Silent Nights: Chapter 1 Sneak Peek

About the book:

It’s a career-making opportunity.

Summer has an invitation to ‘Black America’s Wedding of the Decade’ and wouldn’t miss it for the world. Deuce Scaife is finally marrying his college sweetheart Zora Diallo (an outcome that was never in doubt, by the way, except maybe to the two people getting married) and since there’ll be celebrities all over the event, it’s in an expensive, remote location and all very hush-hush.

As an up and coming blogger and YouTuber for a series called ‘The Black Girls’ Guide to Slaying at Absolutely Everything’ Summer’s stock will increase considerably if she documents her experience at the wedding celebrations.

But when an unforeseen obstacle presents itself, Summer realizes she can only go to the most exclusive of the wedding events if she shares accommodations with the insufferable Lloyd Winston. Lloyd is a conservative, stuffy wannabe politico who Summer is shocked even got an invite.

But whatever … she can tolerate him for one winter weekend, right?


Summer smiled when her cellphone rang and reached for it. Waiting through three more rings, she answered, taking a deep, silent breath and struggling to keep a neutral tone.

“What’s up, girl?”

“Don’t play with me, Summer. You picked up your mail yet?”

“Claudia, I had a long day,” she drawled. “I haven’t been back down to the mailbox. Why? Am I supposed to be getting something?”

Yes!” Claudia’s voice on the other end of the line was a shriek. “Are you serious? You didn’t get one?”

Summer squealed at a soprano pitch matching her best friend’s.

“I’m just messin’ with you! Yes! I got my invitation! I got my invitation …” She sang as she jumped onto her bed, bouncing up and down like it was a trampoline, even while the springs squeaked and protested. “We’re going to the wedding! We’re going to the wedding!”

Summer stopped screaming and jumping as a thought occurred to her.

“Wait. You did get one as well, right?”

“Yes! Thank god!” Claudia groaned. “Because you know only certain people got a plus-one and we are just not that important.”

“I’m not mad,” Summer said kissing her teeth. “I was never that tight with neither Deuce nor Zora, so if they want me at their wedding … I will go however they want me. Even if it means leaving you behind.”

“Who you think gon’ be there?” Claudia asked, taking on a conspiratorial tone. “You think K Smooth and Devin Parks …”

“Oh definitely. But I’m curious who else from Black Caucus might’ve gotten an invitation. I bet all the Penn State folks be stalkin’ their mail carriers this week.”

Claudia laughed. “Who cares about them? I’m just tryna meet me a rapper or a baller and have him take me away from this lower middle-class life.”

“Probably all Zora’s Black Lives Matter comrades will be there, huh?” Summer said, her mind beginning to whir. “Like Rashad Dixon maybe?”

“Deuce will not let Rashad Dixon within one hundred miles of his woman, dummy. Of course he’s not invited!”

Rashad Dixon, Zora’s ex-boyfriend, notoriously caused Deuce Scaife to lose his cool at some party and someone got beaten up, though Summer didn’t remember which of them it had been. The rumor at the time was that Deuce stole Zora from Rashad, but it was all very fuzzy now.

“I don’t know. Deuce doesn’t strike me as that petty. And also, he’s the one marrying her. I’m sure he’s unbothered by Rashad by now. But you’re right about all the stars …” Summer’s voice trailed off.

“Summer. No,” Claudia said. “I know what you’re thinkin’. Mess around and get that invitation revoked!”

“I would ask them first, obviously.”

“I don’t know. That’s kinda tacky. ‘Can I vlog about y’all’s wedding? Even though I don’t know why y’all invited me in the first place?’

“They invited me because I’m practically the reason they got back together.”

Claudia laughed. “Okay, Summer. Delusional much?”

“No, seriously. Deuce Scaife is big-time now. But when he was just …”

“When he was just … what? Chris Scaife’s son? He’s always been big-time, sis.”

“Fine. But he’s bigger time now. When I invited him to that mixer is when him and Zora reconnected. So …”

Christopher Scaife, Jr., aka “Deuce” was the eldest son of entertainment mogul, Chris Scaife, hitmaker and star-maker extraordinaire of the early 2000s. Not too many people had outlasted Chris Scaife’s game and now, his son was getting in on the business himself. Last year he had launched Gollum, a ragtag label that was beginning to make its name by signing African and European acts who had solid overseas fan bases, but little U.S. exposure. People were already beginning to use words like “inspired” and “genius in its simplicity” to describe Deuce Scaife’s approach to getting hits right out the gate for a fledgling company.

And now, Deuce was at long last marrying his college sweetheart Zora Diallo. Their unexpected love story had transfixed the Black community on their university campus while it was going on, because it was so darn unlikely. Not to mention filled with lots of college drama.

Zora was a modern-day, Senegalese American activist and Deuce had been, well, a hoe until she worked some kind of African juju on him. Whatever it was, homeboy was so obviously sprung that a wedding never seemed to be in doubt, except possibly to the two people who were now getting married.

Anyway, Deuce and Zora’s engagement had never even been announced because they weren’t those types of people who would assume the world needed to know. But the great big honker of a diamond ring that appeared on Zora’s left index finger about six months ago while Deuce squired her around town to his various industry events had attracted the attention of all the Black entertainment blogs.

Since then folks had been on watch for what was being dubbed Black America’s Wedding of the Decade.

In closer circles, among the Black Penn State alums, rumors had begun to circulate about six weeks ago that the big date was close. Word was, they wanted to do it during the holidays, because the press wasn’t as on top of things then, and most of the outlets would be preoccupied with compiling those lists of celebrities who had croaked during the year, or in pre-production hell for their glitzy Christmas specials.

Final confirmation came about two months ago when someone who knew someone who was kind of friendly with Asha Carter, Zora Diallo’s bestie and wife of Kal Carter, Deuce Scaife’s bestie, happened to have spoken to Asha who said she was coming East near the end of the year for an occasion she couldn’t miss. Now that in and of itself probably wasn’t that big a deal since Asha Carter was originally from New York and might have been coming to visit family, but then, according to this person, she said something like: God, I don’t know if I’m up to getting my picture taken and being all over blogs and stuff when I’m going to be one-hundred years pregnant and big as a barn.

And boom! That was it. The news spread like wildfire: Deuce and Zora were getting married and it was likely happening in December. Everyone who knew them even casually, and definitely all the Penn State alums in New York had been on the lookout for their invitation.

Summer didn’t know for sure she would be getting one, because while in university, Deuce had a tight circle or basically … one: Kaleem Carter. And the girls who penetrated that circle only had one way in. They were screwing either Kal or Deuce. Summer had done neither. And Zora she knew from having once been in a class with her. They had shared notes and chitchatted occasionally, but they weren’t exactly close.

But what Summer had done, was organize the alumni mixer where Deuce and Zora reconciled after a breakup.

Claudia knew Zora because she had once been roommates in a triple with Zora’s good friend Mia and attended a few of Zora’s Black Lives Matter events. Getting invitations to the wedding had been a longshot for them both, but apparently miracles did happen.

And if there was one miracle, why not press for two?

“Who wouldn’t want to be featured on my vlog?” Summer said almost to herself.

“They’re having a winter wedding because they want to maintain their privacy,” Claudia enunciated. “Why would they consent to be on your vlog?”

“I wouldn’t have them come on personally—unless they wanted to, which I seriously doubt they would—I would just sort of … document my prep for their wedding, and maybe do a couple recordings while I’m there …”

“Summer. Do not ask them that,” Claudia warned.

“I have to …”

Summer …”

“I have to, Claudia! How am I going to ever be successful at this business if I don’t want to take risks?”

“Okay, do you. But do not put my name in it. If they take away your invitation, I’m pretending I don’t know you.”

“They’re not going to take away my invitation,” Summer said laughing.

“So you’re really gon’…”

“Yes. I think I might have Zora’s number around here somewhere, otherwise I’ll hit her up on Facebook. I’ll just ask her to coffee and make my pitch.”

“Okay. Well, lemme leave you to your self-destructive behavior. I’m about to go online and start looking for dresses.”


Zora came striding in, pausing at the door for a moment to shake some of the wet off her coat. She was wearing a gray beanie, pulled down over her ears from which long braids escaped, trailing down her shoulders and back. She stood, looking around for a moment, then spotted Summer and waved, coming toward her.

“I went to the wrong one,” Zora said, sounding slightly breathless. She rolled her eyes. “Did you know there’s another Starbucks just four blocks from here? Who does that?”

Summer laughed and stood to hug her briefly. “Well, New Yorkers need their caffeine, I guess. Want to go get something before you sit?”

“Yes. Definitely,” Zora said. “Back in a sec.”

As she shed her shearling coat and draped it over the back of the other chair at the table, Summer couldn’t help but notice The Ring.

“You want anything else?” Zora indicated Summer’s coffee cup.

“Nope. All good.”

Pear-shaped, brilliant, and two-and-a-half carats, Summer estimated.

Jeez, how did a Columbia Law student walk around all day wearing that? Wasn’t she afraid of getting robbed? Not that she was likely to be taking the number 1 Local anymore these days.

Watching Zora stand in line, Summer wondered whether she had any clue how much her life was about to change. Of course she did. It had already changed probably.

She and Deuce were practically joined at the hip. Zora was in just about every picture of him online, and if not, his arm was extended and holding a woman’s hand, darker in complexion that his which meant Zora was probably there, just out of frame. Seeing those pictures—and in fairness, not just pictures of Deuce and Zora, but pictures of all happy Black couples—Summer felt a deep gnawing in the pit of her stomach. She wanted that. For half a minute, she thought she had that.

With Aiden. That asshole, Aiden who had crushed her so badly, she quit her gig at HarperCollins to avoid seeing him every day. He was still there, still working his hustle, trying to discover the next big deal young adult author of color. And she had retreated, tail between her legs and pretended that starting her YouTube series and blog was a long-planned dream finally, joyfully coming to fruition.

The truth was, if she didn’t seriously monetize both the blog and online series in the next four months, she was going to have to move home to Queens. And if there was something she didn’t want to do, it was move home to Queens. Her mother still had her bedroom waiting. That’s how confident she was that Summer didn’t know what the heck she was doing with her life.

“Okay. I’m back.”

Zora sat down across from her, and Summer smelled the scent of pumpkin spice wafting in her direction. She loved fall. But winter was going to be so much more exciting if she could pull this off. Exclusive background on the Zora Diallo-Deuce Scaife wedding would easily double her subscribers.

“I’ll cut to the chase,” Summer said, assuming her businesslike, student council president mien. “I was beyond shocked to get an invitation to your wedding.”

Zora looked surprised, widening her catlike brown eyes.

They made her look—there was no way around the use of the word—exotic. And add to that, those high, sharp, enviable cheekbones and pouty, plum-colored lips? She looked like the freaking Princess of Wakanda. No wonder Deuce was so obsessed with her.

That was how everyone described it when they were all back at school: He’s obsessed with her. There’d been a little undercurrent of jealousy, of course.

“You helped get me and Deuce back together,” Zora said matter-of-factly. “Of course we’d invite you.”

Summer tried not to give a smug smile. Wait till she told Claudia. Straight from the horse’s mouth.

“Well I’m flattered you did,” she said. “But there’s something I want to run by you.”

“Sure. What’s up?”

“I don’t know if you know I have a YouTube channel. And a blog.”

Zora shook her head. “I didn’t know that. Cool. What’re they about?”

“It’s lifestyle stuff mostly. They’re called, The Black Girls’ Guide to Slaying at Absolutely Everything.”

Zora laughed. Not as ridicule but in delight. “That’s perfect! Oh my god, that’s completely you. How many subscribers so far?”

“Almost three-hundred thousand. Not great, but I started only four months ago.” Summer shrugged.

“That’s pretty cool.”

“And …” she drawled, then bit her lower lip. “Here’s the thing. The crux of it is documenting my life, talking about just daily stuff, like where to get the best purses, when cool sample sales are happening … how to make your blowout last longer …”

“Sounds like fun. I’m gonna look you up,” Zora said, sipping her drink.

“And I also talk about parties and events I go to,” she added.

Zora looked at her blankly for a few seconds then leaned back in her chair. “Oh.”

“I don’t want you to feel like I’m exploiting our …” She hesitated to say ‘friendship’. All that would do was draw Zora’s attention to the fact that what they had wasn’t precisely that. “I don’t want to exploit the access I have …”

“But …?” Zora prompted.

“I’d like your permission to talk about your wedding on my vlog. And write about it on my blog.”

Zora was already shaking her head. “Summer. I don’t know. Deuce really hates hype. I mean, really hates it. And we want the wedding to be … personal, y’know? It’s bad enough we have like two hundred people coming.”

“I’m shocked you were able to keep it that small,” Summer said. “Especially since you invited randos like me and …”

She stopped, remembering Claudia’s admonition to not mention her name.

Zora laughed. “You hardly a rando. Penn State is where Deuce and I met, where we fell in love … You, and a whole bunch of other people were part of that tableau. So …” She shrugged. “We want you there.”

That description—of her and others being part of their relationship tableau—almost made Summer feel badly about pressing her point.

“This wouldn’t be hype, Zora. I promise. It would be talking about how to prepare for a celebrity event …”

“Celebrity.” Zora rolled her eyes.

“I can guess at some of your guest list. Let’s not be in denial about the fact that this is going to be an A-list event.”

Zora sighed. “I guess. But Deuce and I … We just want to be married already. And all of this is for other people to begin with, so … And also, you know who his father is, Summer. I mean, I just don’t …”

“Okay, how about if I write up some parameters for what I plan to talk about? And then you can run it by Deuce. And you two can talk to your publicists or whatever, and …”

“Our publicists?” Zora almost spat her latte across the table. “We don’t have a publicist.”

“Then better yet. If you want to get some lower key buzz, what better way than to use an unknown vlogger?”

Zora shook her head and smiled. “You’re persuasive, I’ll give you that.”

Summer said nothing, knowing to leave well enough alone when Zora was actually smiling at her.

“Email me your … parameters,” Zora said finally. “And I’ll talk to Deuce. I mean, there’ll be all these other people there, Summer. People who want their privacy maintained. Not just me and Deuce. So, I think he’s going to have to make that call.”

“I understand. And I respect that. I’ll take that into consideration when I draw up the guidelines.”

Sighing, Zora reached for her cup again and clasped it in both hands. She nodded.

“Cool.”

“Cool,” Summer echoed, trying not to look too pleased with herself. “Now tell me … besides being the bride in Black America’s Wedding of the Decade, what else is new?”

Zora made a gagging sound.

“Well, parameter number one? Please do not call it that.”

Summer shrugged. “Don’t shoot the messenger.”


COMING SOON!!

New Release! The Wanderer

Wanderer - High ResolutionHere’s the deal with 2018. I decided to write with no fear. You ever meet a writer who says they know their stuff is really good, then one of two things is almost certain to be true:

  1. They’re projecting confidence they don’t entirely feel (i.e., they lyin’); or
  2. they’re not as good as they think they are

Writing is a fearful, fetal-position-at-3am-sobbing-into-your-pillow kind of thing, believe me. Sometimes I write a paragraph I love. Sometimes I write a book I like a lot. I have never, never, ever written an entire book I loved. That’s the high I’m chasing. I feel like it might take me a lifetime to get there.

The fear is what makes me write slower than I might otherwise write, and also, strangely, release things on impulse, almost to purge them from my head and set them out into the world where, occasionally people will validate how terrible I thought they were to begin with. And sometimes people will tell me I was mistaken, and it wasn’t terrible after all. Of course, the latter is by far the preferred outcome. Fear of the former stunts you. I think you have to fail a lot in order to succeed.

So, this year , I made myself a promise. I would write more, write more carefully, and write without fear. By that I mean, I’m going to write entirely what I feel, and just let it go. I think, I’ve done that periodically, but not nearly as often as I would have liked to. So this novella, one of my ‘Shorts’ is where I’m marking time with that. If things I release, sound and feel different, if you sense I’m going someplace really different for a minute with a book, or series of books it’s probably true. But ride it out with me … I think we’re going to have fun.

Oh, and ‘The Wanderer’ is available now! Check it out, exclusively on Amazon.

NEW RELEASE! ‘THE MAKEOVER’

This is my first release of 2018, y’all! It was a really fun but in some ways tough one to write. I’m not sure I’ve ever tried to do a book (that isn’t a sequel), where the couple is very much in love from page one, and have a long, rich, shared history. They’re also just regular people in that they had happy home lives, no deep, dark secret or significant trauma to work through, but just usual ‘couple-stuff’ — information that shouldn’t have been withheld, feelings that they don’t fully understand or explain, and a litany of advice from various friends and family, sometimes sending them off course. That was the fun part of writing ‘The Makeover’.

Writing un-tortured souls is new for me, so that was the tough part. But I thought I’d give it a shot, especially as a counterpoint to all the negativity that seems to be out there in the world lately. I wanted to do something fun, and light and easy to digest. I hope I succeeded, and I hope you check out — and enjoy–‘The Makeover’.

Here’s a sample, to whet your appetite!

Happy Reading!

N.

A Modern Love Story

From ‘The Makeover’:

“So,” Sam began. She had taken her favorite spot in her large brown suede armchair that had seen better days, and curled her legs beneath her. “What was all the cock-blocking about?”

Colt almost tripped over the coffee table, before sinking onto the sofa. “What?

“I wanted to stay, Colton. And you just barged into my conversation and …”

“Wait. Hold up. When you say cock-blockin’ you mean you were about to go home with that nigga?”

“Don’t say that word.” Sam closed her eyes and shook her head. “You know I hate it when you use that word.”

“Okay, fine. Lemme rephrase that. You were about to go home with that knocka? That clown. That …”

“I get your point. And probably not, but you didn’t know that! What if I were to come up to you and Bambi and drag on your shirttail and mess things up for you?”

“I wouldn’t have thought about it that way. If you wanted to jet, that would be the move. Plain and simple.”

Sam shook her head again, clearly disbelieving.

“But let’s get back to this whole cock-blockin’ comment. I mean, you do that shit, Sam?” He leaned forward. “Meet dudes in bars and then just … what? Let them …” He broke off, finding himself unable to even voice the thought let alone imagine the pictures that went along with it.

“I have … experiences,” she said vaguely, not meeting his gaze. “I mean, I’ve done some things. Haven’t you? I mean, I know you have.”

“It’s different.”

“How’s it different, Sir Sexist?”

“If I go home with a woman, I don’t worry about my safety. I don’t worry that she might overpower me, rape me and then slit my damn throat in the middle of the night.”

Sam pulled back. “God. Graphic much?”

“Because that’s the kind of shit that happens out here. To dumb-ass chicks who meet strangers in bars and take them home.”

“Why’re you getting so heated? It’s not like I’m a virgin.”

“I know. But I …” He stopped.

But he just didn’t think about it. The idea of Sam having actual, real-ass sex with some dude, the idea of her fucking some dude, he had avoided by not thinking about it. It was like a literal black hole in his consciousness—a sensory deprivation chamber, thankfully devoid of sight, sound, and everything else.

In college, she lost her virginity to some kid in one of her study groups. A nerdy dude who wore khakis and top-siders. When she told him—or rather when he pried it out of her—Sam hadn’t given any details, thank God, other than that she had finally “done it.” He’d seen the difference in her for weeks; a new awareness of her body, and sensuality in her movement. The kinds of changes that happen when a woman discovers her sexual power.

Colt remembered going out and shooting hoops till he was exhausted, and then calling a girl, whose name he didn’t even remember now, to come over so he could exhaust himself another way. He remembered eyeing the dude Sam told him she’d slept with and considering backing him up and telling him to leave her alone, except that everything he might say would be such a cliché: ‘you leave her alone, she’s a nice girl,’ or ‘you better not hurt her, or I’ll kick your ass.’

None of that seemed to apply, because he saw Sam with dude, and how he treated her like a queen. If he treated her right, then Colt had no cause to complain.

And if they were having sex, well … Colt would just not think about that part.

That had been his habit since, when men would enter and leave Sam’s life. And it was easy most of the time, because he wasn’t around for much of it, and the men were always temporary. There had been the one knucklehead who had lasted almost two years. Some dude she didn’t talk about much, who’d been around during Colt’s rookie year.

Other than that, if there were men in Sam’s life, they were like ghosts, a series of names that meant little: Eric, Jeff, Daniel, Jerome … whatever. Dudes who remained vague and whose stints in Sam’s life were briefer than the length of a basketball season.

“I mean … how many dudes we talkin’ ‘bout?” he asked now.

“How many women have you slept with?” Sam challenged. “And if you say it’s not the same, I will throw this wineglass at your head.”

“Well it’s not.” He sat back again. “But for real. How many?”

Sam stared at him. She downed the rest of her wine, and her eyes seemed to pierce right into his, behind his, and deep into his confused mind. She chewed on the corner of her bottom lip.

“Colton.” Her voice was quiet, and her expression suddenly solemn.

“What?”

“If I ask you something, will you promise to tell me the truth?”

“Of course. Always.”

“Okay, but this time you might be tempted not to. So, I want you to promise.”

He shrugged. “I promise.”

“Were you …” She looked down at her lap then up at him again. “Tonight, when you saw me with Aidan …”

“Was that his name? The joker with the ugly-ass watch?”

“Colton.”

“Okay, go ahead. Was I what?”

“Jealous.”

Colt blinked and swallowed back the instinctive denial.

Fuck it.

“Yeah,” he said, finally, looking off to an area just above her head. “Little bit.”

Sam stood and came toward him.

Colt froze when she stopped, standing between his legs. She straddled him. Her knees on either side of his thighs. She lowered her weight, so she was on his lap.

Sam.”

“What?”

“We can’t …”

“I was jealous too,” she said, talking over him, her words tumbling forward in a rush.

Colt looked up at her and she gave a little one-shouldered shrug.

Available now, exclusively on Amazon.


 

SAMPLE SUNDAY: ‘Paid Companion’

paid companion

Washington, DC, Sunday, 4:47p.m.

 Nicki had chosen well.

Kevin watched Lia Hill out of the corner of his eye as she settled into her seat and arranged her legs demurely to one side as she strapped in. They were going to leave late, because Blake and Nicki were late, as usual. The plan had been for them to have gotten to the airport early, and been waiting on the plane by the time Kevin arrived with the model. But Blake had been partying the night before and overslept, and Nicki had been completely MIA until about an hour ago.

So now Kevin was sitting on the plane alone with the model, waiting in this awkward silence. He wondered what she was thinking, whether she thought they were a bunch of degenerates who had hired a woman for a week to do all kinds of debaucherous things to her. The agency said she was twenty-nine, but she looked younger. And though very attractive, she didn’t look like a model. For one thing, she was too short. She couldn’t be more than five-four, or five-five. And she had hips, and boobs and a heart-shaped rather than angular face.

Kevin noticed these kinds of things because when he was into natural light photography, he’d grown accustomed to assessing people and objects according to how the light hit them, and became adept at telling how they would photograph. Lia Hill was very pretty, but in her pictures, she would appear heavier than she was, which Kevin estimated was no more than about a hundred and twenty-five pounds soaking wet.

“What time do we take off?”

She looked up unexpectedly, and Kevin once again was struck by her eyes. They were cat-shaped and large, dominating her cute, pixie-like features—small pert nose and bee-stung, bow-shaped lips. Something about her face made him want to stare, and take in each feature one at a time, surveying them separately before putting them together again and appreciating the whole.

“Whenever Blake and Nicki get here. Which should have been …” He glanced at his watch. “About an hour and a half ago.”

“Blake Morgan is on this flight with us?” she asked.

At that, Kevin did smile. The way she called Blake by his full name was funny. “Yeah. If he makes it by six. Otherwise we’ll leave without him and he’ll have to fly commercial and meet us down there.”

“You could just … leave him?” Her eyebrows lifted.

Kevin grinned. “Yeah. If he’s late, damn right his ass is getting left. I’m not trying to sit in this hangar all day. You?”

Lia shrugged and then shook her head. “I guess not. But if you’re his assistant, I guess I thought you’d have to wait no matter how …”

“His assistant?” Kevin echoed. “Where’d you get the idea I was his …?”

“What’s up, fam?”

Kevin turned at the sound of Blake’s voice, and rolled his eyes to see that he was just barely dressed—in cargo shorts and a ratty t-shirt, a small duffle bag over his shoulder that Kevin would bet good money, carried only more of the same. The old man was bound to love this—seeing his first-born pictured in the Miami Times looking like a Gulf Coast fisherman.

“Blake, this is …”

“My girlfriend for the week, huh?”

Blake collapsed into the seat directly across from Lia’s and looked her over, shamelessly taking in every little detail while the poor woman blushed and shrank back under his gaze. When she looked up again, it was shyly, and like most women meeting Blake for the first time, reluctant to look him directly in the eye.

Blake turned on his hundred-watt smile. “You’re beautiful,” he said. Then he extended his hand, which she took, attempting a smile back. “I’m Blake.”

“Lia,” she returned, taking his hand briefly.

“Lia, I don’t know if Kev told you. It’s going to be family, mostly. My parents, a couple cousins, a few friends here and there. Formal dinner every night, a couple day-trips … and the sex, we’re willing to pay extra for.”

At Lia’s wide-open eyes, Blake laughed and lightly slapped her on the knee, while Kevin shook his head and looked. “I’m jus’ messin’ with you! Damn!”

Then Blake was leaning back in his seat and looked around the cabin fully for the first time.

“Nice choice, Kev. Didn’t like that rinky-dink plane you got last time. This joint is nice.”

“Glad you like it,” Kevin said dryly.

“This isn’t … your plane?” Lia asked.

Blake and Kevin looked at her and then at each other, smiling. People always overestimated the Morgan family’s wealth. They were rich, but not so rich that the old man would do something like buy a private jet just to sit around generating expenses. They chartered, they leased but it was not an item he would buy. Not unless, as he liked to put it, he was planning on “selling out his great grandkids’ tomorrows to live in lap of luxury today.”

“Nah, we rented it for the ride,” Blake answered. “Much as I would love to own one of these babies.”

“I’m glad you remembered that,” Kevin said. “That it’s a rental. And you know how that works, right? By the hour. So your late ass just cost the old man about three thousand dollars. And where the hell is Nicki?”

Blake shrugged. “Who the hell knows? Off on one of her mystery missions. Sometimes I wonder whether I’m not the only one pulling the wool over on …”

Kevin shot him a look to remind him they weren’t alone and Blake promptly shut up, turning to give Lia another of his dazzling smiles. Those smiles had gotten Blake out of many a fix, and helped people look past what Kevin thought was pretty damn obvious at this point. But hell, he was part of the conspiracy; and though she didn’t know it, so was Lia.

COMING SOON.

Perfect Romance

I tried to write ‘perfect romance’ but don’t know how . . .

Now that ‘Maybe Never‘ is done, and I’ve had some time to sit with it, I have to admit it was hard to let Brendan and Tracy go. When I first wrote about them in ‘Commitment‘, they weren’t a couple and only very gradually learned how to become friends. But it wasn’t their story, so I foreshadowed a little bit (without even knowing that that was what I was doing) to what would become their story. Tracy was Riley’s beautiful best friend who never seemed to have a man around, and seemed content to offer commentary on someone else’s love life rather than have one of her own. In ‘Unsuitable Men‘, we learned why–Tracy didn’t have relationships because she just couldn’t. And Brendan, the man she falls for, was barely able to do relationships himself. But somehow they found a rocky, painful, convoluted path to each other.

At the end of ‘Unsuitable Men’, Tracy was still working on some stuff, as was Brendan and there was always the lingering question of whether it was even possible that they might find a happily ever after. ‘Maybe Never’ was supposed to be a love letter, my Valentine’s kiss to readers who wrote to me, genuinely concerned that the ambiguity at the end of Unsuitable Men meant that maybe, somehow, Brendan and Tracy would break up. And so I set out to assuage those fears and give these readers a gift of a perfect romance.

messy loveBy now, if you’ve read ‘Maybe Never’, you know that it was many things, but it was most definitely not a “perfect romance” – not in the sense of its technical construction and execution and most definitely not in terms of the relationship between Brendan and Tracy. They have baggage, they have issues, they have problems and doubts and all kinds of shit to work out. And that’s because at the end of the day, as I work on this craft I’ve come to learn something about myself as a writer. I can’t do perfect. Not by a long-shot. I don’t know those people whose relationships end with a tidy HEA.  I know the people who love hard, who fight hard, who mess up, who have lousy relationships with parents that influence their love lives, or great relationships with parents that still influence their love lives in lousy ways, people who sometimes get horny looking at someone other than their partner . . . people who have messy, messy loves.

I tried to give the gift of perfect romance, but couldn’t. And fair warning for those who in future may be inclined to read what I write – I couldn’t do it in this instance and likely won’t ever be able to. I offer instead, stories about what I know to be true: that sometimes, through all the craziness and the chaos that we impose on ourselves, the drama and the messiness; sometimes we reach out and we find someone. Not someone perfect, but maybe if you’re lucky, they’re perfect for you . . .

Happy Reading.

-N-