SAMPLE SUNDAY: Eli’s Way

Eli's Way cover2COMING … Sooner or Later (you know I’m terrible about predicting these things), the sequel to ‘Ivy’s League’

________

From ‘Eli’s Way’:

On October 12, 2009, Eli Thomason awoke to the clear and certain knowledge that he was no longer in love with his wife. Like opening his eyes the morning after suffering through a long and uncomfortable fever, he felt the absence of that love and the lightness and emptiness in his heart where it once had been. It happened just that suddenly.

He sat up in bed and took a breath, allowing the feeling to settle inside him, examining it for authenticity. It was true—he didn’t love Stacy anymore.

She’s gone, he whispered.

Later, when he was busy and occupied with his day, the full dimensions of the realization would have dulled a little bit, but the core of his new understanding would remain—his marriage was as good as over.

What did you say?

Next to him in bed, Stacy rolled over and mumbled, looking up at him with sleepy, half-open eyes. She was just as pretty as she had always been, and now, like this, even sexy. But he felt nothing for her. The evening before had been rough and tension-filled, as most of their evenings now were.

Nothing, he said.

Stacy turned over and hugged her pillow in a way she had not hugged him in ages, already uninterested in him and whatever it was he might have had to say.

She was gone. From his heart, and now, Eli knew, soon to be gone from his life as well.

_________________

And on Tuesday February 2nd, 2015, Eli Thomason woke up with the clear and certain knowledge that he was in love in Ivy Livingstone, and would be for the rest of his life. He didn’t know how he knew, but he just did. Only three weeks since their long separation over the holidays, and one week since he had begun sleeping in her bed again, and yet he knew.

“Why don’t you do it here?”

Here?”

“Yes. Do it in the basement. There’s a lot more room, and if you’re going to be spending the entire day watching football, at least I get to know that you’re nearby.”

Only partly dressed, Ivy stuck her head out of her dressing room as she stepped into her skirt. She paused as she awaited his response. Eli smiled at her, his gaze scanning the length of her legs, clad in dark, opaque tights. Jaden was at his father’s so they could take their time getting ready for work and have breakfast together. Ivy still preferred that her son not wake up with Eli in the house since they hadn’t quite broken it to him that “Mr. Eli” was a little more than a “friend” to Mommy.

But having him host a Super Bowl party at her place certainly sounded like the kind of thing a woman would be comfortable with only if she was planning for a man to be around for a long time. Particularly since Ivy herself couldn’t care less about what was up in the NFL on any given Sunday.

“What’s the hesitation about?” she laughed, emerging from her dressing room and grabbing a silk blouse off her armchair and shrugging it on. “You’ll get to use that basement you helped me fix up. Or is it that you don’t want your friends to meet me?”

“Some of my friends can get real rowdy on Super Bowl Sunday,” Eli warned, though his misgivings went much deeper than that.

“So what? Don’t all men get rowdy on Super Bowl Sunday? The only condition I have is that you not expect me to fetch and carry buffalo wings, and chips and beer and what-not. Another thing that happens to men during football season is that they turn into Neanderthals and start ordering their women around.” She winked at him and went looking for her pumps.

While she executed her search mission, Eli reached for his overnight bag and grabbed his undershirt. He had a job clear on the other side of the Beltway and would have to leave in half an hour if he wanted to be at the job-site before his guys got there. But for that time constraint, he would have wanted to have more of a conversation about this. Hosting a football party with a bunch of dudes at Ivy’s house shouldn’t be that big a deal, but it was. Last night he noticed when he opened the fridge that she had added some of his favorites to her grocery list, and in her bathroom, there were new toiletries, an extra toothbrush, razors and other items he invariably forgot to bring when he spent the night.

For Ivy, these things were a natural progression of their relationship and she didn’t make a big deal or attach any expectations to them. But Eli did. They had stumbled a little coming out of the gate, but now he felt as though they were as strong a unit as he’d ever known. And if he’d learned anything about Ivy, he was pretty sure she was ten steps ahead of him, and probably already knew what he had only that morning realized—that any outcome other than the two of them being together was unacceptable.

Catch up by reading ‘Ivy’s League’! Available now on Kindle and Nook.

The Book Where Nothing Happens

UPDATE: AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON!

I like books where nothing happens.

I know, I can feel you rolling your eyes and thinking, “What on earth is she on about now? And where is that Acosta book she’s been promising forever?” But stay with me … Though Ivy's LeagueI am as much  a fan of books where there’s lots of action and surprises I especially love books (and movies) where there is the slow evolution of characters as they realize something about themselves, their lives and their relationships. That happens sometimes in the middle of a crisis, but sometimes it happens in slow stages, as they’re going about living their daily lives. Something small may happen to trigger big changes.

So recently, after reading a few books like that, I decided to write one. And I have to give credit where it’s due–this book happened because of women I know, because of experiences in my own life and in no small part because I read a book called. ‘The Reeducation of Aria Jackson’ by Angelia Vernon Menchan, and another called ‘A Natural Woman’ by Lori Johnson, and also because of something Aja Graves said in passing which she now tells me she has no recollection of.

I mention these inspirations because it’s not often that you know from whence you’re stealing your ideas as a writer, so when on the odd occasion I have that level of self-awareness, I like to holler it out. Anyways, ‘Ivy’s League’ is a mashup of ideas from all those people. It’s a book about a woman not unlike most of the women I know, and about a man, not unlike some of the men I know. And its about their slow coming together. Other than that, not much of anything happens. But I had fun writing it, and hope you’ll have fun reading it.

‘Ivy’s League’ will be on Amazon on Monday, September 21st and on Barnes & Noble shortly thereafter.

And yes, Miri Acosta and her education are still on the way. Soon.


About ‘Ivy’s League’

By any measure, she is a success. By any measure that is, except her own.

Ivy Livingstone has entrée into Washington DC’s political elite, lives in an exclusive neighborhood and sends her son to a sought-after private school. But her beautiful life is a gilded cage. She is independent, but alone. And unfortunately, very few men are confident enough to believe they are in Ivy’s league.

Eli Thomason has all the confidence in the world, except when it comes to his own judgment about women. And his attraction to Ivy Livingstone proves him right. She is everything he shouldn’t want: a woman above his station and beyond his means. He overreached once before and still lives with the heartbreaking consequences, so why does he find it so difficult to leave Ivy alone?

And if their own baggage isn’t enough, Ivy and Eli have to contend with that of everyone around them, hell-bent on confirming their worst fear: that the bond they’re beginning to build can’t possibly last.


From Ivy’s League:

“What’s going on, girl? You all alone finally?” Ryann answered her phone without greeting.

“Yup. Gavin and Jaden just left. Now I’m bored.”

“Call up your little Toolbelt Stud and tell him to come over,” Ryann laughed. “You don’t know when you might get another chance, since Gavin is only a seasonal father.”

“I’m sorry I mentioned him to you at all,” Ivy said, though she had been thinking along the same lines herself.

“Why? First time in months I heard you talk about a man!”

“Because now you’re going to pressure me to do something you know I’m not comfortable doing.”

“Look, the worst has already happened,” Ryann argued. “Your goofy ass fell out and showed your literal ass, so it can only get better from here.”

Ivy laughed and idly reached down, yanking up the leg of her sweats and running her fingertips over the scrape on her knee. “So you think I should just call him and … what? Ask him out on a date?”

“Why not? It’s the twenty-first century, Ivy. Women who wait around for a man to make the first move wind up … waiting around.”

“I don’t know,” Ivy said. “What if he has a girlfriend?”

“Then hopefully he’ll say so from jump and you won’t almost get cut up by some pissed-off chick from Southeast showing up in your driveway at two in the morning looking for her man.”

“You scare me sometimes, you know that? That sounded way too detailed to be made up on the spur of the moment.”

“Who said it was made up? I didn’t ever tell you about …. Oh crap. I have to go, girl. I see one of my targets walking through the lobby. Let me go see if I can talk to him. He should be good for at least two hundred grand for the Foundation.”

“Okay, I’ll call you later.”

“Don’t,” Ryann said. “Don’t call me until and unless you’ve called that man first. And you better have a good story to tell too, or I’ll hang up on you.” And then she did just that.

Ivy walked through kitchen, picking up the remains of her and Jaden’s early breakfast, dumping leftover food in the trash and the dishes in the sink. Looking around her, she admired her kitchen.

Large and sunny, the surfaces were all white granite, the cabinets, dark oak. She had paid a pretty penny to have it renovated when she moved in, proud of the accomplishment of buying her first home, and filled with a bursting sense of endless possibilities. She would entertain; friends would sit around the center island with long-stemmed glasses filled with the best chardonnay. She would serve goat cheese and Scottish smoked salmon on rosemary and basil crostini, and they would all have clever conversation about the Obama Administration.

But once she and Jaden had moved in, Ivy grew weary of the constant din of construction, and more than that, wary of the numbers being quoted to her by unscrupulous contractors for whom a single woman of means was like blood in the water to man-eating sharks.

She had gotten as far as the kitchen but still had the basement to go, and there was a stubborn recurring clog in her guest bathroom that made her have to steer overnight guests to her master bath instead. It hadn’t been a huge problem thus far because overnight guests were rare. Only her mother, her Aunt Gwen, and Ryann when she had too many glasses of pinot, ever needed to spend the night. One day, though, Ivy would have to get that bathroom fixed.

One day. Or ….

Ivy paused, leaning over her sink and biting into her lower lip.

It was what Ryann would call a “bitch-move”—calling Eli up and telling him she needed some work on her house just so she could see him again. But the fact of the matter was, she did need some work done on her house and the chance of him actually cheating her on the price was slim-to-none since they kind of knew each other. And he probably went to Woodmore Church and was in the Men’s Auxiliary or something. Guys like that didn’t cheat single mothers out of their hard-earned money did they?

Finding her purse, Ivy fished out the business card he’d handed her just before they parted. The card was simple and tasteful, with none of those superlatives (fast, excellent service!) that made her instantly suspicious. Instead it consisted of just six words, and a phone number in a simple, unadorned script.

Thomason Home Improvements

Repairs. Remodels. Restoration.

The card stock was expensive and dense though, so Eli Thomason clearly recognized that the simplicity of the words had to be offset by a subtle nod to quality of workmanship. She smiled, liking him more by the second.

At the school, even though she had a mission to get Jaden’s birthday stuff down to the Café and get to work, she had been almost excruciatingly aware of him walking just behind her, except for when he held the doors open for her—or standing just over her shoulder. It was ridiculous, but he just felt … solid. A strong reassuring presence that a woman could lean into, bury her face into his chest and just … cry.

Ivy shook her head. What a ridiculous thought! Why would she need to cry?

Her life was good. People probably envied her. She had a four-bedroom house in one of the best neighborhoods in the Washington DC suburbs, where the value of real estate only ever increased; her son was handsome and healthy and well taken care of; she had friends (a few anyway) and a career that gave her the chance to influence causes she cared deeply about. And on her best days, she felt pretty, didn’t carry an extra ounce of weight, was in good health and fairly young. Why on earth would she need to cry?

Shoving the question out of her mind, and pushing even further down the possible answers to the question, Ivy reached for the phone. She hadn’t given Eli her number because he didn’t ask, so there was a good chance he might not answer. Hesitating, she dialed the number but did not hit the ‘send’ button.


Happy Reading!

N.

What Had Happened Was …

The Education of Miri Acosta coverSo you may or may not have noticed that I’ve been away for a while. Not literally, but figuratively. I haven’t blogged, haven’t done as much online promotion of my work, and definitely haven’t been writing with the same regularity. Instead I’ve been reading, working, falling in love with my partner and out again, and in love again … and so on, playing, traveling, hanging with friends, making some enemies (yeah, for real) and living, basically. And so there it is–not sexy, but that’s my excuse for not getting ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’ out this month. More about that later, but for now, let me just say … I’m back in the saddle and rearing to go.

I guess I could leave it at that, but I’m not going to. I want to tell you what I’m going to be up to next, because as solitary as the writing part of writing is, the rest is a group exercise. You read what I write (thank God) and you sometimes like it, and sometimes you write me notes, leave me comments and give me the fuel that gets me through the rough spots, or the encouragement to up my game next time. And a lot of readers give me ideas–for characters and plot points I might consider, or even entire books I might write. I can feel a lot of you out there rooting for me, waiting for me, and believing in me, or I’ve seen you, posting the gentle social media nudge to ‘get back to work already’.

All of it is appreciated.

There’s something writers don’t always tell you but I’m going to let you in on the secret. You ready? Here it is: there was a time when we wrote furtively, secretly, quietly and alone (some of us still do). We wondered whether there would ever be another soul, besides a lover, a friend, or a family member who read what we wrote and cared about it. We silently suffered with the knowledge that though the writing itself was fulfilling, it wasn’t always enough–we wanted someone else to hear our voice on the page and tell us it was good. That’s the secret. The ‘pressure’ we moan about, the pushes and nudges to ‘get back to work already’ are part of the dream, almost as much as the writing itself. To know that you contribute to the richness of the human experience with your words alone? Man, for me there is no high higher than that.

So now that I’ve admitted that I am not so cool that I can pretend not to give a shit what readers think, back to my plans. ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’ is next up. August was the plan, but it’s now mid September. I won’t give a precise date because you know I never meet those deadlines anyway and it causes me heartburn when I know people are waiting and I’m not delivering. But about the book: I like this one. It’s more ‘pure romance’ than anything I’ve written in a while, about young love, crazy passion; learning that who you are is not who you may have planned to be, and figuring out that book smarts don’t equal emotional intelligence. It that strikes your fancy, read the blurb on Goodreads, here.

Following Miri’s story will be the one I’ve been dying to complete, Lorna Terry’s comeuppance, which is working titled ‘Art and Soul’. In that one, the mother of Riley, (who you may remember from ‘Commitment’, etc.) meets her match in a somewhat younger lover who is not intimidated by her radical feminism, and who forces her to face some of the consequences from her choices in the past; and to confront the possibility of a very different future than the one she envisioned. Meet Lorna and her intrepid younger man by reading these shorts: ‘Forty-Six’ and ‘Stalemate’.

And finally, on the encouragement of a writer-friend, and because I’m a sucker for people’s requests for “more” of a couple, I am working on Jamal and Makayla’s follow-up to ‘The Come Up’, this one titled ‘The Takedown’, will follow the very real challenges to the unlikely (and some say mismatched) couple’s relationship. It’ll also follow Jamal’s ascension to the pinnacle of his career, and Makayla being thrust even deeper into a life she’s ambivalent about at best, and outright distrustful of at worst. For me, the cool stories happen when a couple is together but external and internal conflicts work against them–the stuff that comes after the ‘I-love-yous’ are said and believed. This book will hopefully be one of those ‘cool stories’.

So that’s where I am. Until I get something out there, visit me on Facebook, or Pinterest. Send me email, post something on this blog. I know you’re out there, and I am most definitely listening.

Happy Reading.

N.

BLOG STOP: Tia Kelly, author of new release ‘Baby Love’!

Baby LoveAbout Baby Love:

The son of an NBA legend, Trent Scott was born a catch and groomed since birth to know it. Little fazes him, including the mystery woman that appears on his doorstep with a baby in tow… even when she claims Trent is the father before disappearing. Until he can prove otherwise and find the delusional woman, he’s stuck caring for a kid he knows can’t be his… or is it?

Brandi Avery is ready to start the next chapter of her life. After coming to the rescue of a frazzled (and extremely attractive) stranger with an adorable (yet obviously upset) baby, she can’t help but fall for Trent Scott… which wouldn’t be so bad if she could convince him to feel the same way about her.

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Baby Love is on sale for $1.99 until July 13th.

Buy Links:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Connect with Tia Kelly on her blog: www.tiawithapen.com

Excerpt:

Pulling the door open, he saw a gorgeous woman and immediately thought of Lupita Nyong’o.

“About damn time!” She sounded nothing like the graceful actress.

Trent’s brow raised a fraction, but he didn’t say a word.

“Do you mind?” she asked, setting a foot inside his house.

She cut her eyes at him before glancing at her watch. That was when Trent saw the stroller behind her. Ms. Uninvited set an infant carrier on the ground between them after stepping across the threshold.

“How did you get past the gate?”

“It was open when I got here.”

Trent peered around her because he knew he closed it.

“Earlier when the ambulance was here.”

“Ambulance?”

The woman just shrugged.

“Do I know you?”

“You don’t remember me?” Her angry scowl became masked from hurt.

“Why should I?”

“It’s been just over a year, but not that much has changed other than the child we share together.”

“Come again?” That’s when he saw an infant stirring beneath a blanket in the carrier. The plush pink and white covering did nothing to soften his discomfort.

What the hell?

“We met in Vegas the spring before last.”

“Okay?”

“And it’s about time you met the daughter we share as a result.”

“Look Miss… I don’t even know your name, so how do I have a daughter?”

Dark piercing eyes were now damp. “Trina.”

“Excuse me?”

She cleared her throat, jutted out her chin. “My name is Trina.”

Trent ran a hand over his head, refusing to glance at the child. As far as he knew, he wasn’t anyone’s father. What he needed to do was call the authorities to come escort this crazy lady from his property. “Trina, if this child is mine, why am I just hearing about it now? If this happened more than a year ago, that means your kid is what…two or three months?”

Trina rolled her eyes pointing to the carrier between them. “She turned six months yesterday and… I… I didn’t know.”

“Didn’t know what?”

“I thought she was my husband’s. That was until the taping yesterday.”

If it didn’t prove him to be a complete ass, Trent would have laughed out loud. “Did you say your husband?”

Trina nodded. “It was the night of my bachelorette party in Vegas. We met and well, you… you gave me a night to remember.”

More like eighteen years, if what she was saying was true. But it’s not.

“Somehow word got back to my husband about that night and he got suspicious and suggested we go on the show to get the baby tested. Up until the wedding, we used condoms.”

Show?

“Maury.”

What the hell? Trent shook his head in disbelief and rolled his eyes. This woman was something else. And I always use condoms.

“It broke.”

Shit, Trent thought to himself, waiting for her to read his mind again. But if a condom did break, he would’ve remembered that major detail. Right? Unless it was thattrip to Vegas, the one he wanted to forget.

“He insisted we get London tested and that’s when Maury confirmed it this morning, you’re her…” Trina said. She stopped only to make sure she had Trent’s attention. She had it all right, but it was her quivering lip and shaky voice that puzzled him. “You’re London’s father.”

SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’

Miri3 promo flat

About ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’:

Coming from a large Dominican family that takes their gender roles very seriously, Miri Acosta has always enjoyed the protection of her three older brothers.

Until now.

Almost twenty-three, and just graduated from university she is finally on her own instead of living with her parents. Eager to experience every bit of what she’s missed her whole life living in the most exciting city in the world, Miri decides to buck her family’s wishes and become a modern, single woman. ‘Modern’ means clubbing, dating, and … casual sex.

Just so long as her brothers don’t find out.

As she’s about to put her ‘modern woman’ plan into effect, Miri meets Eduardo Cruz, the newest player on her brother’s MLB team who is exactly what she’s running from—a bossy, overbearing, traditional Dominican walking bundle of machismo.

Miri isn’t sure what to make of Duardo … but she can’t stay away from him, either, so she decides that he’s just the right man to get her started with the whole casual sex thing.

But Duardo isn’t interested in a ‘modern’ relationship. If Miri wants him, she’s going to have to learn how to become a more traditional Dominican girl. And once he gets her, whether she wants to or not, he’s playing for keeps.

FROM ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’ – COMING SOON!

Though she kept her eyes down, Miri couldn’t help but listen. Eduardo had the kind of voice that made you want to listen. It was deep and hoarse, confident and steady. His English was vaguely rather than heavily accented, and there was even the hint of an American accent to it. He spoke Spanish like someone who had been bilingual all their life, and not just recently.

When he paused in the middle of his description of his home, Miri looked up and saw that his eyes were on her, as though he had been focused on her all along. Next to him, her brother Matt noticed the mutual staring and tilted his head to the side, his eyebrows lifting. Matt would no doubt tease her later about her obvious and naked attraction to Mark’s new teammate.

He was very handsome, so how could she not be attracted? And every time she looked at him, he was looking at her too, so the feeling might even be mutual. But that didn’t mean she was going to do anything about it. If she wanted to do something about it, she wouldn’t have known how.

Her inexperience with men embarrassed her. Especially when she was around her friends. Only Marisol knew she was still a virgin, and thankfully, she kept Miri’s secret from Nessa who probably would have taunted her mercilessly. Nessa, who reported her every conquest with R-rated detail, could not possibly understand what the hold-up was, and why Miri would be “saving herself.” But she wasn’t saving herself exactly; she just hadn’t met the man who made her want to give herself.

It was probably because she’d been raised in the Church, and from the time she was a toddler had been taught by the nuns to envision the sad face of the Blessed Virgin when she was about to sin. While her brothers went to public school where they were raised in the Bronx, Miri had gone to Saint Francis, where nuns clad in brown hammered into her all the various punishments for different types of sin. The sin of fornication was a bad one. Now, older and wiser, Miri wasn’t sure she believed everything she’d learned at Saint Francis, but those lessons were ingrained in her and all she could do was modify them … not flout them altogether. She might fornicate, but only if the urge to do so was overwhelming, and so far it hadn’t been.

She had been passionately kissed, had a couple times been felt up under her clothes, and had only once gone further than even that; but the ultimate act had never happened. Marisol on the other hand, also raised Catholic, said she had rid herself of her virginity at the first opportunity, which came freshman year in college. She told Miri that when her boyfriend pushed himself inside her, her body had resisted as determinedly as though he had been trying to press his thumb through the palm of her hand.

And the blood, Marisol said shaking her head. I don’t even want to tell you about the blood.

The thought of it almost made Miri swoon. She wasn’t completely innocent, and knew that some—maybe even most—women bled the first time, but she had heard very few firsthand accounts of what The First Time was like. A couple girls at Saint Francis had boasted of being sexually-active, but at the time, Miri wasn’t much interested. She wasn’t part of that crowd. She was one of the studious ones, more interested in her lessons and books than in parties and boys.

And why was she even thinking about that now?

Que precioso.”

Eduardo had ended his colorful description, and her mother was practically swooning, her father smiling as well.

“My mother thinks it’s madness to come to New York when you can live back home,” Mark said. “Even though I can’t persuade her to let me buy her a house there.”

“No. You save your money,” their mother said. “I am used to living here now. Maybe when I am old …”

Miri and her brothers exchanged smiles. None of them dared tell her that at almost sixty-five, they thought she was at least approaching old age. And certainly no one would bother reminding her that Mark now had more money than he knew what to do with. Relative to his wealth, the small things their parents accepted—some home remodeling, new appliances and a car—were akin to trinkets.

“You mustn’t encourage your mother to come here, Eduardo,” their mother continued. “Life here is very different … aislado … very isolated. Not very much …” She struggled with her English. “Not very much … comunidad.”

“Mom, that’s his and his mother’s business if she should come,” Miri jumped in, embarrassed.

Her parents always wanted to adopt the new Dominican ball players, treating them for a time like one of their own children, doling out unsolicited advice and even scolding them on occasion. One guy who had wound up in the papers for driving intoxicated, her mother had grabbed by the ear when he came over for dinner one Sunday, telling him he had shamed his family.

“No, but I’ve considered that,” Eduardo said. “I would not want her to be unhappy. She has friends in San Pedro. And her church.”

“Yes. Very important. Do you go to Mass, Eduardo?”

“Mom,” Matt groaned. “Stop. Bad enough you strong-arm the rest of us into going.”

“I shouldn’t have to … what do you say … strong-arm you into church, Mateo. But …” Their mother threw up her hands in defeat. “But … you meet your Maker at the end. So it is your choice whether you meet him in a state of grace or not.”

“I go on holidays,” Eduardo said, smiling politely. “Not much more than that, to be honest. And usually, I was strong-armed as well.”

“You young people today …” Standing up, her mother looked at Dylan who also stood. “Time for our chaca, Dylan?”

Her mother and sister-in-law headed for the kitchen and the little ones followed, lured by the promise of a sweet dessert. Her brothers and father continued talking among themselves and Xiomara leaned in to finish what remained on her plate now that she was freed from coercing Pedro into eating his own meal.

“How about you?” Eduardo asked.

Miri felt her face warm when he addressed her directly. The heat spread down her neck and to her belly. “What about me?”

“Do you often go to Mass?”

“No.” She shook her head. “Not often.”

Eduardo smiled, and she couldn’t figure out what that smile meant. What conclusion was he drawing from the fact that she too, had to be forced to Mass? Although why she should care about the conclusions he drew was beyond her.

“Are you staying tonight, Miri?” Mark asked from the head of the table.

“No. Too difficult to get to work on time from here.”

“God forbid you should be a little late to your high-powered job as a proofreader,” Matt smirked.

“High-powered or not, they expect me to be on time,” Miri snapped.

She hated it when her brothers treated her like she was a flibbertigibbet. She was doing what most people did after college—working at a job that paid the bills until she could figure out her next move. But she supposed the fact that her job didn’t actually pay the bills was part of what caused them to ridicule her.

After she graduated, Mark had continued depositing almost fifteen-hundred a month into her checking account. Of all her brothers, he was the one who would have had standing to inquire about when she was going to “get serious” about her life, and yet he did not. Matt and Peter on the other hand were relentless in their quest to prove her a spoiled brat. Like either of them had a leg to stand on.

Mark had bankrolled Matt’s new venture, a baseball camp for Little Leaguers; and Peter’s auto body shop that specialized in tricking-out luxury cars for irresponsible athletes and hedge-fund millionaires with too much disposable income on their hands. And just because both businesses were doing well, they conveniently forgot that it wasn’t their own ingenuity that had led to their success, but Mark’s money and good reputation. Although Acosta was a common name, the family resemblance to their famous brother opened lots of doors.

“So I’ll take you home after we’re done eating,” Mark said, smoothly avoiding yet another sibling squabble by bringing the conversation back to the matter at hand. “I need to take Duardo anyway.”

“Or you could take us to the train,” Eduardo suggested, unexpectedly. “I’d like to see what that’s like.”

Mark hesitated. “I think Dylan would kill me if I dropped you at the train station, man.”

“I would prefer it,” Eduardo said, more firmly this time. “So long as …” He looked at Miri. “So long as I have a guide to make sure I am not lost.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Miri saw that Matt was smirking again.

“Sure,” Miri said, feeling a tremor in her voice that she hoped no one else could hear. “I’ll be your guide.”

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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