Hello and welcome to my website. Feel free to explore and find out more about me. You can start by reading this brief description of my newest completed manuscript, The Scars Within.
Melanie Sparks is a woman on a mission. Her parents have been married for forty-five years and her baby sister is a happily married mother of five. Melanie’s worried she may never find anybody to put a ring on it and, it’s gotten so bad, she’s now in the habit of glancing at the ring finger on the left hand of everybody she meets. Her solution—power dating. She’s a master juggler—of men.
One evening when she finds one of her tires slashed, she’s more annoyed than scared, but when the men in her life are harassed and assaulted, Melanie starts to suspect that instead of finding a husband, she may have attracted a stalker. She solicits the services of an ex-cop turned private eye, to find the person who keeps calling from a restricted number and greeting her with silence. She desperately wants to know how this person knows who she’s with and what she’s doing. And why do they keep harming the men in her life? What are their plans for her?
While her private investigator works to find her stalker, she wants to know more about him. Why would a man who seems to love police work retire in his mid-thirties? How did he really get the vicious scar he hides from everyone but her? And what’s his connection to a nineteen-year-old dead girl?
Odell is a native of Newark, New Jersey and, after getting an MBA in Real Estate Finance, she made a career for herself in commercial lending. Odell got the writing bug during the 2012 economic downturn. Looking for a way to spend her time, she challenged herself. Could she actually write a book? A part of her figured she’d get bored, or discouraged, but she fell in love instead and has been writing ever since. Her writing focuses on the oddity of ordinary life. She’s a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and has worked with a number of different editors.
Odell is still a resident of The Garden State where she lives with her husband, teenage son, and Jerry, the twenty-pound Maine Coon who runs the house. When she’s not coming up with ideas for her next book, she’s spending time with family and friends, watching the game (go Yankees, Giants, and Knicks!), or reading a good book.
You can contact Odell by email at email@example.com.
The Scars Within
Chantel snatches the bag from my hand before I get both feet in the house and she takes off down the hall, heading for her brothers and sisters. Chantel’s the oldest, as she just turned seven, and is always the one who hands out my gifts.
Nicole’s house is a quaint three-bedroom colonial located on a block of quaint colonials. She lives on the border of two communities—one middle class, the other a little rougher. The fixer-upper she and her husband bought and have been working on for years is right on the edge of the middle-class side.
As I walk to the kitchen smiles abound from family pictures that cover the walls. Photos of my nieces and nephews as newborns and toddlers are mixed in with pictures of my parents and grandparents. The walls in my house are covered with expensive art and paintings of strangers. I’m rethinking my décor when I reach the kitchen where I find my kid sister up to her elbows in pots and pans. The room is filled with the aroma of her cabbage, which I love. She got the domestic gene.
“Well, if it isn’t the Black Martha Stewart,” I joke. Nicole turns away from the stove to look at me, beads of sweat covering her forehead. I gave her the blue and white dress she’s wearing. I think it’s a birthday gift I bought a long time ago.
“Hi there. Nice suit Lady.”
I’m wearing a navy-blue Ann Taylor designed suit. I figured it would make a nice statement on my first day; clean lines and stylish but not over the top. Nicole, a younger looking version of me, walks over and kisses my left cheek. She has dark brown skin, a heart shaped head, big eyes, a wide nose and full lips just like I do. That’s where the similarity ends. She’s a stay-at-home mom with five kids while I’m the career woman conquering corporate America.
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All five of her chillin’s rush into the small kitchen, Chantel in the lead, holding up the dress I bought her. Nicole also has two sets of twins—boys age three and girls age five—who she refuses to dress alike so they’re jumping around in a variety of cute, multicolored outfits. They surround us while thanking me for their gifts and each voice sounds like a different musical note. I spoil my nieces and nephews because I love them dearly. It’s hard for me to come here sometimes though. My biological clock ticks so loudly when I’m in this house I think my ears are going to bleed.
“That is so pretty,” Nicole says to her daughter. My sister looks at the dress and Rachel and Raquel’s puzzles and Trevor and Trevon’s robots and I almost say I’m sorry. I’m a little jealous of my sister and her beautiful family. I’d rather be Mom than Auntie but all I can do now is come bearing gifts. Nicole looks around briefly, scanning the walls of this cramped space. “Go show your dad,” she says, and the brood is off again. “You spoil my kids.”
“So. You need some help in here? You know I can’t cook but I can boil the shit out of some water.” My sister hugs me and the green-eyed monster leaves the room.
“You’re useless. Go keep an eye on my kids.”
“Where’s Boyd?” He’s her husband and I don’t know why I asked the question. The man works two jobs so he’s probably somewhere making a living.
“He’s in the basement waiting for dinner. I’m going to be done in a few minutes, so you can set the table.”
I leave and go to the living room where I find Chantel sitting on the couch with her dress next to her, Rachel putting her puzzle together at warp speed, Raquel playing with the box her puzzle came in (kids are a trip), Trevor clapping as his robot moves across the floor and Trevon talking to his. And in the middle of all the bags, boxes and bows, I see their father laughing and playing.
“Hey Boyd.” My brother-in-law winks at me before he gets up, walks over and puts me in a bear hug. Him and Nicole were high school sweethearts and have been married for ten years. I love their relationship.
“Hello Mel,” he sings to me. Boyd’s a big man who played football in high school and stands six feet five inches tall. Being a mechanic, his hands are rough and the smell of grease clings to his shirt. His twin boys look like miniature versions of him with medium brown complexions, big doe eyes and puffy cheeks. The doorbell rings as we talk, and Chantel goes to answer it.
I hear him before I see him, his voice bellowing through the room as he enters the house. Philip Rodgers walks in and I wonder how he knew I’d be here. I also can’t help but notice how good he looks. His suit, a tailored Italian number, fits perfectly, revealing just a hint of what I know are strong, muscular thighs. He’s carrying a vase filled with a dozen, no two dozen, roses. I’m so busy gawking at him I barely notice my mom walk in. Now I know how Philip knew I was here. I’m watching this handsome man walk toward me and the tug-of-war starts. Do I or don’t I?
“Hi baby,” he says in his smooth baritone voice. “These are for you.”
Philip’s about six feet tall with an athletic build. We’ve known each other for a few years and, although I really want to get married, I’m not sure if he’s the one. He’s a good guy and I like him, but we don’t always click. Our relationship is like a train rumbling along, the ride smooth and comfortable, when suddenly it jerks and pulls, throwing us both out of our seats. We’ve dated for a while and just when I start warming up to the possibility of being exclusive, he does or says something to give me pause. Once he made a point of letting me know he definitely wants his bride to keep the love, honor and obey part in their vows because the man is the head of the household. Why did he feel the need to tell me that? Plus, he wants me to cut loose all my other male friends because he doesn’t think men and women can be just friends. Tonight though, I’m under his spell, stuck here staring. That is until he opens his mouth again.
“Is my car going to be okay parked on the street? You know how brothers in the ‘hood are,” Philip says as he loosens his tie.
“It’ll be fine.” Boyd pats him on the back. “Anyway, I’m sure you got good insurance.” I chuckle as my brother-in-law gathers his children and goes to get cleaned up for dinner.
“Hi Mel.” Vivian Sparks, my scheming seventy-year-old dynamo of a mom, likes Philip. Or maybe she likes me with him. Personally, I think she’s worried I’m going to be an old maid and is just trying to marry me off.
“Hello Mom. You didn’t tell me you were bringing Philip.” He puts his arm around my waist, grazing my butt with the palm of his hand.
“Philip called me because he couldn’t reach you.”
He called my mother? I look in the dining room and see my sister putting dishes on the table. I am useless.
“Let’s sit down and eat,” I say but Philip holds me so I can’t move. He kisses me on the forehead while Mom stands behind us grinning.
“Why didn’t you call me back?” he asks and sounds so sweet I can’t resist and kiss him lightly on the lips.
“I’m sorry. I just got tied up.” Now Mom is moseying out of the room. It’s just the two of us here, me and this handsome, sweet smelling man who I have no idea what to do with. In the next room my nieces and nephews greet Mom and Chantel’s signature giggle is unmistakable. Philip and I are looking in each other’s eyes and I’m trying to figure out if I’ll sleep with him tonight.
I place my beautiful flowers on the coffee table and take his hand. We walk to the dining room and when we sit down to eat, my family stares at us until heads are bowed in prayer. Philip gently squeezes my hand and I’m moving closer to yes. While the ten of us eat cabbage, brisket and mashed potatoes, I notice my sister looks tired. She’s next to her youngest, making sure they get more food in their mouths than they leave on the table. I guess I’d be tired too if I had five children in seven years. She seems happy though. Would I be satisfied being Mrs. Philip Rodgers?
Mom spends much of the night talking to Philip about his job. “You’re such an important man,” she says as she looks at me. Philip’s a lawyer and she’s always wanted one of those in the family. “Doesn’t Melanie look pretty tonight?” she adds. Mom’s really pouring it on and I’d be embarrassed if Philip wasn’t lapping it up.
When we’re done eating I help Nicole get her kids ready for bed. Her children look like angels when they sleep, and my biological clock is clanging again. And here-in lies my dilemma. I date a lot and like the men I date but I don’t love any of them. And oh, how I want to be in love. A love nest with a slew of babies is what I dream about and as I think of my nieces and nephews tucked snuggly in their beds I find myself gravitating to Philip, wanting to be near him. I’m ready to go to his place. My plan is to take my mom home and head over to his townhouse. The air outside is crisp when we leave my sister’s house, Philip carrying the flowers and Mom in front of us. I open the car door for my mother and kiss Philip as I stand near the driver’s side door. He puts the flowers in the back seat on the floor and I notice my rear tire is flat.
“Oh wow. How’d that happen?” I say to no one.
“Pop the trunk. I’ll put your spare on.” Philip starts to take off his jacket.
“No, no. Boyd will do it. Just take my mom home.”
“I’ll take care of it, no worries.”
Philip flexes his muscles. It’s his macho thing again. I move close to him and whisper, “You go home and wait for me.”
He flashes that sheepish grin of his and escorts my mother to his car as I rush inside to get my brother-in-law. In a bogus attempt to learn how to change a tire, I watch as Boyd tinkers with my car. When the spare is on he pulls me aside.
“Is everything okay Mel?” Boyd’s a friendly guy who always looks happy but now he’s staring at me all stern faced.
“I’m fine. Why?”
“Your tire didn’t go flat on its own.”
“Somebody poked a hole in your tire. Cut a hole in it actually.”
“No way. That can’t be right.” He puts his hand on my shoulder and squeezes.
“Mel, I know what I’m talking about.”
I freeze. Did I hear him right? Someone flattened my tire? How could that be? I don’t know how to take that news as I look up and down the street trying to spot a ghost or figure who could have done this. What I do know is I’ve changed my mind. Philip’s house won’t be my next destination. I’m going home.
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