New York City "It Girl" Troy Smith thought she'd have her ring by spring. But there's been a change in plans...
Troy is a beautiful, successful black woman who's convinced her boyfriend, Dr. Julian James, is the man of her dreams--until he says he wants a break. Brokenhearted and confused, Troy knows there's only one thing to do: get her girls to throw her an official 3T Break Up Party! Established during their days at Hampton University, the break up party was how Troy, Tamia, and Tasha--"The 3Ts"--survived the drama of relationship bust-ups. Now it's Troy's turn to step out and party again. There's just one problem: Julian's stepping out too...with a new sister on his arm. So it's time to get down and dirty and put the 3T Take-Her-Man plan into action. No matter how long it takes, she is going to win back her man.
A devilishly entertaining novel, Take Her Man also includes rules, regulations, and recipes for becoming a real life "It Girl"...
"A hilarious and emotional roller-coaster ride of breakups, new relationships and sisterhood." --Romantic Times
"Octavia has crafted an enjoyable story that will capture the attention of readers from the very first page." --Rawsistaz Book Club
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June 01, 2009
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Excerpt from Take Her Man by Grace Octavia
Put the Jimmy Choo on the Other Foot
I know what you're thinking: How does a fine, successful, educated sister find herself mixed up in a situation where she actually believes she has to try to take her ex-boyfriend back from another woman? Shoot, I'd be thinking the same thing if the Jimmy Choo was on the other foot, so I can't even blame you for initially judging me. I mean, if I would've heard any other sister even whisper the words "Take her man," I would've immediately asked her what kind of ghetto situation she was involved in. What happened to black sisterhood? We've come too far to be scratching each other's eyes out like there's only one brother left on the plantation. Trust me, there are plenty of fine fish in the sea--especially in the sea known as New York City. In this city I call home, brothers come in all shapes and sizes, colors and hues. They have multiple degrees and talents that range from the boardroom to the bedroom to the kitchen. So why would any sane sister be stuck on one?
Like most sisters caught up in this kind of love triangle, I didn't see it that way at the time. It didn't just come to me all at once. It was slow . . . gradual... like the damn fat that starts to grow on top of your perfect abs after you turn twenty. You sisters who broke down and bought the Ab Lounge know what I mean. Yep, in the beginning, everything was going fine between me and Dr. Julian James. I had "a man and a plan" and I was about to get my "ring by spring." Everything was perfect. Nothing could hold me back.
But then something went stupid somewhere along the way and I watched as my perfect world began to fall apart one tiny piece at a time. I'm still not sure exactly when it all began, but if I really focus, I'm pretty sure it was somewhere around the time I heard my future groom utter four very ugly words we all hate to hear: "I need a break."
Is it starting to sound familiar yet? I know I'm not the only sister in the world whose heard that bull crap before. Well, it should've been the end for me. But, again, like most sisters with even the tiniest bit of pride and ego--the other eight million Queens of Sheba, I took those words as an inevitable bump on the road to marriage, a temporary predicament, a moment of confusion, a blip. He'd wake up. His ass had better wake up. And why wouldn't he? Like I said in the beginning: I'm a fine, successful, educated sister. A blind man wearing black shades in a dark room could see that. I didn't believe that I had to "try" to take my man back from anyone. . . . He was mine in the first place. It was quite simply a matter of reclamation. An ego challenge. Like my best friend said, "It might take three days, it might take three weeks or three months." Either way, I would get my man back.
So, there it is, and thus, here's my little story--blow by devilish blow. Read, weep, and rejoice, and never forget what you would do if the old Jimmy Choo just happened to be on the other foot. And in case you find yourself in the very same predicament and lack the knowledge of the Queen of Sheba, I've provided little instructions along the way. Warning: Things are about to get hot. This is definitely not for the faint of ego.*
*ego\' �e-(")g �o also 'e\n 1: the self especially as contrasted with another self or the world. (Merriam-Webster's Dictionary)
2: me against her. (The Ego Challenge)
I'm Not Crying . . . It's the Wasabi in My Eyes
As I said, it all started with...
"Troy, I need a break." That's what the love of my life said to me that sad March afternoon as we sipped sake over sushi in midtown Manhattan. For a minute, for one moment in my life as those dreadful words fell from my beloved's lips, I forgot everything--who I was, where I was, and how I'd gotten there in the first place. All I could see was his lips moving and the sad frown he was obviously struggling hard to keep on his face. It was like I was watching one of those sad breakup movies where some gorgeous guy breaks the girl's heart in slow motion . . . over and over and over again.
"A break?" I managed, fighting my way back to reality. "What do you mean, a break?"
"I think we need to not speak to each other for a while." He took a sip of his sake. I could hear him gulp it down in a struggle.
"Not speak?" What the hell was he talking about? How can you be in a relationship and not speak to the person you're in a relationship with? And did I say that out loud?
"That's what I mean, Troy," Julian said, confirming my Freudian slip. "We're not in a relationship. We never were. I told you I didn't want that when we first met. Not right now."
The room went spinning. Raw fish was flying everywhere, waiters and customers were holding on to tables for dear life, and the sake in the glass in front of me was spilling over into my lap. I imagined that the world all around me was falling apart; the one I'd tried so hard to create was slipping away from me like the tears slipping down my cheeks.
"Oh, this is a fine time to bring that up. That was over a year ago that you said that crap. You didn't mention anything about not wanting to be in a relationship when you introduced me to your parents as your girlfriend. Hell, I don't remember you saying any of that when I was taking care of your ass last month when you had the flu or when I picked up your damn laundry last week or the week before that." I was getting mad. I knew it because I could hear my voice getting louder, feel my cheeks getting hotter, and see the other people sprinkled around the restaurant beginning to turn around to sneak a peek at us. Normally this kind of display wouldn't be accepted in the circles Julian and I traveled in, but I couldn't help myself. I wasn't about to just let my dream man get up and walk away from me. Not over sushi!
"And what about Pookie?" I asked, bringing up the cotton ball colored Chihuahua we'd picked up one day strolling in the Village.
"The dog is yours, Troy. You bought it. I was just there," he said. "Stop making this hard. Neither one of us wants to be embarrassed."
I pushed back from the table and exhaled. I was losing control. I tried to remember a passage, a line, a chapter title, anything from one of those Iyanala Vazant "self-help for sister girls" books to help me from making a complete ass of myself at my favorite sushi bar, but it was too late. Tears were chasing each other like track stars down my cheeks and so many people were looking at us that Julian was covering his forehead to hide his identity. I wanted to disappear my damn self.
"Stop crying," Julian said. "This is not about you. I just can't do you, and the hospital, and myself right now. Why can't you see that?" He reached over and snatched the last piece of dragon roll off of my plate. Eating at a time like this? Just then I realized that there was some kind of invisible wall between us. A wall between me and the man who had filled my apartment with nine bouquets of magnolias on my last birthday--one for each month we'd known each other. And I didn't know where the wall had come from or who'd put it up. I could only be sad that it was so obviously there.
I wanted to pick up a big chunk of wasabi and rub it in his eyes... make his ass cry, cry like I'd been doing over the last three months each time he got frustrated with other areas of his life and asked for more and more space to figure things out. I wanted him to feel my pain and realize how much I loved him and that we could work through all of this stuff together if he would stop being so damn selfish. Sitting across from me with the wall between us, Julian seemed like a mean, coldhearted person, but I knew that he had the perfect heart. He treated me better than any man I'd ever dated in the past. During the year that we'd been together, he'd taken care of me when I was sick, helped me through my first year of law school at NYU, and remained a perpetual shoulder for me to lean on when I needed it. He was kind, and strong, and smart, and successful, and fine as all hell. And he listened to me. No matter how difficult I was being--and I could definitely be difficult--he always listened to what I had to say. Sometimes we'd sit up for hours on the roof at my apartment just talking about nothing at all. He was my best friend, my lover, and my confidant.
He was just going through a rough spot. It wasn't easy being a third-year resident at the hospital, and his family offered little more than stress. Sometimes it seemed that since he couldn't do anything about either of those things, I got all of the heat. But I was understanding, and like Julian did for me, I tried to be by his side and simply listen. Couples had ups and downs. It was a fact of life. They just had to see them through. As my pastor always says, as surely as we see good days, we'll see bad days--we just have to be willing to work through the bad ones to see the good ones. I mean, the only truly bad day we ever had, the only time Julian did something that would even potentially ruin our relationship, was when I caught him with that girl, Miata (yes, the trick is named after a damn car). She was some brain from Queens with no class and even less looks who Julian fooled around with a month ago. Julian came clean about the whole thing--the man shed tears--and we worked through it. Our bad day. So surely we had some good days coming. One, big, white-laced, good day.
"But we were doing so good," I said, sounding completely pathetic--I'd regret I said that later as I lay in bed crying to my Mary J. Blige CD. "We got over that girl you were seeing from the hospital. We can get through this, too. I know the hospital expects a lot from you and you need to be there around the clock. We can just see each other less." I was beginning to feel guilty for all the complaining I'd been doing about not seeing him enough lately. I even felt bad for making him come meet me for sushi. He'd been awake for three days straight. What was I thinking? He was a damn doctor. He didn't have time for my drama. As one of my girls who had been married to a doctor for five years put it, if I wanted a man of that caliber, I had to find a way to live with him and his demanding job.
I needed to calm down. I was pushing him away. Julian was a good man and he was out working hard for a good cause. He was worth waiting for. I just had to be patient and more creative. There's nothing wrong with bringing the sushi and sake to the hospital.
I reached under the table and patted his leg to assure him that I was ready and willing to change.
"I love you, Dr. Julian James," I said with all of my heart inside those words. "And I am not willing to lose you. I mean, just think"--I cracked an uneasy, well-intentioned smile--"we just exchanged keys to each other's places. We're official." I batted my eyes like my grandmother taught me and blew him a kiss.
Julian looked down at his lap and slid a little silver key onto the table. It was apparent that it had already been taken off of his key ring. Had he planned all of this?
"What about my keys to your place?" I asked, realizing that I'd put my foot in my mouth as soon as the last word came out.
"Hand them over." He didn't even pause. His voice was so cold and distant that I felt as if I didn't even know him anymore, like he was someone else, a ghost of himself who had caught ebola or the bird flu during his last stint in the emergency room. The wall between us was growing.
"What do you mean, hand them over?" I was in complete disbelief. I sat back in my seat and looked around the restaurant. Everyone seemed to be having such a great time. There was the couple in the corner cooing at each other, and the sister with long blond dreadlocks feeding her baby sticky rice. Everyone, even the damn waitress who couldn't speak a word of English, seemed happy, except for me . . . and I was sitting across from the man I loved.