Guilty of Love
both.”
    “ Hey, Malcolm, ah, good
turnout,” Parke commented, searching for a diversion. “Was it like
this last year, man?” A business conference had taken him to Texas,
so he attended festivities there.
    Malcolm shrugged. “It was
bigger.”
    “ Well, you’ve got to get
down to Galveston. I’m talking serious. They go all the way out for
their celebration.”
    Parke chanced a glance at Nyla. She
looked bored, struggling with the residual effects of the
identification mix-up. He felt bad for her. He’d never purposely do
anything to degrade a woman. It was an honest mistake. He may be a
“dog” as Annette called him, but he was a pedigree. Parke was
well-mannered and respectful. He squeezed her hand.
    Nyla squeezed back. Still, Parke felt
the woman had to work through her own insecurities. He had told her
up front he wasn’t committed to any one woman. She had boldly
retorted, “I don’t recall asking for one.”
    Back on track, Parke continued to
discuss the different exhibits with Malcolm and Hallison until
Nyla’s whining voice interrupted them.
    “ Juneteenth is a made-up
holiday like Kwanzaa, right?” No one responded. “I mean, Nelson
Mandela created Kwanzaa after he was released from prison,
right?”
    For some unexplained reason, a
scripture that Annette had forced on him came to mind. Hosea 4:6: ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou
hast rejected knowledge…’ Parke had plenty of knowledge about
plenty of things, so he imparted some ancestral knowledge to
Nyla.
    “ Nope, it’s the oldest
known African-American celebration, dating back to June 1865. It
symbolizes the end of slavery,” Parke explained. “Dr. Maulana
Karenga introduced Kwanzaa in this country in 1966. The name means
celebration of first-fruits, and some say the celebrations are
recorded as far back as ancient Egypt.”
    Nyla frowned, but listened.
    “ Now, back to Juneteenth.
People of all races, nationalities, and religious backgrounds
acknowledge that dark period in our history and commemorate slaves’
freedom for a day, week, sometimes, celebrations can last a month,”
Malcolm added.
    Fascinated, Nyla’s eyes widened. “Wow.
I thought Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in
1863.”
    “ He did, but millions of
Blacks throughout the Deep South didn’t get the word,” Malcolm
advised as he unconsciously stroked Hallison’s arm. “Many masters
kept Blacks enslaved for two-and-a-half years longer.”
    “ Let me tell my favorite
part of the festivities,” Hallison interjected
excitedly.
    “ Tell us, baby, like Parke
and I don’t already know.”
    “ Imagine more than eighteen
hundred union army soldiers—no doubt the strongest, finest, and
most determined Black men marching into Galveston, Texas. Imagine
them parading in grand style with authority, proclaiming the
slaves’ freedom. Whew, rescue me.” Hallison fanned
herself.
    “ God sent me to rescue
you,” Malcolm cooed.
    “ He had nothing to do with
it,” Hallison stated, her expression blank.
     

Chapter Four
     
     
    A week later
     
    “ You change your dates more
than a woman changes her lipstick,” Malcolm teased Parke over the
phone.
    “ There is a reason behind
my madness, as you call it. Not that I’m an extremely religious
person, but I feel God is leading me to somebody.”
    “ I doubt it, PJ. Your
recent choices are causing you to lose your mind. If it’s
contagious, then stay away from me.”
    “ Okay, I agree that Nyla
was a mistake on my part. It’s partially your fault, too. I’ll
never tell you another one of my dates’ names.”
    “ I’ll never ask again.”
Malcolm laughed.
    “ I admit I strayed away
from my protocol with that one.”
    “ With that one? Try all of
them. You need a woman like Hali. Say the word and I’ll ask her
about some of her girlfriends when I surprise my baby for lunch
later.”
    “ I don’t need any
help.”
    “ Oh, you need help, all
right.”
    “ Is Hallison so

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