The Best Man

By: Brenda Jackson


To my husband and biggest supporter, Gerald Jackson, Sr.

To my niece, Regina Renee Franklin. You are one special young lady.

To all my avid readers who love the Madaris family and their friends. This one is especially for you.

And to my Heavenly Father, who makes all things possible.

A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.

—Proverbs 28:13 (The Living Bible)


MITCHELL Farrell was man enough to admit he had made a few mistakes in his lifetime. But he had absolutely no intentions of making the same mistakes twice. With a determined smile he snapped his seat belt in place and settled into the flight that would take him to Houston.

Never in his life had he been so determined to achieve a goal—a goal some would think was impossible with all the obstacles he faced. But he was a man with a plan.

A plan to get his wife back.

As his private jet cleared the Los Angeles runway and tilted its wings toward Texas, he settled back in his seat and remembered the first time he had seen Regina Grant on the campus of Texas Southern University seven years ago; the mere sight of her had taken his breath away. It hadn’t been like him to fall hard and fast, but against her he hadn’t stood a chance. No other woman had taken such hold of his mind and body like she had. She completely captured his heart.

During his teenage years he had grown up dirt poor, so he’d been determined to one day have wealth and power at his fingertips, determined that nothing and no one would get in his way of achieving that, especially a woman. He had pretty much kept that resolve until his final year in grad school, when he had met Gina. She had been in her senior year of college. He had been lost the first time they’d made eye contact. That day she’d become as basic to him as breathing.

For the longest while he’d thought he could simply add her to the list of things he wanted in life, which was why he had married her less than a year later. He soon realized that marriage to Gina was more of a challenge than he’d anticipated. He could not get her to understand the driving force of his need to make it to the top at the cost of everything else—including the baby she desperately wanted. Their marriage hadn’t worked out, and after four years it had ended. That was a huge mistake. He should never have let that happen.

He had been a fool to let her walk out of his life, an even bigger fool to have placed more emphasis and importance on making it to the top than holding their marriage together. And the main reason he’d walked away so easily was that the amount of love he’d felt for her had disturbed him. He had never counted on loving any woman so intensely that it made him lose his focus.

It had taken him two lonely years after their divorce to accept just how much he had loved her and that success was nothing without her. He wanted and needed her back in his life. For him the tragedy of September 11, 2001, served as a blunt reminder that you could be here one day and gone the next, and that when you left this world you couldn’t take anything with you, especially not the material things you had worked hard to accumulate.

He had been in New York that day for a meeting at the World Trade Center with a business associate and friend, Tom Swank. But a phone call that morning from his office in Los Angeles had delayed him at his hotel. Quite frankly, that phone call had saved his life—but nothing had saved Tom’s. That had been his first wake-up call to reexamine who he was and what he was. In the end he’d decided he didn’t like himself very much. At thirty-five he’d realized that his priorities were screwed up and knew he had to take whatever measures necessary to get them back in order.

He was no longer the workaholic he used to be; no longer endlessly driven by success. The only thing that drove him now was the tremendous task he faced of convincing Gina to give him another chance. And if given that chance, he would give her every damn thing she had ever asked for: the honeymoon they’d never gotten around to taking, the baby she’d always wanted and more time for them to spend together since he’d always been constantly on the go. A part of him refused to believe it was too late, that things were completely over between them.

So he was headed to Houston with a plan. And it was a plan he intended to make work, by any means necessary.


THERE were certain things that a woman just couldn’t forget.

For instance, she could not forget the time she progressed from girl into womanhood; the time she began wearing her first bra; the time she had her first date; the first time she fell in love and the first time she had made love.

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