Goodbye #30Days30Stories!

30 days 30 storiesAbout a month ago, I got this notion that I would work out my writing muscle a little by posting 30 stories over 30 days on my Facebook page. The idea was that they would be short pieces, no more than 400 words or so, and all original stuff. Today officially marks the end of the 30 Day Experiment.

Two intrepid writers joined me, Angelia Vernon Menchan who writes real-world, grown-and-sexy fiction, all of which you can check out here. And Kim Golden who writes women’s fiction that often features American expats, navigating foreign territory both geographically and emotionally. You can check out all of Kim’s work here. Thanks to them both, I hung in there, writing stories day after day, sometimes not because I felt like it, but just to keep up with them!

EmbryAngelia even got a whole story out of it, and it looks like another in the works. ‘Embry Gets Her Man?’ is available now on Amazon for 99 cents!

I think on most days, we far exceeded the word count, and on other days, the material wasn’t brand new, but had been polished for public viewing. It was a marathon during which I was grateful to have company. If you want to check out what came of it, go to my page and scroll down to read them all.

So a funny thing happened during those 30 days, my thirst to write came back. Here’s a secret, writing is always a compulsion, but it isn’t always an enjoyable one. Sometimes it’s like that uncomfortable itch that you want to scratch but can’t quite reach. Other times it’s like salve to the soul. And during these 30 days, it became that for me again.

So thanks again Kim  and Angelia! And thanks to all of you who stopped by to read our random offerings.

So what now? I’d planned to release ‘The Come Up‘ this week, but now I think I will let it marinate a couple weeks more while I get some of my #30Days characters out of my head.

But I owe you one last story don’t I? So here it is, the 30th story for #30Days30Stories, a sample from my upcoming release, ‘The Come Up’.

 


 

In this excerpt, Jamal Turner is with Madison, a woman he’s supposed to want to be with, but he hesitates. And maybe–though he doesn’t know it yet–that hesitation has something to do with his newest team member, the much-too-young for him, Makayla:

Madison was standing naked at the window, overlooking Old San Antonio. From behind, she looked like something that should be captured in a painting, recorded so that her figure could be admired for the ages, long after they had both turned to dust.

Good sex had a way of making him poetic.

“I’d better hit the shower if I want to make that flight,” she said without moving. “It was irresponsible of me to come.”

“You sorry you did?”

“No. I’m never sorry after I see you.” At that she did turn, and the sight of her from the front was no less arousing than she had been from the rear. Madison smiled and then made her way back to the immense bed, leaning over it to kiss him. “But each time we do this, I get … scared.”

“What of?”

“You know,” she said.

Yeah. He knew. They talked about it. Over and over, they’d talked about the fear Madison had, of being strung along. Of falling for a man who had no will, and maybe no ability to fall for her. And each time they had that talk, Jamal knew he should probably put a stop to this. Because while Madison was beautiful and good company, after over a month and a half since they’d first slept together, she had become precisely what she told him she didn’t want to be—a woman he was fond of, who he was just kickin’ it with.

The irony was, Madison may have become more, but for her insistence on forcing those heavy conversations prematurely and repeatedly. It was all the damn talking that was making him hold back when he wasn’t sure he would have otherwise. But for all the talking, Jamal would never know; he might have been in love with her by now.

This trip to meet him in San Antonio for the weekend had been his idea. And maybe it was a bad one, because Madison had flown out to meet him in three other cities, each times when she said she had “a little time to kill” or “nothing much planned for the weekend.” The first time she’d met him at one of their venues it was just for a night and that seemed harmless enough, but the second time she’d spent two nights, and Jamal had not only taken her to the club where Devin was performing but to dinner with the team afterwards.

And he told himself it was okay, because he wasn’t seeing anyone else at the moment and had no time to chase tail while on the road, but after all that “boyfriend behavior” Madison had now become increasingly moody, even after sex. Particularly after sex, like now.

“How many more weeks until you come back to New York?” she asked.

“Just three and a half.”

“That’s not so bad.” She kissed him and let him caress her breast and pull her back down to blanket his body with hers.

“Nah. That’s not so bad.”

“But I’ve been thinking …”

Uh oh. Here came one of those talks again.

“… maybe we shouldn’t communicate until then. Maybe …” Madison let the word stretch out for a while. “Maybe those three weeks should be time we take to think about where we want things to go with us.”

“Madison …”

“I know, I know,” she said, placing two fingers across his lips. “You like to ‘let it flow’. But I know myself, Jamal. I’m going to go crazy wondering where this is headed. And I’m going to drive you crazy as well. So I think it might be better if you just take this time and think about it.”

He said nothing. He was already sick of thinking about it.

“And when you get back in three weeks, if I don’t hear from you, I’ll know that that’s your answer. And I’ll leave you alone.”

“You’re making a job out of this. Getting to know someone, figuring out whether you fit … it shouldn’t be a project, Madison.”

Pulling back from him a little, she sat up, folding her legs beneath her. Jamal raised himself on his elbows, watching her.

“Look,” she said. “I’m not stupid. I know how this looks. How it must feel. Like I’m pushing an agenda that you haven’t even had enough time to decide whether you want. I get that. But I know myself, Jamal. And I know you …”

He gave a brief laugh. “We’ve known each other barely two and a half months.”

“Yeah. But I know you. We talk a lot too, right? You’re a good guy. You want to have a good life. And you try to do the right thing by the women you get involved with. You treat me like …”

Madison paused and looked down. For a moment Jamal thought with horror that she might start crying, but she pulled it together.

“You treat me like a queen. I could easily fall in love with you. And if I did, I would probably love you for the rest of my life. But love is a choice. Don’t you see? Just like you make choices for you career, I want you to think about whether you want to choose me.”

“I told you, I don’t know if …”

“No. That whole ‘letting it flow’ thing is a cop-out. If you want to apply yourself to making this work, it’ll work. It’s that simple. So that’s what I want you to think about. Whether you want to give it a shot and make it work. With me.”

“And if I said I did, we’d what? Get engaged, announce a date?” Jamal shook his head. “That’s crazy, Madison.”

“No, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that if you decide you choose me, then we’re deciding that we’re both on the same page, working toward that. And that one day, yes, we could—when the time is right—get … we’d plan to get … married.”

Jamal let himself fall onto his back and looked up at the ceiling.

“Is it really that crazy?” Madison asked, reaching out to stroke his chest. “To ask that you look at me, look at what we have now in the same way you would when you’re signing a new artist? Consider what you want for your life, and think about whether I’m a good bet. That’s all I’m saying.”

Her soft fingers traversed his pecs, down over his abs and Jamal reached down, putting his hand over hers. Madison turned her hand palm upward and interlaced her fingers with his.

“I know you’re not in love with me now,” she said quietly. “But think about whether I’m the kind of woman you could love. Who could be standing next to you when you head up Scaife Enterprises? And when you buy that country house you say you want … when you … have babies. The kind who would be a support and a helpmate. And if for some reason you can see me in that picture, choose me, Jamal. And then let’s start building something together.”

It was crazy, Jamal thought after he walked Madison downstairs to get her a car to the airport. He couldn’t choose his life-partner like he did an artist for one of SE’s labels. He couldn’t apply pragmatism to the process of finding his wife.

But as he walked back into the hotel lobby, Jamal couldn’t help but wonder: why the hell not?

There was no denying that on paper, Madison was pretty close to everything he would have chosen for himself. And not just on paper, in actuality she was pretty damn close to what he would choose. Beautiful, accomplished, poised, intelligent, ambitious and funny. Not to mention just enough of a freak in bed to make him keep suggesting these visits, even when his better judgment told him it might be his mouth writing a check his ass couldn’t cash in the long run.

But he had to hand it to her; she’d been forthright about her needs and her wants from the very beginning. And her reasoning was in reality not that crazy at all. How else did one pick a mate? On the basis of some unnamed, hard-to-define intuition, some warm and fuzzy feeling that they were The One? That was what was irrational, not what she was suggesting. Madison was simply asking him to look over her attributes, decide whether they fit in the life he wanted, and then if so, choose to build that life with her.

Choosing didn’t even mean he had to give her a ring right away. But unless he was mistaken, it meant that she would expect him to apply the same seriousness and focus to making that life with her as he did to making dozens of young performers into stars. In that arena, his focus had no doubt paid off. Why couldn’t it pay off here as well?

 


 

Happy Reading!

N.

 

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SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘The Come Up’

 

Come Up Mic Promo2

From ‘The Come Up':

Oh god, she was going to die. She was going to just D.I.E. No one could throw up as much as she had and not just keel over and drift into the sweet hereafter. Her stomach felt like it had been literally turned inside out like an old gym sock, and Makayla was pretty sure that was what its lining tasted like as well. Bitter and bilious, foul and … ugh, just thinking about it made her want to vomit again.

Slowly rolling over, she reached for the pail next to her bed, too weak to do anything about the rancid stench that rose from it. She would have to get up and empty it. The odor wasn’t helping her already fragile stomach, and pretty soon she would have to manage being in vertical position so she could make sure her grandmother took her medication.

Putting a hand over her mouth in case there was some of the same projectile vomiting she’d experienced in the wee hours of the morning, she managed to slide over the edge of the bed and sit on the floor. It was cool, which felt unexpectedly good, so Makayla allowed herself to slide the rest of the way down until she was curled in a fetal position, her cheek pressed against the wood. Just as she was beginning to entertain the thought of taking a short nap there, her phone rang.

The noise was jarring and unpleasant to her clanging brain, so she made herself sit up as quickly as was possible in her current condition, and groped about until she found it, buried somewhere among her bed sheets.

“Yes?” She croaked as she answered it.

On the other end someone laughed. “Thought you said you could keep up, Hughes.”

Jerking upright, Makayla was rewarded by a swimming, dizzying sensation, accompanied by the now familiar roiling in the pit of her stomach.

“Jamal?” she said.

She’d forgotten—probably too drunk to recall—that it was Friday, not Saturday. A workday; and unless she got her ass in gear, it would be a late-for-work day as well.

“Yeah. I need you in here for a nine-thirty with your boy. Drink lots of water, Hughes. And then call for a car.”

“A car?” Makayla repeated.

“We have a car service. I’ll have Karlie send you a car. You need to be here for this meeting. C’mon now. I thought you said you could keep up.”

“I can. I just … never…” Makayla reached for the pail, hoping against hope that she wasn’t about to throw up while her boss listened on the other end of the line. “I just …”

“Here’s a tip,” Jamal said, amusement still in his voice. “Every alcoholic beverage you consume must be followed by twice its volume in water. No exceptions. Because of that rule, I haven’t had a hangover since I was nineteen. It’ll make you piss like a racehorse all night, but you won’t miss work the next day. And you better not miss work today either. I need you in here.”

And with that, he hung up, leaving Makayla to hug the pail next to her and upchuck the very last remnants of whatever that greenish-gray stuff was, and then stand up to stagger her way to the shower.

When she made it into the office, she was only fifteen minutes late for work, and comfortably on time for the meeting that Jamal said he needed her for. Clutching a large bottle of water, Makayla walked slowly toward her office, ignoring the stares and titters from the offices flanking the long hallway. She looked like half-baked cow crap; she knew that, but just didn’t care. Having mustered up only as much energy as it took to drag on a rumpled gray linen skirt and white t-shirt with black gladiator sandals. She wasn’t even sure whether her last pedicure was holding up but had neither the will nor the energy to go in search of her ballet flats.

All she could manage before heading out to the waiting car was a quick check that Nana had taken her pills and a promise that she would be home early to cook.

Now, as she got to her office, she was surprised to find none other than Devin sitting at her desk, feet up, and playing around with something on his phone. Wearing jeans and a distressed army jacket, he looked like the very antithesis of how she felt—bursting with energy, health and a decent night’s sleep.

“What the … damn, Kay, what you been up to?”

“Shut up,” she said shoving his feet off her desk.

“You smell like … Are you drunk?”

She was. Apart from being hung-over, Makayla realized as she swayed unsteadily in the shower earlier that morning, that she was also still a teensy bit inebriated. Insufficient hours had passed for her to be completely clear of all the alcohol in her system. Jamal Turner had been no joke to keep pace with. He ordered drink after drink, each and every one names she had heard of but never personally imbibed—Courvoisier, Perignon, Bombay Sapphire, Tequila Ley … drinks that should probably never be consumed in the same sitting. But like an idiot, she had.

“I was out last night,” she explained, collapsing into the vacant chair and taking another swig of water.

“Who with? I never known you to drink like that.”

“Long story.”

Before she could say another word, Jamal Turner was leaning into her office. Nodding at Devin, he crooked a finger at Makayla.

“Lemme holla at you right quick,” he said. “Devin, we’ll be back to get you in a minute.”

Standing once again with some effort, Makayla followed Jamal down a few doors to his office at the end of the hall, noting that he looked none the worse for the wear. His office, which she’d only been in a couple times before, was more like the living room of a luxury apartment, decked out with modern showpiece furniture. The desk and computer were relegated to the least obtrusive corner of the room, like afterthoughts, which made sense since most of Jamal’s “work” seemed to happen elsewhere. Like at Onyx.

“Take a seat,” he told her, indicating a comfortable chair near the door.

Makayla obeyed, while he pushed his door so that it was almost but not quite shut.

“So how’re you feelin’?” he asked.

Makayla shook her head, not able to muster up the will or energy to lie.

“Don’t ever do that again,” he said.

Sitting even more upright, she looked at him in surprise. “But you …”

“I goaded you into it,” Jamal said. “Egged you on?”

“Yeah. Exactly!”

Jamal nodded. “And I’m your boss so you thought you had to go along with it.”

“Well, yeah.” Makayla moved closer to the edge of her seat. If he was about to reprimand her for behavior he had practically forced her into, she was going to flip out on his ass. If she could manage it, feeling as crappy as she did.

“The people you’ll be working with are big-name performers. People used to having folks do what they tell them to do.” Jamal sat on a chair opposite hers. He wasn’t smiling now, but looking directly at her, his expression focused and compelling her to do the same. “Most of them work hard; some of them play even harder. Last night, the drinking you did …”

“We did.”

“No. You. I drank one drink for every two you had, Hughes.”

Makayla was shaking her head as Jamal nodded his.

“You did. I counted. I put something in front of you and you drank it. I only sometimes drank mine. Most of the night I had water with lemon.”

“But …”

“Why?” he supplied for her.

“Yeah. Why? Were you trying to get me drunk?”

“I don’t know. I wasn’t sure you’d take the bait. But you did.”

“I still don’t get why you would do that,” Makayla said, beginning to get a little angry.

“Like I said. The people we work for—the performers? They’re our bosses, just like I’m your boss. Sometimes they play real hard, and they try to get us to play with them. Like we’re their peers. Their … friends. But we’re not. We’re the help.”

Makayla listened.

“Those high-dollar, high-alcohol drinks I gave you? Some of our clients indulge like that on a daily. And they don’t always enjoy having someone sitting across from them who’s stone-cold sober, looking all judgmental, making them feel like they might not have things under control.

“So they’ll push you, press you, and sometimes even ridicule you if you don’t join in. And once in a while they have other things, too—cocaine, heroin, hell, I’ve even seen some with PCP—and they might try to push that on you as well. You need to learn how to say ‘no’. Even when you’re talking to your boss.”

Makayla nodded.

So. It had been a test. She had known it was, but it wasn’t the test she thought it was. And she had failed miserably.

Seeming to see something on her face, Jamal leaned forward, his eyes more sympathetic now, and holding hers.

“Look, this is a lot to take in. I just don’t want to see you learn it the hard way. We’re tourists in that life, you and me. We don’t live there like they do. Okay? So you go in, you take a look around, you sample some of the local specialties if you want. But don’t get caught up.”

“So I should have said no to the drinks.”

Jamal shrugged. “Or said yes. But know your limits, and have only as much as you can handle. Every minute you spend with the talent you’re working. And you need to stay sharp, especially when they’re not. Remember that. They’re not your friends, they’re your work.”

“But not with Devin,” she said. “He’s not just work to me.”

“I understand. But now he’s not just your friend either.”

COMING SOON.

Posted in Afterburn, Afterwards, Books, The Come Up | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

A RELEASE DAY BLOG STOP: a visit from Té Russ, author of ‘Love After War’

Love After War Cover

About the book:

Connie and Drew have been butting heads since they were teenagers. With Connie refusing to talk about anything from their past, Drew has never figured out what made them go from friends to enemies.

Drew decides to finally get to the root of their lifelong feud when Connie ends up in Texas for a remodeling project. When the truth comes out, it just might bring out some feelings both of them have been refusing to acknowledge for over a decade.

About the Author:

Growing up an introvert, Té Russ found solace in literary arts at an early age. She found reading to be a vehicle to broader horizons and writing a form of self-expression. She began writing love stories in her adolescent years as a way to expel her youthful thoughts of love into words. Since then she has gone from writing stories and thoughts of love in journals to attending college for journalism and falling in love, which has allowed those youthful words of love to blossom into a series of stories in her romance novels. Though she has an immense appreciation for the sheer smell that books collectively exert, she also has found balance to her introverted nature with adrenaline inducing activities. So if she does not have her nose pressed deeply into a book or her pen ticking through a pad, you may also find this mother of three baking some tasty treats, jumping out of airplanes, cheering her husband on at the top of her lungs at MMA fights, buzzing down the interstate on the back of motorcycles, or kayaking.

 TeRussConnect with the Author:

Facebook Page and Facebook Profile

Twitter and Blog

Email: terussnovels@gmail.com

From ‘Love After War’:

“What are we doing here Andrew?” Connie asked, annoyed.

“This is where we’re having lunch,” he replied simply. “You still eat pizza don’t you?”

They were standing in the waiting area of Uno Chicago Grill, simply known as Uno’s in the area.

It looked a lot like a pizzeria they used to go to as kids in the summer in Galveston. She wondered if he’d brought her here on purpose.

“Yes, I still eat pizza but–”

“Great, here comes the hostess to sit us.”

The lady barely looked at Connie; she was so busy eyeballing Drew. And flirting just a tad too much.

“Can I get you anything to drink honey?” she cooed, while brushing her hand up and down his shoulder.

“Constance?”

“What?” she asked, tearing her glare away from the woman.

He tried to hide the smirk on his face. “What would you like to drink?”

“Iced tea. Sweet.”

“I’ll have the same thing,” he said, never taking his eyes off of Connie. “Ice tea. Sweet.”

“I’m sure it’s not as sweet as you.”

“I’m hardly sweet,” he replied, causing the hostess to laugh a little too hysterically and all but throw herself into Drew’s lap.

After she was done fawning over him, she sauntered off, with an exaggerated sway of her hips.

Connie couldn’t wipe the scowl off of her face and Drew was about to say something when Miss Laughs-a-lot returned.

“Joss will be your waitress today, but if you need anything, don’t hesitate to call.”

Connie watched as the woman slipped a piece of paper down in front of him. She rolled her eyes as the woman walked away.

“Unbelievable,” Connie murmured.

“What is?”

“That… woman. She was throwing herself all over you Andrew.”

He shrugged. “I suppose she was a little flirty.”

Connie laughed. “A little flirty? Andrew please! She was two seconds away from giving you a lap dance right in front of me. And she didn’t acknowledge me once. It was as if I wasn’t even here. For all she knew I could have been your date or girlfriend, but she didn’t care.”

“But you do?” Drew asked, with a raised eyebrow.

“Excuse me?”

“Well, you’re not my girlfriend. And technically this isn’t a date, just lunch. So why do you care if some hostess flirts with me?”

“You are completely incorrigible! It’s simply rude of her to flirt with a man in front of lady company. And it’s just bad customer service to ignore patrons. Besides that, I dont care who flirts with you or whom you flirt with.”

“Ah but that’s the thing! I didn’t flirt with her. In fact, if I recall, I never took my eyes off of you.”

Connie opened her mouth to argue, but she couldn’t because he was right. Drew seemed to have barely to noticed the hostess.

“Well–”

“If I didn’t know any better, Barb, I’d say you were jealous.”

He watched as the color rose up her neck and filled her cheeks. “Andrew McAllister, I am not jealous of some floozy hitting on you!”

He chuckled, and then said, “‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks!’”

She scoffed. “Quoting Hamlet does not make you cute.”

Love After War teaser“So what does make me cute?” he asked, his voice filled with a hint of intrigue.

Connie threw a napkin at him and he laughed out loud.

Joss, the waitress, showed up then and took their food orders. She was clearly a young girl, probably a college student and was completely enamored with Drew as well. Thankfully, she wasn’t shameless like the hostess. The poor girl could barely speak. She kept looking at Connie and stealing glances toward Drew, as if he were the sun and just too bright to look at directly.

Drew ordered for them remembering exactly how Connie liked her pizza.

Another thing from their past, she’d thought. But she let it slide this time, because the poor girl nearly knocked over their glasses of iced tea.

“I’m so sorry,” she apologized to them both.

“It’s all right,” he said to her.

Connie nodded. “Don’t worry honey, no harm done.”

The girl scuffled off to put in their orders and Connie couldn’t help but laugh.

“The great Andrew McAllister, turning women all over the place into crazed fools.”

“Except you,” he said sarcastically.

If only you knew, she thought.

“I’m not the only one causing trouble in here,” he said, interrupting her thoughts.

“What in the world are you talking about?”

“The man sitting at the table behind you, at your five o’clock…”

Connie used the excuse of tucking her hair behind her ear to glance over her shoulder and caught a man averting his eyes from their direction.

“He’s been staring at your legs, since you walked past him.”

“What? That’s ridicu–”

“The man at the table behind me, at your two o’clock.. .”

He waited for her to glance over his shoulder and then look back at him.

“Well,” he said, slightly annoyed, “Let’s just say he’s been looking a little bit North of your legs, South of your neck.”

She gasped at what he was implying.

“How could you know that?” she asked in a whisper, leaning closer toward him.

“Part of my job is to make sure I know everything going on in my surroundings.”

“Well, I guess you do your job pretty well.”

He shrugged. “I’m still alive.”

There was something in the tone of his voice when he said those words. If she didn’t know any better, she would have thought it sounded like remorse.

 Buy ‘Love After War’ NOW.

And check out all Té Russ’ work on Amazon.

Happy Reading!

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BLOG STOP: a visit from Roy Glenn, author of ‘It’s Only Love’ coming February 14th

Roy Glenn coverUPDATE: Buy now!

From the Author:

My latest novella, ‘It’s Only Love’ is a break from my usual action—mystery—suspense novels, but the story of these two people, Victor and Natasha, is a story that I felt like I had to tell. It’s about two people in love and how sometimes that gets complicated. You see, Victor has met the woman of his dreams. The only problem is; she’s not alone. She has a man. So even though the energy between them is charged just from the eye contact they shared from across the room, circumstances makes it impossible for them to have any time alone to explore what each of them is feeling. Besides, she’s with her man and that would be downright disrespectful on so many levels. Right?

Well, as fate would have it, these two will meet again and that meeting will come at a time when Natasha has been questioning her relationship with Lloyd; the man she thought truly understood her, but in fact, Lloyd doesn’t have a clue who Natasha is at her core, nor is he interested in finding out. With this in mind, when she bumps into the man with the intense brown eyes from a week ago, she finds herself wondering if fate is playing some type of a trick on her. Pushing her into what can only be called, love.

Here’s an excerpt of ‘It’s Only Love’:

As I expected, seeing Carmen Jones as it was intended on the big screen was magnificent. After the movie was over, I picked up my empty popcorn and soda trash like a good movie citizen and got ready to leave the theater. I had just placed it in the garbage when I turned and bumped into somebody.

“I’m sorry,” he said and I recognized the voice immediately.

“Victor?”

When I first heard his voice, my heart began to beat faster. It was beating so hard that it felt like it was going burst to through my chest.

“Natasha?”

Since my breath was caught in my throat, it was hard to say anything, so I just nodded my head. I was excited to see him again and I was nervous all at once. Even though I knew it was wrong because I had been there with Lloyd, I wanted to talk to him more at the reception. But now here he is.

“I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said and once again his voice shook me to my core.

And once again, I shook my head like a dummy, but this time, I managed to speak actual words. “You didn’t scare me. I just wasn’t expecting to see anybody that I knew.”

What I was, was shocked. Shocked to see him there and extremely curious to know what movie he was there to see. For some reason, I didn’t figure him as the, I’m going to see Carmen Jones type, but you never know.

“What did you see?” I asked.

“Carmen Jones. It’s one of my favorite movies.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

I wondered whether it was a sign.

I mean really. What are the chances that I would bump into him at this place, at this time? Especially when I’m starting to tire of Lloyd and this trophy nonsense.

“I know what you mean, I wasn’t expecting to see anybody I knew either. Especially you, Natasha.” When he smiled at me it felt like I knew him all my life and his smile was the most familiar and satisfying thing I had ever experienced.

That’s when I noticed that he seemed to be looking around for somebody. Probably the woman he brought with him. She probably went to the ladies room while he took care of their trash. I was curious about it, so I asked. “What are you looking for, Victor?”

“Honestly?” he asked and looked around again before leaning closer to me.

“Honestly.”

“I was looking around for your man.”

I laughed a little. “No, I’m a solo tonight.” I looked around in the same manner that he was.

He smiled. “What are you looking for, Natasha?”

“Honestly?” I asked and looked around again.

“Honestly.”

“I was looking around to see if you were a solo tonight,” I flirted and wondered where it was coming from. I had a man, one that I was about tired of, but still. That is not the way I like to do things. I was in a committed relationship and that meant that I didn’t flirt with other men.

“No, I’m a solo too.” He folded his arms across that hard chest of his. “But now I’m curious. Why? Why would—what’s his name?”

“Lloyd.”

“Yeah. Why would Lloyd let you go to the movies by yourself?”

“Truth?”

“Truth.”

“When I told him that I was going to see a movie starring Dorothy Dandridge, he said he’d never heard of her.”

“No point in asking him then.”

“I came to the same conclusion.” I admitted and now I was curious. “What about you; why are you alone?” I asked and started inching toward the exit with him walking next to me.

“Pretty much the same reason. Most people I know aren’t into old movies, so after a while, I stopped asking people to go with me.”

“They never understand it and don’t quite get why you do,” I said as he opened and held the door for me as I exited the theater.

“So, since we are both alone, would you like to get some coffee or something? There’s a Brick Coffee House nearby.”

I looked at my watch. “I don’t think so. Not tonight anyway.”

“Well at least let me walk you to your car,” Victor asked and I was instinctively about to say no when he said, “How can a lady walk alone.” Paraphrasing a line from Dere’s A Cafe On De Corner from Carmen Jones. “A lady oughta have a man to escort her to her car.”

I melted. “Sure.”

Not for the first time did I think about how much he dwarfed me in size. I’d often been described as tall compared to most women at five foot six, but walking next to Victor who looked to be at least six two with broad shoulders, I felt petite, feminine; protected. As we walked from the theater toward the parking lot, I noticed how relaxed he was, how fluid his movements were. The intensity of his gaze a week ago and again today, the way he moved, how good he looked right now made me conjure thoughts of how good he’d be at touching me the way I liked, making love to me the way I liked. My face got warm just thinking about what I shouldn’t have been thinking about. I was taken so Victor should not be on my mind right now.

“What are you thinking about Natasha?”

His words took me away from my delicious thoughts. I stopped and told him a lie. “Nothing at all. Well maybe about all the things I have on my agenda for tomorrow. What were you thinking about?”

He looked away before pinning me with his intense brown eyes. “You.”

I swallowed hard before trying to end this before it started, but he wouldn’t let me. “I know you were at the wedding with your man, so I know you shouldn’t go out with me but there is something about you that I can’t shake. So even if I can’t have you, now,” he paused before continuing, “I would at least like to be your friend.”

I looked at him and when I felt that same pull that I felt at the reception I turned to get to my car, but he grabbed my hand. With anyone else, especially a man, that would have alarmed me. It was dark outside and there weren’t many people around. I didn’t know him but his touch ignited something inside of me. It made me want to be closer to him and never leave again. He almost made me want to take him up on his offer and invite him over for a cup. Which would have been problematic since I live with Lloyd.

“How about you give me your number and I’ll call you?” It was all I could offer. I couldn’t commit to something I wasn’t even supposed to be doing.

He smiled like that was enough . . . for now.

COMING FEBRUARY 14, 2015!

But until then, check out Roy’s other work on Amazon

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BLOG STOP: a visit from Michele Kimbrough, author of ‘Dangerously in Love’

UPDATE: ‘DANGEROUSLY IN LOVE’ is HERE!

From the Author: Break-ups are hard, especially if you’ve been in love for a long michele kimbrough 4time. When the relationship ends, you experience a loss, almost as if someone died (depending on the depth of that relationship).  When I went through my second divorce, I felt like my world had crumbled. And, in many ways, it had. Our friends divided — some stood in his corner, a few in mine. Everybody wanted me to just “get over it,” as if it were that easy. No one would allow me to go through the process of grieving the loss of my marriage and the person I considered my true love. Dangerously in Love was inspired by this feeling of loss. Sometimes we don’t realize it, but our pain informs our decisions, and in some cases those decisions lead us down a road that becomes so dark, you can’t find your way back.

Dangerously in Love 4 with authorThat’s what happened to Hilton “Hill” Parker (Dangerously in Love).  During a sizzling-hot Chicago summer, Hill becomes dangerously involved with the sultry Caitlin Church, whose casual flirtation turns his world upside down. But Hill has no idea the sea of trouble in which he is about to swim, and that certain events are already set in motion for him to take the dive. He soon learns that Caitlin is more cunning than anyone ever dreamed.

EXCERPT:
Amelia heard a clunk then loud rumbling and thumping.  She ran, trying to keep her wet galoshes from squeaking on the tile floor.  Crouched into a dark corner, she fell back a little but managed to balance herself as she felt around, trying to move whatever was in her way.  But she touched something sticky and looked at her hand.  Blood.  She turned and saw David’s ex-wife, Beth.  Amelia’s muffled scream had been concealed by a rather large man falling backward down the stairs, tumbling to a neck-breaking thud.

Clutching the briefcase, Amelia swiftly hid behind Beth’s dead body, veiled by the shadows of the basement.  She heard two, maybe three pairs of footsteps approaching.  Men.  Their gait sounded too heavy to belong to women.  Amelia trembled, trying not to make noise.  Her breathing was so hard and heavy, she feared they’d hear her.  She closed her eyes, frightened that they’d glimmer like flames in the darkness.

She heard the men scrambling around.  Their bloodstained work boots gave her tremors with each thump.  Her heart pounded with unsteady beats.  Her body quaked uncontrollably as one of the men got closer and closer… and closer.  He stood right in front of her – still for a moment – then squatted down.  He was so close, she smelled his putrid breath.  She prayed he wouldn’t see her, hoping the darkness shielded her.  Slowly, she opened her eyes, which met with his.  He smiled wryly.

“You picked a really bad day to drop by,” he said.

He reached his hand toward her.  She thought she’d lose control of her bladder.  Maybe she had.  The basement reeked of urine.  She tried to lean back but couldn’t go any further.  Her heart lunged into her throat.  Her stomach somersaulted.

He touched Beth’s hair and cheek. He sucked his teeth and stood.  He kicked Beth’s legs and her body shifted.  He stood there for a moment longer until the other men headed upstairs.

She wanted to scream – again, no air.  She couldn’t stop shaking.

One of the men yelled from upstairs.  He turned and ran up the stairs, two steps at a time.  She heard their heavy thumps above her.  A door slammed.  Two car doors closed and the heavy engine of a car revved.  Its vibrations were strong at first but receded with distance.

Amelia pushed Beth’s body to the side and it fell over, stiff like a mannequin.  She ran to the stairs, avoiding the puddles of blood along the way.  She tripped on the man’s arm at the foot of the stairs and fell on top of him – the briefcase between their bodies – staring him in the face.  She recognized him and gulped hard – she was too breathless for a scream.  It was Uncle Murphee.  Her mother’s brother, and David’s father.

In a panic, she hastily climbed the stairs, frequently losing her footing, banging her knees as she tried to regain her balance.  Still clutching the briefcase, she hightailed it to her car and sped away.

That was three years ago.

(c) 2014 Michele Kimbrough

But until this new release … check out Michele’s other titles!  


Wildflower
She faces an uncertain future, he’s haunted by a hidden past. When Iris Meadows’ husband shows up on the eve of their tenth wedding anniversary with divorce papers, after he empties their shared bank accounts and sells the house right from under her, Iris is left with only one thought in mind: that she will never again give herself wholeheartedly to love. Iris takes a trip home to Chicago, where her world gets rocked to the core — not just by the death of her mother, but by one tall, sexy man — Preston Roberts. The Windy City casts its spell on Iris who soon realizes she’s reached an unexpected fork in the road: she falls in love with Preston and must confront her hopes and fears about love. But when his hidden truth is revealed, will their love survive?

Buy ‘Wildflower’ now on Amazon.

PrudencePrudence Payne seems to have it all together if you’re viewing from the outside looking in. However, once you’re inside, it’s a completely different story. She’s a woman who’s been pushed and pulled in so many directions, she’s lost who she is. And, to add to the chaos, her best friend loses her fight to cancer. Just when she thinks she can’t take anymore, a long hidden family secret is revealed and her life is turned upside down.

But that’s not all for Prudence. She’s in love…forbidden love, at least that’s how she sees it. Boxed in on all sides, she doesn’t seem to have any fight left in her. When her boyfriend of eleven years finally proposes, she thinks things are about to turn around for her.

Richard Mayweather is a widower who lost his wife to cancer almost a year ago. He’s now a single father raising two young daughters with the help of his in-laws and lifelong friend, Prudence. When a blizzard shuts him in with his daughters and Prudence, all of the feelings he’s been suppressing for Prudence resurfaces. See, Richard’s been holding a secret for a long time. Ever since he was twelve years old, he’s been holding a torch for Prudence.

Unfortunately, there are too many obstacles between him and the love of his life. First, his in-laws. It has only been a year since their daughter died and they aren’t about to let some woman, particularly Prudence, take her place. Then there is the eleven year relationship that Prudence is in. Richard believes in second chances and he feels this is the time to seek his with Prudence.

Despite the obstacles, is Richard able to win Prudence’s heart? Or will Prudence choose to keep things just the way they are? Safe.

Buy ‘Prudence’ now on Amazon.

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SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘The Come Up’

Where he works2He was getting way too old for this.

Jamal Turner squared his shoulders, shoved back against the crowd, and made his way toward the front of the club. It was a low-end joint in a non-gentrified neighborhood in Brooklyn, where it was still possible—if not likely—that a luxury car might be broken into, or outright stolen. Driving had been a risk, but he would want to make a hasty departure after his mission was accomplished.

Tonight, the mission was simple. Meet and make nice with an artist named Devin Parks. All he needed to do was lay eyes on the youngster, size him up and get him to agree to a real meeting. Under normal circumstances that was the kind of errand just about anyone from Scaife could be sent on. Hell, they could send an intern and have them drop the name of any one of Chris Scaife’s labels and most artists would call within hours. Jamal would return to his office the following morning to find voicemail awaiting him, from someone who was eager but trying not to sound like it.

This time, though, would be different. Devin Parks was one of the most confounding and exasperating of breeds—he was indie and anti-establishment, and to top it off, hella-talented. Normal scouts wouldn’t do for the likes of Devin Parks. This one would have to be wooed.

Just as he was about to make it to the edge of the foot-high ramshackle structure that passed for the stage, a young woman in a black dress stumbled across his path and spilled half the contents of her cup on Jamal’s pant-leg.

“Oh shi… sorry!” She giggled, clearly well on her way to becoming inebriated.

Wincing, Jamal looked down at the dark stain and kept moving. The sooner he found his contact the better. Meeting Devin Parks was apparently akin to a top-secret spy operation. Because he was suspicious of anything that smelled like ‘The Man’, Parks didn’t like being approached by recording industry insiders so a “contact” was necessary to ensure a civil conversation. This kid was going to be a real pain in the ass if he ever actually became famous. But truth be told, he already was kind of famous. On the underground club circuit, Devin Parks had made quite the name for himself with his unique blend of spoken word, hip-hop and be-bop, reminiscent of Mos Def’s early days.

Exploding onto the scene about a year earlier, Parks had created the kind of buzz that got lots of labels paying close attention, scouts following him around to clubs and trying to gain his confidence, that kind of thing. Jamal himself had heard the stories, about the twenty-something phenom with the pretty-boy face, wiry frame and sun-ripened wheat-colored eyes. Sure to be a goldmine—that was the word on the street. Not much grooming and styling required—a readymade star. Those didn’t happen too often anymore in this new world of manufactured teen idols, so Devin Parks had lots of folks excited, and chasing him around New York like a bunch of starstruck tween girls.

Jamal was more than happy to watch things play out organically, having long passed the stage of his career where he needed to chase artists. Now, they came to him. But this one was different. His boss had actually heard the music; some independently-produced, poorly-recorded tracks of Devin Parks’ had apparently made their way into Chris Scaife’s state-of-the-art Bang & Olufsen sound system when he picked his son up at college after his freshman year at Notre Dame.

Listening to one of the more popular tracks as he drove down from South Bend, Indiana, Chris had called Jamal from the car and asked whether he’d heard of Devin Parks. The music was original, the hoarse, raw and authentic voice of the artist stirring, and to top it all off, Chris’ nineteen-year old son raved about him.

Yeah. He’s indie, Jamal replied, knowing immediately what was coming. Chris Scaife didn’t like to be behind the eight-ball on anything.

Indie? What the hell does that mean? That you can’t get him? Just the word, ‘indie’ was a thorn in the side of many a recording executive, and Chris Scaife was no different. He didn’t just dislike being cut out of the action, he claimed to find it offensive when good music was butchered by bad production. But in all fairness, not all indie productions were bad…

Nah, Boss Man. It just means he doesn’t want to be ‘got’.

I don’ wanna hear that, Chris said. Find a way to sign him.

When that order was delivered, it had just about wrecked Jamal’s quiet Sunday afternoon. He’d been spending it with the fresh-faced, brand-new winner of a popular modeling reality show. She was twenty-one, eager and very, very limber. New models were Jamal’s preference. With their eyes still starry, and a fire in their breasts to be famous, they were generally as uninterested as he in being slowed down by something as pedestrian as a “relationship.” They liked him because he had a rep for being a beast in the sack, was photographed a lot, and could take them places where they would meet people who were already famous.

And he liked them because they were, well, young, and models … and very, very limber.

But after Chris’ call, Jamal went into immediate work-mode. He’d never let the big boss down and he wasn’t about to start now, not when his fortunes at Scaife were about to take a sharp upturn. Maybe even all the way to the top. It was rumored that since his marriage, Chris was looking to pass the baton, taking more of a backseat in day-to-day operations and spending time with his wife and kids. Jamal couldn’t say he blamed him. He happened to be very close friends with the wife in question, and Robyn Scaife was just the kind of woman who would make a man want to dramatically change the course of his life. And if he played his cards right, Chris Scaife’s decision to change could also mean a dramatic change for Jamal as well. He liked the sound of Jamal Turner, Chief Operating Officer Scaife Enterprises. He liked it very much.

So now he was wading his way through a sea of underage, oversexed, scantily-dressed clubbers, making his way to a spot where his contact would give him a rare insider intro to American music’s next sure thing.

Lifting his wrist so he could check the time in the gloom of the club, Jamal saw that it was just after one a.m. This was the place and this was definitely the time, when he was supposed to connect with one of Devin Parks’ childhood friends, who just happened to be an administrative assistant in Scaife’s communications and public relations department. Jamal had gotten that information the way he got a good deal of the four-one-one—from the guys in the mailroom. They carted around the mail for the company, doing it the old-fashioned way, because Scaife Enterprises still got lots of snail mail—mostly unsolicited items that couldn’t be submitted online like demos, and sometimes headshots and résumés from recent college grads who just “had to” be in the recording industry. They wanted to make an impression so many of these eager young things put together packages that contained practically their entire life stories—commendations and transcripts, letters of recommendation and pleas which they sent to various executives whose names (but never email addresses) they found online.

The mailroom guys, because they rarely delivered anything of consequence, had lots of time to shoot the breeze. And so they always knew whose anniversary it was, who was losing their house or their husband; whose kid was on drugs, and whose woman was cheating on them. They also had a virtual treasure trove of information about who was connected to whom and by how many degrees. And it was from them Jamal learned about the administrative assistant who knew Devin Parks up close and personal and from the time she was practically a toddler.

So after just one phone call, he had arranged to meet her at this so-called nightclub where she was willing to arrange an intro with the elusive performer, and grease the wheels a little for Jamal to work his magic. And he had no doubt that he could work some magic, even with the notoriously moody Devin Parks. Jamal’s batting average was enviable, no matter the yardstick he was measured against.

The music throbbed in his chest and the scent of perspiration, perfume and weekend desperation permeated the air. Jamal waited. Twenty minutes. He would give her twenty minutes and then he was out.

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BLOG STOP: a visit from Chicki Brown, author of ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’

dontFolks, this is a daring one. New from Chicki Brown, the latest in the Stafford Brothers series, ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’ features Greg Stafford and one very messy secret that’s about to be blown wide open.

One lucky, randomly-chosen commenter to this blog will get a free ebook!

*****

Blurb: New York City on-air television personality Greg Stafford is different from his brothers. He has a secret that none of the family knows about until he is arrested and the story hits the media. A scandal ensues, and he is suspended from his job for breaking the morality clause in his contract. In order to keep his position, he is ordered to submit to therapy. Little does he know that the woman who will become his counselor will become the most important person in the world to him.

From ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’:

What was that all about? Greg stalked down the block in search of a cab in his pseudo-disguise. Had Thad played a joke on him by scheduling his therapy session with the sexiest woman he’d met in months? Rhani Drake appeared to be the embodiment of what Greg considered the perfect woman. Downright tempting with thick, curly hair falling past her shoulders. A few errant tendrils dangled over her forehead, and he imagined coiling them around his fingers. As she interrogated him, he visualized how irresistible she would look beneath him with her wild mop spread out over the pillow. Not a great way to start therapy.

A taxi finally stopped for him. He got in, gave the driver his home address then dropped his head back on the seat and closed his eyes. Thankfully, he hadn’t gotten one of those talkative drivers. He needed silence to think about what had just occurred. No way would he allow himself to be attracted to the woman who wanted to deconstruct him and put him back together the way she saw fit. Right away she’d started in on his family, and he wasn’t having it. They had nothing to do with the reason he’d been sent to her. In fact, if he were more like them, he wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with. But since he had to endure three months of scrutiny, discovering why he was so unlike them might make it worth the torture.

She hadn’t asked about the actual incident, which seemed strange. After all, it’s what brought him to her office. Every time he replayed the episode he became aroused, so he tried not to dwell on it.

He’d been dizzy with exhilaration, ripped his belt open and yanked his zipper down to free himself. The alley hadn’t been the place to take her panties down, so he reached between her thighs and pulled the narrow crotch of her delicate panties aside. Melinda Price was tall and the stilettos she wore made her even taller, so he only had to bend his knees a little to get into the right position. He didn’t want to hurt her, but it also hadn’t been the time or place for foreplay or rummaging through his wallet for a condom.

Bareback time.

When he thrust into her, Melinda had taken his shoulders in a death grip. Her stiletto-clad feet came off the ground and hooked around his hips. The cry she uttered had him so drunk; he couldn’t do anything but go for the goal. Nothing else mattered. He clasped his hands under her and pumped like a madman while the world around them faded away.

She moaned and he growled through their climax. Once the blood returned to his head, Greg comprehended the voices shouting at them.

“NYPD! Release her and put your hands above your head!”

He steadied Melinda as her weak legs dropped to the ground. When he realized she wasn’t going to fall, he shoved himself back into his underwear and zipped his pants.

The officer continued, “You are under arrest for public indecency and performing a lewd act under Section 245 of the New York Penal Code.”

Arousal then shame. The story of what his life had become. How had he let himself get to this point? Greg rubbed his eyes in an effort to wipe away the scene then straightened his shoulders and told himself it would never happen again.

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