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!

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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

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#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!!!

#####

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MJ

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#FreeReadFriday- Jaded (Book Two of The Butterfly Memoirs) – Chapter 3

Welcome back to another #FreeReadFriday!

As the holidays approach, life is going to be  hectic as preparations are made to celebrate  with friends and family. But book lovers know, your’s still going to squeeze in a few minutes to hide out to get your read on! To wet your appetite, I’m sharing another chapter in the The Butterfly Memoirs series.

Jaded is a story of two people who’ve been hurt by love and refuse to give in to temptation. Their attempts to be just friends evolve into a Friends with Benefits relationship.

But what happens after a couple finds their Happily Ever After and REAL LIFE sets in? 

Autumn landscape

Get to know Yasmine and Zachariah….and fall in love again….

A devastating breakup leaves Yasmine Phillips in shambles. Unable to trust another man with her heart, she focuses on the one thing she can control—starting her own business.

 When her computer crashes, taking months of hard work with it, she must rely on computer genius Zachariah Givens to save her. A complete opposite of men from her past, she doesn’t expect the passion that ensues. But just as she finds happiness, she learns the truth about the other women in Zachariah’s life.

  Amazon      Barnes & Noble      iTunes     Smashwords     Paperback

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

Prologue and Chapter One

Chapter Two

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

Chapter 3

 

Despite setting my alarm clock for four-forty-five, I overslept. At least I had taken a shower before going to bed. I selected my clothes the night before, so all that was left to do was make-up.

A horn honked behind me at the light. I finished applying eyeliner, flipped the visor up, and pushed on the gas. I fluffed my hair with one hand, glad my ear-length bob had a loose curl making it easy to style. It was easier to manage than the shoulder length hair I slaved over a few months ago.

The decision to cut my hair was about more than easy maintenance. It was about forgetting my past life and settling into reality.

No more expectations; no more games.

I drove into the Inn’s parking lot and parked, overwhelmed by the hard work of my family. The Phillips’ Family Inn I managed was larger than the original location and nestled in the rolling hills, minutes outside of Los Angeles. The hotel used to be an old Hollywood mansion until the area was re-zoned and the home remodeled to house eight regular rooms and two honeymoon suites. My parents lucked out on the property during a real estate auction.

Like others in the area, the property had beautiful landscaping. I’d recently contracted the yard maintenance to my best friend, Ebony’s fiancé, Brian Young, who owned a lawn care service. Even though he wasn’t always available to accompany his workers when they came, he’d trained them well. Over the last few months, Brian’s music career had taken off. He spent a lot of time in the studio of B&D Records.

After all, I owed them. Helping Ebony plan her dream wedding and hosting it at the Inn still didn’t feel like it was enough. I would do anything to help make their marriage possible.

Two months had passed since discovering my fiancé at the time was a bastard. After what he’d done to her…I still couldn’t fathom how she managed to pretend it never happened.

I couldn’t.

I sat in my car for a moment to gather myself, and ran a hand over my eyes, trying not to smudge my mascara. Now was not the time to think about the past. There were too many things to focus on, such as getting the hotel financial records to my mother. As predicted, she was not happy to hear she would not receive them last night. I covered myself by saying the computer crashed right before I sent them. The little white lie bought me time to get them completed today.

I seriously needed to step up my game. In order for my parents to be willing to fund my business as a fashion consultant, I needed to maintain the family business first. Now was not the time to slip up.

I exited my car and noted the time, six-thirty. I spied a car out of place in the parking lot and assumed it was the technician. I shut my door, walked around to the trunk of my cherry red Honda Accord, and retrieved my laptop bag. When I turned around, he had climbed out of his car, strapped a bag across his chest, and was unloading a large box from the trunk. I hurried up the steps of the Inn to open the door.

His smile was wide as he approached. “Good morning.”

Morning people get on my nerves.

“Sorry I’m late,” I said, trying to keep the irritation, stimulated by his cheery grin, hidden.

He adjusted the weight of the box in his arms. “Not a problem. Where are we going first?”

“My office.”

He followed me through the grand opening of the hotel living room, past the check-in counter, down the narrow hallway, and past the kitchen to a smaller room that served as my office.

The smell of burnt plastic assaulted us when I opened the door. After setting my bags on the floor, I immediately dug the Febreze air freshener from my desk drawer, sprayed, and opened a window.

“When you said your computer burned, I took that as a figurative statement.” His eyebrows furrowed as he looked for somewhere to settle the box. When done, he unhooked the bag strapped across his chest and went under my desk to access the damage. “It’s a good thing you used a surge protector or it could have been a lot worse. What happened?” He sat up from underneath the desk and adjusted the dark square frames on his wide nose.

Large, dark hazel eyes captured me. For a moment, I imagined him watching me as he explored my body.

“Ms. Phillips, did you hear me?”

I rubbed a hand over my face and blinked. “Sorry, still waking up.”

Yeah right. I was awake all right, along with other parts of my body. This man had some of the sexiest bedroom eyes.

His chuckle was deep. “Not a morning person, I remember.”

I walked over to the desk. “I saved a document and opened the accounting software when the screen went blank. I thought there was a power outage. I flipped the power switch on and then, poof,” I demonstrated with my hands. “Sparks flew.”

He smiled and a set of deep dimples appeared on both sides of his goatee. My attention went to his thick lips, imagining what they would feel like against mine.

The warm feeling taking over my body made it impossible to think. I forced my attention to the items on my desk. I hadn’t been this attracted to a man in months. Why now? Why him?

Even though he appeared to have a nice build, despite his geeky appearance, Zachariah Givens was not my type. When I was sure my thoughts were clear, I allowed myself to watch him. He’d disappeared under the desk again and proceeded to disconnect cords, leaving his firm derriere in plain view. I swallowed a groan. His butt looked good in those jeans.

I blinked. Jeans? He wasn’t wearing the geek uniform of black pants. When he emerged from beneath the desk, I realized he wore a polo shirt.

“How come you’re not in uniform?” I blurted.

“What?” He dragged the burned-out equipment from underneath my desk and glanced at his attire. “Oh, it’s my day off.”

My eyes widened. “Wait, you’re here off the clock?”

“I didn’t have anyone to send in at this time of the morning.” He dumped the cords in the trash and turned to retrieve the old computer tower. “Besides, I miss this part of the job. Being store manager keeps me inside all day. Don’t get me wrong, it has its benefits, but I’m good with my hands.” He glanced over at me. “And since you said our customer service over the phone sucks, I had to make it up to you.”

Good with his hands…God. I felt my face redden.

I forced myself to laugh. “Thank you, Mr. Givens.”

The old equipment removed, he walked over to open the new box. “Call me Zachariah, or Zack.” He smiled and those dimples popped again.

“Okay. You can call me Yasmine.” I stared at him a little too long.

He nodded in the direction of the old computer tower. “I’ll be honest…Yasmine, I don’t know if I’ll be able to salvage anything for you. I’ll get the new system up, start loading your programs, and then check it. I want to have you up and running as soon as possible.”

I sighed and glanced at the burnt shell. “I could use a miracle right now, and a cup of coffee. Would you like one?”

“No, I’m not big on caffeine. I’m a morning person by nature.” He chuckled when I rolled my eyes.

“To each his own,” I replied.

***

Several hours later, all of the computers – mine, Brandon’s, and the one at the check-in counter – were up and running and the software was nearly loaded. Mine took the most time since it was the hub for everything in the hotel. He’d even been nice enough to load the hotel business software, free of charge.

I sat on the other side of the office, working furiously on my laptop to compile the data for the business reports and receipts I kept in the filing cabinet- information that had been lost when the computer died. I promised myself to keep a backup on my laptop, USB drive, and any other digital format outside of the main office set up from now on. I did not intend to repeat this scenario.

“Yasmine, a few more minutes and I’ll be done,” Zack said. “Sorry I couldn’t save the hard drive.”

I glanced up from my screen. “No need to apologize. I should have had everything backed up. You live and learn.” I saved my work and checked the time on my laptop. “I can’t believe it’s that late already.” It was nearly eleven; I stood up and stretched. “Would you like something to eat? I don’t know about you, but I missed breakfast. It’ll be my treat. The kitchen is open and Mrs. Davenport will be making lunch.” I studied him for a moment. “I bet you’d like one of her Double Decker Monterey burgers. They are to die for.”

Zack appeared surprised by my offer. “I’d like that.”

I stopped in the doorway. “I’ll come get you when it’s done.”

Twenty minutes later, we sat in a booth in the rear of the dining room, away from the guests.

“This has got to be the best burger I’ve ever eaten. I would drive all the way back for another one.” Zack bit off a large bite. He’d finished half the thing in record time.

I smiled. “I’ll be sure to give your compliments to the chef.”

“I’ll be sure to kiss her.” He drank from his cup and pointed at my salad. “Why aren’t you eating one of these?”

I stabbed at my chicken salad with my fork and glanced at the remains of his burger. “Good question.” I laughed. “I ate one yesterday for lunch. Too many of them will mess with my figure.”

Zack’s eyebrow arched, but he remained silent.

My gaze dropped to my plate. In my past life, flirting was my way of determining if a man would be competent enough to handle my sexual needs. It was second nature.

But this was now.

Besides, trying to seduce Zack would be a waste of time; he didn’t seem interested anyway. Unlike most men I ran across, he didn’t flirt with me at all. Any other man would have taken my comment and told me how fine I was, or some other line, to find a way into my bed.

Not Zack. He was the epitome of the perfect gentleman, never uttering a suggestive comment or taking the obvious stroll over my body with his eyes. I caught him watching me once or twice, but it wasn’t lust in his gorgeous hazel orbs, it was something I had never seen before.

To be honest, it made me nervous not knowing what he was thinking. Yet at the same time, it was refreshing to be in the company of a man who was able to have an intelligent conversation without his panting tongue being in the way.

My cell phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID and excused myself. “Yes, Mrs. Langford, how are you?” I waited a beat for her reply and dug into my purse for pen and paper to write notes. “Perfect, I’ll see you then.”

A smile of satisfaction spread across my face when I hung up.

“Must be good news,” Zack said before popping the last of the burger in his mouth.

“Very. I work with this program called Dress for Success. It helps underprivileged women prepare for job interviews. We take them shopping, show them what to wear, how to apply make-up, and do their hair. Anything we can do to help them succeed.”

Zack wiped his mouth with his napkin. “Really? What made you decide to do that?”

His question startled me. I looked up and found genuine interest in his eyes. Men in my past couldn’t care less what I did when we weren’t together. The only thing that interested them was what I did in the bedroom.

“I’m starting a business of my own outside of managing this hotel,” I said slowly, deciding whether I wanted to share the details.

“What kind of business?”

Apparently I had his full attention.

“As a fashion consultant. I’ve been helping friends and family for years. I’d like to help as many people as I can. Participation in a program like this allows me to give back to the community and help people free of charge. As a bonus, I get to build my portfolio and gain experience working with a variety of clients.”

I held my breath, waiting for a laugh or sarcastic comment sure to come.

“Do you work with more than underprivileged women?”

“What do you mean?”

“Would you work with a cancer survivor?”

My curiosity peaked. “Who are you talking about?”

“My mother.”

####

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 today!***

 Amazon      Barnes & Noble      iTunes     Smashwords     Paperback

Looking for Book 1? Follow this link to learn more about A Heart Not Easily Broken!

#####

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

MJ

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