‘Young, Rich & Black’: An Afterwards Novella

youngrichSAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘Young, Rich & Black: An Afterwards Novella’

“Didn’t I just see you last night?”

Phone up against his ear, Deuce watched from the other side of the barbershop as his father got the finishing touches on his shave. His own haircut had been done for a little while, and when he got tired of the shit-talking and sports predictions, he called Zora. Just to see what was up with her since they hadn’t talked after he dropped her off the evening before.

“Yeah. Damn. Just checking to see if you’re a’ight. Is that a problem?”

“Why wouldn’t I be alright? From what I remember, you saw me walk up my front path, unlock the door and step right into my house, didn’t you? I know, because I waved at you from the open front door.”

He smiled. He kind of liked it when she teased him; not by being coy, but by playing coy.

“I’m a gentleman. I was taught to wait until the lady was safe before pulling off. And there’s been a few home invasion robberies in Jersey so you never know.”

Zora laughed her husky yet melodious laugh. “Well, no one’s invaded my home. So I’m totally fine. But thanks for checking.”

“You’re welcome.”

For a few moments, there was silence between them. Across the room, the barber was wiping his father’s face clean. Soon he would take out his powder and brush and Deuce would no longer have the privacy he needed to seal this deal.

“What’re you doin’ later?”

“Nothing. The usual for when its cold as hell outside. Netflix. Chill.”

“Come do that with me.”

“Why, when I could do it right here? And not even have to change out of my PJs.”

“You haven’t changed out of your PJs?”

“Nope.” Zora made a popping noise with her lips when she pronounced the word.

“That’s nasty.”

She laughed. “I showered before bed.”

“Yeah. Sure you did.”

“I did.”

“Deuce!”

He looked up. His father was done, and beckoning for him as he doled out tips to the barber and his assistant.

“If you don’t want to come over, let me come over there then.”

“I probably should leave the house,” Zora said, almost as though talking to herself. “Whenever I try to veg out all day, it seems like a good idea, and then around seven-thirty I start feeling a little stir-crazy.”

“So … you comin’ over or …?”

“Ahm …”

Deuce stood, deliberately slow-walking toward the exit of the barbershop where his father was waiting for him. Ducking his head, and lowering his voice, he spoke deliberately softly into the phone.

“C’mon, Zee,” he said. “I really want to see you.”


coming soon.

No-Sample Sunday

Afterburn cover2aBecause ‘Afterburn’ is here, and AVAILABLE NOW on Amazon!

This one was both fun and challenging to write, I definitely wanted to do justice to the love story between Chris and Robyn, but also the love story between a man and his children, as he grows into a love of fatherhood after living a life of studious non-attachment.

I can’t lie–I’m eager to hear what you think! So as you read, feel free to stop by with comments to this post and let me know what moves you, disappoints you, makes you think … whatever your reaction, I’m open to hearing it.

Some writers write for money or fame (and don’t get me wrong, those things are probably great) but I want to know I made you feel something. So tell me if I did. I’m listening.

Happy Reading!

N,

It’s Complicated

Robyn2*** AFTERBURN ***

AVAILABLE APRIL 28th!

I used to think the best romances came with no mess, no baggage, no drama. And while those are still fun to read, for me personally they’re not as fun to write. That’s why I became enthralled with Chris and Robyn’s story in ‘Afterwards‘.

When they get together, Chris is somewhat disconnected from his three kids, by two different women. He’s running a multi-million dollar corporation and he doesn’t see himself as being on the market for a relationship. Add to the mix the two women with whom he had his three kids and Robyn’s recent and messy divorce.

ChrisHow can too people find ‘romance’ under those circumstances? Well … it’s complicated. And it’s what ‘Afterwards‘ is about. If you’ve read it, you see that Chris and Robyn demonstrate what we all know to be true–the heart generally finds a way. And if you haven’t read it, now’s a good time, because on April 28th, the continuation (and conclusion) of Chris and Robyn’s story, ‘Afterburn‘, is being released.

In the meantime, drop me a comment below and tell me what YOU liked best about Chris and Robyn’s “complicated” romance!

Happy Reading!

N.

P.S. If you don’t already have ‘Afterwards’ it’s $1.99 on Nook and Kindle for a LIMITED TIME!

From ‘Afterburn‘:

“Something’s come up and I need to be back in L.A. so I’m leaving tonight right after the thing.”

Robyn’s hand fell from his chest. “Tonight, Chris?”

“Yeah, on a red-eye. I need to be there first thing in the morning so there’s no way around it,” he said. But he wasn’t looking directly at her.

Why wasn’t he looking at her?

“Since I probably won’t even be there for that long, you don’t have to come to the party tonight if you don’t want to,” Chris continued. “That way you can get back home to Caity.”

Robyn tried to meet his gaze, but he either didn’t see that that was what she was trying to do, or he was evading it.

Tilting her head so that she could force the meeting of their eyes, Robyn shrugged. “No, I’m still coming,” she said. “What time are you leaving the party to fly out?”

“Probably around midnight.” His eyes were unreadable. Not cold, but flat like there was something behind them he was determined not to let her see.

“Okay.” Robyn shrugged again. “So if we go around nine or so, I have you for a few hours. If that’s all I get, I’ll take it.”

Chris looked directly at her then, his expression quizzical. Robyn took one more step, closing the distance between them and looking up so their gaze remained unbroken. Then glancing over his shoulder to make sure no one else was in sight, or earshot, she put her arms up and about his neck. She tried never to do this kind of thing in the office, afraid of how it might undermine her credibility, but desperate times called for desperate measures. Chris was trying to put some distance between them, but she wasn’t about to let that happen.

“I’ll take what I can get,” she said again, getting on her toes and pressing her lips to his neck. “Always.”

SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘Afterburn’ — coming April 2014

Chris2A

“So how are Robyn and the baby?” Karen asked.

The same question, asked by his eldest son’s mother, Sheryl, would have come with an ulterior motive, but Karen wasn’t like that. Chris looked at her. She was still pretty, and had given Jasmin the same perfectly-shaped mouth, perky little nose and large eyes. But now Karen was a little more of a comfortably upper middle-class suburban Mom, and less the unsophisticated young woman she’d been when they first met.

She was curvier, carrying about ten or fifteen extra pounds and her hair, once almost waist-length was now in a short bob below her ears; once almost pitch-black, now colored auburn. And she wore much less make-up, blending in with the women in this small, affluent town who knew how to tastefully enhance their appearance without being showy about it.

Today Karen wore a pair of jeans and a light summer sweater with Chanel flats, her once slender figure, a little less so. Over her shoulder was a Balenciaga hobo and in her right hand, she jingled the keys to the new Audi SUV Chris had bought her just that year.

“Robyn and the baby are good,” Chris said unlocking his car, preparing to get in.

He didn’t like talking to either Karen or Sheryl about Robyn even in passing, thinking it insensitive to belabor the fact that he was engaged to her when he’d never even considered such a step with either of them. Karen in particular had to be curious about Robyn because after all, she had loved and lived with Chris for years before their break-up, had borne him two children, and yet he had never once even hinted at wanting to make her his wife.

Sheryl was married now herself, so—even though she was probably cheating on the poor bastard—she probably didn’t care as much as Karen might.

“Are you ever going to introduce us?” Karen asked, keeping her voice light. “Jas talks about her all the time, so I know she’s probably a wonderful …”

“Yeah, sometime maybe. I better go. Traffic.”

Karen sighed. “Okay. Kaden wanted to see you, but I don’t suppose you have time to stop by the house. He’s with the sitter.”

“Wish I could, but I have a conference call that I need to get home for. He’s coming with Jas this weekend, right?’

Karen nodded. “Right.”

“Good, so I’ll see him then. Tell him I said I miss him, okay?”

Kaden was only six. His younger son was the sensitive one. The one who cried when he left, who told him every single time he was on the phone, “I miss you, Daddy,” in that sweet, baby voice he was just beginning to grow out of.

“Okay, well next time maybe you can build in a little more time,” Karen said.

She was lingering by the open door of his car as he got in, and Chris sensed that there was something more she wanted to say.

“You a’ight?” he asked on a whim. “Everything cool otherwise?”

“Hector and I broke up,” Karen said suddenly. She pursed her lips and shook her head. “Which shouldn’t be a huge surprise. But anyway …”

Chris paused with one leg in the car, one still resting on the pavement outside. He and Karen had never been ‘friends’. Not throughout their relationship and not now. Then, she had been too much in awe of him to become a confidante, too … grateful that he’d chosen her. Her humility, Chris had later come to think of as low self-esteem, and a general lack of confidence.

Every day that they were together, Karen seemed to have been thinking: thank you for choosing me, thank you, thank you. After a while it almost literally made him sick. Even while he cheated on her, didn’t come home, forgot important milestones, her attitude was thank you, thank you …When he’d finally gotten the guts to end it, after their son was born, it was a relief. The weight of her unjustified adoration and of his shame for treating her in a manner she did not deserve had been too heavy.

And now? Now, they were very cordial strangers, raising children together. Or rather, she was raising them and he participated when asked. Though he was trying to get better and paid all the bills, she still carried the lion’s share of the parental responsibility and never hinted to him about how hard that might be, or what impact it had on other parts of her life. So her talking about her relationship to him was something new, and something he wasn’t too sure how to handle.

“Why isn’t it a huge surprise?” Chris asked. “You’re a great woman, Karen. Any guy…”

“When a man walks into a situation like mine, where I’m being taken care of by my ex, and he knows he can’t do the same … well, it wears on a relationship. Hector saw the Audi and …” She shrugged. “He doesn’t understand, I guess. And he doesn’t believe that you would do all that when there’s nothing between us anymore. Or maybe he knows there’s nothing between us but still can’t handle y’know, who you are. Who the hell knows?”

“I’m sorry,” Chris said, because he didn’t know what else to say.

But at least this Hector guy sounded a lot better than Sheryl’s husband, who for months after they were married was content to live in a house and drive a car that Chris paid for.

“Not your fault.” Karen looked down at her shoes and then up at him again, shaking her head. “I guess I just need to find a stronger man, that’s all.”

For a moment, the silence between them was heavy.

“You know, you’re still young. You could go back to school or something. I’d take care of the tuition.”

“Back to school?” Karen laughed a short bark. “And do what? I was never that good at school to begin with. So I’d what? Be a beautician? Run a clothing boutique?”

Chris shrugged. “Whatever you want, Karen.”

Now he just wanted to get the hell away. He didn’t have time for Karen’s identity crisis right now. He had a crisis of his own brewing. Between Karen and Sheryl who between them hadn’t an ounce of ambition, and Robyn who had maybe too much, Chris wasn’t sure which was worse. All he knew was that his woman was chomping at the bit to run off to Paris for almost a year without him, and he was stuck in a middle-school parking lot trying to be a goddamn career counselor.

“Sometimes I wonder whether it would just be easier,” Karen said, her eyes meeting his.

“Whether what would be easier?” Chris put his other leg in the car, put the key in the ignition.

“For you and me to still, you know,” Karen said.

Chris froze.

“Because then I would have a man. Or at least part of one.”

Upskirt: A Quick Peek at the ‘Afterwards’ Sequel

When I was in grade school, two of my friends got in trouble for letting boys look under their skirts. I remember watching as two boys shimmied along the floor until they were under the spread legs of my two friends, and looking up in glee. We were all young enough that I remember being confused about what could be so fascinating about looking at a girl’s underwear. I figured it out later. Much later.

But today I’m the one lifting my skirt. Figuratively speaking. And giving you a quick peek of my work-in-progress, the sequel to ‘Afterwards‘.

Blurb:

Chris Scaife is not the man Robyn Crandall thought he was.

Now that she’s shown him the possibility of a different life, she knows that Chris wants it. And he’s used to getting what he wants. But Robyn is seeing some possibilities of her own, as a highly-valued member of the legal team at Chris’ multimillion dollar corporation. Just as he’s given her the confidence to soar, will Chris try to clip her wings?

Once an unapologetic bachelor and distant father, Chris Scaife is now a different man. Engaged to Robyn Crandall, a woman whose love he never thought he could have—or deserve—Chris wants a wedding to happen, and happen soon. But Robyn’s plans are somewhat different from that.

_____________________

“Robyn, ma bichette …”

“You can’t call me things like that, Etienne. Not when I don’t understand what you’re saying. For all I know, it’s incredibly inappropriate.”

Robyn work

Robyn was smiling up at the face of Pouvoir Noir’s president on the monitor as Chris and Frank entered the conference room for the video conference. Leaning forward with her elbows on the conference table, Robyn was wearing her powder blue suit, the one with the short sleeves that showed off her toned arms and contrasted pleasantly with her caramel-toned skin, and a bright white shirt underneath. The skirt was little short for Chris’ taste, but he never tried to dictate what she should wear, just contented himself with the knowledge that he was the man who got to take it off her.

As he and Frank entered, she leaned back into her seat, still smiling at Ballard. Chris almost felt as though they’d walked in on a private conversation.

“Got started without us?” he asked, his voice impassive.

“We did not get too far,” Allard said from across the Atlantic. “We talked about my new toy, and not much more.”

“New toy?”

“Etienne bought some ridiculous sports car that goes about three hundred miles an hour.”

“And perhaps you will sit in the seat beside me one day. It is a feeling not to be missed.”

“Can we get to work?” Chris interrupted. “I only have thirty minutes for this meeting.”

Taking a place at the table next to Robyn, he lay his tablet before him and looked at Etienne Allard expectantly. Frank sat to his left and began rifling through a sheaf of papers. He and Robyn were the only people Chris knew who still worked primarily on paper, writing everything out longhand that probably had to be transcribed later anyway. Waste of time.

“So what’re we meeting about?” he asked, not looking up at Allard’s face, magnified in front of him.

“The timing of the office,” Allard said right away. “I think we are well behind the agreed upon schedule. And I need to tell something to my people. You see I don’t have my partners with me. So if there is a problem, I would like …”

“What gives you the impression there’s a problem?” Chris cut in.

“You acquire part of my company, with promises to rain money down on all our problems, and all of a sudden …” Allard made a puffing noise. “…nothing.”

“I wouldn’t say nothing. Your debts have been paid. Your creditors satisfied.”

“And my artists sit, as you say, with their thumbs up their asses. Waiting for the American knights in white armor.”

“Shining armor,” Chris corrected without thinking.

Frustration crossed Allard’s features. “An update would be welcome, my friend.”

Before Chris could speak, Robyn was leaning forward again. “Everything is moving ahead, I can assure you, Etienne. Admittedly at a different pace than planned, but we’re finalizing the team, and expect that by October …”

Octobre!

“I think that’s what we can promise, yes.” Robyn’s gaze was unflinching.

For a few moments there was silence while everyone waited for Ballard to absorb the words.

“This date, it is not within my control so I suppose there is nothing else to discuss.” On the monitor, he reached forward and suddenly they were staring into nothingness as the screen went blank.

For almost a minute, Chris, Robyn and Frank sat in silence.

“So,” Frank said. “I think we got a pissed-off Frenchman on our hands.”

“No one cares whether he’s pissed off or not,” Chris said. “We’re not on his timeline.”

“Well, we’re not on our timeline either,” Robyn pointed out. “It’s true. We planned to be over there a lot sooner, Chris. We implied to him that we would be well underway with …”

“Maybe we should resolve the question right now,” Frank said breaking in.

Chris knew the question. Hell, he even knew the resolution. But that didn’t mean he had to like it.

“Am I the hold-up?” he asked.

“No,” Frank said. “The timeline changed for lots of reasons. But we’re at the final decision-point. We need to know who’s going to be heading this thing up.”

Chris pushed back his seat and turned, looking directly at Robyn. “Sounds like the decision’s been made.” For a moment, her eyes dropped to her lap and then she raised them again, staring back at him.

She wasn’t, Chris realized, wearing her engagement ring. Sometimes she wore it to work, other times not. He’d long learned not to assume any significance to when that did and didn’t happen. But today, of all days, he would have liked to see it there.

Frank Casey cleared his throat, realizing that the conversation that was likely to happen probably didn’t pertain to him, nor to SE business necessarily. Shoving back from the conference room table he headed for the door.

“Robyn, I’ll see you downstairs,” he said before leaving them alone.

Chris turned his chair so that he was facing Robyn and clasped his hands between his knees, leaning toward her. She was so pretty. So, so pretty. Her eyes were a little watery, and she swallowed hard—Chris saw her throat bob as she did.

“So,” he began. “You really want this, huh?”

Robyn nodded, her eyes filling even more, the tears threatening to spill over onto her cheeks. She blinked rapidly to stave that off.

Chris lifted a forefinger. He was close enough to touch her hand so he did, gently stroking her bare ring finger.

“And I’ve got no say in this.”

Robyn sighed. “Of course you do. You could stop me if you wanted to.”

He supposed he could. He could forbid it. He could tell Frank he wouldn’t allow it. He could … fire her. And none of those things would change Robyn’s feelings for him one iota—of that Chris was certain. But it would change the nature of their relationship, and it would breach the trust she had in him, that he would let her be herself, never stifle her, never try to own her.

“I do want to,” he admitted, and saw the momentary alarm in Robyn’s eyes. Chris shook his head. “But I’m not going to.”

She gave a small gasp and then reached out, grabbing his hands in hers. “Baby …thank you. I know how hard …”

Chris pulled his hands free of hers and stood. “Let’s just talk about it later, okay?”

SAMPLE SUNDAY — From ‘Afterwards’ COMING SOON!

Image

Robyn stopped next to a pink one with white and silver trim, turning to smile again at Chris who was standing a few feet behind her, watching her peruse the evidence of his youthful stupidity.

“This looks like a woman chose it,” she said.

“Probably,” Chris shrugged. “I can’t remember where most of them came from.”

“I’d love to ride this one.”

“You know how to ride?”

Robyn stroked the white leather seat. “No. But I wish I did. Then I would take the fastest bike I could find, go out to the desert somewhere and just open it up.”

“You would, huh?”

Robyn looked at him, noting the skepticism in his tone. “Yeah, I would.”

He was wearing a plain white t-shirt and jeans that were baggy and slung low on his hip, though not below them any longer. He seemed to have stopped doing that in the last couple of years, thank goodness. In fact, he seemed more . . . adult now than Robyn remembered, more like a man than the man-child she was accustomed to thinking of him as.

He was mean-sexy. That’s how Robyn would describe him if someone asked. A hard, but magnetic man. Maybe six-one or so, Chris was fit in the manner of a man who worked out for strength, rather than bulk. At a distance he might appear almost slender, but up close, like they were now, Robyn could see the definition in his chest and arms and the trimness of his waist. He was built like a sprinter, unobtrusively strong and lean, his physical power evident only if you paid close attention.

“Maybe I’ll take you out sometime. For a ride.”

“You could,” Robyn said. “But what would be better would be if I could ride on my own.” She raised her eyebrows at him and grinned, knowing it was a ridiculous suggestion.

“You’d have to get lessons first,” Chris pointed out.

“Yeah,” Robyn sighed. “There is that.”

She removed her hand from the pink motorcycle and moved on, walking among the others, taking in the names—some she recognized like Ducati, Harley Davidson, and BMW, and others unfamiliar: Ecosse, and Macchia Nera. They were amazing to look at, but one day, she promised herself, one day . . .

“So you want to go fast?” Chris asked.

“I would love to go fast.”

Robyn knelt next to a sleek black Yamaha, its finish so shiny it looked like a dark liquid, like crude oil. If she touched it, her fingerprints would undoubtedly be left behind, but she couldn’t help herself and reached out anyway, her hand hesitating before making contact. Before she could decide whether or not to actually go through with it, Chris had crouched next to her and with a hand over hers, placed it directly atop the cool metal surface. His fingers were long and tapered, his nails neatly trimmed and short. Robyn felt calluses lightly scraping the back of her hand.

“I’m not sure you could handle how fast I might go.”