Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
  • Like
'Til Debt Do Us Part by Michelle Larks - excerpt
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.


Now you can save presentations on your phone or tablet

Available for both IPhone and Android

Text the download link to your phone

Standard text messaging rates apply

'Til Debt Do Us Part by Michelle Larks - excerpt


This is an excerpt from 'Til Debt Do Us Part by Michelle Larks.

This is an excerpt from 'Til Debt Do Us Part by Michelle Larks.

  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Be the first to comment
    Be the first to like this
No Downloads


Total Views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds



Embeds 0

No embeds

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

    No notes for slide


  • 1. ‘Til Debt Do Us Part by Michelle Larks Harrah’s Casino, located in Joliet, Illinois, is also known as "the boat" by the local population. After Chicago, Joliet is the second largest city in Illinois and is located about forty miles south of the Windy City. Joliet is nicknamed the City of Champions, and gamblers pay homage to the moniker daily as they try to excel and beat the gambling odds. The floating venue was jam-packed, as it always tends to be on Friday evenings as people try to become the next millionaire. The weather outdoors was unseasonably warm. The temperatures tend to be fickle in Chicago, and residents hoped spring weather was waiting just around the corner. It was the first Friday of March 2001. It was payday for many of the casino customers, so the pickings were sweet for the wealthy owners. Men and women of all ethnic backgrounds were mostly dressed casually in jeans and colorful tops. They stood or sat, waiting for their turn to dance with Lady Luck. Good fortune comes in the guise of the roulette, blackjack, and crap tables; as well as the coveted piece-de-resistance…the slot machine. Check-out or book your blog tour online at
  • 2. The atmosphere crackled with excitement as bells sounded or red and blue bulbs flashed…announcing winners. A firm tug on the handle of a slot machine could change a person’s financial status magically, or as usually was the case, create new ones. With bated breath, the patrons awaited the outcome of the flip of a card, roll of the dice, or display on the slot machine. Hoping and praying the gambling gods would shine upon them. Waitresses flitted in and out of crowds, carrying black trays filled with cups of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. The clientele gratefully gulped down the cold liquids as they continued their quest for financial freedom. Exclamations of joy and relief shone on the winners’ faces when they hit the jackpot. Those not as fortunate sat tensely with worried expressions on their wrinkled brows as they chewed their fingernails to the quick with anxiety, wondering how they were going to pay their bills since they used that money to gamble. A ring of perspiration stained the armpits of Nichole ‘Nikki’ Singleton’s mandarin orange silk blouse. She had removed the matching brown tweed jacket of her pantsuit hours ago. It was slung half off the back of her seat. Nikki’s round dark brown eyes glinted with anticipation. She unconsciously stroked her chin as she mentally calculated the odds of her winning the roll of the dice. Nikki looked down at her stack of chips on the craps table; coming up was the all-important make or break bet. Check-out or book your blog tour online at
  • 3. She clutched the dice tightly in her shaking, damp left hand. Her honey brown face was drawn with tension. And Nikki's perfectly coifed, bone straight, shoulder length, relaxed, dark hair stood spiked on end from her continually running her hands through it. Before the tiny white and black cubes left her hand, Nikki looked upward and said a quick prayer. “Lord, please let the dice fall in my favor.” Her eyes widened in disbelief, and her shoulders slumped forward dejectedly after seeing how the dice landed. She hadn’t been able to catch a break the entire evening. The croupier raked Nikki’s former chips to his side of the table. He shook his head at her apologetically as she picked up her purse and jacket and stepped away from the table. Her stomach cramped spasmodically from the sizeable amount of money she’d just lost. An older white woman, clad in faded stonewashed blue jeans and an old faded Northwestern sweatshirt with big, brassy blond hair and dark shades, shot Nikki a sympathetic look. She shrugged her shoulders as she slipped into Nikki’s vacated place. Nikki and her best friend, Maya Nelson, had arrived three hours ago, around seven o’clock that evening. As soon as they entered the vessel, Maya made a beeline to the ladies’ room while Nikki sped to the cashier cage and plunked down a cashier’s check for fifteen hundred dollars. She wanted the amount credited to her Harrah’s gambling card. Nikki had counted on winning big that evening, emphatically sure that Lady Luck would hover over her. Instead, as the evening progressed, the capricious woman deserted her unmercifully. Check-out or book your blog tour online at
  • 4. As Nikki stood in silent shock, a few steps away from the table, she massaged her temples, pondering the latest dent in her finances. Meanwhile Maya punched the spin button on the slot machine that she had been playing on for most of the evening. Like Nikki’s, Maya’s stash had dwindled, but not as drastically. She looked across the room and noted the panicky expression on Nikki’s face; frozen in place like a doe caught in headlights. Cutting her eyes at the machine morosely one more time, Maya decided to call it a night. She strolled across the room to see how badly her friend was faring. A woman darted into Maya’s warmed seat and pulled her Harrah’s card out of her purse. “How’s it going, girl?” Maya sighed audibly, pushing a thin micro braid away from her face. “You look like you lost your best friend. And we know that’s not the case because I’m right here. So what’s up?” “This just isn’t my night,” Nikki said. Her voice trembled with frustration. Like a raging brush fire, her mind was consumed with getting her hands on more cash. “You know the first rule of winning is quitting while you’re ahead,” Maya said, scolding her friend. She yawned and covered her mouth. Her fingernails were painted a cocoa brown shade, which nearly matched her even skin tone. She was dressed in a black rayon pantsuit and a frilly white chiffon blouse that flattered her full sized figure. Minus a few strategically placed strands, her micro braids were pulled off her forehead into a thick ponytail. “It’s getting late, Nik. And since I have to work in the morning, I’m gonna head home now. How much longer do you plan on staying here?” Check-out or book your blog tour online at
  • 5. “I need to at least try to win back some of the money I lost; so probably another hour,” Nikki replied. She tried not to look too eagerly at the ATM machines located near the cashier’s cage. She wished Maya would just leave so she could handle her business. “Okay, I’m out. Call me when you get home to let me know you made it safely.” Maya looked at Nikki with concern. “Remember…gambling is just a recreational activity just like a ballgame. It’s just something to do to pass the time. Don’t make the mistake of taking this stuff too seriously.” “I know.” Nikki sighed as she patted down a lock of her unruly hair. “I don’t plan on staying here much longer either. Unlike you, I have a long ride home.” The friends lived in different parts of the city. Nikki resided on the far north side of Chicago, and Maya lived closer to Joliet in a southern suburb. When they traveled to the boat, they usually didn't ride together. The two young women bade each other farewell. As Maya stood before the double exit doors, her full cheeks morphed from a smile into a frown. She pulled the black leather strap of her shoulder bag onto her shoulder as she watched her friend walk over to what her six- year-old son, TJ, called the money machine. Nikki’s manicured pearl tipped fingers shook as she entered her pin number on the keypad and pressed enter. A slip of paper listing her account balance, spewed from the tiny slot. The paper informed her that she had already reached her maximum withdrawal limit for the day. As Nikki held the paper away from her face, her eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets. The account balance of the household account she Check-out or book your blog tour online at
  • 6. shared with her husband, Jeff, was dangerously low. And Nikki had overdrawn her own personal checking account about a week ago. Miniscule watery pinpricks of fear stung Nikki’s eyeballs. Her heart began palpitating rapidly as she realized the balloon payment for the home equality credit line that she and Jeff had borrowed from the bank for remodeling the apartment building they owned, was due in a couple of weeks. Wiping her eyes and squaring her shoulders, a million reasons justifying her actions seeped through Nikki's mind. She cocked her head to the side and mathematically calculated how she could continue to play and win since her luck had been so rotten. She told herself not to panic and to write the casino another check for five hundred dollars. Realistically, doing so should be okay since payday was Tuesday, and her account was sheltered by overdraft protection. The action could possibly extend her credit. After all she was a VIP customer. At least that's what Harrah’s told her in the letters that came to her house monthly with free comps. An hour later, following futile stints on the roulette table and slot machine, Nikki still hadn’t managed to recoup her losses. She groaned as she half-heartedly pulled the handle of the slot machine one last time. Nikki glanced at her wristwatch and shuttered. It was already eleven o’clock. She only had an hour to get home before Jeff did. The night had been a total bust for Nikki. She’d lost the entire fifteen hundred dollars, plus the five hundred dollar check she’d written to the casino and her fifty dollars seed money that had been folded up inside the depths of her wallet. Check-out or book your blog tour online at
  • 7. As she put on her jacket and headed for the exit, Nikki suddenly remembered the monthly bank statement would probably be delivered tomorrow. She broke out in a cold sweat, and her breathing became shallow as her thoughts darted to the possibility of Jeff opening the mail before she did. There was no doubt in her mind that her husband's anger would blow the roof off the house if he discovered her extracurricular activities. Nikki had been positive that she was going to win tonight and be able to deposit the monies in their joint checking account that was precariously low at that moment. She burned rubber as she departed the parking lot and drove perilously close to eighty miles per hour on Interstate 55. Upon reaching the outskirts of the downtown area, she exited onto Interstate 94 and made it home with fifteen minutes to spare. She hurriedly backed her custom tinted baby blue colored Chrysler 300 inside the garage at the rear of the three-flat apartment building. Jeffrey and Nichole Singleton resided on the north side of Chicago in Wicker Park. And the distance was not a hop, skip, or jump from Joliet. As soon as Nikki shut and locked the front door, she unbuttoned her blouse, unzipped her pants, and hopped down the hallway into the bathroom. She quickly shucked off her clothing and dropped them into an untidy pile next to the clothes hamper. Then she slipped into a red and black teddy hanging on the peg of the bathroom door. When she finished, Nikki heard the lock turn on the back door, and she dove into the bed like an Olympic swimmer diving into a pool. Check-out or book your blog tour online at
  • 8. She shifted her body to her left side, away from the door, hoping her rapidly thudding heart would slow down. Nikki burrowed her body under the brown and beige striped comforter. As Jeff walked into the darkened bedroom, he turned on and dimmed the overhead light. He glanced at the bed, and then walked into the blue and white striped wallpapered bathroom. He scooped Nikki’s clothing from the floor and dropped them into the white rattan clothes hamper. Then he opened the shower stall door and turned on the faucets. A deluge of warm water from the showerhead soaked his five foot eleven inch, lanky, dark teak brown frame. After he finished showering, Jeff draped a towel around his midsection and returned to the bedroom. He sat on the side of the bed, and with another towel, dried his close-cropped hair. His eyes were small and beady, and he had long lashes and thick eyebrows. A thin moustache covered his thick upper lip. His left cheek bared the remnants of a fading scar that he received during a brawl at school in eighth grade. Jeff was employed as the second shift supervisor in the Information Technology Department for the City of Chicago. He glanced over at Nikki again, surprised she was already in bed. Usually after he arrived home from work on Fridays, they would go out to one of the local cafés for a bite to eat. Jeff leaned over and kissed his wife’s shoulder. Nikki shrugged her shoulders, feigning sleep. She opened one eye, then the other. Nikki looked up and returned her husband’s smile. Check-out or book your blog tour online at
  • 9. “Hey, honey. You’re home already? I guess I lost track of time.” She sat up in the bed and stretched her arms over her head. “How was your day? I didn’t hear from you all evening.” “I was busy,” Jeff admitted. He picked up the bottle of lotion from his nightstand and smeared the white liquid over his body. “We had a major system outage tonight and couldn’t get a hold of the primary or backup on- call programmers. So that made for a tense night. Finally, I ended up calling one of the team leaders.” He waved his hand impatiently. “Needless to say, Mr. McDonald wasn’t happy about his weekend being disturbed.” Nikki smoothed her hair back. “Give me the lotion so I can do your back.” Jeff handed her the bottle and she poured drops of the pear-scented lotion into her hand, then massaged the thick liquid onto Jeff’s shoulders and upper back. “That’s terrible. I don’t understand how you can work in the IT field. I couldn’t do it. The job would be too stressful for me.” “It’s not too bad most of the time.” Jeff nodded his head. “Ahh, that feels good.” When Nikki finished, he slithered into the bed and pulled her into his arms. His breath felt velvety soft on Nikki’s neck. “I thought we’d try the new sushi bar that opened down the street when I came home tonight. What’s wrong? Why are you in bed so early? Don’t you feel well?” he asked. “I had premenstrual cramps earlier,” Nikki lied. She shifted her body in the bed to get comfortable. “After I came home from work, I took some painkillers and laid down for a while. I feel much better now.” Jeff turned on the television, and they lay entwined in each other’s arms, watching the news. Check-out or book your blog tour online at
  • 10. “How was your day?” Jeff asked during a commercial break. He stroked the top of Nikki’s head, which rested on his shoulder. “It wasn’t too bad. Victor assigned me a new project today, even though my plate is already full.” Her dainty nose wrinkled in exasperation. “I have the dubious honor of creating print ads for a new retail, startup dot- com company. The concept is for the client to have an enterprise like a virtual shopping mall.” She regaled him with tales about her day, deliberately omitting her clandestine trip to Joliet. Jeffrey Singleton was an intelligent, methodical man with his eyes on the prize. His firm desire was that he and Nikki attain financial freedom and be able to retire from their jobs before the age of fifty. When Nikki and Jeff announced their engagement six years ago, they solicited advice from several friends employed in the finance field. They eventually selected Jeff’s college buddy, Ronald Sheldon, along with Nikki’s friend, Lindsay Mason, to develop a financial plan for them. After further discussion, Nikki and Jeff mutually decided Ron was best suited to oversee their financial investments. Jeff handled the household finances the first two years of their four-year marriage. Then last year, Nikki decided that she wanted a shot at the task. Their finances had been on a downward slope for the past seven months. And to make matters worse, Jeff was left in the dark regarding his wife’s costly new hobby that would wreak havoc over their lives. © Copyright 2009 Michelle Larks. Urban Christian Check-out or book your blog tour online at
  • 11. Want more? Pre-Order your copy today! ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1247106499&sr=8-1 For more information about Michelle, visit her at Follow the blog tour at Check-out or book your blog tour online at
  • 12. Check-out or book your blog tour online at