THE CHARACTERS


ASHLYNN

She's brainy, she's charismatic, and she's constantly active. Ashlynn is a consummate overachiever, dealing with the everyday trials and tribulations of being a middle-class African American teenager at a predominantly Caucasian high school. She's very opinionated, but she often defers to her other family members for wisdom. Sometimes at school she feels isolated and ignored because she is a minority, but she has the full support of her family, whom she loves very much - her father especially. She chides at her mother's strictness and insistence on her going to church, but she adores her mother and secretly wishes to be more like her.

Did You Know
Ashlynn is actually based on Ashlynn Dye, a young lady every bit as likeable and charming as her fictional counterpart...who also happens to be the author's niece.


MR. BARTER

Raziel Barter first enters Ashlynn's life as a substitute teacher. He impresses her immediately. He is tall, dark and handsome; he is articulate, witty, charming and personable - a lot like Ashlynn's father, whom she adores. He also has a seductive, mysterious element about him that fascinates Ashlynn. Behind closed doors, when he thinks no one is watching, he is on his phone negotiating something. He is guarded about his past and stays vague about his motivations. One can't help wondering if he has something to hide.

Did You Know
In a roundabout way, the book is named after Barter. The title "the leopard man" refers to a character who appears in Ashlynn's dreams. The leopard man in her dreams has a very significant connection to Barter, hence the title of the book.


PATRICIA

Ashlynn's mother has many roles: Career woman, loving wife, church member. But the role she takes most seriously is mother and guardian to her children, Ashlynn and Terrance. Her stunning beauty is tempered by a weariness she carries with her, as if there were some unspoken burden both driving her and discouraging her at the same time. Seemingly the only one who has been able to penetrate her stoic personality and put a smile on her face is her loving husband Keith. Ever vigilant, Patricia constantly watches over her children, especially Ashlynn, considering herself the first, last, and only defense her children have against a threat known only to her.

Did You Know
An important event in Patricia's past is based on the real life story of Kristen Santamaria, a lady who has shown tremendous courage in the face of adversity and tragedy, and who was very gracious in allowing elements of her experiences to be used in Patricia's backstory. Hopefully this novel will shed some light on a very serious problem plaguing our society, and make a few more people aware of how real the danger is.


TESENGA

Bright, Bubbly and beautiful are 3 words most people use to describe Ashlynn's best friend. She's a hard person not to like, with a disposition as sunny as her almost golden skin. In addition to being Ashlynn's best friend, she's also Ash's biggest fan, and she makes no secret of wanting to be more like Ashlynn. In fact, she would love to trade places with Ash for a day: to be respected and liked for her talent and intellect more than just a pretty face, to be so active in the community and well-liked to boot, to excel at everything she thinks of doing, but most of all to be part of a loving family that supports her, with both parents still together and very much in love - something Tesenga feels she misses in her own family life. Without that support, all Tesenga has is her unshakeable faith in God, and she's been meaning to talk to Ashlynn about that...

Did You Know
Tesenga may appear to be only a minor character, but as the story progresses she will have a profound impact on some of Ahlynn‚s most important and life-changing decisions.