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Authors: Xavier Knight

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God Only Knows

BOOK: God Only Knows
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This book is a work of fiction. Certain real locations and public figures are included to make the story more vivid. However,
all other characters and the events depicted in this book are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2009 by Xavier Knight

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced,
distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written
permission of the publisher.

. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Grand Central Publishing

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Visit our Web site at

First eBook Edition: March 2009

Grand Central Publishing is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

The Grand Central Publishing name and logo is a trademark of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

ISBN: 978-0-446-54465-8


Copyright Page



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Reading Group Guide


“A well-written story that doesn’t sugar-coat anything.
The Things We Do for Love
is a truly satisfying read you will enjoy. I did.”

“Perfect . . . Those familiar with his writing as C. Kelly Robinson will be in for a surprise at [his] new direction.”

“A very good read . . . readers are taken on a reading roller coaster . . . Recommend[ed].”

“A well-written, multilayered novel about family, faith, friendship, and forgiveness. I recommend . . . to all readers who
enjoy novels that will have them thinking for hours after they are done.”

To Kyra and Kennedi with love, for keeping me focused


Giving honor to God, my ultimate “muse,” thank you for this seventh book. To my wife, Kyra, and to my daughter, Kennedi, thank
you for helping Daddy keep the business side of life in perspective. Additional thanks go to Karen Thomas and the Grand Central
Publishing team; Elaine Koster and the Koster Literary Agency; and every bookstore, book club, and journalist who continue
to look out for my work. Thanks as always to my Robinson, Alford, and Grimes families and many friends for ongoing love and
fellowship. Finally, to the readers —may this story be more than just a good read, but prayerfully a blessing.


t was the last day on which he would be able to bathe, dress, and feed himself, but for Eddie Walker, that fall day in 1988
started like any other. Wiping at his eyes, he slid off the tattered cloth couch in his parents’ family room and dared to
hope for more.

“Two more paychecks, babe,” Momma had promised the night before, kneeling so she could peck his forehead with a kiss. The
couch was a few feet from the front door, which she had slammed behind her after a late night helping with inventory at the
neighborhood Kmart. “Two more checks, and Lloyd and I’ll have enough to get that bunk bed you wanted. You know, the one at
Levitz with the Batman and Robin covers?”

His eyes barely open, Eddie hadn’t bothered to hide his disgust, well aware that it probably oozed from his pores as he shook
his head at Momma’s ignorance. “I asked for that when I was, like, ten. What was that, four years ago?”

Momma’s face had clouded with sad recognition before she spoke. “Four years? Eddie, I swear it was just yesterday you was
asking for that bed.” Her eyes flicked heavenward and she asked, “Where does the time go?” before turning and skittering down
the hall, her speed so great she reminded Eddie of a cockroach fleeing light.

If he’d been spared, been able to mature into the traditional form of adulthood, Eddie might have at least come to appreciate
his mother’s guilt. Edna Morrison loved both of her boys mightily, but life had been hard and she was the first to admit she
had fallen short of her Christian faith. Raised in the church, Edna had seen her faith wax and wane through numerous external
and self-inflicted trials. The arrival of Eddie’s big brother, Pete, when Edna was a testy nineteen-year-old with nothing
to her name but a dead-end relationship with an unemployed car mechanic, had reminded her of the need for a Higher Power’s
help. How else could she ever shepherd a new life past the types of hills and valleys —mostly valleys —she had endured?

At fourteen, however, Eddie was blind to Momma’s journey, blind to the sacrifices she had made to provide him and Pete with
the modest comforts of life, including a home of their own and —on the third try —a stepfather who never raised a hand in
anger. Finally the toughest trick of all for a woman with a poverty-level income: private-school educations.

Not that Eddie really valued the privilege of attending Christian Light Schools. He fantasized about turning sixteen and dropping
out, intent on signing up at the nearest vocational school. He’d had just about enough of the corny, starry-eyed religious
teaching and preaching, the nosy teachers who questioned whether his parents were really married, and the preppy, pampered
students of the “in crowd,” who so clearly enjoyed pretending he didn’t exist. The “in” kids were too scared of Eddie to ever
pick with him, which got on his nerves even more; he licked his lips daily for an excuse to introduce one of the stuck-up
jocks to the wonders of Pete’s Swiss Army knife, if his brother would ever let him borrow it.

As he bounded over to the bedroom he shared with Pete, though, Eddie found his thoughts turning to three of his least favorite
people in the entire school —Julia, Toya, and Terry. Tall, pitch-black, smart-mouthed, and viciously angry, the nigger girls
seemed like the only folks who hated Christian Light more than he did. When they weren’t looking, Eddie would occasionally
slide up behind them in the cafeteria and chuckle under his breath. The girls cracked him up, the way they always fantasized
about escaping Christian Light for the Dayton city school system, where they’d be surrounded by fellow blacks.

“I’m going to Dunbar for high school, forget this place,” Toya would always brag in her singsongy whine.

“Forget that, my momma says I can use my grandma’s address and go to Meadowdale,” Terry claimed confidently.

Julia, the one who usually spoke to Eddie when he crossed paths with them, would always bring her mouthy friends back to earth.
“Ain’t neither one of you jokers going anywhere,” she would remind them. “My pop-pops asked both of your mommas where you’re
going for high school last week, during the parent-teacher conference night. He was so excited when we got home, saying he
knows I’ll always have you two to count on as long as I’m at Christian Light. We’re all trapped here,” she would say, sighing,
“so we may as well make the best of it.”

Inevitably, one of the girls would feel Eddie staring, and that’s when things would get ugly. One of them would ask, “What
you starin’ at?” Eddie would respond, “Oh, just checking out a few baboons,” to which they would respond with wisecracks about
his BO, his soup bowl haircut, or the fact he wore the same shirt from Tuesday on Friday. Just yesterday Julia had hit him
with a new one: “Hey, Eddie, you still in love with Cassie? Too bad she says you smell like mildew!” That last line stung;
as Julia and her friends’ laughter mocked him, Eddie recalled that kids he considered friends had made the same crack about
his scent.

Cobwebs just now clearing from his brain, Eddie still felt his blood heat at the memory. How did these nappy-headed hos know
about his crush on Cassie Duncan, who was too pretty and had way too much beautiful, feathery hair to really be black? And
how did they know what Cassie thought about him?

Julia had lied, Eddie told himself as he rummaged through a creaky dresser in search of clothing. Cassie couldn’t have already
ruled him out; he hadn’t even told her about his crush. Maybe it was time, though. Eddie knew who he was, and he was definitely
worthy of a half-colored girl’s time. One thing his grandparents, aunts, and uncles had taught him in his young life —they
had all helped raise him through the years as his momma had often held down two or three jobs to maintain the lifestyle she
provided —was that he had a proud family legacy. The Walkers and Morrisons of East Dayton were hardworking, hard-drinking
clans whose sweaty labor had helped construct many of Dayton’s most well-known buildings, from downtown throughout the entire
Miami Valley.

“Get out of here, booger breath.” Eddie’s deep thoughts were interrupted by Pete’s grumpy greeting, followed closely by the
thud of a gym shoe against his temple. “You woke me up, you little freak,” his brother continued. There were no blinds or
drapes in the tiny bedroom, and Saturday-morning sunlight bathed the entire space, but Pete had enjoyed a blissful sleep until
his brother stumbled across the threshold. Unlike Eddie, he had long been content without a real bed. Since graduating from
high school last year, he had made do with the air mattress; his last bed had caved in halfway through an afternoon make-out
session with an ex-girlfriend.

Pitching the sneaker back at his brother, Eddie reminded Pete that the room was really his; their stepfather had threatened
to toss the older brother out on the street if he didn’t get a real job soon.

“You wanna see somebody get tossed,” Pete replied, “you keep pressing your luck with me, freak.”

Eddie chuckled, his back to his brother, as he stepped into a pair of wrinkled trousers and picked out a plaid sport shirt
from a heap on the floor. “Forget you anyway, Pete. I got plans today.”

Pete sat up on his mattress, hands on his knees and an entertained grin on his face. “Oh, you do? What, you gonna go out and
finally get some leg? Or are you buying into that Christian Light jive about being ‘pure’ and whatnot?”

“Don’t worry about it.” Eddie didn’t bother to look at his brother; that would just encourage him. No point writing checks
with his mouth that his fists couldn’t cash. Once he figured out how to win Cassie over —and got his friends to understand
that she wasn’t like the other black girls, that, in fact, she was barely half-black —he’d shut up smart-mouths like Pete
for good.

Pete sighed theatrically, thudding back against his mattress. “Just get out.”

“See you later tonight,” Eddie said once he had pulled on his sneakers, including the one Pete had landed against his head.
Fully dressed, he hustled toward the doorway before a force pulled him back. “I’m taking the bus to the mall,” he said without
knowing why.


“I’m just sayin’, Pete, that’s where I’ll be if Momma’s worried about me later on. I’ll either be at the mall or at the homecoming
game later tonight. I’m gonna hitch a ride out there with Matt and his mom.” When his brother snored in response, Eddie raised
his voice. “Pete! Just tell Momma, okay?”

“Yes, freak, I’ll tell her.” Pete turned away from his brother. “Don’t do nothing I wouldn’t.”

“Later.” Eddie took a lingering look at his cluttered room and the sleeping lump that was his brother, then darted quickly
to the foot of Pete’s air mattress. Kneeling, he dug through Pete’s pile of dirty clothes until he felt the handle of his
brother’s knife. Slipping the weapon into his backpack, Eddie headed back down the hall, unaware that his actions would echo
into the next generation.

BOOK: God Only Knows
8.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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