Rules for a Pretty Woman by P-HarpercollinsPubl


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									Rules for a Pretty Woman
Author: Suzette Francis

Dr. Lenny Faulkner, a single, African American doctor is living a charmed life in Atlanta; compared to the
poor childhood she experienced growing up in Madoosa County, a small southeast section of Georgia
that reeks of the local box manufacturing plant. Lenny is dedicated to the care and treatment of her
female patients. Lenny has been successful in achieving all her goals except one: She yearns to marry
her live-in love Ralph and start a family.In fact, the alarm on Lenny's biological clock is ringing loud and
clear---she's turning thirty-five, but Ralph, doesn't hear it. Instead of proposing, he abruptly ends their
nine-year relationship, empties their joint bank account and runs off with another woman. Adding to
Lenny's misery, she learns that her mother is dying of cancer, with only a few months to live.Feeling
utterly defeated, she discovers her fifth grade diary, which contains a list of rules she had created to live
by. Reading them after so many years, Lenny realizes that she has somehow buried the intensity she
demonstrated in her youth that helped her get out of Madoosa County.The diary becomes the impetus
Lenny needs to start taking complete charge of her life again. She discovers that Ralph leaving isn't such
a loss and that her newfound strength has opened the door to new possibilities, including love.

Shaniqua Davis: 13-year-old black female, first-time patient. Weight: 189 lbs. Height: 5'6". Gravida/para
— [No history of pregnancies]. Last normal menstrual period, mid-December. Birth control: none.
Complaints: nausea, vomiting, tiredness, irritability. History of present illness: Mother suspects she's
contracted a virus spreading through her school. School nurse recommended a gynecological visit."How
long have you had these symptoms, Shaniqua?""About two weeks," Shaniqua's mother pipes up. Ms.
Davis is an attractive, well-dressed woman with short, nicely cropped hair, a smooth, medium-brown
complexion, and a small build compared to her overweight daughter."Ever felt like this before, Shaniqua?"
I ask."First she's ever been sick in her life," Ms. Davis blurts out.Shaniqua looks down at her twiddling
fingers."Are you sexually active?""No, she isn't," Ms. Davis says, narrowing her eyes at me, arms
crossed as she sits straighter in her seat as if bracing for battle."I'm asking your daughter," I say
patiently. "I'd like to hear from her, since she's my patient." I lower my voice. "May I have a word alone
with Shaniqua, please?""I know what goes on with my daughter, Dr. Faulkner." Ms. Davis sneers. "She's
not one of those hot 'n' fast little girls running up and down the road after boys.""Are you sexually active,
Shaniqua?""No, ma'am," Shaniqua whispers, giving me a shifty, bug-eyed look.I review the initial lab test
in Shaniqua's chart.Blood pressure: 100/60. Urinalysis: normal. Pregnancy test: positive."Um-hmmmm," I
hum, focusing on the word positive. "Shaniqua, I know why you've been spitting up lately.""It's the flu,"
Ms. Davis says emphatically."No," I say, "but I'd like to have a word with her alone for a moment, Ms.
Davis, if you don't mind.""I do mind, Doctor. Shaniqua's my only child, and anything that concerns her, I
demand to know first-hand.""She's pregnant," I say softly, stroking Shaniqua's hair, which grows wild and
restless about her broad, dark face like tumbleweed, with a spray of half-straight strands sticking up. She
is the picture of me at her age: overweight and irrefutably unattractive. Ms. Davis breathes heavily, like a
bull about to charge."I drop her off at school every morning," she says, astounded. "And I'm home from
work a half hour after she gets home in the evening. We spend every weekend together. Every weekend!
She can't be having no baby.""I didn't do it, Mama," Shaniqua cries."Maybe the test is wrong," Ms. Davis
says desperately."I'm afraid not," I say, glancing down at positive on the lab results."But I wasn't sexually
active, Mama," Shaniqua pleads.Ms. Davis glances up at me, then down at Shaniqua on the exam table,
as if trying to decide whom to believe."How'd it happen, then?" she growls."I don't know, Mama.""How
can you not know a thing like that?""I didn't do it.""You had to do something, Shaniqua.""I didn't
move.""Didn't move?""We kissed one time, Mama, and that was it, I swear.""What're you talking about,
girl? Kissing. Nobody gets knocked up from a kiss. What d'ya think I am? As stupid as you?""No,
Mama.""Ms. Davis, please watch what you say," I insist. "What happened, Shaniqua? Were you
forced?""No, I just laid on the bottom is all. He did all the moving.""On the...
Author Bio
Suzette Francis
Suzette Francis is a graduate of Howard University who, after a successful career in business, decided to
focus exclusively on being a writer. She lives with her husband and children in the mountains of
Tennessee, where she has written and directed plays, and has volunteered to tutor public school children
in creative writing. Rules for a Pretty Woman is her first novel.

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