the gap along the polished hallway swifter than most her size could even attempt, her light brown skin burnishing a little from the exertion. In a matter of seconds, the educator was near enough to Angela, to blot out the light of the hall. “It was a very productive day, Mrs. Dauchex.”
“We will see you tomorrow?” Angela’s raised eyebrows asked a non-verbal question of their own. “The resource shortfall we face hasn’t given you pause for reconsidering your options, has it?”
Thinking a moment about her personal situation, Angela replied, “I committed to the end of the year, and have no intentions of leaving sooner.”
The principal smiled. She liked this determined young woman, thinking to herself that her parents had raised her with old school values. “See you in the morning, Angela.”
After the goodbyes, Angela pushed her richly endowed body through the double doors, switching the instrument case to the same hand as her attaché to get a glance at her watch. “Oh, well. I guess it’s the three-twenty.” Next, dark sunglasses were donned to protect her eyes. Although the sun hid behind the clouds, the glare, allergies and pollutants were enough to cause them irritation.
She cut across the campus yard, eliminating a few precious steps in her race to the bus stop two blocks away. The steel gray sky hung low, laden with unspent moisture and threatening to erupt at any moment. Traffic sped by as if in a race with nature to reach destinations unknown prior to the expected downpour. Angela reached the roof enclosed bench just as the first big drops plopped to the parched earth. Then the sky opened up, sheeting rain under the cover, pelting everything and anyone unprotected. She drew her feet as far under the bench as possible, returning to them when she saw the bus lumbering down the street.
The tokens clattered into the receptacle resting atop others already stacked as she briefly surveyed the entombed denizens of the bus. Swaying like a tightrope walker, Angela juggled her way to the middle of the commercial transit where she dropped her briefcase down on the hard pleather seat. The viola escaped the degree of neglect shown the satchel and was reverently rested on the former. Faces on the bus reflected in the windows, now a mirror of sorts courtesy of the darkened skies outside. Some were as blank as one of the unused legal pads she scribbled notes on when her creativity sparked. And it had been a while between writings. Others showed bleak signs of living, like life on the down-beat before eternal rest. Health professionals termed it “Katrina Fatigue”.
Almost immediately after the hurricane, Angela left for New Orleans with a volunteer group to do her part in the recovery, against her parents’ will. She had put her lucrative music career on hold to do so, also to their dismay. She was almost thirty at the time, quite old enough and more than capable of making her own decisions. The ‘only child’ syndrome kept the apron strings knotted and her close to home for longer than usual. Her parents were proud of her dedication, but afraid for her safety in what the media described as “war-torn New Orleans”. She’d stayed four months in a make-shift temporary community, helping with various tasks from preparing meals for hundreds of people a day to cataloging the missing, the found and the deceased.
The exit bell dinged. The bus lurched to a stop, disturbing her “daymare”, for which she was grateful. Angela’s eyes scanned the businesses and homes as they passed, noting a measurable progress. Yet, the work still left to do after all the grueling years remained more a mountain than a molehill. That was the main reason for her return. She’d gotten her second wind and was determined to lessen the shortfall of teachers in the area, even if for only a few months. Recognizing the neighborhood grocery coming up in the next block, she pulled the cord, collected her belongings and waited for the overhead light indicating the go ahead to open the doors.
The rain poured like God kicked buckets of water out of the heavens. One foot into her dash and she collided with someone on the corner. “Pardon me,” she mumbled as she clutched her possessions during her sidestep, and removed the dark glasses. Daylight resembled dusk now. Swiping the precipitation from her face, she scurried on, when suddenly, an oversized umbrella deflected the downpour.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” said an octogenarian with lively azure eyes, beaming at her. “I saw you leave this morning. You forgot to take your umbrella.” The look Angela gave her would be heroine drew a chuckle. “I’m Bella Thatcher, your next door neighbor. The house with all the rose bushes?”
Angela’s recall faltered, for being sociable during her travels to and from Chicago while checking on the renovations to her current place of residence was more than an oversight. Her secret visits left no time for pleasantries. However, she did remember hearing a woman’s cooing voice on a couple of occasions, enticing her flowers to grow. But, she’d never seen her. “I’m Angela Munso.”
“Come on. You’re soaked.” She looped her arm in Angela’s to maneuver them up the street.
She moved like a gazelle for someone who appeared to be in her eighties. “This was very kind of you, Mrs. Thatcher.” Angela repositioned her load to grab the handle when the wind nearly had the elderly lady mimicking Mary Poppins. “But, you shouldn’t be out in this weather.”
“Nonsense, child. What are neighbors for if not to look out for one another?”
They trudged through the puddles, oblivious to everything except arriving home without incident on the slippery sidewalk. As soon as they got within viewing distance of Mrs. Thatcher’s flowers, her pace suddenly slowed to a crawl. Angela watched as the old woman’s features shut out any trace of what went on behind her eyes as she now squinted in what seemed to her as fear. She stopped, her gaze straying to the car parked at the curb in front of her home. Movement inside alerted both to someone patiently waiting for the rain to slack.
“Is everything alright?” Angela inquired.
Muttering more to herself than answering Angela’s question, Mrs. Thatcher said, “Jackal showed up anyway. Thought he wasn’t coming since his appointment time passed.”
“What was that, Mrs. Thatcher?” She missed most of the answer, the words were so soft.
“Nothing, Hon.” She commenced her journey. “Take the umbrella with you. I’ll get it later.”
Angela didn’t have a good feeling about what just transpired and waited as she shuffled up her walk. She lingered a few extra seconds until Mrs. Thatcher entered her home before swiveling to inspect the car’s interior. Angela bent for a look. The white man’s glower was evident even through the darkly tinted windows. And the lack of light outside didn’t help matters. He exited sans cover, unmindful of the torrential rain, and strolled past her as if she was non-existent, without so much as a nod. A glimpse of the name tag on his medical scrubs bonded to her brain. She watched him climb the three steps to the wrought iron gate, ram it open with unnecessary force, march up the walkway and enter the house, uninvited.
Mrs. Thatcher’s door slammed in Angela’s face as she sprouted roots right there on the pavement. She was only a few steps from her house and covered the distance hastily to get out of the weather. Her walkway displayed loads of curb appeal. The attractive cobblestones were a welcome enticement to her and visitors alike, she suspected.
Boldly, Angela strutted to the front door settling all but her handbag on the porch to break down the gigantic umbrella. The sight that met her tired eyes begged her to leave her troubles at the door and enter her calm sanctuary. Her domain, once she shut the beveled glass entry door, was off-limits to any worries during her wind-down period, which usually took about an hour.
Variations of soothing earth tones comforted her weary bones, mellowed her rough edges and did away with tensions remaining from her exhausting day. Ignoring the repetitive blink of the new message light on the phone, her high heeled shoes were the first in a series of clothing items removed on her trek upstairs to the bedroom. By the time she reached her haven, Hansel and Gretel would have no problem finding their way to her. The remaining pieces of attire dropped haphazardly to the oak floors and she glided straight to the bathroom, touched a button on the wall that filtered in soft, relaxing music and submerged up to her neck in a tub of scented water. Her mind cleared of all negative images and thoughts to dwell in a place only her music was able to carry her. That aspect combined with aromatherapy set her adrift in a world devoid of troubles.
Just where she wanted to go.
Angela’s soprano voice rang true as she hummed along with the tune coming from the speakers installed overhead. The pillow braced her neck, ensuring comfort while she sponged more water over her glistening skin. Every now and then, an errant noise invaded her space formulating a disconcerting thought. She tapped the sound down with the remote handily available in the caddy on the Jacuzzi’s ledge.
There it was again. Louder this time. A mewling sound, then it was gone. Her eyes searched the ceiling as if doing so would heighten her hearing. Just as she gave up on honing in on the noise, it registered that someone needed help.
Time was of the essence.
She dripped from the tub puddling water on her way to the window. The opaque glass rose soundlessly to reveal Mrs. Thatcher unsuccessfully attempting to stop her visitor from destroying her precious roses planted next to the backyard fence separating their properties. He hacked away with what looked like a severed broom handle, deflowering a number of bushes. Angela rocketed out of the bathroom swiping at her wet body with a plush bath towel before she swiftly pulled on a pair of sweats for the shoeless run down the stairs, through the living room, out into the horrible weather and straight to her neighbor’s rescue, getting there just in time to receive a whack on the shoulder as she grabbed at the offending weapon.
Her attack, equally as swift as she landed a bulls-eye sidekick to his kneecap, surprised him, as was evident by his howling string of verbally abusive and racially-charged curses. He dropped like a brick, cracked and broken. His obvious pain dictated the writhing motions he made in the thick muddy mounds supporting the plants. It was his turn to moan and Mrs. Thatcher’s to make demands.
“Get up, you harasser of old women! You’d better have your lard ass off my property before my nephew gets here. He’s an NOPD lieutenant. Lt. Brock Alexander.” Her form of retaliation, an upwards slap to the back of his head, punctuated her commands. “Now, get the hell out!”
Meanwhile, Angela stood poised for further action, channeling her shoulder discomfort into the anger needed to fuel another defensive move, if warranted. It was unnecessary; for he stumbled to his feet and had to drag his injured leg, grooving his retreat into the ground. His raspy voice was hauntingly low.
“You haven’t seen the last of me. Either of you.”
Mrs. Thatcher mocked him to Angela’s disapproving headshake. “Yea, yea. Skedaddle!” Reading Angela’s eyes from across the yard, “I really do have a nephew on the force.” She snickered. “Haven’t seen him in months, though.”
“We’d better go inside and call 911.” She tested her shoulder with a circular rotation, and was immediately sorry for the action. A worry surfaced. An injury could impact her playing. What was she thinking, attacking like that? That was the problem. She didn’t think, merely reacted to a grown man intimidating an elderly woman.
Mrs. Thatcher interrupted her silent admonishment.
“No. I’ll contact the agency tomorrow. They’ll take care of it.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Mrs. Thatcher.” The senior citizen conveniently became deaf, clucked at the immense destruction and headed for the house, Angela on her heels. “What if he comes back?”
“I have something for him if he does.” She traipsed over to the broom closet. “It’s called an equalizer. And I know how to use it.”
Angela had never seen a real gun of any kind, nevertheless, a double-barreled shotgun. “Is that thing loaded?”
Propping it in the gun rack at the door leading from the kitchen, she said with an innocent smile, “It’d better be. No good to me if it isn’t.” Noticing the concern on her young neighbor’s face, she added, “Been handling guns since I was old enough to gather eggs without suffering the hens’ disfavor. I’m not cavalier about it.”
“Still, the police should handle this.”
“Have you eaten? I roasted a chicken today.”
Angela knew the subject was no longer open for discussion. She could keep her company for a while. It was early, yet, and truth be known she was hungry. Her appreciative smile accompanied the words. “I’m starved. I’ll run home and lock up. Be right back.”

Buy Now:
Red Rose Publishing

One Response to Like Slow Sweet Molasses by Mickie Sherwood

  1. Good afternoon, all,

    Thanks to DRB for showcasing the first chapter of my newest sensual release, Like Slow Sweet Molasses. LSSM has been an RRP Hot Seller since its release.

    Leave me a comment right here.

    There’s also a way for you to experience the building chemistry between dedicated teacher and professionally trained violist Angela Munso and Special Ops New Orleans police officer Lt. Brock “Chance” Alexander.

    Just visit Mickie’s Mutterings to read the bonus chapters of Like Slow Sweet Molasses.

    My treat to you!

    Thanks for visiting DRB1stchp to get the first glimpse of Like Slow Sweet Molasses.

    Mickie Sherwood
    ~~Sweet, spicy romance – a heartbeat away~~

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