Chapter 1Shit!" Faith stumbled back from the greasy cabinet door as a large mouse scurried from behind the two-pound box of Uncle Ben's rice for which she had been reaching."What did you say?""Nothing, Mommy," Faith hollered from the kitchen into her mother's bedroom. The rice was unopened, but she inspected the packaging carefully to see if it had been assaulted by the fleeing mouse. It hadn't."Yes you did. I heard you say something," came Miss Irene's teasing reply. "And don't you be cursing in my house. You may be thirty and a hotshot literary agent, but I'm still your mother, and I can still get up off this bed and put a foot in your behind.""Twenty-nine, Mommy.""What?""Nothing.""What did you say?""Nothing," Faith hollered again."Yes you did. I heard what you said. I'm your mother and I know how old you are. You're thirty years old. I don't know why you have to keep lying about your age," Miss Irene hollered, before bursting into laughter.Faith grunted and looked around the tiny kitchen for something to wipe her hands with. She picked up a hand towel that was thrown over the back of a rickety wooden chair, but threw it back down when she realized it had large, black mildew spots on it and smelled. Ugh.She used to come over and clean up for Mommy, but gave up when she realized that Mommy didn't care one way or the other and that the house would be back to its same nasty state in a matter of days. Faith once thought that Mommy had had a nervous breakdown a few years back and somehow this accounted for her wanting to live in utter filth. The house was never like this before Papa left Mommy for a younger woman. Faith even once suggested that Mommy see a psychologist, but her mother flew into a rage. It had to be some kind of neurosis; no normal person could actually want to live in a pigsty -- especially someone who prided herself on her personal appearance, like Mommy did. What was even more amazing was that Mommy's sometimes live-in boyfriend, Ronald, didn't seem to care about the filthy conditions either. But then he didn't seem to care about much besides figuring out where he was going to get his next drink. He seldom made it home before the bars closed.Faith gave up and wiped her hands on the back of her olive green wool skirt. Thank goodness she hadn't worn anything fancy, although she still wished she had thought to bring an apron to cover the skirt and light-green knit turtleneck sweater. Mommy always said she and Hope should avoid green -- that the color was unflattering to their skin tone. She had listened when she was younger, but discarded the fashion advice in her late teens after her boyfriend -- Henry -- bought her a fabulous green suede coat with a golden lambskin collar. It was the first of many expensive gifts he lavished on her over the years. The coat was a size twelve, and she was a size ten at the time, but she didn't care. Now, ten years later, the coat (which had long since been donated to The Salvation Army) would perfectly fit her mature body. At five feet four inches and 140 pounds, with breasts so firm she seldom wore a bra, Faith had a small waist and a big butt that drove men wild. She loved buying clothes now as much as she had as a teenager, and with her growing business as a literary agent she could well afford the expense. But she still enjoyed getting lavish gifts, and Henry still enjoyed giving them. She pushed her auburn, shoulder-length hair out of her face and licked her full lips as she thought about the floor-length golden beaver coat that Henry had bought her the day before. She had thanked him properly that night and looked forward to thanking him again when he returned from Chicago in a few days.God, I hope they finish this deal soon, she thought. Being an investment banker, Henry had to frequently take trips to evaluate the financial stability of companies that his firm was considering investing in. He'd been trMiller, Karen E. Quinones is the author of 'I'm Telling' with ISBN 9780743214360 and ISBN 0743214366.