Family for the Holiday: A Ebony and Brian Short Story, Part 4

The story continues!

Ebony and Brian’s Gift to you!

Part One- The Meeting- December 23rd- Brian

Part Two- Christmas Eve- December 24th- Ebony

Part Three- Christmas Eve- December 24th- Brian

Christmas Eve: December 24th, Part 4

Ebony

 

“Ebony, baby, wake up.”

I awakened in the dark room to find Brian looming over the bed, his blond hair illuminated by the light streaming through the bedroom window. “What time is it?” I rubbed my eyes. After a day spent shopping and preparing for tomorrow’s activities with my mother and Mrs. Young, I was exhausted.

“Nearly midnight. You were supposed to meet me outside ten minutes ago.”

The mattress lowed on one side of the bed as Brian sat down. I reached out and rested a hand on his thigh. I wanted him to crawl in-between the sheets with me and talk in bed. But I knew my man. Talking would lead to cuddling which would lead to kissing and end in sex. I had no problem with all three activities, but his mother’s rules about un-married couples sleeping together in her house were finite. I was not about to break them.

“Are you sure we can’t talk here? It’s warm and I’m comfortable.” I put on my best smile, but it was no use; he couldn’t see it in the dark.

“Don’t tempt me.” He ran his finders along my hand. “Let’s go, I promise you’ll be comfortable. Be sure to grab a jacket.” He stood and offered his hand.

I still wore my clothes from earlier in the day in preparation for our late night rendezvous. I shoved off the sheets, got out of bed, and slipped on my tennis shoes.

Our fingers linked, I followed Brian into the hall, tiptoeing past the guest room where my parents slept, and his parents’ master bedroom. The lights in both rooms were off, but a faint blue glow ran underneath his parents’ door.

“They sleep with the television on,” he whispered.

We crept slowly down the steps.

“Follow my lead, step where I step,” he instructed.

I nodded and did as I was told; only missing one spot. The creak of that step sounded like a gunshot in a quiet room. We froze; no doors opened. I suppressed a giggle while Brian stifled a laugh.

We made our way through the dark house and out of the sliding-glass door in the kitchen. Instead of stopping at the patio table and chairs on the back porch, Brian retrieved a flashlight from the railing and led me across the backyard.

I looked at the newly built gazebo. “We’re not going there?”

“No. We need privacy. If they wake up and look outside, they’ll see us. We’re headed for the treehouse.” Brian handed me the flashlight and lowered the rope steps. He reached for the light, stuck it between his teeth, and climbed.

I inclined my head and watched. When he reached the top, he looked down. “Come on.”

“I must be crazy,” I murmured, testing the rope to be sure it would support my weight. “If I fall on my ass I’m kicking yours,” I said, loud enough for him to hear.

When I reached the top, I crawled through a small door into a room that was big enough for us to sit facing each other. The flashlight sat on its flat base, the light reflecting off the ceiling and bouncing off the wooden walls. I wiped my hands on my jeans and looked around. Pictures, drawings, and posters lined the walls while a box filled with a variety of toys sat in the corner.

“My father and I built this when I was eight. Now my niece and nephews play here when they come to visit.” He chuckled. “You know, my sisters used to sneak out of the house late at night to make out with their boyfriends when our parents were asleep.”

I laughed. “I assume you did, too.”

His lopsided grin I loved so much appeared. “Of course.”

I shook my head, trying to ignore the green-eyed monster of jealously. It wasn’t often that I thought about the women from his past.

“Don’t worry, I never got past second base with anyone up here,” his eyes turned mischievous. “I’d love to do it with you, though.”

I covered my mouth and laughed. “But your mother’s rule─”

“Only applies inside the house. We’re outside.” He wagged his eyebrows, then reached into a box beside him. “And, I’ve come prepared.” He pulled out candles and a lighter. A large blanket, a small bottle of wine, and plastic cups followed.

Brian always had a way of bending rules to meet his needs. My heart warmed. “When did you have time to do this?”

“When no one was looking.”

We maneuvered around the small space and lay the blanket down. I held the candles while he lit them; he held the cups as I poured the wine.

“This is perfect,” I said after sipping the chilled liquid. “I thought today would never end. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I’ve missed being with you.”

“I missed you, too,” he said, settling against the opposite wall. “So, what went on with you guys?”

I sighed. “In a nutshell? I was told we don’t need to drag our feet with starting a family. Oh, and deciding where to have our wedding is going to be a pain in our backsides.”

Brian lifted his head from the wall. “What?”

I nodded, sipped again. “You heard me. Apparently waiting a few years to have kids is going to make us ancient by the time they get to be teenagers.”

Brian laughed. “Which one of our mothers said that?”

“Both.”

He cringed. “Yikes. And the wedding?”

“Remember when I told you the last time my mother assumed I was getting married she started planning the event?”

“Yes.”

“She informed me she’s already talked to the pastor back home and has the church reserved. All she needs is the date.”

His eyebrows went up. “Okay…”

“Oh, that’s not the half of it. Your mom insisted the church your sisters were married in is the perfect location, especially since your family is so big.”

He whistled. “What did you say?”

“Nothing other than we haven’t decided on a date yet.”

Brian shook his head.

“How was the ride with my dad?”

Brian’s brow rose as he looked down at his near empty cup. “Enlightening and informative.”

It was my turn to look confused. “How so?”

“Do you want the long or short version?”

“Short, that’s all I think I can handle.” I emptied my cup and reached for the bottle.

“He admitted he had reservations about me being white, but said since meeting me and my family, he’s happy if you’re happy.”

“Hey, that’s great news!” Then I realized Brian wasn’t exactly smiling. “Did I miss something?”

His eyes turned intense when what he was about to say was important. “Can I ask you a question? I need you to be honest.”

“Always.” I gave him my undivided attention.

“Your father made some good points about what it takes for a man to support his family. It’s funny, even he mentioned kids.”

I nearly choked on my wine. “You’re kidding.”

He shook his head. “Nope, I got family advice, too, the practical side that is. He made me think about something I haven’t considered before. With both of us determined to see our careers grow, what happens if get you get pregnant before we’ve reached them?”

Instinctively, my hand went to my belly. His eyes followed.

“Would you want to go right back to work, or would you prefer to stay home?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. After talking to my sister, I know daycare can be expensive, and I don’t like the idea of someone else raising my child during the day.”

“Neither do I. But what if we needed the money?”

That was a sobering thought. “What are you saying, Brian?”

He took a deep breath. “I’m saying…maybe I should cut back on the music and focus on building my business. It was a way to supplement my income while I focused on my career. It worked when it was just me, but now…,” he looked down at his cup. “The business has grown over the last few months. If I focus on it, with my cousins help, I can make it into more. We’ll need that type of stability in the future. I can make a decent living off my contract with the studio and playing gigs. The major money is in touring, but I’m not about to go down that path again. The last time was…,”he looked away. “I’m not leaving you like that again, especially if we have a child.”

“Brian, are you saying you’re going to give up everything you’ve worked for because of something my father said?”

He scooted around, as if suddenly uncomfortable with the thought. “I want to provide a good life for you, for us. You’re about to be my wife and─”

“And I want you to be happy about it.” I set my cup down and moved closer to where he sat. His eyes were cast down. I lifted his head until our eyes connected. “Can you honestly say you’d be happy if you put your dream aside?”

I gazed into the cerulean eyes I loved and saw him at war with himself, trying to make himself say something I knew he wouldn’t believe.

“No,” he admitted.

“Then don’t walk away from what makes you happy. That’s like asking me to quite school and give up on becoming a veterinarian because I was pregnant. Not about to happen. I’m this close,” I held up two fingers in demonstration, “this close to earning the degree it took eight years to get. Walking away now would be throwing away eight years of my life. The same for you. You’ve got talent like I’ve never seen before, and you are good at what you do. There’s nothing worse in life than giving up something you love. You’d be miserable, and for what? I’m not pregnant. We have time. I don’t want you regretting our relationship because my father is making you doubt your career. I’m happy with you and your career…now and in the future. What happens next is our decision. Where we work…where we get married…when we start our family.” I swallowed hard, forcing the lump I felt in the back of my throat to go away. If I wasn’t careful, tears would follow.

“Your right.” He pulled my hand that rested on his check to his lips, and kissed my ring finger. Then he chuckled. “And to think, a month ago, we were worried your parents wouldn’t support our relationship. Now we’ve got support, but it’s the real life issues that are stressing us out.”

“Tell me about it.” I settled into his embrace as he pulled me next to him. “What are we going to do about the wedding? Tomorrow is Christmas Day and your entire family will be here. They’re going to expect us to announce a date.”

Brian kissed my forehead. “You’re right. You know, we could always do like my cousin and run off to Vegas. We could sneak away for the weekend, then Skype everyone with the good news.”

I laughed. “Don’t tempt me. I say we don’t worry about what our mothers want. It’s us getting married. Why don’t we find someplace neutral?”

Brian nodded. “I like the way you think. Got someplace in mind?”

“The perfect place. I’ll need to make a call in the morning. What time is it anyway?”

Brian dug his phone out of his pocket. “Damn, it’s way past midnight.”

“Christmas morning?”

He nodded.

“You do realize this is our first Christmas together.” I let a seductive smile play across my lips and saw his eyes light up in response.

His focus went to my mouth as the deviousness I loved came out to play. “Indeed. What are you thinking?”

I scooted away from him and settled down on the blanket. It wasn’t a bed, but it could work.

“I’m thinking we celebrate early. We may not be in our house, but I’m sure I can knock out the memory of Betty Sue or Sara-what’s-her-name who wouldn’t let you get past second base.” I beckoned him over with the crock of my finger.

Brian laughed, put his cup down, and moved the lit candles out of the way. He settled in the space of my open legs, resting his elbows on either side of my head. “You know, I think your right.”

Our lips fused together as my hands dug deep into the blond waves of his hair. The feel of my son-to-be-husband’s body pressed against mine would never get old. I pushed all thought and worry about family aside and focused on what was important…the here and now. The love that we shared. The future we were building.

Now all I had to do was keep from moaning too loud. The neighbors had dogs. No need to wake up the entire neighborhood.

Brian’s mouth left mine and traveled the expanse of my throat. In-between kisses he said, “I love you.”

I sighed. “I love you, too.”

#####

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion, Part 5!

 

Follow this link to learn more about The Butterfly Memoirs!

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

About Me Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Google+ Goodreads Linkedin Email

 

 

 

 

Family for the Holiday: A Ebony and Brian Short Story- Part 3

The story continues!

Ebony and Brian’s Gift to you!

Part One- The Meeting- December 23rd- Brian

Part Two- Christmas Eve- December 24th- Ebony

Christmas Eve- Part 3

Brian

 

My father jumped out of his recliner as his favorite football team scored. “Go, go, go….yes! See, Brian, I told you! Pay up!”

Beside me, my future father-in-law shook his head. “That was just luck.” He dug into his wallet and pulled out the money to pay his debt.

“No, that was an athlete who knows how to play the game,” Dad said, laughing as he collected his winnings.

I dug into my pocket and gave my dad a dollar before glancing at Clarence. He appeared calm, even though his team was losing. The good-natured bets going back and forth between us was an easy way to study the temperament of my future father-in-law. After last night’s handshake, I was still on edge.

He sipped his beer and studied my father’s movie posters on the wall during the commercial break. “Nice man cave you’ve got here, Winfred. I’ve tried to get Anita to let me have one inside the house.” He shook his head. “You’d think after thirty years of paying the mortgage I would have earned a room. Instead, I got pushed out to the garage.”

Both men laughed.

“What we won’t do for the women we love, eh?” My dad supplied.

Clarence raised his bottle. “Here, here.”

Both men looked at me. I held my bottle up in agreement then gulped.

A soft knock on the door drew everyone’s attention. Ebony peeked into the room. “Excuse me, Brian, your mom would like you to run to the store before they close.” She held up a sheet of paper.

I tried to hide my relief. “Sure.”

If I was lucky, Ebony would be able to sneak away with me. After my mother’s invitation to spend the week at the house with everyone else, Ebony and I had gone to our respective homes and grabbed enough clothes for the week. Our original plan had been to spend the rest of the holiday at our new home.

Three weeks had passed since we signed the lease. Ebony came by periodically to help unpack and set things up. A few of her personal items had made their way over. Her official move-in date was a few days after Christmas. Regardless, my attempt to convince her to spend at least one night at our new home and come back in the morning hadn’t worked. She insisted on not disappointing our parents. In the end, not only had I slept alone, I slept in my childhood bed.

My mother insisted we sleep in separate rooms because we weren’t married. She knew we had sex, but my parents were old fashioned. ‘Unwed? No sex in my beds!’ was her motto.

Imagining my fiancée sleeping down the hall in addition to the intimidation of being in the same room with her father made a good night’s sleep hard to come by.

I joined Ebony in the hallway. “How are things in the kitchen?”

She walked over, slipped her arms around my waist, and laid her head against my chest. “Up until twenty minutes ago, fine.”

I caught the change in her voice; she was no longer as excited as she’d been at breakfast.

In need of physical connection as much as she apparently did, I held her tight. “What happened? Is everything okay?”

Before she could reply, I heard the door to the man-cave open behind me.

“Hey, Brian, do you mind if I ride with you? I could use a bit of fresh air.”

Clarence’s booming voice forced me to jump away from Ebony as if we were teenagers caught red handed. My back was turned to him so he couldn’t see my initial cringe as I squeezed my eyes shut.  “Sure. I’ll be ready to leave in five minutes.”

“Let me grab my shoes.” Clarence walked by me, stopped at Ebony, who’d stepped away from me, and kissed her cheek before heading for the stairs.

Ebony watched as he disappeared, then turned to me. “I saw that look. Things aren’t going well in there either?”

I shrugged. “They’re getting along fine. Men are easy. Beer, sports, everything is all good.”

She cocked her head to the side, studying me. “What about you?”

“I’m hanging in there.” It was my turn to study her. “How about you? You guys seem to be getting along great. We can hear the laughter over the T.V.”

Ebony ran a hand over her head. “Woman can be touchy, especially when the subject of weddings and babies comes up.” She shuttered.

I was about to ask for details when I heard her father’s heavy footfalls on the stairs. I kissed her quick. “We’ll talk tonight after everyone goes to bed, okay?”

“Sounds like a plan. Be safe.” She kissed me again and headed for the kitchen.

“Ready to go?” Clarence said.

“Yes, sir.”

***

We were in my truck, merging into the main street traffic when Clarence spoke.

“Brian, I have to be honest. When my daughter told us she’d been dating a white man and that you were engaged, I had my reservations. Even after she told us about what you’ve done for her, I still was wary. Things were different when my wife and I got married, but times have changed. We raised our children to be open-minded, loving, and honest individuals. As a father, it’s hard to imagine your little girls growing up and being involved with a man. You worry about how well they’ll be treated and if the guy really loves them…” His voice drifted off as if in remembering something.  “Then one day they say, ‘Pop, I’m getting married.’” You learn to handle it and move on, but it’s never easy.

“Ebony has always been strong minded, hard-headed, and determined to have what she wants. Ever since she was a little girl.” He chuckled. “I can’t tell you how many times she almost gave her mother a heart attack by bringing injured animals home and hiding them in the garage.”

I smiled, trying to picture Ebony doing those things. Then I felt Clarence staring at me. My smile dropped.

“You’ll have to forgive me if I’ve come off as rude. With everything my daughter has told us over the last few weeks, it was quite a shocker. What happened to her…what you did…the engagement…that was a lot of information to process at one time.”

“And the fact that I’m white.” I glanced over in time to see him crack a small smile and nod.

“And there’s that. Can’t lie and say we weren’t shocked.”

I braced myself for what he was about to say next.

“But since meeting you and your family, I can understand why she loves you. You’re a good man and come from a good family.”

My mouth fell open. I risked a glance as I drove to make sure I hadn’t heard incorrectly.

Clarence watched me, an enormous smile on his face.

“Thank you, sir,” I stammered.

His thunderous laugh reverberated in the car. “You were scared, huh? I must say, you did better than my other son-in-law. Poor boy nearly pissed his pants the first time he met me, and he’s black.”

I found myself laughing. “Well, I didn’t have problems with my bodily functions, but my hand still aches.”

“Sorry about that. I hope it’s not one you play with.”

I shook my head. “It’s fine. I’ve done a lot worse. When I first met Ebony, I did yard maintenance for a living. There were numerous times when I had cuts and bruises on my hands and had to go to the club to play that night. Professionals learn to do what you must for the show to go on.”

He nodded. “True. Which is what I want to talk to you about.”

Something about his words set me on edge. “What’s on your mind, sir?”

“You can call me Clarence, or Dad, whichever one you’re comfortable with.” He watched me nod. “My daughter comes from a family of hard workers. You’ve seen it for yourself. She’s worked hard to get where she is in her career.”

“Yes, sir. I support her with anything she wants to do. That’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with her.” I watched him nod with my peripheral vision.

“So I’ve heard. I understand you have a pretty good work ethic, too. You’re a musician and own your own business. How do you balance the two?”

“I’ve got family; my cousins are running the business for now. I join in when I have time. But working for the record company pays well, too.”

“How long do you plan on staying there?”

“Excuse me?” I gave him my full attention when we reached a red light.

“Musicians tend to move from job to job. It’s not like working for a corporation that pays for your health insurance and gives you a 401K. There’s no retirement fund. What happens when Ebony gets pregnant and you guys need a bigger place? What about when you have a second or third kid? Life won’t get easier. I know my daughter is going to get the job at the zoo she wants, but how long will she be able to work once she’s pregnant? What if she takes off from work and decides she’d rather stay home with the kids. Will you be able to handle the expense with the job you have now?”

Clarence looked at me full on. Nothing about his facial expression or body language said he disliked my choice of careers. He was asking real-world questions based on the reality of the commitment Ebony and I were going to make.

“To be honest…” I gripped the steering wheel. “I don’t know. I’ve thought about some of it, but right now, children are not high on our list.”

“Do you guys have a five-year plan? Ten year? Anything?”

I shook my head. The plans Ebony and I made were about our jobs and getting married. Now that I thought about it, even that was unfinished. We had yet to set a definite date.

“We’re moving in together this weekend.” My eyebrows furrowed. “I guess with everything that’s happened, we’ve skipped ahead a few steps.”

“I’m glad you’re willing to admit it,” Clarence said. “There’s one thing I want you to remember.” He paused, waiting for me to look in his direction. “Nothing is set in stone. Plans can be broken, updated, and reevaluated at any time. Trust me. I’ve been married to Ebony’s mother for over thirty years. Sometimes I knew where we were going in life. Other times, I was flying by the seat of my pants. I didn’t always share the ups and downs with Anita because the stress would have made her worry too much. There were times when I carried the burden alone. As men, that’s what we do to take care of our families. Remember that. But don’t just take my word for it, ask your father. I’m sure he’s got some stories he’ll be able to tell,” he chuckled, “especially when raising five kids. And four daughters?” He whistled. “Two was enough for me.”

I smiled then got lost in thought.

Clarence had given me a lot to think about. While Ebony said she was supportive of my career, how long would it last? We avoided the baby roulette game once, but what if it happened again? We’d welcome our baby, no doubt about it. But what about everything it would take to care for my family?

Insurance. Housing. Daycare. Stay-at-home mom? Could my current career handle all of that on one income?

Yes, Ebony and I were definitely going to talk tonight.

####

Come back tomorrow for Part 4!

Follow this link to learn more about The Butterfly Memoirs!

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

About Me Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Google+ Goodreads Linkedin Email

Family for the Holiday: A Ebony and Brian Short Story- Part 2

The story continues!

Ebony and Brian’s Gift to you!

***Miss Part One? Follow this link! ***

****

Christmas Eve- December 24th, Part 2

Ebony

My mother-in-law to be led us into the kitchen. “Ebony, Anita, we’re going to have so much fun!”

My mom and I laughed at Mrs. Young’s enthusiasm. We’d spent the day going from store to store, picking up last minute gifts and ingredients for her Christmas breakfast and Christmas dinner dishes.

The Young family’s customs were nothing like my family’s. I watched my mother all day as she stopped herself on several occasions from suggesting where the other woman should place a decorative item or exactly what meals should be on the menu. I had to say…she was a trooper.

This was the first time my mother would not be hosting Christmas dinner at our family home. Every year, no matter where we were, our family dropped everything to be together. Especially since Trevon and I graduated high school and went to college. I’d moved to California while my brother, Trevon, attended college in Atlanta, Georgia. Upon graduation, he made the city his home. My older sister, Lashana, and her husband and daughter were the only ones living near mom and dad.

I snuck a peek at my mom as she accepted the aged recipe from Laura’s family cook book. She scanned the ingredients and plastered on a smile. It wasn’t a dish she was familiar with. When it came to something new, my mother had to be prodded to accept change. I could tell she longed for the dishes she customarily made back home.

I felt a momentary pain of guilt. Once again, my decisions affected those I loved. If I had opened up about what was going on in my life, things would be a lot different now. I would have been home, and Brian would be with me, meeting my entire family. Instead, he had obligations to attend to that kept us in town.

But when I thought about it, things were working out the way they should. Soon, Brian and I would be starting our own family traditions as a married couple. Between my family across county, and his large family in town, deciding where we spent the holiday would be interesting.

Having my parents meet my future in-laws now instead of on our wedding day would make the decisions we made much easier.

“Oh crap, where are my manners?” Laura said. I looked up to see her watching my mother. “We were out all day, so I didn’t ask if there was something you’d like to make for dinner. I’m so sorry.”

My mom smiled. “Oh, it’s not a problem. Everyone does things differently.”

“Yes it is. It’s probably too late to plan a meal. Would you like to make something for dessert?”

My mother’s eyes brightened. “Are you sure you wouldn’t mind?”

“Of course not.” Laura smiled. She walked over to the refrigerator where a mini notepad and pen were stuck on with a magnet. “Write down what you need. Whatever we don’t have, I’ll send Brian to the store to get.”

“Okay, wow, I’m not sure what to make!” My mom put her hands on her hips, deep in thought.

“How about your famous Banana Pudding? I haven’t had it in ages,” I suggested.

“Perfect!” both women said in unison.

My mother jotted down the ingredients from memory.

“Laura, what time is Bridget going to be here?” I asked.

“Bridget?” My mom looked up from her notes.

“She’s one of Brian’s sisters. You’ll love her, she’s a riot.”

“That’s right, I remember you telling me about her. Laura, how many children do you have?” my mom asked.

“Five. Four girls and one boy. Brian is the baby.” Laura selected a pot out of the cabinet, then put her hands on her hips as if reviewing the inventory. “I hear you have twins. How fun was that?” She glanced over her shoulder.

My mother laughed. “Honestly? Not as much fun as you would think during the first few months. Sleep was a commodity not easy to come by. Let’s not talk about potty training and learning how to walk.” She looked at me and shook her head.

“What?”

“Wait until you have your own kids.”

Laura laughed. “Do twins run in your family?”

“Yes, they do,” mom confirmed.

“And that’s why I’m not in a rush to start a family.”

Both women looked at me as if I’d used profanity. Neither woman lacked in the grandkids department. Laura had six and my mother had one. My twin brother and I weren’t in a hurry to add to the Campbell family tree.

“Does Brian feel the same way?” my mom asked.

“Um…yes, we’ve had this conversation.” A feeling of unease hit the pit of my stomach. A quick glance at my mother and seeing the expression on her face didn’t help. “We are both starting out in our careers and want to get stabilized first. I have a few more months until I graduate college, and he’s still making a name for himself at the record label. We’ve got three years until we turn thirty. We’ve got time.”

Both women looked at each other and smirked.

“Baby, I was twenty-one when I gave birth to your sister, and twenty-three by the time you and Trevon came along. I couldn’t imagine doing it when I was older than that.” My mother shook her head. “You have no idea how much energy it took to keep you two out of trouble.”

Laura laughed. “Tell me about it. I started young, too. It seemed like they just kept popping out. Give birth to one, look at Winfred, then I was pregnant again.”

I laughed along with them and ignored the momentary flash back to when there was a chance I carried Brian’s baby. Even then I was sure the Young men were potent. A twinge in my gut made me nauseous.

I pushed the reminder of the decisions of my past aside. There were some things Brian and I chose to keep private.

“When the time comes, I’ll be sure to do a conference call and let you both know at the same time.”

“Let them know what?”

We turned to see Bridget breeze into the kitchen, her arms loaded with groceries, her pixie cut hair tousled.

“Trust me, you don’t want to know,” I warned. One thing I’d learned about Bridget, she was in no rush to be attached to any man, much less have a baby.

She took a moment to study me, looked at the older women, then back at me. “You know…you’re right.” She went to her mother, gave her a hug. “You owe me, Mom. This is the last Christmas Eve where I go shopping. If it weren’t for the fact that Caroline just had her baby…” She rolled her eyes. “Anyway, I’m being rude. Hi, I’m Bridget.” She extended a hand to my mother.

“This is my mother, Anita,” I said, praying her appearance would speed up the change in subject.

“It’s nice to meet you.” Bridget walked over to the kitchen table and grabbed a bright red apple from the fruit bowl, rinsed it off, took a bite, then chewed. “Where’s Dad?”

“Your father, Clarence, and Brian are in your father’s man cave. When it comes to cooking, Winfred stays away from the kitchen, but if it has to do with grilling, that is his territory,” she advised my mom, who nodded in understanding.

“No surprise there.” Bridget took another bite and chewed. “Well, it’s obvious I’m here in time for cooking. What have I missed? Have we started planning the wedding yet?”

“No, but there’s no time like the present.” My mother’s eyes lit up. I knew exactly where this was about to go. “Ebony, I’ve talked to our pastor back home and he said he’s more than willing to perform the ceremony. All we have to do is notify him of the date and the church will be reserved.”

Laura looked up from the cookbook she’d pulled out. “I thought the wedding was going to be here in L.A. The church we attend is beautiful. There’s plenty of seating and all of my daughters have gotten married there. Well, except for Bridget.”

My future sister-in-law rolled her eyes and continued eating.

All eyes centered on me.

I bit my lip. “Well… with everything that’s been going on, we haven’t set an exact date yet, much less decided where to hold it.”

“Well, that’s a no-brainer. North Carolina is your home. You grew up there and have family and friends who haven’t seen you in years. What’s there to think about?” My mother stated.

“Brian has a lot of family here, too. If you have it in North Carolina, a lot of people won’t be able to attend. Andrea and Lisa have small kids, and Caroline just had the baby…”

Both women started going back and forth, listing the pluses and negatives of each location as if I were no longer in the room.

I was scared to utter a word for fear it would turn into World War III.

“Holy crap, I didn’t mean to start an argument,” Bridget murmured out of the side of her mouth when she joined me at the kitchen island.

Both of us watched our mothers, shocked at how fast the ambiance in the room changed from happy to nearly volatile.

“Have you guys decided what you want to do?” she asked.

I shook my head. “Not yet.”

It was apparent that whatever we decided, neither of our families would be happy.

####

Check back tomorrow for Part 3!

Follow this link to learn more about The Butterfly Memoirs!

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

About Me Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Google+ Goodreads Linkedin Email

Spend the Holiday with Ebony and Brian!

A Heart Not Easily Broken(Butterfly Memories) by M.J.Kane

Christmas will be here in a few days and many of you are looking forward to spending time with family and friends. So are Ebony and Brian. If you’ve read their story, A Heart Not Easily Broken, you know when the story ends  it is nearly Christmas and Ebony’s parents are coming to town to meet their future son-in-law. Many readers have said they would love to know what happened. So, after a lot of prodding, begging, and down right pleading, Ebony and Brian have decided to let me (us) in on what happens.

Starting tomorrow (December 23rd until December 27th), they have agreed to share the days events when her parents come to town and meet his parents. Stop by daily for the next glimpse into Ebony and Brian’s continued memoirs!

***UPDATE! FREE READ IS NOW AVAILABLE!***

Family for the Holiday: Part 1

What Readers Are Saying…

“The characters of “A Heart Not Easily Broken were are all very intriguing and captivating …showing emotions through the whole novel…from Ebony, Yasmine, Kaitlyn, Brian, Javan to a few others that I have left out keeping you on the edge of your seat and not being able to put this novel down until the end.”-Amazon Review

***

In “A Heart Not Easily Broken” MJ Kane gives us a front row seat in observing the interracial relationship between Ebony and Brian. The story is told from their perspectives, and addresses the challenges, the insecurities and the potential emotional pitfalls that an interracial couple must face as individuals and as a couple. Some of them are common to every couple. Some are unique to interracial couples. Others are uniquely the challenges faced by a white man and black woman who love each other.- Amazon Review

***

I’ve read quite a number of novels in the IR genre over the years. My interest was primarily due to my own relationship, and the desire to see African-American women portrayed as appealing, interesting, sensual, fully-formed characters – women I could recognize and relate to, and with whom I could go on a journey as I read their stories. I wasn’t always able to find novels that embraced all those elements. However, M. J. hit all those notes, and made me care deeply about the characters. I recognized Ebony. I liked her very much. She was real to me. Her struggles were real. Her dreams and goals were real. Her insecurities were real. Her self-assessment was real.- Amazon Review

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

#BlackFriday is Nearly Over…Now What? A Good Book!

Tired from all that BLACK FRIDAY shopping? Ready to give your feet and back a break?

Grab those Thanksgiving leftovers, kick back, and get lost in your NEXT FAVORITE SERIES!

Know someone who loves to read? Give them the gift of THE BUTTERFLY MEMOIRS….Reality Romance filled with stories that touch your emotions and move your soul….

***All books are available on eBook and Paperback!***

Check out A HEART NOT EASILY BROKEN

AHNEB FINAL COVER

What secret would you keep to protect the ones you love?

Ebony Campbell has a decision to make. After falling for a man who is nothing like she expected to be with, the idea of being in an Interracial Relationship takes a back seat to the secret she’s forced to keep. Sometimes, the repercussions of bad decisions and ruin everything.

Available on AMAZON, B&N, iTunes, and SMASHWORDS for $3.99! Also available on PAPERBACK!

 Visit the book page for more information about the series. Become a BOOK VOYEUR and and visit the CHARACTER BIOS, sneak a peek into their DIARY POST, and find the hidden DELETED SCENE. And don’t forget to read CHAPTER ONE!!! 

*****

Already read A Heart Not Easily Broken?

Don’t forget about JADED!!!

Haven’t read either book? Trust me, you’ll want to get both so you can find out what happens next!

Autumn landscape

Once burned, twice shy?

Unable to trust another man with her heart, Yasmine Phillips mind is on one thing: taking care of her. An unexpected friendship with a man who understands her pain leads to a fling that should have no strings. But once that line is crossed, both must decide if the secret that comes between them is worth losing it all.

Available on AMAZON, B&N, iTunes, and SMASHWORDS for $3.99! Also available on PAPERBACK!

***JADED can be read as a stand-alone or as part of The Butterfly Memoirs series. Buy your copy of this 5-STAR RATED BESTSELLER today!***

Visit the book page for more information about the series. Become a BOOK VOYEUR and and visit the CHARACTER BIOS, sneak a peek into their DIARY POST. And don’t forget to read the PROLOGUE and CHAPTER ONE!!! 

Keep an eye out for the next book in the series, LONELY HEART, available March 6, 2014!!!

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

 

Related articles

And the Winners Are…..

WinnerThanks you to everyone who participated and supported the Milestones – Lonely Heart Giveaway! As promised there are TWO winners in this contests who will receive a complimentary copy of LONELY HEART, (Book 3 of The Butterfly Memoirs) the day it releases, March 6, 2014!

So congratulations are in order for:

Arlena Gorden Dean

and

Elizabeth Williams!!!!

And for those of you who may not have read Jaded (yet) and been introduced to the lead character of Lonely Heart, here’s the a quick peek at the Prologue to Kaitlyn Rodgers story…..

Prologue

 

 “Kaity, are you sure this is what you want?”

A final scan of the room showed nothing left behind. “Yes, Ebony, I’m positive. Luke made it clear; he doesn’t want this baby, which means he doesn’t want me.”

After months of failed attempts to convince my boyfriend of nearly two years keeping our family together was best, I had enough.  The moment he learned about the pregnancy, he suggested abortion. After arguing, he conceded to try and work things out. Everything went fine for a while, but the more I asked him to participate in the doctor’s appointments and for ideas about setting up the baby’s room, the more standoffish he became.

His decision to avoid the sonogram and ignore my calls and text messages was enough.

I had three months until my baby’s arrival.

My baby…Who’d have thought I’d become a single mom?

A few short months ago, my life was perfect. I worked my dream job and had a man who loved me.

Tunes out I was wrong about that.

I made some bad decisions in my life, but it was too late to change them now.

For the next three months my focus would be providing my baby with a happy home.  And regardless of what Luke thought, he would still have responsibility in providing for his child.

“That’s everythin’. Let’s get out of here before he gets home.”

####

LONELY HEART (BOOK 3 of THE BUTTERFLY MEMOIRS)

Look for it March 2013 from 5 Prince Publishing!!

New to the series?

It’s never to late to catch up!

What is The Butterfly Memoirs Series?

A Heart Not Easily Broken

Jaded 

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

Taking It to the Next Level…Live TV!!!!

Yes, my friends, that is correct, LIVE TV!!!

Today I have the wonderful opportunity to talk to DeKalb County Commissioner, Stan Watson, on his television show called what else, The Stan Watson Show!

154

The show airs at 7:30 PM and runs until 8:30 PM on Comcast Channel 25. If you are in the Atlanta Area you may be able to view it live. If so, you can call 770-559-2999 and chat! If not, don’t worry, the broadcast will be available on YouTube. I will share the link once I have it. I can’t wait to be able to share pictures and blog about the experience!

I’m also excited because I will be able to share some exciting news about what’s going on in my writing world! If you are able to tune in to the show, pay special attention to the announcements. Be one of the first viewers to leave me a private message on Facebook my author page (M.J. Kane Books) about the news I share and you will receive a FREE COPY of Lonely Heart (Book 3 of The Butterfly Memoirs) the day it releases!!! (Only the first two responses will win!)

Until next time, STAY TUNED!!!

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

About Me Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Google+ Goodreads Linkedin Email

#SampleSunday- A Heart Not Easily Broken- Chapter Two…The Story Continues from Another Point of View

Although I shared this extended sample of A Heart Not Easily Broken earlier this week, some of you may have missed it. If you haven’t read the first novel in The Butterfly Memoirs series, but you’ve read the first chapter you’re probably wondering if Ebony decided to take Brian up on his offer to meet him in the VIP section of the club. I can guarantee what happens next is a surprise for not only Brian, but for Ebony as well.

Check out the next chapter told from Brian’s Point of View….

Chapter 2

I loved to work, but after spending the weekend playing late night gigs with my band, sleeping in on Monday would have been my preference, except my bills made it impossible.

Besides, laziness of any kind was not in my nature.

My cousin, Dylan, waved for my attention. “Hey, Brian, we’re done over here. Is there anything else?”

I cut off the weed whacker to appraise Dylan and Peter’s work, inhaling the smell of freshly cut grass. They did a good job clearing the yard of all the clippings. The decision to hire my young cousins for the summer paid off. Letting them handle the grunt work left me to handle the finer details, like trimming the edges of my clients’ professionally landscaped flowerbeds.

Sweat dripped from my brow, stinging my eyes. “No, we’re done. Take the bags to the curb.”

Dylan nodded before passing the message to his brother.

I removed the weed whacker’s carrying strap from around my neck, placed it in the bed of the truck, and then reached into the semi-melted ice in the cooler to retrieve a bottle of Gatorade. The liquid saturated my parched mouth. The bottle was empty in seconds.

“Heads up.” I tossed them both a bottle.

They murmured their thanks before leaning against the tailgate.

“Man, it’s hot,” Peter said. “How many yards have we done today?”

Dylan laughed. “This is the fifth one, bro.”

Peter turned to me for confirmation. I nodded and threw my empty bottle into the truck bed, adding to last week’s collection of bottles to be recycled.

“Man, how did I forget that?” Peter mumbled.

“Because your mind is still stuck three jobs ago,” Dylan replied.

Peter continued to have a look of awe on his face. I chuckled. If he got this flustered at the sight of three grown women lounging topless poolside, he was going to be dumbstruck when attending his first frat party in college.

I remembered my time spent in college. Somehow, I managed to discover my independence without screwing up too much along the way. Hot women always found their way into my dorm room once they learned I was in a band. A year after joining Diverse Nation, I got over the hype and focused on my craft instead. Being a member taught me discipline and kept me grounded with my eyes on the prize when it came to my career.

Music was my life. Cutting grass made it possible to pay the bills until my career took off.

I walked the yard one last time surveying our work. The hedges trimmed, grass cut evenly, and clippings set curbside. Mrs. Dillard would be pleased.

“Finish loading up,” I instructed, while walking up the long stone path that lead to a partially covered overhang, and rang the doorbell. The narrow strip of shade didn’t do much to ward off the sun’s oppressive heat. My attention went to the flowerbed kept near the front door. There were a few weeds growing among her flowers.

I smiled down at the older woman as the door opened. She was in her late sixties and believed in looking her best at all times. Mrs. Dillard lived next door to my parents. She’d been my first paying customer. She’d advertised my services at the monthly homeowner’s association meetings until nearly every neighbor became my customer. As a thank you, I offered her a lifetime of free yard maintenance. She refused, insisting she pay a discounted rate instead.

“Mrs. Dillard, you look young as ever.” I flashed the smile that used to earn me milk and cookies.

She laughed. “Brian, you are such a flirt. If I were thirty years younger…”

I shook my head. “Yeah, but then Mr. Dillard wouldn’t want me to come back around.”

“True, oh, well.” She stepped out onto her porch to survey the yard. “A great job as always, thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Unable to resist, I asked, “When are you going to let me weed your garden? It would be free of charge.”

“Never. I love to have my hands in the dirt. You handle the rest of the yard. I’ll handle my weeds.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I accepted the check. “Thank you. We’ll see you in two weeks.”

Sweaty bare feet hanging out the passenger side window greeted me when I reached the truck.

“Peter, I am not going to be held responsible by Aunt Gina if your foot gets cut by road debris.”

“Sorry,” he muttered, sliding his feet back inside. “It’s hot as h-e-double-hockey sticks out here. My feet were on fire in those boots.”

Now that his feet were inside, it made sense he’d hung them outside. Telling him to climb into the bed of my truck didn’t sound like a bad idea.

“Aunt Gina’s not around. You can drop your choirboy act, and say ‘hell’. It’ll be our secret.”

“Yeah, right. My mom probably has my boots bugged. She’d come home and slap me upside the head after listening to the recording.”

I cracked up. “Do you plan to let loose when you move into your dorm?” I concentrated on backing out of the driveway.

“Hell, yeah.”

Dylan and I both chuckled. My attention turned to my parents’ house next door. The yard would not need maintenance for another week. Unfortunately, my mother wasn’t home. What I wouldn’t give to snag a piece of homemade apple pie kept in the fridge for my dad.

From time to time, I missed home and my four obnoxious sisters. There were plenty of good times shared in my childhood home:birthdays, holidays, and just flat out fun. My father made sure that as the only boy in a household full of women, we spent a lot of time together. My mom and sisters taught me how to treat a woman while my dad taught me how to be a man. Work hard, and never, ever take no for an answer. Words I lived by on a daily basis.

We’d reached the front of the subdivision when my cell phone rang. I jotted down notes before snapping the phone shut. “It looks like we’ve got one more job.”

Groans erupted from my passengers.

“Hey, you want to get paid, right?” I glanced over my shoulder while punching the address into my GPS. “This is how it’s done. You guys want money for dates; I need money for my girl, too.”

“What girl?” Peter blurted.

Dylan cackled from the back seat.

“I have a girl. Unlike you guys, my girl isn’t high maintenance. She loves it when I hold her, and it doesn’t take much for me to make her sing.” I grinned so hard my face felt like it would split in two.

Dylan pretended to puke.

“Dude, you seriously need to find a girlfriend. I can’t stand listening to you talk about your guitar like it’s a real woman,” Peter said.

“Yeah, man, you need help,” Dylan chimed in.

“No, what I need is a new guitar. That will take my playing to a whole new level.”

Peter snickered. “Maybe, but your love life is gonna suck.”

I smirked, ignoring the ribbing. These young guys just didn’t understand. There was more to life than chasing after women.

Twenty minutes later, we arrived at the new customer’s address. There were no cars in the driveway. According to the woman who called, her roommate was on her way and would be responsible for payment. The guys waited in the truck while I surveyed the property, walking the length of the lawn, tossing small rocks to the yard’s edge. The last thing I needed was to pay for a customer’s broken windshield caused by a rock thrown by the lawnmower.

The two-story house had a decent sized yard. There were a few large shade trees in the front. A quick assessment showed the roots shouldn’t get in the way of the lawnmower blades. My height allowed me to peer over the high, wooden gate of the backyard. It was less than half the size of the front. We’d be able to knock it out in no time.

Peter and Dylan were out of the truck when I returned, so we went over the game plan. We’d just wrapped up when a car pulled into the driveway. I exhaled deeply before turning back to fill the weed whacker with gasoline. Our drive would not be a waste of time.

I heard the slam of a car door, followed by the opening of another. Light footsteps crunched on loose gravel in the driveway as my customer approached. I turned to introduce myself in full customer-service mode.

I paused; thankful my customer’s attention focused elsewhere, and quickly shut my mouth. It was Ebony, the woman from the club.

Her attention appeared to be on something in her purse as she walked my way, so she hadn’t seen me yet.

She was not dressed as she was Saturday night. Her hair wasn’t flowing over her shoulders, tempting my fingers to get lost in its waves. Her legs were not bare, nor did she wear a skin tight, short dress, showing off shapely calf muscles, as she had the other evening. Instead, she wore a baggy shirt over pants with some kind of printed design, something like standard medical wear. She wore her hair in a ponytail, and her feet were in tennis shoes. She struggled to balance an armful of books of various sizes and a book bag over her shoulder.

Ebony was still sexy as hell.

“I’m glad you haven’t got started yet. My roommate called me at the last minute and told me you were coming. I don’t have any cash on me. Do you take checks or−?” Her voice faltered when she saw me. “Brian? What are you doing here?”

I caught a hint of fire in her eyes and something else. Maybe guilt for not meeting me in VIP?

“I’m here to cut your grass.” I screwed the top back on the gas can, fighting the urge to laugh at the irony of the situation.

Play it cool. I was not about to let her know how disappointed I’d been sitting alone. What happened a few nights ago had nothing to do with the money she was about to put in my pocket.

“I thought you were a musician.”

I pulled goggles and gloves out of the driver’s side door pocket. “I am, but it doesn’t pay the bills just yet. This is my day job.”

Ebony’s eyes traveled to the truck and my cousins before settling back on me.

“This is my business,” I added, watching her thin eyebrows arch.

Since I hadn’t questioned her about the VIP incident, she seemed to relax. The sound of a lawnmower cranking up broke the awkward silence.

“Well, I’ll get out of your way.” She backed away from the truck and headed for her house.

It dawned on me I did not answer her question regarding the form of payment. At least it would give me something to talk about when we were done.

Saturday night, Ebony disappeared like Cinderella, without leaving a hint of a glass slipper. Now, barely two days later, I found where she lived. What were the chances? This was fate.

I took the opportunity to appreciate every inch of her hidden under baggy clothes. The image of her in the black form-fitting dress revealing every curvy inch of her body had haunted my dreams.

Outside the club, in natural light, Ebony did not disappoint. Her almond shaped eyes were a rich shade of brown, dark and mysterious. She wore no makeup on her caramel skin, and her lips were naked, with no hint of gloss.

I chuckled when she finally got her front door unlocked. It appeared she’d run into some trouble with her key. Flustered perhaps?

I hoped so. With a little luck, I just might have a chance to get her to talk to me about more than grass.

####

If you haven’t read the Amazon Bestseller, A Heart Not Easily Broken, buy your copy today! It’s $3.99 and available for Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and on Smashwords. If Paperback is what you prefer, find it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble! 

AHNEB FINAL COVER

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond-haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge.

When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust.

ONE CLICK for REVIEWS, FREE CHAPTER READS, ALL SALES LINKS!

For more information on The Butterfly Memoirs Series and a sample of the next book, Jadedvisit this link! 

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

Related articles

A Heart Not Easily Broken- Chapter Two- What happened next?

Today I decided to do a little bit of sharing! For those of you who have visited my site and read the first chapter of A Heart Not Easily Broken, you know Ebony was  invited to meet Brian in the VIP area of he club.  After their initial conversation, what did she decide?

Read chapter two to find out….

 

Chapter 2

I loved to work, but after spending the weekend playing late night gigs with my band, sleeping in on Monday would have been my preference, except my bills made it impossible.

Besides, laziness of any kind was not in my nature.

My cousin, Dylan, waved for my attention. “Hey, Brian, we’re done over here. Is there anything else?”

I cut off the weed whacker to appraise Dylan and Peter’s work, inhaling the smell of freshly cut grass. They did a good job clearing the yard of all the clippings. The decision to hire my young cousins for the summer paid off. Letting them handle the grunt work left me to handle the finer details, like trimming the edges of my clients’ professionally landscaped flowerbeds.

Sweat dripped from my brow, stinging my eyes. “No, we’re done. Take the bags to the curb.”

Dylan nodded before passing the message to his brother.

I removed the weed whacker’s carrying strap from around my neck, placed it in the bed of the truck, and then reached into the semi-melted ice in the cooler to retrieve a bottle of Gatorade. The liquid saturated my parched mouth. The bottle was empty in seconds.

“Heads up.” I tossed them both a bottle.

They murmured their thanks before leaning against the tailgate.

“Man, it’s hot,” Peter said. “How many yards have we done today?”

Dylan laughed. “This is the fifth one, bro.”

Peter turned to me for confirmation. I nodded and threw my empty bottle into the truck bed, adding to last week’s collection of bottles to be recycled.

“Man, how did I forget that?” Peter mumbled.

“Because your mind is still stuck three jobs ago,” Dylan replied.

Peter continued to have a look of awe on his face. I chuckled. If he got this flustered at the sight of three grown women lounging topless poolside, he was going to be dumbstruck when attending his first frat party in college.

I remembered my time spent in college. Somehow, I managed to discover my independence without screwing up too much along the way. Hot women always found their way into my dorm room once they learned I was in a band. A year after joining Diverse Nation, I got over the hype and focused on my craft instead. Being a member taught me discipline and kept me grounded with my eyes on the prize when it came to my career.

Music was my life. Cutting grass made it possible to pay the bills until my career took off.

I walked the yard one last time surveying our work. The hedges trimmed, grass cut evenly, and clippings set curbside. Mrs. Dillard would be pleased.

“Finish loading up,” I instructed, while walking up the long stone path that lead to a partially covered overhang, and rang the doorbell. The narrow strip of shade didn’t do much to ward off the sun’s oppressive heat. My attention went to the flowerbed kept near the front door. There were a few weeds growing among her flowers.

I smiled down at the older woman as the door opened. She was in her late sixties and believed in looking her best at all times. Mrs. Dillard lived next door to my parents. She’d been my first paying customer. She’d advertised my services at the monthly homeowner’s association meetings until nearly every neighbor became my customer. As a thank you, I offered her a lifetime of free yard maintenance. She refused, insisting she pay a discounted rate instead.

“Mrs. Dillard, you look young as ever.” I flashed the smile that used to earn me milk and cookies.

She laughed. “Brian, you are such a flirt. If I were thirty years younger…”

I shook my head. “Yeah, but then Mr. Dillard wouldn’t want me to come back around.”

“True, oh, well.” She stepped out onto her porch to survey the yard. “A great job as always, thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Unable to resist, I asked, “When are you going to let me weed your garden? It would be free of charge.”

“Never. I love to have my hands in the dirt. You handle the rest of the yard. I’ll handle my weeds.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I accepted the check. “Thank you. We’ll see you in two weeks.”

Sweaty bare feet hanging out the passenger side window greeted me when I reached the truck.

“Peter, I am not going to be held responsible by Aunt Gina if your foot gets cut by road debris.”

“Sorry,” he muttered, sliding his feet back inside. “It’s hot as h-e-double-hockey sticks out here. My feet were on fire in those boots.”

Now that his feet were inside, it made sense he’d hung them outside. Telling him to climb into the bed of my truck didn’t sound like a bad idea.

“Aunt Gina’s not around. You can drop your choirboy act, and say ‘hell’. It’ll be our secret.”

“Yeah, right. My mom probably has my boots bugged. She’d come home and slap me upside the head after listening to the recording.”

I cracked up. “Do you plan to let loose when you move into your dorm?” I concentrated on backing out of the driveway.

“Hell, yeah.”

Dylan and I both chuckled. My attention turned to my parents’ house next door. The yard would not need maintenance for another week. Unfortunately, my mother wasn’t home. What I wouldn’t give to snag a piece of homemade apple pie kept in the fridge for my dad.

From time to time, I missed home and my four obnoxious sisters. There were plenty of good times shared in my childhood home:birthdays, holidays, and just flat out fun. My father made sure that as the only boy in a household full of women, we spent a lot of time together. My mom and sisters taught me how to treat a woman while my dad taught me how to be a man. Work hard, and never, ever take no for an answer. Words I lived by on a daily basis.

We’d reached the front of the subdivision when my cell phone rang. I jotted down notes before snapping the phone shut. “It looks like we’ve got one more job.”

Groans erupted from my passengers.

“Hey, you want to get paid, right?” I glanced over my shoulder while punching the address into my GPS. “This is how it’s done. You guys want money for dates; I need money for my girl, too.”

“What girl?” Peter blurted.

Dylan cackled from the back seat.

“I have a girl. Unlike you guys, my girl isn’t high maintenance. She loves it when I hold her, and it doesn’t take much for me to make her sing.” I grinned so hard my face felt like it would split in two.

Dylan pretended to puke.

“Dude, you seriously need to find a girlfriend. I can’t stand listening to you talk about your guitar like it’s a real woman,” Peter said.

“Yeah, man, you need help,” Dylan chimed in.

“No, what I need is a new guitar. That will take my playing to a whole new level.”

Peter snickered. “Maybe, but your love life is gonna suck.”

I smirked, ignoring the ribbing. These young guys just didn’t understand. There was more to life than chasing after women.

Twenty minutes later, we arrived at the new customer’s address. There were no cars in the driveway. According to the woman who called, her roommate was on her way and would be responsible for payment. The guys waited in the truck while I surveyed the property, walking the length of the lawn, tossing small rocks to the yard’s edge. The last thing I needed was to pay for a customer’s broken windshield caused by a rock thrown by the lawnmower.

The two-story house had a decent sized yard. There were a few large shade trees in the front. A quick assessment showed the roots shouldn’t get in the way of the lawnmower blades. My height allowed me to peer over the high, wooden gate of the backyard. It was less than half the size of the front. We’d be able to knock it out in no time.

Peter and Dylan were out of the truck when I returned, so we went over the game plan. We’d just wrapped up when a car pulled into the driveway. I exhaled deeply before turning back to fill the weed whacker with gasoline. Our drive would not be a waste of time.

I heard the slam of a car door, followed by the opening of another. Light footsteps crunched on loose gravel in the driveway as my customer approached. I turned to introduce myself in full customer-service mode.

I paused; thankful my customer’s attention focused elsewhere, and quickly shut my mouth. It was Ebony, the woman from the club.

Her attention appeared to be on something in her purse as she walked my way, so she hadn’t seen me yet.

She was not dressed as she was Saturday night. Her hair wasn’t flowing over her shoulders, tempting my fingers to get lost in its waves. Her legs were not bare, nor did she wear a skin tight, short dress, showing off shapely calf muscles, as she had the other evening. Instead, she wore a baggy shirt over pants with some kind of printed design, something like standard medical wear. She wore her hair in a ponytail, and her feet were in tennis shoes. She struggled to balance an armful of books of various sizes and a book bag over her shoulder.

Ebony was still sexy as hell.

“I’m glad you haven’t got started yet. My roommate called me at the last minute and told me you were coming. I don’t have any cash on me. Do you take checks or−?” Her voice faltered when she saw me. “Brian? What are you doing here?”

I caught a hint of fire in her eyes and something else. Maybe guilt for not meeting me in VIP?

“I’m here to cut your grass.” I screwed the top back on the gas can, fighting the urge to laugh at the irony of the situation.

Play it cool. I was not about to let her know how disappointed I’d been sitting alone. What happened a few nights ago had nothing to do with the money she was about to put in my pocket.

“I thought you were a musician.”

I pulled goggles and gloves out of the driver’s side door pocket. “I am, but it doesn’t pay the bills just yet. This is my day job.”

Ebony’s eyes traveled to the truck and my cousins before settling back on me.

“This is my business,” I added, watching her thin eyebrows arch.

Since I hadn’t questioned her about the VIP incident, she seemed to relax. The sound of a lawnmower cranking up broke the awkward silence.

“Well, I’ll get out of your way.” She backed away from the truck and headed for her house.

It dawned on me I did not answer her question regarding the form of payment. At least it would give me something to talk about when we were done.

Saturday night, Ebony disappeared like Cinderella, without leaving a hint of a glass slipper. Now, barely two days later, I found where she lived. What were the chances? This was fate.

I took the opportunity to appreciate every inch of her hidden under baggy clothes. The image of her in the black form-fitting dress revealing every curvy inch of her body had haunted my dreams.

Outside the club, in natural light, Ebony did not disappoint. Her almond shaped eyes were a rich shade of brown, dark and mysterious. She wore no makeup on her caramel skin, and her lips were naked, with no hint of gloss.

I chuckled when she finally got her front door unlocked. It appeared she’d run into some trouble with her key. Flustered perhaps?

I hoped so. With a little luck, I just might have a chance to get her to talk to me about more than grass.

####

If you haven’t read the Amazon Bestseller, A Heart Not Easily Broken, buy your copy today! It’s $3.99 and available for Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and on Smashwords. If Paperback is what you prefer, find it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble! 

AHNEB FINAL COVER

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond-haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge.

When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust.

ONE CLICK for REVIEWS, FREE CHAPTER READS, ALL SALES LINKS!

For more information on The Butterfly Memoirs Series and a sample of the next book, Jadedvisit this link! 

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

And the winner is…..

Yes! We have a winner!!

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who stopped by to help celebrate Ebony and Brian’s first Book-A-Versary! I had a wonderful time chatting with some of you online, and especially chatting with two wonderful book groups, Read You Later and the Real Readers Real Words (3RW) by phone. Hopefully you were able to tune in to one of the interviews, but if not, no worries! My interview with Read You Later is available on Blog Talk Radio! Click on the link and check it out!

For those of you who have been following me online, you know that I have entered the final stretch of preparing the next  book in The Butterfly Memoirs series, Lonely Heart….otherwise known as EDITING! So, I’m digging in! The winner of this months contest will receive an eBook copy of the book on the day it releases…..MARCH 6,  2014!!!!! I am very excited and can’t wait for readers to learn what happens next!

So, with that said, the winner of the Book-A-Versary contest is…….

Sharon Blount!!!!

Be sure to stay tuned to my blog, Facebook, and Instagram sites. I’ll be sharing snippets over the next few months, as well as having a few more contests with more opportunities to win eBooks and autographed paperbacks! You’ll need to access those sites in order to answer the contest questions!

And of course, if you haven’t read A Heart Not Easily Broken (Book 1) or Jaded (Book 2), or would like to know more about the series and it’s characters, Check out The Butterfly Memoirs page. There you’ll find character bios, diary posts, and a hidden scene!

#####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email