When Souls Mate

When Souls Mate

by Joylynn M. Jossel, Joylynn Jossel

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Overview

What wouldn't you do for love?

While serving time in prison for the murder of her ex-husband Reo Laroque's child, Klarke Taylor has lost everything, including Reo himself. As the truth surrounding the death of their child unfolds, Klarke realizes that she stands to lose something even more precious than her freedom. With her infamous friends, Jeva and Breezy, by her side, will they each learn from their previous mistakes, or will they resort to the shady methods of their past?

Reo, on the other hand, has gone on with his life. He has a new bride and a new baby. He couldn't find himself in a better position . . . or could he? When Klarke forces herself back into Reo's life to claim what is hers, the situation turns ugly.

Filled with love, desire, deceit, revenge, and betrayal, When Souls Mate will leave you spellbound.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312328627
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/21/2006
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 8.12(w) x 5.40(h) x 0.88(d)

About the Author

Joylynn M. Jossel is a graduate of Columbus State Community College and Capital University. She is a native of Columbus, Ohio, where she still lives. She is currently at work on her next novel.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

THE BAD SEED

Vaughn sat in her trigonometry class, frustrated, as she struggled with the last section of her final exam. Being a senior in high school was hard enough without all of these tests. Her young life had already been full of enough damn tests as it was. Besides that, Sister Beasley, who taught the class, was a stone-cold bitch. She was the nun from hell.

Her black habit suited her dark demeanor. Just seeing her in the hallway always froze Vaughn. She swore that underneath her nun attire, Sister Beasley was a shriveled-up old white woman with a little stone pebble for a heart.

Vaughn's stomach churned every time she entered Sister Beasley's classroom. The teacher had a way of making Vaughn feel like a demon child who had to be exorcised and that she was the only one who could save Vaughn's soul. Sister Beasley purposely intimidated all of the students, but she paid extra attention to Vaughn.

The couple of students who pretended to like Sister Beasley did so out of fear. Every student dreaded the day that they would be one of Sister Beasley's pupils.

Vaughn and a couple of biracial kids were the only students of color in the mostly all-white Challahan Boarding School. The minority students were all treated just as fairly as the white students by the faculty. But Sister Beasley especially detested Vaughn, treating her awfully, and it had nothing to do with the color of her skin. She found delight in trying to embarrass Vaughn in front of the entire class. Vaughn wasn't easily embarrassed, though. She was as tough as nails, and besides, she didn't give a damn what other people thought about her. They could all kiss her ass and die as far as she was concerned. Even as a child the only people she did back flips to please were her father and mother. So Vaughn didn't waste an ounce of energy persuading any of the trust-fund brats who attended the school to be her friend. Befriending them wasn't anywhere on her list of priorities.

Because of Vaughn's nonchalant attitude, Sister Beasley's attempts to humiliate her were usually in vain. This, of course, didn't stop Sister Beasley's efforts. If Vaughn just happened to be reading, writing, or passing a love note to Syrin, her puppy-love boyfriend, while Sister Beasley was going over a formula, then Sister Beasley would deliberately call on Vaughn to come to the chalkboard and solve the formula. Becky-Sue and Barbara-Ann always passed notes to one another in class and Vaughn was sure Sister Beasley had witnessed them. Not once, though, had she ever called either one of them to the chalkboard.

Vaughn was smart, one of the smartest students in the school, and she was never stumped by anything Sister Beasley presented her with. Vaughn would work out the formula as if she were auditioning for the motion picture A Beautiful Mind. After solving it, she would look Sister Beasley up and down in contempt. She would then roll her eyes and walk away while switching her ass so that the skirt to her green, red, and plaid school uniform twitched from left to right. The little white boys loved watching her strut her stuff. It was that rare opportunity that allowed them the pleasure of seeing a real booty in action.

Vaughn's actions only angered Sister Beasley even more. But pouring salt into an open wound was Vaughn's specialty. Walking back to her desk, she would wink at a student or two with a wicked grin, then plop down at her school desk, swinging her two shoulder-length bouncy ponytails so that each would strike her on the cheeks. Knowing that Sister Beasley's eyes were burning a hole through her with that evil stare, Vaughn would act as though she wasn't fazed, whipping out a tube of lip gloss to feather her lips with. Vaughn would then quickly look up to capture Sister Beasley's stare. Batting her large brown eyes, Vaughn would look at Sister Beasley as if to say, "Will there be anything else, ... bitch?" In a sick sort of way, Vaughn liked the attention, even if it was negative. As far as she was concerned, negative attention was better than no attention at all.

Eventually, instead of calling Vaughn to the chalkboard, Sister Beasley found another way to humiliate her. Whatever love note Vaughn just might have happened to have in her hand, Sister Beasley would snatch it up and read it out loud to the entire classroom. This evil tactic was how Vaughn's father found out that she wasn't a virgin anymore. She had even described the pain of the rug burn on her knees when she allowed Syrin to have sex with her doggy style on the carpeted floor in the back aisle of the school library. Deep down inside, Vaughn wanted Sister Beasley to make her read that note. She actually wrote it in hopes of it. She knew for certain that it would mean a call home to her father. From the day he enrolled her into Challahan he made excuses why he couldn't come visit her. It was like he was ashamed of her. But Vaughn knew that a summons from the school would force him to make a visit.

Vaughn's father had been furious. He wouldn't even look at Vaughn during the conference. She watched as he sat there with his jaws locked and his hands trembling with rage. Vaughn felt as though he would have torn her a new hide if he didn't fear child abuse charges. Instead, he gave the dean permission to punish Vaughn however he deemed fit and left without even saying two words to her.

Vaughn had been so hurt. She had only given her body to Syrin because she wanted a man — even a boy — to love her. She thought that this might be the eye opener for her father, that he would see that this was nothing but a cry for help and perhaps it would bring them closer. But instead, it only distanced her father even more.

All of Vaughn's privileges were stripped for two months and she had to go to counseling twice a week for an entire semester. But what bothered her most was the way her father had looked at her ever since. It's not as if he loved her to death before that incident, but this, to Vaughn, gave him even more reason to disown her. He now had a legitimate reason not to love her. For this, Vaughn would never forgive Sister Beasley.

It was at that point when Vaughn decided to fight fire with fire. Whatever dismay Sister Beasley shot her way, Vaughn would shoot it back to her to the tenth power. Vaughn's rebellion didn't make Sister Beasley back down any either. She didn't consider it a good day if she didn't send Vaughn to her dorm on the verge of tears. Little did Sister Beasley know that Vaughn's tears weren't tears of pain or hurt. They were tears of anger. Vaughn wanted nothing more than to take Sister Beasley's oversized face and ram it into the chalkboard. It took every ounce of self-control to keep Vaughn from doing so. There was only one week left of school before Vaughn would return to her hometown of Toledo, Ohio, where after only a couple of weeks she would then be shipped away to Boston to attend college. In the meantime, hopefully, Sister Beasley wouldn't do anything to push Vaughn over the edge.

After about fifteen minutes of struggling with the last formula on the trigonometry final exam, Sister Beasley announced that time was up and proceeded to collect all papers. Vaughn had never been stumped by a formula, so she hadn't studied at all for the exam. But Sister Beasley had decided to throw in something tricky. Vaughn wondered if every other student had the same test or if Sister Beasley had created one specifically for her.

"Pencils down, Miss Bradshaw," Sister Beasley said to Vaughn rigidly.

"Yes, Sister," Vaughn said, slamming her pencil down without completing the last formula.

Sister Beasley picked up Vaughn's exam and flipped through it. She hadn't done this with any of the other students' papers she had already collected.

"I hope you make your father proud with this one," Sister Beasley said. "Your mother, too, not that it really matters to her."

Vaughn knew that Sister Beasley was only trying to get a rise out of her. Vaughn's mother was in prison for life. She had been charged with the murder of her third husband's baby from a previous relationship. Because of this black cloud that hung over Vaughn's head, Sister Beasley felt that Vaughn had no place at the boarding school. She loved to make little snide remarks about Vaughn's incarcerated mother as often as she deemed fit. It was Sister Beasley's personal crusade to punish Vaughn for her father's decision to enroll her in that school. Vaughn's preference, not that anyone asked her, would have been to trade places with her mother instead of attending that school. After all, in Vaughn's eyes, the boarding school was only one step from being in jail anyway. The students were told when they could do things as well as where they could do it. They were told what they couldn't do and punished severely if they did it anyway. They were told when to go to bed, when to wake, and when to eat. They even had set visiting periods as well as limited phone usage, not to mention the unfashionable uniforms. These ridiculous rules were said to give the students character and teach them discipline.

Challahan Boarding School was founded to house and educate those from privileged and well-to-do families. Vaughn's attendance cast a negative shadow over the reputation of the school, especially when she had first enrolled. The media had a frenzy with reporting every move made by the family members of her mother. When it was broadcast to the world that the Toledo baby murderer's daughter was attending the prestigious boarding school, some parents threatened to remove their children and cease individual grants and funding. A couple saw their threats through. Sister Beasley was one of the individuals who protested Vaughn's acceptance into the school. But in spite of all failed attempts, Vaughn was admitted into the school by the board. Supporters and Black Rights activists put up so much of a fuss — not to mention the handsome donations — that the board didn't dare reject Vaughn's admission application. Pretty soon all of the attention died down and everyone moved on — everyone except for Sister Beasley, that is.

Vaughn didn't want to be at the school any more than Sister Beasley wanted her there, but she didn't have a choice in the matter. Her father had promised her mother that he would send her away to get her mind off of things. He didn't want her to have to deal with the whispering around town about what had happened.

But sending her away hadn't helped. Vaughn cried at night knowing that her mother was in a cold, lonely place and that her freedom had been ripped away. Vaughn loved her mother dearly. She had always been such a good mother — irreplaceable — and now the world saw her as an animal and a murderer.

"Why couldn't it be me locked away behind bars?" Vaughn whispered against her pillow at night. "It should be me."

"So how'd you do, kiddo?" Vaughn's father, Harris, asked.

"Pretty good, I think," Vaughn said, switching the phone to her other ear. "I bombed out on the last problem of my trig exam."

"What about the rest of the test?"

"Pretty good," Vaughn said, twisting her left ponytail around her middle finger. The students waiting in line to use the phone sighed. By now even they knew that Vaughn's calls home were useless, a waste of time. She was taking up valuable phone use that they could have been utilizing phoning their parents who really did want to talk to them.

There was brief silence on the phone. Vaughn and her father never could carry on a decent conversation. Neither ever knew what to say to the other these days. They both feared that if they said anything, it would be the wrong thing and neither wanted to take that chance. So most of the time they just didn't say anything at all.

Vaughn had only seen her father two or three times since she started attending Challahan four years ago. Even when classes were on recess during holidays, Harris never invited Vaughn back home. He always saw to it that the school kept her busy with some extracurricular activity or made up excuses of his own why she shouldn't come home. After so long, Vaughn was onto him and just got used to the fact that her father didn't want to be bothered with her. After packing to go home the very first Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas that passed while Vaughn was in Challahan, she never packed to go home again. On each of those holidays her father told her that he would pick her up and take her home to spend the holidays with him; her little brother, HJ; and her little sister, Sissy. On each occasion Vaughn stared at her luggage for hours while waiting impatiently for her father's car to drive up the school entrance path. It would be hours before the dorm mother would get the phone call from Harris relaying that he would not be picking Vaughn up for the holidays after all.

"You coming for graduation next week?" Vaughn continued the phone conversation with her father.

"Your brother has some father-and-son camp out at his school. I'll have to check the dates and get back to you."

"But, Daddy, I'm graduating!" Vaughn said in disbelief. If he never came through for her at all, he could still have the decency to show up at her graduation.

"Sweetie, come on," Harris said, trying to convince his daughter. "You're the older one. You know HJ would be torn apart if I wasn't there for him. He's your little brother. Don't be so selfish."

"Sure, Daddy," Vaughn said sadly. "Is he around?"

"Uh, no. Well, uh, yeah," Harris stuttered. "But he's doing homework. He's studying for his exams."

"Which is it, Daddy?" Vaughn asked in a dry tone. "Is he there? Is he not there? Is he doing homework? Is he studying?"

"Yeah, sweetie," Harris answered. "Well, I gotta go. Call me next week."

Harris hung up the phone in Vaughn's ear.

"Okay, Daddy." Vaughn pretended to talk to her father as the kids in the phone line glared at her. "I'll see you next week. I love you, too. Good-bye!"

Vaughn hung up the phone, gave a fake smile, and then proceeded to her dorm room where she pulled out her hope chest. In her chest were tons of letters from HJ, her mother, and her mother's best friends, Breezy and Jeva, who had promised her mother that they would keep in touch with her. The majority of the letters were from HJ. Writing letters to their mother was part of the counseling their father had put him in to deal with having an incarcerated parent. HJ felt that since Vaughn had been taken away from him, too, in a sense, it would make sense to write to her as well.

Over the past few years the two had grown closer than ever. They had always been close, but they had grown closer ever since their mother had been sent to jail and she had been shipped off to boarding school. It seemed as though being apart brought them even closer.

Vaughn laughed out loud as she reread HJ's last letter. She felt like she could hear him, as if he were right there in the room talking to her.

HJ would send Vaughn what the two referred to as "prayer letters" and she would send him some in return. The letter was a prayer that each had especially written for the other. They would designate a date and time and each would kneel down on their knees at bedtime and recite the prayer. During the prayer Vaughn always felt as though HJ was right there beside her. This was always so uplifting for Vaughn. During this prayer ceremony Vaughn always felt as though her and HJ's souls were mating. HJ felt that the prayer letters helped keep away the nightmares that haunted his sleep.

"Congratulations, class," Sister Beasley said as she passed out the corrected final exam papers. "I'm pleased to announce that each of you passed with flying colors."

When Sister Beasley got to Vaughn she cleared her throat and handed Vaughn her exam. "Some of you with colors that weren't actually flying but just took a little hop," Sister Beasley snickered.

"Thank you, Sister Beasley," Vaughn said as she politely took the exam. She was so glad to soon be rid of that woman. Sister Beasley made her skin crawl.

When Sister Beasley dismissed the class she asked Vaughn to stay behind so she could have a few words with her. Once the other students had collected their belongings from the cloakroom, they each filed out, leaving Sister Beasley and Vaughn to talk.

"So you made it through all four years?" Sister Beasley said.

"Looks like I did, Sister Beasley," Vaughn said. "I did so even in spite of all of the evil people that tried to stand in my way." — Vaughn leaned in, aiming her words directly at Sister Beasley — "And they can rot in hell."

Sister Beasley turned turnip red and grabbed Vaughn's arm.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "When Souls Mate"
by .
Copyright © 2006 Joylynn M. Jossel.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

What wouldn't you do for love?

While serving time in prison for the murder of her ex-husband Reo Laroque's child, Klarke Taylor has lost everything, including Reo himself. As the truth surrounding the death of their child unfolds, Klarke realizes that she stands to lose something even more precious than her freedom. With her infamous friends, Jeva and Breezy, by her side, will they each learn from their previous mistakes, or will they resort to the shady methods of their past?

Reo, on the other hand, has gone on with his life. He has a new bride and a new baby. He couldn't find himself in a better position . . . or could he? When Klarke forces herself back into Reo's life to claim what is hers, the situation turns ugly.

Filled with love, desire, deceit, revenge, and betrayal, When Souls Mate will leave you spellbound.

1. Which character do you most identify with in the book? Would you classify this character as a "good guy," somewhat of a "bad guy," or someone neutral who just happened to get caught up in someone else's problems?

2. Did Reo have an obligation toward his former stepchildren (Vaughn and HJ) once he divorced their mother? Do you agree with the saying that if a man marries a woman who already has children, once he divorces her then he divorces her children as well? Explain your position.

3. Do you think it was right for so many people to protect one another when it came to the death of Reo and Meka's baby? How should this situation have been handled initially?

4. Were you satisfied with the way the story ended? What unresolved issues would you have liked to see worked out, and in what way did you imagine these issues resolving?

5. When you consider the lives each of the characters led, did each one of them eventually get what they deserved? Were there any characters who you felt were dealt an unjust hand? Were there any characters who you felt were not held accountable for their actions?

6. Were there any twists or outcomes that you found to be too predictable? If so, what were they? Were there any that you didn't see coming at all?

7. Do you believe in soul mates after reading this book? Do you have a different outlook on what a soul mate is?

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