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COMING SOON!

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Chastity, a seventeen-year-old Creole heiress, seems to have it all. She's an outstanding student, Jr. Captain of Carver's University cheer squad, and her family spoils and adores her.

Groomed from birth as a wealthy Southern belle, she’s taught to suppress emotions. She is expected to be a good Christian, poised and witty at all times, and is bound by generational tradition and outdated customs. Over time, she learns to become a master of deception because it seems easier than living up to everyone’s expectations.

An expert of coyness and manipulation, she leads a charmed life. The only thing missing from her picture-perfect life is Derek, but he seems disinterested in her in every way. Derek is everything Chasity wishes she could be: bold, strong, and carefree. One day, he notices her and sweeps her off her feet.

Somewhere along the way, something goes horribly wrong. Her little white lies catch up with her. One night, Chastity makes a decision that changes her entire existence, and her perfect world comes crashing down around her. She is pregnant! Her closest friend becomes an enemy, her parents cut her off, and she turns to the sister whom she once despised. Despite her mistakes, Chastity changes as her choices pave the way to adulthood. Only time will tell if she could ever pick up the pieces of her shattered life.

This is a thrilling new adult story about Godly transformation and redemption.

Prologue

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney.”

The sweaty bed sheets made it hard for Chasity to sit up. Perspiration lined her brow. It was the same recurring nightmare. She silently counted from ten, rubbing her temples. Her sticky hand grasped a cup of water as it spilled onto the nightstand. Inhaling slowly, she repeated her countdown between swallows, "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six..." Finally, she reached for it without

spilling, "Five, four, three...".

From what she read and saw on the news, she knew she would be exposed. She had committed a crime. She instinctively wanted to turn herself in, but no one would understand.

“Ahhh,” she wailed, inhaling salty hot tears. It was hard to imagine how she did what she did as a youth leader at Mount Shiloh Baptist Church!

As thunder rumbled, neon white lights flashed in the darkness. Heavy raindrops slammed against the windows. She realized the windows weren't closed. "Swoosh," the wind howled. Rain turned the red curtains to bloodstains as it sucked them into the Venetian blinds.

The dripping curtains reminded her of the pool of blood she'd left in the alley. Shaking and sobbing deeply into her knees, she cried out, "No, no...no...no...". Throwing the sheets on the floor, she scrambled to close the windows.

How could she have killed someone?

Chapter 1

 

Chastity stammered, "Here comes Derek. How do I look?" She adjusted her fuschia Saint Laurent bodycon dress for the second time to flatter her 5'4" frame. Her soft brown hair framed her tawny face perfectly.

“You look okay,” retorted Julia.

“Just okay?”

“No, no, you look nice,” she smirked, rolling her eyes upward. “Just go introduce yourself or at least get his social media handle. You have been trying to get next to Derek for the last month.”

“I am surprised he hasn’t noticed me yet,” Chastity muttered in a clipped voice. Tugging her dress a third time, she slathered another glob of lip gloss onto her full lips. Her stomach churned with anticipation.

“Maybe he doesn't notice you because you're a Fuschia-colored wallflower. For goodness sake, I wish you would try to strike up a conversation this time. He can’t read your mind.”

Derek was starting quarterback at Carver University and among Louisiana's top NFL draft picks. Chastity knew she was not the only girl on campus who swooned when she saw him because she heard his name come up in many conversations. Somewhere along the line, she decided she wanted to be his woman. Whenever Chastity made contact with him, she was drawn

to him like a swarm of bees to a honeypot. When she wanted something, she worked hard until she got it. Derek was on her wish list.

Eyeing him, she swallowed a wave of nausea. He walked down the hall and didn’t even bat an eyelash in her direction. A few steps later, he disappeared around the corner. The knots in Chastity’s stomach subsided; so much for going for what she wanted.

Exhaling, she looked dreamily after him. She and Julia stiffly embraced and walked to their classes.

Chasity softly hummed to herself and thought about how she blew another chance for Derek to notice her. She slid into a desk close to the entrance and waited for the Professor to arrive. Opening a dainty Chanel compact mirror, she retouched her eyebrows. Maybe if she would have poked her butt out some, he would have tried to make a pass at her. The Professor

hadn’t shown up, and from what she had learned from the other students, he only would come for the midterm and final exam.

Despite being only mid-August, Carver University's fall semester was in full swing. It was a historically black college in Lafayette, Louisiana. Chastity earned 70 college credits in high school. Through Carver's highly competitive dual enrollment program, she would obtain her bachelor's degree in less than two years.

Even though she wished to move into the dorms or campus apartments, provisionally accepted students were only permitted to commute to Carver's campus. She knew she should have been grateful for being admitted. Still, she hated the idea of enrolling in graduate courses for two additional years in order to experience college life for four years. Two days before classes started, she had turned seventeen years old.

Later, Chastity and Julia strolled to Julia's car in the parking lot. It was a beautiful day, and the evening sky had turned molten brass. A light breeze carried the scent of cypresses and pecan trees in full bloom.

“Are you seeing who I am seeing?” Julia asked in a sing-song voice as Derek walked towards them.

Seeing Derek twice in one day was almost too much for Chastity. Staring into space, her eyes fluttered, and her stomach churned. Quickly posing like she was taking a selfie, she crossed her legs and sucked in her breath. Turning her neck to display the dimple in her left cheek, she felt her cheeks heat up as he passed them. She didn’t say anything again.

As Julia snapped her fingers, she huffed, “That's another chance to connect gone! Chas, you are too tongue-tied to make the first move. I don’t see what the big deal is. You’re very popular and far from shy. Just let him know how you feel.”

“That would be desperate. Besides, I can’t chase him. He has to make the first move,” Chastity whined through her Louisiana accent.

“I guess. Besides, we both know he’s single after that nasty breakup between him and Tasha online, but…,” Julia’s voice trailed.

“But what? Is he seeing someone?” Chastity cringed, speaking as fast as her heart raced, “I checked all his social media accounts, and he’s not posting anything lately.”

“Okay, single, black female. Stop stalking him online, and try getting with him. We both know good-looking men like Derek move on fast.”

Swallowing a gulp of air, Chastity sputtered in an exasperated breath, “He may be taking a break from dating, like me. Everyone isn’t trying to hook up. People are trying to get to knoweach other these days.”

“Keep telling yourself that, girl. Ump, bet you any money. At this rate, someone else will get to him before you. You will miss out if you insist on being Ms. Charming Southern Belle.”

“I am a Southern Belle and a Mount Shiloh Community Church youth leader. Women like me are chased, remember?”

“Oh, I forgot about that other title,” Julia said mockingly. “Church Lady.”

“Church Lady?” Chasity grimaced indignantly.

She added, "Well, you're a youth leader, and my mom was a youth leader when she met my dad at church twenty years ago."

“See, there.”

“Ugh,” Julia cleared her throat and spoke slowly, “My point is women are dating in the church, honey.”

Chastity nodded and grimaced, “Umph…”

Chasity's mother's side of the family had a long history of aristocratic, beautiful Creole women. Auzenne Bloodline was known to produce top-quality women in the community. To be courted by one of them was considered an honor. Several of her aunts were married to influential people in the city, like politicians, judges, CEOs, and other high-profile men. According to family history, a Spanish prime minister once courted a great-grandmother.

Whether she liked it or not, Julia was right. She needed to act fast. No amount of staring and posing in hallways would get his attention. There was an air of 'pick me, I'm desperate' about it.

Since he was from Boston, Derek was probably used to women being upfront about their intentions. Chastity’s heart plummeted. Down South, some families were still devoted to Southern tradition. Men asked women out. She had to come up with a plan to let him know she was interested.

“Last comment, girl…Then, I digress about anything to do with Derek, sha.”

“What is your last comment? What is it?” Chastity snapped. She regretted telling her about her crush on Derek. When she confided in her, she was unsure what she was thinking.

There was nothing Julia loved more than exaggerating things.

“Your parents are very controlling,” she clucked.

Chastity interrupted her by putting up a hand, “I know they can be overbearing from time to time.”

Julia continued, not one for holding back, “Overbearing is putting things lightly. There’s no way your parents will go for it. He is fine and all, but fine isn’t going to cut it for your privileged parents.”

Chastity frowned. As much as it pained her to admit it, Julia was right. There would be a problem with her parents. Wealthy and pious, they belonged to the upper class. It was easier to bend a stick in the mud than to bend them. When she thought about them, she let out an exasperated breath. From birth, they had arranged her entire existence. She knew their plan would never include Derek, but Chastity wanted him.

“I don’t know why you’re getting all worked up about Derek anyway. I am sure you Auzenne women could get with any man,” Julia pointed out sarcastically.

Choosing to ignore her crack about Auzenne women, Chasity shot back, “Of course, you know why. I am into him, even though he doesn't notice I exist...” Her voice trailed.

“I heard around town that your momma was supposedly hooking you up with Shannon, that preppy guy who graduated from Academy Prep High School last year." Julia grinned mischievously as she probed, "Are you thinking of dating two guys at the same time?”

“Oh no, I am not seeing anyone right now. Oh gosh, Julia, sometimes you can be such a gossip.”

“So, is it true?” She prodded, “Are you and Shannon together?"

“He and I are just friends. Where did you hear that from anyway?”

“A true lady never tells. Just don't think dating two guys at once would be a good look for the church, sha." She smirked with a Southern drawl.

“Your Southern Belle charm is missing the mark, honey.”

“Just trying to act like y’all Auzenne's, sha.”

Despite laughing it off, Chastity was annoyed. Julia's insults appeared to be deliberate.

There was a tinge of truth to what Julia said about Shannon. Her mother, Simone, was working hard to find her a suitable mate. She always looked for potential husbands for her two girls to continue the legacy of the Auzenne family. Shannon was from a wealthy family with an impeccable reputation, and Simone ranked him high on the list of potential husbands for her. She expected her daughters to be married and pregnant with more Auzenne babies by age twenty-five.

Chastity had to err on the side of caution. Though there was talk about Derek possibly being drafted for the NFL, her mother wouldn’t go for it. Many professional athletes had reputations for being womanizers and druggies. Getting wind of a relationship outside her mother’s idea of a suitable mate would cause Simone to wring her neck.

Ignoring the tightness around her temples, Chastity warned, “Stop talking trash about my parents and the Auzenne women. Anyway, I know my parents are a little uptight, but I will cross that bridge later.”

“It is not my intention to trash your family,” Julia paused and added as an afterthought, “So I apologize.”

“Gee, thanks,” Chastity retorted sourly. She tried to lighten the mood by playfully shaking Julia’s shoulders. “Help me get Derek’s attention. I need him in my circle.”

“You have one week to do or at least say something, or I don’t want to hear his name anymore. You should see yourself, girl. Borderline stalkerish at this point.”

“Okay, okay…I promise I’ll do something soon.”

“Ump!… I sure hope so.”

It wouldn't be the first time she had to sneak around to get what she wanted. Simmone's choice of picks seemed dull to her. For now, she wanted some excitement. Soon enough, she'd marry her mom's dream man. There was no way Chastity would ever tell her mother what she really was up to at Carver University.

SNEAK PEEK

*unedited*

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