Women who Misbehave

Wine with Writers poster - final-2 (1)

On March 25th, I’m going to be in Collegeville, PA (about an hour NW of Philadelphia) with Tia Kelly, Jacinta Howard and Lily Java for a book signing, readings by the authors and panel discussion, moderated by Ashley Coleman, author of ‘Love on Purpose’.  Our discussion theme is a juicy one: “Romance, Realism & Portrayal of African American Women in Popular Fiction”. Not only do my fellow panelists happen to be some of my favorite indie authors, the topic is one I love to talk about with anyone who’s willing to listen or participate. Over the past couple of years as I’ve grown into my writing voice a little bit, I realized something. I enjoy writing stories of love, stories that are “real” and most all, stories about women who misbehave. No meek heroines for me; or if they are meek, I love writing about how they mess up, make mistakes and often wreak havoc in their lives as well as others’.

So when my fellow authors and I are together in Collegeville, I imagine what I’ll want to talk about is how romance, even though based on a simple formula, can be one of the more complex genres to write, if you want the love to feel real. I imagine I’ll also want to talk, and hear about whether realism is something people value in romance, or whether the fantasy is the hook for most readers. And finally, I definitely want to talk about how much juice I get from writing about women, specifically women of color who “misbehave”. Some of them are like Lorna, in one of my featured books, ‘The Fall’, a woman determined to blaze her own trail, arrogant, self-righteous and downright rude, and the hell with people who don’t like it. And some of them are like Zora in my other featured book for the event, ‘Young, Rich & Black’ who is determined to decide for herself who she’s going to be, even if that person is at odds with who everyone else says she should be. But I won’t get into it too much right now, because that’ll leave nothing for Saturday March 25th at the Towne Book Center Wine Bar and Café.

If you’re in the neighborhood, or can make it there, consider joining us, and joining in on the conversation. Register for the book signing and discussion free here, and/or for the wine tasting as well, for a small fee!

Hope to see you, but either way …

Happy Reading!

~N~

SAMPLE(S) SUNDAY: ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’ and ‘Ivy’s League’

Wine w WritersI like to write about women, figuring out who they are and what their “stuff” is. You know what I mean, right? The things that drive them, the things that hold them back, the things that block them from having the kind of life they deserve. That’s it. If I had to sum up the central theme of every single thing I write, that would be it.

And if I had to sum up my approach to writing, it would be “searching for realism.” I am rarely (okay, never) completely satisfied with anything I write, but on the occasions that I am somewhat satisfied, it’s because I think I may have struck a note of realism close to what I wanted.

For that reason, I love ‘Ivy’s League’. Love. Ivy has more than a few personal characteristics that I relate to, or have myself. But more than that, her story was one that felt real to me, and unfolded completely organically on the page–I didn’t map or chart it out, or even know where she would end up, I just let it happen as I wrote. And I also love that in her life, there’s an absence of drama other than the purely personal and domestic kind; her struggles are those that most women face in one form or another. But I’m not going to say too much more about Ivy since I’m doing an online Book Chat about her story today at 7 PM EDT, here.

And of course, I’ll be at Wine with Writers in person in two weeks. Tickets are going pretty fast, so get yours now, if you’re going to be in the DC/MD/VA area. I’ll be hanging out with Tia Kelly and Xyla Turner, talking books and drinking wine and signing my brand new release (slated for release just before ‘Wine with Writers’) ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’.

So … about Miri: I know some folks have been anxiously waiting for her. And honestly, I had a hard time understanding why. Miri was a quiet and small character for me. Someone who lived in the shadow of the much larger characters of her brothers. So writing about her was challenging. Here’s a little secret. If writers struggle, it’s for one reason only: we’re having a hard time figuring out what our characters want, and how (or whether) to have them get it.

Apart from life getting in the way of our writing, there is pretty much no other reason for writers being “blocked” other than that. And until we figure those things out, the book just ain’t gon’ come. Miri, now that her story is about to be released, remains in some ways a small and quiet character. But I figured out what she wants, and whether (and how) she gets it. So she’s on her way in very short order.

In the meantime, I thought I’d let you visit with these two very different women–both of whom have just enough slice of “real” to satisfy me. And I hope you as well.

Happy Reading!

N.


Eduardo promoFrom ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’. Coming Soon.

The sound of the door opening and shutting sent Miri scurrying back to the bed, clutching the sheets around her naked form. And then she felt silly. After all that happened the previous evening, shyness seemed ridiculous. So, while she listened to the movement in the next room, she found a t-shirt and pulled it on, recalling that Duardo had offered her one the night before, though she never got around to putting it, or anything else, on. Taking a moment to check her hair—which was pretty much a disaster—Miri went out to join him in the living area, pausing only to brush her teeth with her fingers in his small bathroom, and to splash water on her face.

Buenas días.”

Duardo looked up when she entered and spoke to him but did not answer.

Expecting some warmth, or acknowledgment of the previous evening, and not getting it, Miri was disappointed. Instead, his expression was inscrutable. But she felt brave, and more importantly, he looked incredibly hot, in a stark white t-shirt that only emphasized his sun-darkened skin; and baggy grey sweats. His scruffy and unshaven face reminded her of how it felt against her own face, and later, against her inner thighs. So Miri went to him, and while he removed what smelled like breakfast from a paper sack, she wrapped her arms around his waist from behind. Resting her face against his broad and firm back, she felt her entire body heave in a sigh.

“Will you not speak to me?” she asked, feeling emboldened by the way he leaned oh-so-slightly backward and into her embrace. “¿Estás enojado conmigo?”

“No,” Duardo said after a long while. But still he didn’t turn around to return her embrace.

“So if you’re not angry, what is it?”

“I crossed a line with you,” he said, turning around and looking down at her. “After everything that your family …”

Miri exhaled impatiently and pulled away from him. “If we’re going to talk about how what happened between you and me—two consenting adults—affects my brothers, my family? If that’s what you’re about to say, I’m going to fucking scream,” she said.

Duardo looked surprised, though he did not comment on her cursing.

“I’m serious,” Miri said. “I walked in here on a high and you’re just going to … wreck it. I’m starting to feel like I would have been better off going home with Stephan Payne.”

And that was precisely the wrong thing to say. Duardo grabbed and pulled her back against his chest, his hands grasping her arms and holding her tight, his face inches from hers.

“Don’t you ever say that to me. He doesn’t get to touch you. He doesn’t get to go near you. ¿Entiendes?”

Being manhandled should have alarmed her, but it did the opposite. It made Miri confident, and even calm. Because she knew Duardo would never hurt her, and because she now knew that his stoic distance of a few moments earlier was the only way he knew to maintain control over the riotous emotions that were now so clearly visible in his eyes.

“I don’t want him to touch me. I don’t want him near me. I want you,” she said, shrugging. “I just want you.”

“So why do you say these things?” Duardo let her go, running a hand over his head. “Just to … provoke me?”

“Because I want to get past this part,” Miri said. “This stupid part where we pretend like we don’t already know what’s going to happen.”

At that, Duardo gave her a grim smile. “And what’s that?” he asked, his eyes searching hers.

“We’re going to have an affair,” Miri said, staring back at him evenly.


Young black woman in the room

From ‘Ivy’s League’ Available Now.

Eli looked up just in time to see her coming down the sidewalk. Holding the hem of her gown up so it wouldn’t sweep the ground, Ivy looked like something out of a dream. Her dress was yellow, a soft shade like the faintest glow of morning sunlight and made of a foamy fabric that swayed as she walked. Cut in a straight line, binding her across the chest, it left completely exposed Ivy’s smooth brown shoulders and long, graceful arms. Under the hem of the dress, Eli could just make out gold strappy, high-heeled sandals that looked like something a gladiator would wear. If a gladiator was a five-foot nine, slender-as-a-reed, breathtaking Black woman in a yellow gown.

Ivy spotted him and he opened the window on the passenger side, disengaging the locks. She leaned in, her lips pursed and stern. She looked even more beautiful up close. Her hair was pulled back into a high, regal mass of kinky curls, her makeup subtle but iridescent. A stab of possessiveness impaled Eli right in the center of the chest.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“Get in,” he said.

Ivy seemed poised to protest but instead sighed and opened the door, getting in next to him. Turning, she took another breath. “Eli …”

He kissed her. Hard. Hard enough to shut her up, steal her breath, and make her gasp all at once. She didn’t resist, but she didn’t respond either. Not at first, but he persisted until her lips softened and she kissed him back—tentatively at first, and then with all the feeling he had become accustomed to from her. She tasted sweet, like white wine, and smelled even more amazing than usual. Eli turned even further and reached over to pull her toward him by the waist, awkwardly in the confines of the truck’s cab.

That awkwardness provided an opening and Ivy took it, wrenching herself free and shaking her head.

“Eli,” she said again. But this time her voice was trembling a little.

He answered her by starting the engine, and pulling out into traffic away from the curb. Ivy looked frantically behind them, and then back at him.

“Eli!” She said his name yet again. “I’m working. My boss is at that dinner.”

He slowed the truck to a crawl. “Is she going to fire you if you don’t come back?” he asked pointedly.

Ivy opened her mouth to speak but did not. Her shoulders heaved, and shaking her head, she leaned back against the seat, staring straight ahead.

**************

AVAILABLE NOW.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Vb8C5R

 B&N: http://bit.ly/1NOPG7i

Book Chat TODAY: ‘Wine with Writers’ featured author Tia Kelly talks ‘Baby Love’

Baby Love Chat Promo

JOIN the members of B.R.A.B. Book Club TODAY, Sunday, Oct. 25th to discuss Tia Kelly‘s latest novella, Baby Love.

When: Sunday, Oct. 25 at 5 PM (EST)
Where: www.facebook.com/AuthorTiaKelly

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

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

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

From Baby Love:

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

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

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

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

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

“How did you get past the gate?”

“It was open when I got here.”

Trent peered around her because he knew he closed it.

“Earlier when the ambulance was here.”

“Ambulance?”

The woman just shrugged.

“Do I know you?”

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

“Why should I?”

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

To read more of this excerpt: http://www.tiawithapen.com/the-blog/2015/7/15/baby-love

BOOKS& WINE

And don’t forget, you can MEET TIA KELLY at ‘Wine with Writers’ on November 14th at 3 PM in Washington DC where she will be chatting with me, Xyla Turner and you, the readers. Ask Tia in person about her work, have a chance to buy her new release, ‘Love Is’, receive a free swag bag and door prizes, AND discuss the theme: ‘Romance, Realism & Portrayal of African American Women in Modern Popular Fiction’. Tickets to the event are available HERE now!

You’re Invited to ‘Wine with Writers’ in Washington DC!

Wine with Writers bannerIndie writers are an elusive breed. We don’t do a lot of public appearances, may never hit it big enough to show up on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, or even do a local radio interview. But we do love connecting with our readers, people who tenaciously dig through the hundreds of thousands of offerings on online retailers and, against all odds, find and stick with us.

So, eventually, how could we not want to meet those intrepid readers?

This fall, two of my colleagues and I will be in Washington DC, sitting down for wine, finger food and conversation at The Fridge DC, a hip, indie (of course) art gallery in the heart of Capitol Hill. The event starts to 3 p.m. sharp and will run until about 5 p.m. For this first run at ‘Wine with Writers’ we’re not going to be talking about any one book, but about the larger theme of ‘Romance, Realism and the Portrayal of African American Women in Modern Popular Fiction’. But no fear, this is not meant to be some deep, boring and dry academic lecture but a conversation among the authors and you, the guests, talking about the books we enjoy and what they mean for how AA women are portrayed in culture. In addition to myself, on hand will be authors Xyla Turner and Tia Kelly, signing books, talking about their any of their characters that grabbed you, and giving away oodles of cool stuff. And did I mention there would be wine?

Besides the great company of your fellow readers and writers, guests will receive a complimentary gift bag of books and other goodies from some of our favorites, and have the opportunity to purchase (or pre-purchase) autographed paperbacks of Xyla, my and Tia’s new (not-yet-released) books. We’re starting the ‘Wine with Writers’ franchise in Washington DC, but hope to have events in other cities in 2016, so stay tuned and look out for those events with other exciting indie authors.

Come join us on November 14th from 3-5 p.m. at The Fridge DC by getting your tickets here! Don’t wait till the last minute because space is limited. This is not a photo-op, but a private, intimate gathering of folks who love books. And wine.

And just in case you don’t know much about our work, samples and buy links are below.

Happy Reading!

N.


About Xyla Turner

Xyla Turner was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. As a teenager, Xyla wrote short stories and essays that have won numerous awards in local to nationwide competitions. She is an avid reader, but a sucker for romance. Specifically, sassy females and dominant males. Xyla is a dedicated educator and a life coach. Outside of reading, Xyla likes to spend time with her family and travel. She writes different genres, but her favorite is romance.

Her latest release ‘League of Bosses: The Client’ is available now!

League of BossesAbout ‘League of Bosses: The Client’: ‘League of Bosses: The Client; is a short story about an ambitious local plumber and his new feisty client. He’s on the fast track to success and the interruption from Tiffany, threatens his future and tempts him to throw caution to the wind and take a chance with the hot client who gets under his skin.

Excerpt:

The next day, around noon. A knock came to her door and in walked Tiffany Fox carrying a big bag of food in her right hand and another bag in her left. These were big clothing bags, but they looked heavy. She put them down and ran back outside and came back with another bag.

Every man, totaling four in the living room had their eyes glued on her ass. She had on some yoga pants, a tank top and her streaked hair in a ponytail, displaying her beautiful face. The woman was covered, but every curve could be seen and every man onsite would have a peek.

A possessiveness came over John as he heard a few low whistles and other men started to come down the stairs to see what the spectacle was about.

“Hey, guys.” She waved. “I just wanted to say thank you for all that you’ve done, so I brought lunch. I hope I’m not too late. It’s spaghetti with turkey meat sauce, salad, bread and sweet tea. I made enough for twenty-five people and I was told there were nine of you all together, so you can get seconds.”

The men were all smiles and some were openly salivating at the beautiful woman.

Before he realized it, John stood up, stalked towards her, grabbed her hand, and ground out, “A word.”

He brought her through the living room, the kitchen and to the backyard where nobody was, and seethed, “What do you think you’re doing?”

“What?” she looked confused.

“What do you mean, what?” he replied as he placed her against the door, with his body tilted down towards her.

“Why are you mad at me? I asked you if I could drop something off and you said yes.”

“Not dressed like that.”

“This is my workout gear.”

“Oh, but don’t I know it, and everyone else. You can’t come into a room full of men dressed like that with food. It’s like walking into the lion’s den. Now not only are they salivating at your food, but also salivating about you.”

“Well, I am single, John. There is no harm in looking, right?”

John’s eyes grew wide and he raised his brows. “Oh, that’s the game you play?” He lifted his hands like he was surrendering and backed away.

When he turned to leave, she grabbed his wrist and said, “Wait.”

He halted but remained turned away from her.

“I only want you to look at me, John.”

He felt like a drummer was pounding in his ears, her words were assaulting him. She was young, probably more trouble than he really wanted and just cooked a whole meal for a crew of men that were simply doing their job. Before he could think any further, she rubbed his arm and he turned and in one step partly picked her up and put her against the door again, but with his hands on her ass, holding her taut body to his.

“Say what?” He whispered on her lips.

Her breathing was labored, but she mumbled, “I just want you to look at me.”

He took her lips with his own and caressed them with his tongue. She tasted like sweet tea in the summer time. He moaned and picked her up, so her legs wrapped around his waist. He bit her bottom lip, then a small moan escaped her, which sent John over the edge. He squeezed her ass and pressed her in harder so she could really feel him. Then he pulled back.

Damn.

He released her and kept his forehead on hers.

Available NOW on Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Kobo!


About Tia Kelly

Tia Kelly is the author of contemporary and women’s fiction. She is known for her candid way of capturing life’s moments, one character at a time. You can visit her here.

About Tia’s upcoming release ‘Love Is’: Diane Collins had big plans for her life, and hoops star Warren Scott was not among them. He doesn’t want to be the face of the NBA, and she doesn’t care that he is. His reluctance to be part of the limelight disarms her and the two embark on an unlikely friendship that becomes an even unlikelier romance. 

Soon, his life is her life – filled with VIP treatment, parties and luxuries beyond Diane’s wildest imagination. But Warren is harboring a secret, and once it’s revealed Diane’s decision to stay or go could change the very fabric of who she thought she was.

Excerpt:

A low grunt beside her got Diane’s attention and she looked to her left to see a man trying to get comfortable in one of the seats. His long frame poured into the aisle in front of them as he shifted his stiff magnificent body, making his unusual length stand out even more.

Love isA family with two young children stopped in front of her and the stranger. staring openly, unlike Diane who tried to keep her gaze discreet. The mother held onto a Polaroid camera and one of the kids clutched a piece of paper and pen.

“We hate to bother you, Warrior, but do you mind?”

Diane turned to look at the guy now wearing a scowl on his face as he took the piece of paper and scrawled his name across it.

“No pictures if you don’t mind. I’m just trying to spend some quality time with my lady before our flight,” he said in a voice so low that it was barely audible.

The group moved on and Diane sighed with relief after noticing no other stragglers threatened to invade their space. Turning the page, she mumbled to her seat mate keeping her own curiosity about him in check. He was a man that clearly wanted to be left alone, but that was until she was dragged in to the imposition his celebrity caused him. “Your lady?”

“They usually leave me alone if I have company.”

She smiled, not able to resist the urge to tease him. “Glad to know I could be of assistance. By the way, I’d be highly upset if after all I did to save you from your fans if my man happens to forget my birthday this year.”

He laughed and the sound of it stirred her soul. She placed the magazine on her lap and turned to get a good look at him. He kept his head down, but she still noticed the intensity in his golden brown hazel eyes beneath thick, dark furrowed brows. A passerby interrupted their polite conversation by calling out “The Warrior.” With his head still bent, she saw his face go from relaxed to obvious discomfort. A group of young men repeated the nickname and the guy beside her clenched his jaw. Strong, angry nostrils flared above full lips and for some reason, Diane felt the need to protect him.

Her soft voice broke the tension and she placed her hand atop his forearm. “I take it you would rather they don’t recognize you.”

“Right now just isn’t the best time for me.”

“You must be pretty famous. People are whispering and staring at you.” Diane watched the corridor fill with people slowing down just long enough to get a glimpse of The Warrior as he waited at the gate.

He shrugged and shifted again in his seat, not saying anything but also not moving to get from under her touch.

A gate attendant appeared and offered him two small white flight pillows. He struggled as the attendant watched without offering any more help that might invade this man’s space. On instinct, Diane reached to help, placing the pillows behind his back only pausing to ask if that made him feel any better. When he nodded, the attendant returned to her post at the counter.

His laborious effort of pointing behind him was just as uncomfortable for her to watch. “Landed on my back during last night’s game.”

“Game?”

He smiled and laughed again.

“What’s so funny?”

“You’re refreshing.”

“No. I’m just confused. Would it be safe to assume you are referring to basketball?”

He nodded.

“No need in telling me more. I don’t follow sports so any conversation about teams and the like would be wasting your time and mine. But I do hope you find relief soon.”

The Warrior smiled and signaled to get the gate attendant’s attention.

“Your ticket?” he asked Diane.

“My what?”

He pointed toward the sign with their destination and flight number nearby. “Are you going to New Orleans, too?”

“Uh, yes.”

He stared at the ticket she used as a placeholder in the magazine and slipped it from between the pages before handing it to the attendant. “There was a mixup when my lady and I made our travel reservations. Is there any way you could seat her beside me in first class?”

Turning back to Diane after the attendant walked away, he offered a stiff shrug. “Like I said earlier, I hurt my back in the game and now the spasms are killing me. I just want to rest during the flight. Do you mind sitting with me? That’s the only way I can make sure whoever has that seat doesn’t work my nerves the next few hours.”

Diane looked back at the uniformed woman that was still smiling and typing on the computer terminal in front of her. “Why me?”

He lifted his head and once their eyes met, Diane felt herself drawn to him. Just as he opened his mouth to speak, the attendant returned holding a new ticket out for Diane to accept.
“Mr. Scott, we’re about to start boarding, but I’m willing to allow you and your companion early entry so you can get situated. Please follow me.”

Diane paused, but he nodded after standing and gestured for her to follow. Collecting her belongings and his small bag so he didn’t have to bend down to retrieve it, she walked with him toward the jet bridge.


About ‘Ivy’s League’By any measure, she is a success. By any measure that is, except her own.

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

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

And if their own baggage isn’t enough, Ivy and Eli have to contend with circumstances around them that seem to confirm their worst fear: that the bond they’re beginning to build can’t possibly last.

Excerpt:

As they drove, in a companionable silence, it was a complete contrast to the tension-filled trip the evening before. The morning was cool enough that Eli had to turn the heat on for the first few minutes, but after that, it was comfortable, and one of the most beautiful fall mornings Ivy could remember. The sky was the brightest blue and large cotton-ball clouds drifted by. She rested her feet on the dashboard and saw Eli glance at them, shaking his head but not complaining about them being there.

“Yknow last night?” Ivy ventured. “When a lot of things got said in like, the throes of … passion or whatever, I just wondered how many of those things hold up now, the morning after.”

“Things like what?”Eli asked.

“Things like, ‘you’re mine’ … things like that,” she said.

Eli glanced at her. “Second thoughts?”

“No,” she said quickly. “I just want to make sure you don’t have any. Men have a way of …”

“Talking nonsense before they bust a nut?”

Ivy laughed. “Well, yeah.”

“Not this man. I meant it.” He gave her another long look.

“So. At Woodmore, how does that … how are we going to make that work?”

“What the heck does Woodmore have to do with it?” Eli asked. “It’s none of their business what we do. And besides, who even knows if we talk to each other outside of that parking lot? Who would care?”

“I don’t know. Maybe Jenna Tate for instance.”

For what seemed like a long time, Eli said nothing. “How do you know about her?”

“She approached me. The morning you were sick and didn’t come. She walked up to me and made it pretty crystal clear that you and she … knew each other.”

Eli sniffed. “That was nothing. And it’s over with. Obviously.”

“Were there others?”

“No. It only took one time for me to know that it was a dummy-move in the first place.”

“Well, not one time, Eli. Because now there’s me,” Ivy pointed out.

“You think for one second, what’s going on here is like what happened with me and Jenna Tate?” he asked. He sounded angry.

“I don’t know. Because I have no idea what happened with Jenna Tate.”

“I told you, it was nothing. A horny woman who wanted to slum it for a while, and a guy dumb enough to walk right into it.”

“She wasn’t ‘slumming-it’ with you, Eli. You have to stop saying stuff like that.”

“That may not be the way I think of myself, Ivy, but it’s definitely the way some of those folks at Woodmore see me. And if you pretend otherwise, you’re kidding yourself.”

Ivy exhaled. “We’re getting off-topic. I want to know how we’re going to handle when we’re at the school. Our boys go there; it’s a very conservative school, so we can’t expose them to any …blowback.”

“What blowback? And how will we handle what exactly?”

“Eli, I don’t want to fight. I just want to know how I handle the Jenna Tates and the other women who might be curious about our relationship. What would you have me say to them?”

Suddenly Eli was pulling over to the side of the road, doing so abruptly enough that the tires screeched and gravel on the shoulder sprayed behind them. He turned to look at her, and Ivy feared for a moment that he was really angry. But he wasn’t. The only looks in his eyes were certainty, and steely determination.

“What I expect,” he said, “is for you to tell them if they ask that I’m your man. If any of them step to me, I intend to say that you’re my woman. And if any of the Upstanding Christian Brothers over there step to you, I expect you to do the same.”

Ivy’s lips twitched. “What did you call them? Upstanding …”

“I’m serious, Ivy. As for the school and the administrators, it’s none of their business, and where anyone else is concerned, you’re off the damn market.”

Ivy leaned over and nuzzled him. “I swear to god, I just got wet when you said that.”


To attend ‘Wine with Writers’ in Washington DC, buy tickets here.