Chicki Brown has done it again and brought us the final book in her wonderful Stafford Brother Series. Inner City Blues, book six in the series, features Jesse Stafford and strikes a thoughtful note with a topic for the times. This is a story that will pull you in and make you happy you came to know more about this vibrant, eclectic, and loving family.
Dr. Jesse Stafford, successful surgeon, husband and father of three lives in an exclusive enclave in Atlanta. He volunteers his time at a neighborhood free clinic in one of the roughest parts of Atlanta where his wife, Cydney’s family still lives. When an unarmed thirteen-year-old boy is shot and killed by the police in this neighborhood, Jesse finds himself in an ethical dilemma and at odds with some family members. His involvement puts everything he’s achieved on the line.
The peace remained until guests began arriving in the afternoon. The disturbance in the force came when a next-door neighbor walked in the front door. He greeted everyone and his gaze landed on Jesse.
“I thought they had you in lock-up. What, they let you out for the holiday?”
Dr. Stafford leaned forward in his recliner as though he were about to jump up, but Jesse answered for him. “Hey, Mr. Edmonds. I guess you’re one of those folks who still reads the newspaper, huh? They released me on bail the same night. Just a disturbing the peace charge.”
“What’s a doctor doing out on the street protesting anyway?”
This was his father’s cue. “I’ve been asking the same question myself, Irv. It doesn’t make sense.” He glowered at Jesse.
Jesse kept his calm yet shifted his piercing olive gaze from one older man to the other. “I’m a black man with a son and nephews, and I realize that the kid the cops shot down in cold blood could’ve been one of them. I have to speak out against police brutality and abuse of power. It makes perfect sense to me.”
“That’s because you’re putting what happened to a stranger before your career and your own family,” his father shot back.
He almost cut off her circulation when Cydney took his hand. He squeezed it and bolted up out of his chair. “No! It’s because I am thinking of my family. In a few years, his son Tyrell could be walking down the street minding his own business and get shot down because they think we all look alike!” The red blush of anger colored his fair complexion. “It has to stop, so I’m going to speak out as loud and as long as I need to. Get over it! You’re old and disconnected from reality.”
Everyone in the room cringed and waited for the explosion. Before it happened, Marc lifted his hands and cleared his throat. “Listen, if we argued this for the next few days, it wouldn’t change anything. I’m proud of the stand Jesse’s taken. If the demonstrations continue, I just might join him when we move back to Atlanta in the fall.”
His mother’s mouth fell open and a hand flew to her chest. “What did you say?”
“Gianne and I have decided to move back. I’m going to open a fitness studio here. Lance will be coming too. Gianne’s never really felt at home in Vegas. She misses her home town.”
Thankful for Marc deflecting the previous conversation, Cydney mouthed him a thank you. The room erupted in chatter, and she said, “It’ll be so good to have you here all the time. ChiChi will be able to spend time with all of her cousins, too,” she said to Gianne.
“I liked Las Vegas, but Atlanta will always be my home.” Gianne smoothed her short platinum blonde hair. “I’m a southern girl. My heart will always be tied to the South.”
Greg stood and scratched his head. “Well…we were going to wait until dinner, but since this seems to be announcement time,” he smiled down at Rhani who’d been awakened by the earlier shouting, “Rhani and I wanted you all to know our family is about to get bigger.”
“Oh, my!” Mrs. Stafford fanned herself with her hand. “This is more good news than I can take! When?”
Rhani grinned. “February, so Daddy, you’ll have another new Stafford to introduce at next year’s barbecue.”
“Congratulations!” her father-in-law said, beaming. “Well, well, well. You kids never cease to surprise us. This is all great news.”
“I thought you looked a little fuller in the face. I just figured you were getting comfortable being married. Oh, sweetheart, that’s wonderful!” Mama wrapped Rhani in an emotional hug.
“Speaking of kids, I think I hear somebody crying.” Cyd rose and headed toward the stairs. All of the mothers rose and followed her except for Mona, who no longer had any babies to listen out for. “That was a great save. Tell Marc I appreciated it,” she said to Gianne as they climbed up to the second floor. “Things were getting a little too tense in there.”
Cherilyn giggled. “Girl, when Jesse stood up, I thought sure either he or Daddy would throw a punch.”
“Honestly, Daddy gets so overwrought.” Adanna tossed her head back and forth. “It’s not good for his blood pressure.”
“It’s not good for any of our blood pressures either!” Cyd entered the bedroom first. Both Aniyah and Jelani were standing up in the cribs Mama had added to the guest rooms loudly voicing their desire to escape.
Rhani and Gianne went across the hall to check on ChiChi, Lili and Jax who were sleeping on blankets on the cushy carpet in their grandparents’ bedroom. They came right back. “All of them are still knocked out.”
“I’m surprised, considering all the noise these two were making. Okay, let’s get some dry pants on and get downstairs before you wake your cousins.” Cydney laid Aniyah on the bed and proceeded to change her diaper. Adanna did the same.
“Do you think we’ll be able to make it through the barbecue without anything jumping off?” Rhani asked from the doorway.
“I sure hope so.” Cydney wiped the baby’s bottom and wrapped the soiled diaper into a tight ball. “Mama’s probably reading them the riot act right now.”
“Daddy just won’t let it go. I’m just thankful he doesn’t have his sights set on Marc anymore.”
Adanna finished changing Jelani and stuffed her supplies back into the diaper bag. “Like Mama said, he means well. He really does. He just goes about it the wrong way.”
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Contemporary women’s fiction/romance author Chicki Brown has been featured twice in USAToday. She was the 2014 B.R.A.B. (Building Relationships Around Books) Inspirational Fiction Author and also the 2011 SORMAG (Shades of Romance Magazine) Author of the Year. Chicki was also a contributing author to the Gumbo for the Soul: Men of Honor (Special Cancer Awareness Edition).
A transplanted New Jersey native who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, Brown still misses the Jersey shore, the pizza and the hot dogs.
Nia Forrester, Beverly Jenkins, Iris Bolling, Lisa Kleypas, and J.R. Ward are among her favorite authors.
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Amazon Central Author Page: http://amzn.to/l2kjXQ