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An Urban Christian Fiction Novel
I Love Him More is an urban, Christian tale set on the backdrop of Harlem, New York. The story surrounds the life of Shayla Wright, a beautiful young lady who has unwavering faith in God, and who is on a quest to introduce her spiritual values to a young drug dealer named Dre. This young man lives in the same housing project as Shayla and has always had his eye on her. He and his best friend Kevi are slinging drugs for Abdul, a major drug lord in Manhattan. Although Dre soon finds that he wants out of the game, he knows that doing so may cost him his life.
Shayla also has two girlfriends who both love her, yet have no love for each other. Gina is a street-smart, round-the-way-girl who is trying to overcome many life obstacles. She lives in a crack house with her mother and younger brother Josh. All she really wants is a place to call home. Mia is an uptown snob whose life is filled with 5th Avenue shopping and weekends in the Hamptons. These two young ladies are like water and oil until the most horrific circumstances bring them together in a profound way.
Will Shayla get through to Dre before he becomes another lost black male? Does Gina escape her mother’s addiction? Can Mia get a clue to the realities of the ‘hood? I Love Him More is a real life drama filled with faith, choices and unbelievable consequences in a story that could happen to people just like you or me.
Six Years Later
“I can do this,” Shayla rehearsed in her mind as she and Gina approached the intersection of 128th Street and Fredrick Douglas Avenue.
“Just ignore them fools, Shay. They ain’t nothin’ but a buncha broke, wannabe thugs. Tell them fools to kiss your ass!”
“Oh God, Gina, you know I would never say that to them!”
“That’s your problem, you’re too damn nice! You need to cuss ‘em out one good time and they’a leave you alone! Oops, I forgot you saved, holy girls don’t cuss folks out. Well I ain’t saved and I’ll cuss ‘em out once a day and twice on Sunday.” Gina always got hyped up when she saw that look on Shayla’s face.
“You’re right. I’m not gonna let them get me all stressed out. I’ll be fine.”
Gina gave Shayla a quick hug. She always did when they parted. “I’ll try to call ya’ when I get to my crib.” Gina waved as she crossed 128th Street, heading home. Shayla took a deep breath as she continued up the Avenue.
Shayla wasn’t sure which she hated most, walking home in the cold or having to encounter Dre and his friends. The walk from the subway totaled about fifteen blocks. She and Gina walked home from the station together everyday. They took the subway from their school in Manhattan. The girls had been riding the train together for over ten years.
Gina was Shayla’s protection when they rode the train. Shayla seemed to draw all the attention from the boys on the train. Gina often got into verbal battles with them to keep them from hitting on Shayla. It was hard for Shayla to tell them that she didn’t want to be bothered. She thought that by being nice, she could keep them from getting “fresh” with her. Unfortunately, it only served to keep the advances coming.
Shayla Wright was a stunning young lady. Her five foot nine statuesque frame was adorned by her emerald-amber eyes and thick, chestnut brown hair, which usually hung free just below her shoulders. Her build was that of an athlete, but came from years of practicing the disciplines of ballet and modern dance. At sixteen, Shayla had blossomed into such a beauty that she could have easily garnered the cover of Elle, or Essence.
She turned heads most everywhere she went. But it was not only because of her beauty; something else about was even more attractive. She carried herself much differently than most girls her age. She never wore make up, other than a now and then dab of lip gloss. She dressed conservative and modest. Even her uniform skirt was almost to her knees. Her gait was one of confidence, not arrogance. One could have imagined her to be from one of the African American Renaissance families of the upper west side of Manhattan.
She grew up in the Ellington building of the Armstrong-Ellington Towers, a high rise public housing project in Harlem. It was situated on Frederick Douglas Boulevard, between West 139th Street and 140th Street.
She and her mother moved there in 1988, after her father died. It was the best her mother could do back then, as a single mother raising a small child alone.
“I should have gone the back way,” she mumbled to herself as she reached her building. “And there they are.”
A group of boys were congregated outside the front of her building. She had to pass them to enter the lobby and she dreaded it. She hated walking through their cigarette smoke, which lingered on her uniform and in her hair. They always had something crude to say to her when she walked by. Sayla tried to act as if their remarks didn’t bother her, but they knew she was embarrassed by what they said. She never understood why they only bothered her. There were other girls who lived in the Towers who they didn’t even look at or say a word to.
Music was blaring from a car that was double parked near the curb. As she reached the atrium, the boys began their rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t she lovely.” As usual, Dre was singing the loudest. He stepped away from the other boys, as if to serenade her with his lead vocals. Young Mr. Hayden and his crew were her nemesis.
“Yo slim, I got some fries to go with your shake,” said one of the boys, watching her hips as she approached them. The whole crew broke out into laughter and gave each other high fives.
“You sure is fine,” another one quipped, “and you be workin’ that uniform. You gonna make me go sign up for Catholic school.” The boy peered over the top of his shades as she walked by.
Shayla gave him the once over. “Don’t be so dumb! You can’t just sign up for Catholic school; you have to be accepted after you pass an entrance exam. But I guess you wouldn’t know that since you haven’t been in school since the third grade!” She rolled her eyes and kept walking.
She just wanted to get into her building as quickly as possible.
“I told you, if you were my girl the fellas wouldn’t say nothin’ to you.”
“Thanks, but no thanks, Andreous. First of all, I haven’t been a girl since I was 12. If you would stop smokin’ that stipid weed, you would know that. Secondly, you would realize that I’m super-fine, highly intelligent, and on my way to NYU or MIT, and I don’t wish to be another puppy in your litter!”
Dre was stunned by the way Shayla crushed him in front of the fellas. They were all laughing at him, as he stood there with his jaw dropped and speechless. Before he could bring a word to his lips, Shayla had entered her building and was waiting for the elevator to take her up to the sixteenth floor.
“I’m gonna marry her,” Dre said in a factual manner. “She’s gonna be my wife.” The crew, still laughing, started heading for their cars.
“Keep hope alive, Dre,” yelled one of the boys. They all roared with laughter as they piled into the cars, which were still running at the curb.
“Later on, Dre,” said another as he steered into the traffic.
“Later.” Dre crossed the courtyard and sat down on the bench in front of his building. Looking up, he knew just which window was Shayla’s livingroom. When he saw that the light was on, he knew that she was safely inside the apartment that she and her mother occupied. He sat there a few more minutes. Then it was the cold air which chased him towards the door, as he headed for his building.