Genres: Mystery Romance
Caribbean Literature, Multicultural Historical Aspects
Noteworthy: There’s a murder, but the author keeps light. The sexual scenes, too are on a light note and no bad language.
On the surface, the Island Hopping series is a remarkable journey of Sakkara Riley’s quest to locate her parents. What she learns is so much more than was ever expected. In Island Hopping: Trinidad & Tobago, Sakkara enlists the help of a local elderly historian, Natalia Day and her doting grandson, Anthony Lam. Equipped with her parcel of artifacts and a determined bravado, Sakkara uncovers more than she ever thought possible.
Turning upward to get his attention, she encouraged him to dance. Her words were not enough to overtake the powerful sounds of the calypso and soca rhythms, so he did something that nearly caused her to melt into oblivion. He leaned down to the side of her face, gently moved aside dark brown tresses, placed his lips to the very edge of her lobes and whispered. She didn’t entirely make out what he said, but his warm breath shot through her entire body, resting at her navel. When he was finished, Anthony grazed the side of her face with his lips. Before she could rebuke his boldness, she was directed into the crowd, trying in earnest to save face.
Many of the tunes were already familiar, though she couldn’t always quote them verbatim. A couple of times, she even caught Anthony mouthing a few lines, not many but enough. And, as his lips moved, she fell into a trance. Before she knew it, Sakkara forgot about her inability to move her hips, twining like a cleverly skilled Trini-native. They were able to wine their waistlines, easily transitioning from north to south and quickly back again. Though she couldn’t master every stunt as perfectly as the others, her efforts were commendable.
Whenever the partygoers were hyped up over the band’s selection and a particular dancer’s unmatched style, the atmosphere set out a spark so great that even Sakkara was swept into the scene. She forgot her intentions for being in Trinidad. Her lids fell shut and she surrendered. Even at one point, when the DJ declared that they were kicking it back a decade, Sakkara was amazed when she heard the song We Ain’t Going Home by Tambu because it had been a favorite of a school friend by the name of Sasha Benton. When they had study time, Sakkara could never understand how the girl managed to focus and maintain her grades while listening to the fast-paced beats. But Sakkara remembered how excited Sasha had become and how she would tear away in all types of loose movements. At that moment, Sakkara felt her friend’s energy.
Anthony must’ve seen the transformation, having positioned her right in front of his chest. She didn’t resist, not even when he dipped and gripped her hips. The magic of the blaring horns and fervor of the performer’s abilities were enough to wipe out purpose, at least for the night.
“That day . . . ummmmm . . . the day we found you was the happiest day of our lives, sweetie. You were perfect. Everything about you was perfect, and you still are my perfect child.” Pearl’s words were becoming more difficult to understand, as she rambled on.
“Mom, what’s going on?” Sakkara waited to hear more, but all that came through the receiver was her mother’s sniffles. “Mom! Mom, what’s wrong?”
“I saw her. I knew it was her.”
“Who did you see?” Without being entirely sure of what Pearl was discussing, Sakkara started crying into the phone. “Mom? What? What aren’t you telling me?”
“Honey, I’m sorry that I never told you this before—”
“Tell me what? Tell me what? Stop doing this to me, Mom! I don’t know what’s going on here. I’m gonna hang up—”
“I saw your mother.”
“What? When? When? How?”
Mother and child exploded in fits of anger, hurt and uncertainty. Not a single word was legible. This session, this emotional firestorm, progressed for several minutes. Then the line cut silent for several seconds.
Sakkara was the first to speak. “Why are you doing this to me? Mom, I’m already overwhelmed with this. Why now, Mom? I’m not coming back.
“Please child. Just list—”
“Sakkara Riley, I don’t care about the woman that gave birth to you. I am your mother! I raised you. I raised you as mine. You’re going to listen to what I have to say. I’m not trying to get you to come back home. I just need you to know something. Okay?” Pearl rarely raised her voice. This scolding meant something, that was obvious.
“I’m listening, Mom.”
“The day we found you, we were leaving the theater. Your father took me there to try to cheer me up. Nothing could cheer me up. I didn’t want a show. I didn’t want to be out. I wanted to be at home, feeling sorry for myself. My birthday had just passed. It was another year of getting old, another year without getting pregnant, another year of being incomplete, another year of feeling like a failure as a woman.”
“Mom, why are you doing this to yourself?”
Pearl didn’t even consider Sakkara’s question, she just kept right on with her story. “I don’t remember much about that day, only the important things. I remember every second of discovering you and looking down into your colorful eyes. But there was more than just you, more than me, and more than your father.”
Pearl stopped speaking. Sakkara didn’t reply or add anything. Neither woman cried again. The line was hushed for close to a minute.
“When I saw your face, when I looked into your eyes . . .” Pearl stopped, sighed, coughed and exhaled. “I believe your father and I ran into your parents before.”
“Before they—before we found you. I saw them. I knew it was them. Ed didn’t remember, but I did. It was the eyes, Sakkara.”
“Remember what, Mom?”
“This little woman bumped into me. It was hot outside, but she had on this big tweed jacket. It was awful, full and lopsided in the front. Baby, I think she had you tucked under there.”
Pearl waited for her daughter to say something, but Sakkara didn’t react to the news. Feeling that she needed to explain herself, or at least give more than she’d already shared, desperation set in.
“Sweetie, I’ve never forgotten the way she looked at me. It dances in my mind at night, that similar face that I’ve grown to know and love. Her face was so innocent.” Taking a deep breath, Pearl continued, “She was scared. I sensed it. Then a man came up beside her. They were in love. I could tell. And she wasn’t scared anymore. This man, he was handsome, but she was such a gentle-looking woman. I think she wanted to tell me something, but she didn’t know how.”
Pearl paused. Sakkara didn’t try to fill in the gap.
She continued on, “When I saw you. When I unwrapped you from that blanket, removed you from that bag and looked into your eyes, I knew you were theirs. I remember seeing the bag in his hands. I knew, baby. I knew . . .” She let out a sigh. “I never said anything at the hospital, nor to the officials. I was afraid that they’d take you away. Sakkara, they didn’t look like bad people. No. A couple times I considered telling Ed, or talking to the police. But in the end, they would have taken you away from me.”
Pearl stopped abruptly. She couldn’t think of anything else to share; surely, she must have liberated her conscience.
The longer they went without words, the greater the static appeared to grow on the line. Finally, Pearl couldn’t take it any longer.
“Can you say something? Even if you’re upset I need to hear you say something.”
“You’re telling me that you knew who my parents were?”
“I mean I didn’t know them. We ran into them. They were here, Sakkara. They were in New York, not in the Trinidad or any of those other foreign countries.”
USA ONLY: 2 autographed paperback copies of “Island Hopping: Trinidad & Tobago”
(w/ bonus copy of “Jumping Ship” Introductory Novella)
International: 3 e-copies (any format) of “Island Hopping: Trinidad & Tobago”
(w/ bonus copy of “Jumping Ship” Introductory Novella)
About the Author
Janice G. Ross was born in Guyana, South America and migrated to the USA in 1980. She is an author. She enjoys writing about social issues and personal experiences. Her debut release was entitled Damaged Girls. She uses the three books in that series to detail the effects of different forms of abuse, discussing issues that are known to be taboo. Her latest release, Jumping Ship, is a dedication to her country of birth and an introductory novella to the Island Hopping Series – due out in 2014. It’s poised to be a colorful and emotional experience of life, love and family.
Janice enjoys reading. And is drawn to stories with distinct characters that she can love or hate, characters she can form alliances with or characters that she can swear off and despise. She is also weak for a good cultural tale, preferably in the form of historical fiction. Janice loves to be taken off guard by clever language and settings. Janice is also a devout supporter and promoter of other authors through social media. She hosts a weekly show, Cultural Cocktails, on the largest social radio network, Blog Talk Radio.