COMING DECEMBER 15th: ‘MOTHER’

The final part of the trilogy, ‘Mistress’, ‘Wife’, ‘Mother’ …

Keisha final excerpt

Excerpt:

A couple months after Jay and Keisha were married, when the Friday lunches were still a new thing, Chloe suggested they go somewhere “nice” for lunch and that Keisha should dress up. She’d found someone to babysit Gabby for the afternoon and said she was eager to get out of ‘Mommy-mode” so Keisha was happy to indulge her. But then they’d both shown up in dramatically different outfits. Comically different, in fact.

Keisha had worn high heels and very skinny jeans with a similarly close-fitting blouse. Dramatically made up with penciled-in brows and a dark lip-stain, she thought she looked pretty damn fierce when she left the house. Chloe on the other hand wore khakis and loafers; with a pink button-down and a dark brown fitted blazer, the look was tasteful, minimalist. Barely wearing lipstick and a little blush, her hair was tied back in a chaste knot and she looked like she was ready to lunch at a country club.

As she surveyed herself in the ladies room mirror later that afternoon, Keisha reflected that she on the other hand looked like someone trying to look sophisticated rather than someone who truly was. A phrase as simple as “dress up” meant completely different things to her than it had to Chloe. Keisha thought, as she looked at her reflection, that she looked like … trash.

Back home, she found Jay, reclining on their sofa having left the store early to work out and kick back for a Friday night in. When he looked up to ask how the afternoon date had gone, all Keisha could do was lift his arm, wedge herself in next to him, bury her face in his still damp chest and cry, hot and silent tears. He’d asked her over and over what was wrong, but she couldn’t even form the right words to explain, only finding the energy to reassure him that his sister hadn’t been mean to her or anything. Eventually, he’d stopped asking; and she finally stopped crying, but only once Jay had spent long minutes kissing her forehead, stroking her back and saying, “shh, baby, shh, shh.”

SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘Mother’

 

Mother cover mistress FINAL

From ‘MOTHER’ coming Summer 2014

No.”

The word was out before Keisha could stop it. Before she’d even completely thought it. And from the look on Jayson’s face, it surprised him, too.

“No?”

“I mean …”

“You don’t want to?”

“I meant not now,” Keisha amended. “Just not now, that’s all.”

Ignoring the hints had been simple enough, especially since she was sure he couldn’t possibly be serious. They’d been married less than a year, and things were still up in the air, with his new business, her new career.

“I don’t mean now either,” Jay said. “I meant maybe in a year or so. But you’re taking those shots and that’s for like, three months, right? What if we decide to do it sooner?”

And so there it was.

He might say he didn’t want babies now. He might think he didn’t want babies now. But once she wasn’t taking her Depo shots, all bets would be off.

Keisha lifted her eyes from her plate and focused instead on her husband. Standing in front of the fridge, reaching in for orange juice turning to pour them both glasses, he had no clue that he’d just dropped an atom bomb.

Having babies was not something Keisha was willing to contemplate. They were something she hadn’t been forced to discuss before they were married and she’d been operating under the vain and foolish hope that somehow, she could avoid the subject for, say, the next thirty or more years ‘til she was too old to have them. But that wasn’t true either, because even before the ‘I do’s’ Jay had mentioned wanting sons and she’d easily avoided talking about it because neither of them had been confident about taking care of themselves let alone children.

“Tea or a cappuccino?”

Jay had moved on to making the hot breakfast beverages. Following their Saturday morning routine of eating early at their kitchen table and talking about their week, Keisha was going with him to the store.

Almost a year ago, Jay had acquired a small photo business in town, a modest place that was barely enough for him to eke out a living at. But now it was taking off, because he’d turned it into a photo studio where he took family portraits and vanity shots, booked events and did natural light photography of engaged couples and women seeking glamorous headshots for dating sites.

“Cappuccino.”

It was the only way Keisha was able to have caffeine—with frothy, warm milk that almost masked the taste. Jay had gotten her a machine for her twenty-sixth birthday, his attempt at a joke about her past as a barista in a Brooklyn coffee shop. The real gift had been four days in South Beach, a belated honeymoon in a resort where all their needs were taken care of from sun up to sundown. Hands down, those days had been the happiest of Keisha’s life—just her and her man, thinking about no one and nothing else, wrapped up in the newness of being married, and in each other. The way it was supposed to be.

After eleven months of marriage, Jayson Holmes was still the most incredible stroke of luck to have happened to her in her entire life. Every day began with her staring at him, and wondering at the cosmic mistake had led to her finding him, and having him fall in love with her, of all the women in the world who might have had him.

“So what d’you think?” Jay asked looking over his shoulder. “You stop taking the shots and then take the Pill instead so that if we want to get pregnant sooner, it’ll only be a month before we can try for real.”

“I don’t know,” Keisha said, shoveling a piece of toast in her mouth to avoid giving a full answer.

“Or,” Jay said, “we could just … roll the dice.”

At that, Keisha almost choked on her bread. She swallowed hard, now eager to get some words out, because that ridiculous suggestion could not go unanswered.

“We’re nowhere near ready for something like that. Your business just got off the ground, I’m going to …”

“But you’re assuming it would happen right away. Sometimes it takes a while. And I read that when you’ve been on the shots, it sometimes takes longer.”

“Where have you been reading stuff like that?”

“The internet. I looked it up.”

He’d been looking up stuff about going off birth control and conception times? Holy shit.

SAMPLE SUNDAY–From ‘Wife’ COMING SOON!

Wife Cover1f2You didn’t think I was done with Keisha, did you? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, get ‘Mistress‘ and get caught up before ‘Wife’ comes out later this winter.

SAMPLE SUNDAY is from ‘Wife’, COMING 2013!

Jayson was slowly extricating himself, sliding his arm from beneath Keisha’s head. She knew he was trying not to wake her because every Sunday evening it was the same thing—he had to drive back upstate, and she tried to persuade him to wait until morning. Then he would reason that it would make him late, she started a fight, and they sometimes parted on less-than-positive terms. Tonight, though, she’d promised herself not to be difficult about it. Instead she’d tried another approach—sex. Because she knew that he generally fell into a deep sleep afterwards, tonight Keisha had done her best to wear his ass out. Instead, she was worn out and Jayson still noticed the time and was now trying to make his getaway without the usual Sunday night dramatics.

“I’m not sleeping,” she said, just as he got to the edge of the bed and sat up. “So you may as well turn on the light and get dressed properly instead of sneaking out with your boots in your hand.”

Jay turned to look at her. “Don’t say it like that. I’m not sneaking out. You know I’ve got work first thing.”

“I hate that stupid job.” Keisha sat up, pulling the sheet up to cover her chest, and flipped on the lamp next to the bed.

Turning the lights out was to have helped ease Jay into Dreamland, but it hadn’t worked.

“That stupid job pays the bills,” he said, getting up and heading into the bathroom. He was still naked as a jaybird.

Keisha smiled. Naked as a Jay-Bird.

Every time she saw him naked, she couldn’t believe he was hers. It felt . . . indecent, that someone should be as lucky as she was, to have a man like that all to herself. And it wasn’t just the looks, either. Jay was that mythical creature that most women didn’t even believe existed—the total package. Not just handsome, he was also smart, ambitious, loyal, caring, and damned good in bed. That he would want her, after the things she’d done, was a minor miracle.

They’d met almost two years ago, when she made a temporary move back to her father’s house, displacing Jay from her old bedroom, which her father had rented to him. She was in a bad place and so was Jayson, having fairly recently gotten out of prison for a ten-year armed robbery beef. But even that hadn’t dimmed Jay’s appeal. Compared to the life she’d been living, as a mistress to wealthy, much older men, he seemed like an angel. And that’s what he’d turned out to be. He hadn’t saved her, but he sure as hell helped her save herself.

SAMPLE SUNDAY: Mistress

AurelleBefore and after her run-in with Shawn from ‘Commitment‘, Keisha had her own story. This is it . . .

This is a sample from ‘Mistress: A Novella’.

Keisha Crawford was worried. Sitting cross-legged on her bed, she spread out in front of her, all of value that she owned in the world. The jewelry probably totaled somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred thousand, but that only mattered if she was willing to part with any of it. Like most men, Charlie had been very generous when it came to “things.” Actual cash he’d been a little more squirrelly about. Now that she thought about it, he’d probably only ever given her about five thousand dollars in cash. Sure, he would take her shopping, let her spend whatever she wanted, which he charged on his black card; he would pay for vacations for her and her friends, he paid her mortgage, and bought her gifts but rarely if ever did he give her cash.

Getting cash hadn’t been that important, and to be honest, Keisha preferred that there not be an exchange of money. It would have made her feel like a whore, and she was not a whore. Charlie, like the boyfriends who had gone before him, simply wanted to take care of her, and she was willing to let him do it.  The age difference hadn’t mattered at all, even though they raised a couple of eyebrows when they were out together. Once a waiter had asked Charlie whether he and his granddaughter wanted another bottle of wine with their dinner. Keisha could have sworn he’d smirked when he said it, the bastard. Anyone who’d been paying a moment’s attention would have known that she wouldn’t be hanging onto her grandfather the way she’d been hanging onto Charlie.

But all that was over now. Charlie was dead, and Keisha would have to fend for herself. She guessed that she had about three weeks maximum and it would be goodbye penthouse apartment, goodbye 24-hour concierge, and goodbye weekly mani-pedis, exclusive gym membership . . .

She couldn’t think about it all now, it was too depressing.

One week after his death Charlie’s family already had begun sorting out his affairs. This morning she’d gotten a very disturbing phone call. It was his daughter, Beth. Charlie had spoken of her often and with pride. She was one year older than Keisha and an attorney at a very prestigious law firm in the city. She had sounded on the phone just as Keisha would have expected: cool and haughty.

“Might I ask to whom I’m speaking?” she said when Keisha answered the phone.

“You called me,” Keisha said. “Who are you?”

“I’m Elizabeth Staynor,” she said. “I’m calling because, as I’m sure you know, my father has died.  And in looking through his papers I came across information about this apartment which he purchased in my name. I called the building and was told that it is occupied. They transferred me up to you.”

Keisha had been struck dumb. She remembered clearly the day Charlie had brought her here for the first time.

Look what I got you, Bunny, he’d said. A place of your own.

She’d never examined or asked what that meant, “a place of your own.” She honestly hadn’t believed he bought it in her name—it was a million-dollar piece of real estate after all—but she couldn’t have imagined he’d put it in Beth’s name either. Especially since he wouldn’t have wanted anyone in his family to know about her.

“Are you there?” Beth Staynor asked.

“Yes, I’m here.”

“I’m not going to inquire into the nature of your relationship with my father. I can imagine, though that it was something my mother need not know about. My strong suggestion is that you take the next two days to empty the space of your belongings—and I do mean empty—and find another place to live.”

Keisha cleared her throat. “You really think that’s what Charlie would have wanted?”

“Don’t you dare . . .” Beth Staynor raised her voice for a moment then seemed to think better of it. “Don’t you dare imply that you know what my father would have wanted. His putting the apartment in my name is ample evidence of what he wanted. Whatever services you performed for him will no longer be needed. You have two days.”

And then the line went dead.

Keisha had no intention of leaving in two days. She would stay until she was forced to leave, and as far as she could guess, it would be a few weeks before that happened. Charlie’s funeral was on Saturday according to the obituary in the paper. Lots of powerful people from around the country would be flying in for what was sure to be a huge event. Then the family would have to have a reception or a dinner to host some of the more important guests. Then there would be meetings with lawyers and boards of directors and the staff of his many companies. Keisha’s guess was that Beth Staynor would be way too occupied to worry about her anytime soon.

But that didn’t solve the problem at hand, which was that she very little money, and no job. In her checking account, she had about seven hundred dollars. In her purse, maybe another five hundred, and that was it. Not even enough to make a deposit on a decent place to live if she needed to. Keisha wondered whether Beth had gotten around to closing out Charlie’s accounts at all the restaurants around town. She could probably eat out a few times at places where they knew her as Charlie’s girl but how long would that last? Less than a week, certainly. Charlie was not exactly low-profile; everyone in the business world and high society were talking about his death. He had fallen over at the eleventh hole on Shinnecock Hills on Southampton and been declared dead before the ambulance even arrived.

At sixty-three, he’d been relatively young, and by far the youngest of all Keisha’s recent boyfriends. Ironic that he would have been the one to die on her. And she’d really been starting to like him, too. She met him at the Met Costume Institute Gala which she was attending with Stewart Lawson. Stewart was a venture capitalist and her friend Avery’s boyfriend. But Avery had the flu and had been happy to let Keisha take her place for one night. Stewart was seventy-three and looked like that old-time movie actor, David Niven. Keisha suspected he was gay and only wanted Avery around as a beard, but she didn’t mind filling that role for an evening, especially since it meant going to so exclusive an event.

Keisha’s own boyfriend had begun to tire of her. She knew it because he was calling less, and had forgotten on two occasions to pay her rent. When she’d called to remind him, he had been short with her. The last time he came to visit, he hadn’t even been interested in sex, so Keisha knew her days were numbered. He had found someone else, it was clear, but perhaps had not yet made his move. His drawing away meant that Keisha needed to find a new benefactor.

At the ball, Avery’s boyfriend had practically ignored her. As wealthy as he was, he was still starstruck and wandered off every few minutes to meet some actress of actor who caught his eye, leaving Keisha standing alone and feeling foolish. Charlie had been standing alone as well and when their eyes met at one point, he raised his champagne glass to her. Keisha returned the gesture and smiled her most winning smile. Charlie approached and she straightened her back, presenting her chest in its best light.

“These things are a crashing bore, aren’t they?” he said.

“Depends on who you’re with, I suppose,” Keisha said.

“Well, who are you with?” Charlie asked leaning in closer.

Keisha indicated where Stewart, a few feet away, was having his photo taken with Anna Wintour.

“Stewart Lawson,” he laughed. “You can do a lot better than that.”

“Oh can I?”

“Yes,” Charlie said. “You can.”

That very night, Keisha had blown him in the back of his Bentley. Then she’d reapplied her lipstick and gone back to the party. She expected that he would want to screw her but not much more than that.  But he called her and took her to dinner the next evening and within a week he had moved her out of her apartment and to the penthouse. In the first three months, it was clear that she was not his only mistress— he seemed to be dividing his time between her and at least one other woman, but she didn’t care, just so long as she was being taken care of.  Once Keisha Googled him however, she realized she would be foolish not to try to get him for herself so she upped the ante, exerting a little more effort to be sexually creative, surprising him with role plays and greeting him at the door stark naked, silly little tricks like that.

But it worked.

Soon, Charlie was spending every free moment with her and showering her with so many gifts, it became unusual for him to show up empty-handed. He had begun modestly enough, with a five thousand dollar Tiffany Grace drop pendant, but by the time he died, the last gift he had given her was a twenty-five thousand dollar necklace. He always got the jewelry from Tiffany, though Keisha always secretly hoped he would move to something even higher end.

Now, Keisha scooped up her jewelry and put it all back into the cases in her walk-in closet. Spinning around, she realized something else she’d overlooked. She had to have tens of thousands of dollars in designer clothes. There were lots of consignment shops around the city that would pay her well for some of this stuff, much of it not yet worn.  And the furniture in the apartment could also command a good price – Charlie had gone all out with the decorating, giving her a budget that was known only to him and the designer. But Keisha could not recall being told that anything she liked was too expensive. So ultimately, she was fairly well-off. She just needed a place to live. There was one place that was a sure bet. It was her last resort, and she need not consider it right now so she wouldn’t.

Instead, she got showered and dressed and headed over to Avery’s. Avery had had a boyfriend die on her once before. She would know what to do.