Helen wasn’t just born the devious vixen of New Day Temple of Faith. There has to be
something rooted deep within her to make her feed off of the pain she inflicts on other people. Perhaps it is her own pain that she has suppressed for so many years. Its an unimaginable pain that creates an internal prison in which her mind is the only captive. Whatever the cause, once the demons within her break free, those around her better beware. Helen feels no shame about the fact that she hasn’t been saved all her life. Will the divas of New Day Temple of Faith think Helen is worth saving? More importantly, can God save Helen from not only her evil past, but from herself?
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Man, I hate the cleaning guy! Why does he have to do his job so well? Can’t he ever leave just one spot, smear, or smudge on this dang stripper pole? Something so that I don’t have to see myself so painfully visible like this? What makes him think I want to be able to see myself twirling around this pole like some skilled monkey—caught up in the powerful grip of the almighty dollar; a grip known to have choked the life out of many while leaving others gasping for their last breath?
“That’s for you,” Damon spoke out over R. Kelly’s “Your Body’s Calling.” With his chestnut brown, bald head and facial hair that was edged up nice and clean, Damon licked his thumb and used it to flick a twenty-dollar bill off the stack of money he was palming.
I swiveled my body down to the ground, the same way the vanilla and chocolate swirl ice cream at the DQ makes its way from the machine to the cone. “Baby, you know it takes gas to keep a Cadillac like myself going,” I said to Damon. “As long as you keep filling up the tank, I’ma go-go all night.” I swiveled my body back up to a standing position while adding, “In any direction you want me to go.”
Damon’s lips parted into that sexy signature smile of his.
“Whatever you want,” Damon said. “It’s your Caddy. I’ll drive, ride, heck, I’ll even be a backseat passenger. Just know that I got you, Ma.” Damon began to flick off bills like he was the dealer in a game of spades.
I was very much content with the hand I was being dealt. So much so that I wanted to drop to my knees and begin scooping like a kid standing under a piñata that had just been busted open. But I didn’t want to appear too desperate. Resolving to strip in the first place was out of desperation. At the time of making the decision I had felt trapped, like Jonah in the belly of the big fish. I was always trying to make ends meet, but neither of my ends were the least bit interested in getting to know one another. Bills were due. I weighed some options on my immoral scale of desperation, and stripping was a less load to travel with in my mental carry-on. I mean, at least I wasn’t selling my whole self—just bartering off a piece of me.
“Go on, Go-Go Girl. You know you wanna bend that thang over and pick up that loot.”
Once again, Damon licked his thumb and lightened his pile of money as he flicked a couple more bills onto the stage at my feet. “Come on, just show me a li’l sumpin’-sumpin’,” Damon urged. His eyes perused my body from head to toe, wetting his thumb in preparation to keep making it rain.
And this was rain, might I add. Ones being flicked off; that’s a chance of rain. Fives being flicked off; that’s a little drizzle. Tens being flicked off; that’s a scattered shower. Twenties; that’s rain. Benjamins; an all-out thunderstorm!
“Come on, Damon, you know the rules. You don’t want me to break the rules and get put on punishment do you?” I asked, making a puppy dog face.
“Forget the rules,” Damon barked like the big dawg he was. “And if all that is worthy of just a peek,” he said, referring to all the money he’d laid at my feet, “I can only imagine what this will get me.”
I froze on the stage, which meant the bill Damon was now displaying must have triggered some type of ice storm. Until that very moment, I had never even known that such a bill existed.
“What’s the matter, Go-Go Girl? You ain’t never seen a five-hundred-dollar bill before?” He chuckled. “So what do you say you make tonight a first for a lot of things?”
All of a sudden, I was starting to think about church, kicking myself for not having paid my respects (or tithes) to the house of the Lord in a couple of months. At the same time, I was trying my hardest to recall one of those messages that had to do with temptation—a scripture or something— because to tell the truth and shame the devil, I was beyond tempted to take Damon up on his offer.
“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches . . .” That wasn’t exactly the scripture I was grappling for, but it still seemed fitting.
My name; Helen Lannden. How much is it worth today? Twenty-five year old Helen Lannden. How much will my name be worth tomorrow, especially if I trick for this money today?
BLESSED selling Author E. N. Joy is the author behind the “New Day Divas,” “Still Divas,” “Always Divas” and “Forever Divas” series, all which have been coined “Soap Operas in Print.” She is an Essence Magazine Bestselling Author who wrote secular books under the names Joylynn M. Jossel and JOY. Her title, If I Ruled the World, earned her a book blurb from Grammy Award Winning Artist, Erykah Badu. An All Night Man, an anthology she penned with New York Times Bestselling Author Brenda Jackson, earned the Borders bestselling African American romance award. Her Urban Fiction title, Dollar Bill (Triple Crown Publications), appeared in Newsweek and has been translated to Japanese.
After thirteen years of being a paralegal in the insurance industry, E. N. Joy divorced her career and married her mistress and her passion; writing. In 2000, she formed her own publishing company where she published her books until landing a book deal with St. Martin’s Press. This award-winning author has been sharing her literary expertise on conference panels in her home town of Columbus, Ohio as well as cities across the country. Now residing in Las Vegas, Nevada, she also conducts publishing/writing workshops for aspiring writers.
Her children’s book titled The Secret Olivia Told Me, written under the name N. Joy, received a Coretta Scott King Honor from the American Library Association. The book was also acquired by Scholastic Books and has sold almost 100,000 copies. Elementary and middle school children have fallen in love with reading and creative writing as a result of the readings and workshops E. N. Joy instructs in schools nationwide.
In addition, she is the artistic developer for a young girl group named DJHK Gurls. She pens original songs, drama skits and monologues for the group that deal with messages that affect today’s youth, such as bullying.
After being the first content development editor for Triple Crown Publications and ten years as the acquisitions editor for Carl Weber’s Urban Christian imprint, E. N. Joy now does freelance editing, ghostwriting, write-behinds and literary consulting. Her clients have included New York Times Bestselling authors, entertainers, aspiring authors, as well as first-time authors. Some notable literary consulting clients include actor Christian Keyes, singer Olivia Longott and Reality Television star Shereé M. Whitfield.
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You can also check out my children’s books written under the name N. Joy: The Secret Olivia Told me, Sabella and the Castle Belonging to the Troll, and Operation Get Rid of Mom’s New Boyfriend.
I always say the greatest Ah-Ha moment a person can ever have is when their life begins to make sense. In that moment, my life began to make sense. So, this is how I now answer the question of where do I expect to be in my career as an author five years from now: “I want to be a BLESSED selling author. I want to have “A Million Souls Saved!” stamped on my book covers. I want readers to be sold out on Christ after reading my books. In short, five years from now I want to still be writing, not to become a famous author, but to make God famous.”
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