Thursday Teaser: Ivy’s League – AVAILABLE NOW.

Ivy bed promo flat largeFrom ‘Ivy’s League’:

“Eli … stop. You know I can’t stay any longer. Your mother’s going to be here any minute with …” Ivy gasped at the sensation as his tongue made contact. She was already incredibly sensitive and a little sore from the night before.

But god that felt good …

Eli …” She looked down at the mound that was his head, moving beneath the sheets; and almost of their own volition, her legs spread wider, instead of closing which was what her brain had instructed them to do.

Her overnight stay had been unscheduled and unplanned, taking place after a Woodmore Praise Chapel during which both their kids had performed. Gavin attended, and afterwards asked whether Jaden could spend the night, and so with a couple of hasty text messages to Eli, Ivy inveigled him to make similar arrangements for Zion if he could. Then there was a speed-race down the Capital Beltway to his house, where they both barely got in the door before he was on her. Ivy’s face was pressed against the wall, her pants unceremoniously yanked down, and her underwear ripped until it was a useless rag.

But the interlude was destined to be brief because it was a weekday morning and Zion was on his way back here with his grandmother to get dressed for school; and Ivy had to run home and pack a bag for Jaden and meet his father in the parking lot at Woodmore to hand them over since this was his weekend.

The sun had not yet risen and it was bitterly cold. Around Eli’s house, there were several mature trees, and though few of them still bore leaves, Ivy could hear the wind through the branches, making it difficult for her to come to complete wakefulness. The last thing she wanted was to leave this bed, and this man who now was sliding up along the length of her body, his hand on her inner thigh, stroking and coaxing.

“One more time,” he breathed.

“Eli, we can’t.”

“One more,” he said again.

He nudged against her, and Ivy realized that he wasn’t wearing a condom. He froze, and that was when she knew he realized the omission too. They were face to face now, and their eyes met. Eli’s held a question. Without saying a word, Ivy answered him, arching slightly upward off the bed and allowing him to slide deep inside her.

Damn you feel good,” he said, pushing even deeper and clutching her ass with both hands.

Ivy pulled her knees toward her chest and wrapped her legs high up and around his back. Eli increased his pace, thrusting hard and long and deep. The pressure and pleasure and rhythm all rolled into one delectable and indescribable sensation, and Ivy’s eyes lost focus.

“You with me, baby?” Eli asked breathlessly, sounding, Ivy thought, a little panicky.

That was quick, and unlike him. But she could certainly relate. Without the latex barrier, every feeling was so much more … vivid. Eli was about to come. He didn’t want to do it without her, and from experience Ivy knew he would hold out to the point of discomfort to avoid it.

Through her pleasure, she smiled. Oh Eli, she thought, this macho bullshit has got to stop.

Struggling to focus, she raised her head and licked his earlobe, then took it between her lips and gently sucked, tugging it once, twice, and then …

“Goddammit!” Eli grunted and went stiff as a board. For the first time, Ivy felt his release deep inside her. It felt right, the way their lovemaking was supposed to be. She clenched tighter, pulling him in and holding him there.

She opened her eyes still smiling, but Eli was not.

“I told you don’t do that!” he hissed.

Ivy giggled.

AVAILABLE NOW. #2 AA Literary Fiction.

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SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘The Come Up’ — AVAILABLE NOW!

ComeUpMicCoverflat

FROM ‘THE COME UP’:

When she was gone, Jamal exhaled a deep sigh and leaned back in his seat. No one could ever accuse him of lacking self-control where women were concerned, ever again. The good news was, she seemed not to recall much of the evening beyond the fact that she had too much to drink. If she had, she would know that she wasn’t the only person who had skirted dangerously close to losing their head.

After the first couple drinks, Jamal stopped having alcohol altogether. He had to drive himself home, after all. And he had to make sure she got home okay as well. But Makayla kept right on guzzling whatever he ordered. And once she loosened up, she started talking, about school, about her love affair with the entertainment business and even about a girl group she tried to start when she was in middle school, called the Hellcats.  And she was hella-cute when she was tipsy, often leaning in close so he could hear her, and flipping a couple of those locs out of her face as she talked, the gesture fluid and sexy. Her scent was one Jamal recognized, called Clean. And that was how she smelled. Clean. If she was a date and not an employee, he would have closed the distance between them, met her halfway and buried his face in the crook of her neck, inhaling her and kissing her there …

What the hell? He was doing it again!

With each successive drink last night, Makayla’s eyes grew brighter and she got chattier, and before he knew it, he was seriously feeling her, like any other woman he might have met during a night out, sneaking peeks down the front of her romper which gapped a little in the front and offered up brief glimpses of cleavage. And it wasn’t just the occasional sightings of the swell of her breasts, either. It was her humor, her intelligence and the way she obviously studied the entertainment business, just like he studied it. Makayla Hughes was definitely a thinking man’s kind of woman. Sexy he could get any day of the week, but sexy and smart … there was no greater aphrodisiac.

The thing that almost did him in entirely was when she started talking about why groups like N-Sync got so hot.

See, she said, leaning in tantalizingly close once again. It’s the transference of feelings white teen girls have for Black teen boys. So you’ve got your Nick Carters and Justin Timberlakes, right? All blonde and All-American, but they have a little Black boy swagger in ‘em, right? And that, my friend, makes it socially-acceptable for these little white girls to lie in bed and secretly touch themselves to whatlet’s face itis essentially Black music

Jamal almost spat his drink out, he laughed so hard.

Just listening to her break things down like that—smart as a whip even when she was damn near close to drunk—made his dick hard. Jamal had to excuse himself for a minute and go give himself a pep-talk in the men’s room, reminding himself that she was off-limits for a whole host of reasons, and that he had a perfectly nice thing he was getting started with whatshername who was closer to his age-bracket, very attractive her-damn-self, and probably just as smart as Makayla. He spent almost fifteen minutes mentally talking himself down until it bordered on ill-mannered to have left her alone for so long.

But when he got back to their table, she was nowhere in sight. His head whipping around in near-panic thinking she’d wandered off in her semi-drunken state, Jamal finally spotted her. Leaning over the balcony and looking down at the dance floor, she was being chatted up by a brother in too-tight jeans and a crewneck shirt. And since he had no reason like Jamal did, to restrain himself, he was leaning real close to Makayla and she was yucking it up with him like they were old friends. Jamal watched for a few moments, taking in her smile, her posture and the way she flipped those locs out of her face. A moment’s masculine competitiveness overtook him and he was seconds away from going to get her when she turned and saw him.

When she did, Makayla touched her companion on the arm and indicated that their time together was over, making her way back over to him, still smiling and with a fresh drink in hand.

Do you know who that was? she asked in an incredulous stage-whisper. Victor Cruz from the New York Giants!

Never heard of him, Jamal lied.

Makayla giggled. She was so freaking adorable when she giggled.

Me neither. But I figured he’s a pro-football player so that has to count for something, right?

Nah. Jamal said staring down at her. It doesn’t count for shit.

And that was the moment, right then—him looking down at her, her smiling up at him, both of them standing so close, ostensibly so they could hear each other over the music. Jamal leaned in, she lifted her chin … and sneezed. Right in his face. They both laughed in surprise.

Makayla reached up and with a cool damp hand, wiped both his cheeks, giggling some more.

Oh my god, she said. Did I get you?

Nah, he said. You didn’t get me.

But almost.

NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘ The Come Up’ — COMING MARCH 14.

Makaylapromo2From ‘The Come Up’:

“Don’t you want to know what happened?” she asked.

“Nope.”

“Really?”

Jamal saw out of the corner of his eye that she had turned in her seat to look at him. “Really.”

“How come?”

Pulling out of traffic and onto a side-street, he hit the button above his visor that opened his building’s private garage. As they pulled down the ramp, Makayla seemed momentarily distracted, looking around the well-lit expanse in the underbelly of one of Manhattan’s most exclusive addresses. The apartment was expensive, no doubt about that, but the parking space was as well. In New York City, off-street parking was among the most prime of prime real estate.

“So how come you’re not curious about what happened when I went upstairs?” Makayla asked again.

“Because I’ve seen it a million times. I know that scenario so well, I could write the script.” He backed into the numbered parking space that was mere steps away from the elevator. Its location had been one of the main selling points, and had set him back an extra ten grand over some of the other spaces would have, but Jamal still considered it money well-spent.

“That’s kind of sad.”

“What is?”

“What these guys do to their women. Just because they can. All the cheating and lying. And y’know what the saddest part was?”

Jamal turned off the engine and gave her his complete focus. “What was the saddest part?”

“I could tell she didn’t believe me. She knew I was lying about it being my bag, but she chose to accept it. It was almost like she wanted me to tell the lie.”

Jamal shrugged. “Maybe she did. Because then it gives her the excuse she needs to stay.”

At that, Makayla said nothing, looking straight ahead.

“C’mon, let’s go up,” Jamal said, touching her arm. “Forget about all that.”

While they rode up in the elevator, Makayla remained quiet and Jamal wondered whether he’d made a mistake by exposing her so early to the seedier side of their work. This wasn’t the first time he had helped one of his artists out of a jam when they were deceiving a spouse. In fact, this was one of the tamest episodes he’d ever been involved in; and it was only because he knew the spouse in question that he was able to send Makayla up there on her own. Some women were considerably less reasonable and much more prone to violence. Once, he had personally had to talk down the knife-wielding fiancée of a top ten recording artist while she threatened to “slice his Johnson off.”

Three-Base’s domestic drama wasn’t the worst Jamal had seen by a longshot, but he was definitely a serial offender in the game of adultery; and Makayla was right, Missy wanted to be lied to. She made a lot of noise about her husband’s infidelities, but had yet to make even the slightest gesture toward separation. In fact, the few times he’d been caught red-handed, her way of coping had been to slam the other woman on social media. It was hard to maintain sympathy for a woman in a situation like that.

In the hallway leading to his apartment, Makayla walked slowly, so Jamal modulated his pace to match hers. Tonight at the book party, he wanted to spend a lot more time with her, but it was a work event, so there were about a dozen people he needed to touch base with. While he did, he couldn’t help but watch her across the room. She spent most of her time with Devin, both of them obviously thick as thieves, talking with heads together and laughing at private jokes. Occasionally, someone approached Devin and Makayla wandered away on her own, a drink in hand that she never actually took a single sip from that he could see, and an almost shy smile on her face.

She was still getting her legs under her in this world, and hadn’t yet come to realize that at events like that, she was supposed to be networking, introducing herself to people, and getting in with the right ones. Jamal would teach her all that in time.

“Here we are.”

He stopped at his door and fished out his keys while Makayla waited. Holding her clutch purse in both hands, Jamal could see the subtle lift and fall of her shoulders as she took a breath. She was nervous.

When the door opened, she paused before going in. Jamal watched her take it in. Immediately opposite the front door was the sitting area, flanked by a wall of windows, opening out to magnificent view of the Hudson. This view alone had sold Jamal on the place when he first looked at it. The price, then, had been somewhat out of his reach and the mortgage required him to forgo a lot of other stuff for a while, like furniture. For eighteen months, he’d lived in an apartment empty of furnishings except for a bed and dresser, just so he could come home to this view.

Makayla took a few steps in, and looked right and left. His living room was ultra-modern, with pieces in white and pewter. A white stacked slate fireplace was to the left, and behind it the kitchen. To the right, a long narrow hallway led to the two large bedroom suites, and an entertainment room where Jamal rarely entertained, but often sat with this laptop or tablet, or watching a solitary game. Though he had imagined his bachelor pad as teeming with people and parties, once he moved in, he found that he really wanted it to be his sanctuary. On occasion he had women over, but the parties never happened. His home was, thus far, his greatest accomplishment and he wasn’t eager to expose it to the uncertainties that came with a room full of rowdy guests.

Without waiting for his invitation, Makayla walked through the rooms, one by one, and Jamal silently followed her. She opened doors and looked in the bathrooms (all three of them), sat on his chairs and went to stare for a few moments out the living room window.

“Wow,” she said, when finally she had seen everything.

Jamal smiled.

“I never knew anyone who could afford to live like this in the middle of New York City.”

“I didn’t always live like this.” Jamal shrugged.

“I bet you’re happy you kicked your corporate law career to the curb, huh?”

“Yeah, but not because of the money. Or not just because of the money.” He headed for the kitchen, opening the refrigerator, and Makayla followed. “You want something to eat? They didn’t have much at that party.”

“What have you got?” She put a hand on his back as she leaned around him to peer into the open fridge.

Her hand on his back, exerting very slight pressure, the light scent of her perfume and just the awareness of her being here, in his space felt good. Jamal turned to face her and Makayla looked up at him, expectantly. Her eyes were wide, and large, her nostrils flared slightly and her lips fell apart a little as though she was about to speak. If that was what she intended, Jamal didn’t wait to find out. He kissed her. He couldn’t seem to stop doing that.

Sometimes their kisses were almost whimsical, like in the car earlier outside of Three-Base’s building. Sometimes they were exciting, and dangerous, like when he grabbed her in his office and stole some time before they had to go to a staff meeting. But now, this kiss, this was something else entirely. It was a prelude to something more, so Jamal took his time with it, tugging her lower lip between his, using the tip of his tongue to tease hers and letting her do the same. Both her hands were around him now, and she leaned her head to one side so they could kiss deeper, and harder.

Suddenly, a high-pitched whine broke the quiet and Makayla jerked away from him.

“It’s the fridge. It has a sensor for when the door’s left open,” he explained. Moving them away from it, he reached over to shut it but Makayla stopped him.

“I actually am hungry,” she said with a sly smile.

“Me too,” Jamal said, and she smiled wider, knowing that he wasn’t talking about food.

They made omelets with gruyere, diced tomatoes and onions, and when Jamal tried to go easy on the onions, Makayla playfully dumped more of them in. Jamal planned to take her into the entertainment room to eat but she instead wanted to go out to the balcony where they ignored the dinette and sat side by side on the same lounge chair. The chair was large but still, to accommodate them both, Makayla had to be partly reclined against his chest, which made it awkward for Jamal to eat, but he didn’t say anything because he liked having her there.

“So … about this whole thing with Three-Base,” Makayla said, while she dug into her omelet.

“Aw, man, are you still on that?”

“Yeah. I’m just curious. Don’t you ever feel … like you’re contributing to it, by being the alibi when those guys mess around on their women? Doesn’t it ever make you feel guilty?”

“Not really, no.”

“No?” Makayla turned a little so she could look at him.

The loc that he’d pulled from her bun earlier that evening had come free once again and was resting on her shoulder. Jamal reached for it, feeling its coarse thickness between his fingers. Her locs smelled like coconut.

“I don’t make them cheat. And whether I was there or not, that’s what they would be doing.”

“You sure about that?” she challenged. “If they didn’t know they had a clean-up crew, would they really be as brazen as they are?”

“I’m not the Morality Police. I’m a guy who develops artists, and does what he can to make sure nothing gets in the way of that development …”

“Or in the way of Scaife making money.”

Jamal shrugged. “That too, yeah.”

Makayla turned and leaned against him again, resuming her meal. Though she didn’t say anything, he could feel her disappointment, her judgment.

“If you’re thinking I condone what they do, that I’m cool with it, you would be wrong. If you’re thinking that because they do it, I would do it too …”

“Would you?” She turned and looked at him again.

“No.”

“I want to believe that,” she said finally.

“Look at me.”

She did.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said simply.

“You might not mean to,” Makayla said. “But …”

Jamal grinned. “How do I know you’re not going to hurt me?”

 

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.

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

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.