And We Have a Winner!!!!!

Last week I held a contest giving readers a chance to win an autographed copy of my next novel, LONELY HEART (Book 3 of The Butterfly Memoirs). I’m happy to say we have a winner!!! But before I announce it, I’d like to say THANK YOU to each and every one who participated. You really made me smile! 🙂 I am very excited about the release of Kaitlyn’s story and look forward to adding her bio information to her book page on the website. Look for it soon!

So without any further delay….

The winner is….

Winner

Charlotte Johnson!!!! Congratulations!!!! I’ll be contacting you via email for more information!

Until then, Happy Reading!!!!

 

 

 

 

Be sure to look out for The Butterfly Memoirs New Release Book Tour….Coming Soon!!!! 

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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

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

My Valentine’s Day Gift to You!

Once again, I’m bringing my readers a gift, by popular demand…a Mini Memoir of a day in the life of Yasmine and Zachariah!

If you’ve read Jaded, you’re familiar with the ups and downs of their relationship, and know that it was work for these two characters to find their happily ever after. But now it’s Valentine’s Day. How do they handle it? Check out this short story to find out!

And don’t forget to mark your calendars! Kaitlyn’s story, Lonely Heart will be here in 21 Days!!!! 

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Valentine’s Day

Yasmine

 

“Yasmine, I looooovvvee it! As always, you know exactly what looks best on me!”

“Just doing my job.” I smiled as Mrs. Hill continued to model the strapless black dress, with the simple short sleeved jacket, I selected for her.

“Harold is going to be blown away,” she chuckled as her cheeks turned pink.

I laughed, too. Mrs. Hill was in her fifties and had been married for nearly thirty years. One of my most loyal customers, she’d been with me since I decided to start my own fashion consultant business a year ago.

“But, we both know the dress is not what’s going to blow him away. It’s what hidden beneath,” I teased.

Mrs. Hill’s attention turned to the sexy red lingerie hanging on the dressing room door. A mixture of excitement and trepidation appeared on her face. “Are you sure about that? I don’t have the body of a twenty-year old anymore.”

I inclined my head, putting one hand on my hip. “When have I steered you wrong?”

She wrung her hands. “Never…it’s just…it’s been a while since I’ve worn something sexy to bed.”

“Who said you had to wear it to bed? You and Mr. Hill are empty nesters. With Melody gone to college, there are no more kids in the house. You can christen your home all over again. Valentine’s Day would be the perfect time.”

A girlish laugh emerged as she covered her mouth with both hands. “I don’t know…”

“Look at it this way…at least you won’t get pregnant.” I slid to the end of the chair, gripped the armrest, and pulled my pregnant body out of the chair.  Sitting next to the dressing room made it easier to see my clients as they went through each wardrobe change. My hand went to the small of my back.

Carrying twins was kicking my butt. Six months into my pregnancy and I was twice as big as I had ever been. My breasts were swollen and feet aching. How in the world was I supposed to make it for three more months?

“You know, you’re right.” She eyed my belly and smiled. “I remember those days…aches and pains. After four kids, I can’t imagine what it must be like to have two inside at one time.”

I rubbed my belly as my son and daughter took turns kicking, and smiled. “Never a dull moment and I’m never alone.”

“So true. Okay, I’m going to take this off now. Do I need accessories to go with it?”

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll select a few pieces while you change.”

Mrs. Hill nodded, then slipped into the dressing room.

I made my way to the jewelry department of the store to select pieces to compliment her outfit.

Valentine’s Day. The one day of the year when couples were expected to declare their love for the world to see.

I lost my love for the holiday years ago.

After dealing with men on friends-with-benefits bases, for years my February 14th routine involved soaking in the bathtub with a glass of wine, followed by a double date with my two favorite men, Ben and Jerry. A pint of Karamel Sutra ice cream, and watching my DVD collection of Criminal Minds, filled my evening, taking my mind off of romance completely.

Well, except for imagining what it would be like to be with Shamar Moore.

But this year was different. I was no longer alone. Besides being pregnant, I was married to my best friend and the love of my life. Zachariah was everything I’d secretly wanted in a husband and more. What would I do without him?

I knew the answer too well. After our brief separation, it was obvious; being apart from him would devastate me.

Now that we were together again, why didn’t I feel the same way he did about the holiday?

For the past week he’d walked around the house humming; alluding to some secret surprise. I had no idea what it was, but knew it involved leaving the house for the night and having dinner at some romantic restaurant. After that, I’m sure coming home and making love was the next thing on his list.

I forced my attention back to my job and selected a platinum choker and matching earrings. Mrs. Hill would love it.

My client was set, but what was I going to wear tonight?

Over the past few months, my collection of maternity clothes had grown. Being a fashion consultant meant I had to look just as good, or better, than what I did for my clients. Even with a hurt back and swollen ankles.

I had several outfits to choose from, but honestly, I was too exhausted to be in the mood for anything else other putting on my comfortable night shirt and cuddling with my husband in bed.

“Oh that is perfect!”

Forced out of my thoughts, I turned to find Mrs. Hill standing next to me. I held the jewelry next to her dress. “Do you like it?”

“Absolutely!”

“Good, let’s go find a pair of shoes.”

****

“I’ll be leaving work soon. I can’t wait to see you. Our dinner reservations are for eight,” Zack said, his voice full of excitement.

I kept my sigh hidden, sat on the edge of the bed, and kicked off my fashionable flats. “You’re not going to tell me where we’re going, are you?”

He chuckled. “No, then it wouldn’t be a surprise.”

I smiled and shook his head. His enthusiasm was infectious. “Well, I’m going to take a shower and freshen up a bit. I’ll see you soon. I love you.”

“Love you, too.”

My husband’s picture stayed on the screen for a few moments before the cell phone shut down to conserve power. I walked to the closet and searched through my wardrobe. Zack would be expecting something sexy…

I chuckled. With the thirty added pounds to my breasts, butt, and hips, sexy was the last thing I felt. Zack, on the other hand, loved every inch of my swollen body. He constantly wore the expression of a man proud of the fact that he’d been virile.

We were on our honeymoon when I suggested we not waste time starting a family. Zack had been eager to become a father. It wasn’t long before I got pregnant.

I selected a hot, red number guaranteed to make my husband happy. The maternity dress was a short crossover knit that featured a V-neck drop, allowing my bosom visibility.  I searched the closet floor for the perfect pair of shoes to go with it, deciding to put on a pair of pumps that accentuated my long legs. Those shoes would only be worn from the car and into the restaurant. In-between I’d wear my flats.

In the bathroom, I stepped into the shower, making use of the fragrant body wash that made me feel sexy. By the time I got out, my muscles were so relaxed, I needed to lie down. According to the clock beside the bed, I had at least forty-five minutes to take a nap before getting ready for our date. That would be enough time to rejuvenate for the evening my husband had in store.

 

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Valentine’s Day

Zachariah

 

“I need two dozen calla lilies.”

“Lucky lady,” the florist said, dollar signs in her eyes. “And this is for Valentine’s Day?”

“Yes, for my wife.” I would never get tired of saying that.

“Ahh…how long have you been married?”

“Eight months.”

“Congratulations. Is this is your first Valentine’s Day as a married couple?”

“It’s our first, ever.” The florist eyebrows rose in surprise. “It’s a long story,” I added.

She nodded, then walked to the refrigerated portion of the shop where a variety of fresh flowers were on display. “Your wife obviously likes calla lilies since you’re not asking for roses.”

“Yes, she does.”

“Since this is your first Valentine’s Day gift, I suggest you do something a bit more unique. Remember, this will set the standard for the next celebrations to come. Tell me about her. What else does she like? Is there something significant going on in your lives? Any accomplishments she’s proud of or that you are proud of?”

This was a no brainer. “She started her own business a few months ago, one she’s been working hard for since the day we met.”

“That’s good. What does she do?”

“She’s a fashion consultant and works with women who need help building their wardrobe and self-esteem.”

Her eyebrow went up. “Hmm…I could use help freshening up my wardrobe.”

I smiled. “I’ll be sure to give you her number.”

The florist perused the flowers, reaching in to select a few stems. “Anything else?”

“She’s pregnant with twins. A son and a daughter.” My chest poked out with pride.

“Oh, now that is something to celebrate. Congratulations, papa!”

“Thank you.” Even though the pregnancy was planned, I felt as though we’d hit the lottery. Twins ran on her side of the family, though, according to my mother-in-law, it had been years since a set were born.

“The perfect floral arrangement should represent her dreams, your children, your marriage… and your future.” She studied the flowers. “How about this, instead of calla lilies, we use Stargazer lilies. The full, vibrant blooms and rich pink color will represent your wife’s ambitions. We’ll accent it with traditional red and soft pink roses for friendship and passion, and…,” she searched around some more, then pulled out a few more flowers. “White Gerbera daisies for the innocence of your unborn children.”

I studied the assortment of flowers she held in her hand. “Wow, I’m impressed. That’s perfect.”

“Good. I’ll put these together for you. It should be ready in say…twenty minutes?”

“Enough time for me to go next door and look for a card to go with it.”

I left the flower shop and went to the grocery store next door. This evening was going to be perfect. I secured reservations for a dinner in advance of the holiday. The restaurant we were going to was special. It was the Italian restaurant where we had our first date.

I chuckled at the memory.

In truth, it was anything but a date. Instead, it was a last minute decision to go out for dinner to thank her for putting a smile on my mother’s face for her birthdate. At the time we were acquaintances; neither of us had any intention of getting involved in a romantic relationship.

Who know a candlelit dinner would lead to friendship, then love and marriage. And now, a family.

I checked my watch, then searched until I found the card bearing the perfect sentiment and imagining Yasmine’s reaction. Tonight was going to be perfect.

****

 “Yasmine, baby, I’m home!”

There was no answer.

I balanced the large vase of flowers in the crook of my arm, then closed and locked the door behind me. The house was dark and silent. Not the greeting I expected. She was usually in the kitchen or sitting in the living room watching TV or reading a book.

On instinct, I walked through the house, my heart racing, checking every room, forcing myself to ignore the flashback of the night we found my mother nearly unconscious.

The moment I reached the bedroom and turned on the light, I took a deep breath.

Yasmine laid on the bed, clothed in her bathrobe, slippers on her feet…and fast asleep. I sat the vase of flowers on the dresser and walked over to the bed, easing down beside her so as not to wake her.

Her hair was damp; her clothes for the evening lay at the foot of the bed. Apparently she decided to rest after getting out of the shower and instead fell into a deep slumber. I checked the time. There was no way we’d be able to make our reservation. A part of me felt disappointment; the other half understood my wife needed time to rest.

After all, she was carrying our babies.

I reached out to run a hand over her belly and was rewarded with a slight kick. I wished there was a way to tell which one of our children had attempted to say hello.

After a moment, I turned out the light and went into the kitchen to scrounge something up for dinner. When Yasmine woke, she would be hungry. Ravenous was the correct statement.

There was a Bertolli frozen meal for two in the freezer. Homemade Italian would work. I went into the living room and turned on a CD, letting the smooth sounds of Kem fill the house while I put together a salad and chilled a bottle of apple juice.

Once dinner was ready, I checked on Yasmine again; she was still asleep. Instead of waking her, I slid into bed behind her, slipping my hand around her belly, cradling her and our unborn babies once again.

Yasmine stirred when I nuzzled her neck. “Zack, baby, what time is it?”

“After eight,” I said, and then kissed her shoulder.

Her hand went to her forehead. “Oh man, I’m so sorry. I ruined everything.” She turned her head in an attempt to see me over her shoulder.

I kissed her lips. “You were asleep when I came home. I didn’t want to wake you, so I decided to make dinner instead.” I massaged her belly. “How are my babies?”

She smiled and placed her hand over mine. “Fine, and starving. It smells good. What did you make?”

“Shrimp Scampi and Linguine, salad, and garlic and cheese bread sticks.”

Her stomach growled, making me smile. “Dinner is simmering, so there’s no need for you to rush to get up.”

“Thank you,” she said, resting her head against the pillow and settling her back against me. “Oh wow, Zack, are those for me?”

I followed her line of site to the vase of fragrant flowers sitting on the bedroom dresser. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

“Oh, they are beautiful. Now I really feel awful. I didn’t get you anything. Between work and being tired…trying to figure out what you would want got pushed to the side. Then I come home and go to sleep…”

Yasmine had a lot on her plate. Managing her business, running our household, and managing her health while carrying our children. I could only imagine how worn out she would be once they were born.

“It’s okay, really.” I brushed the sting of disappointment aside.

Yasmine turned in my arms to face me, her expression pained. “No, there’s no excuse. I’ve already failed you once as a wife. I promised never to do it again, and yet…here we are.”

“We were both wrong then, and the past is the past.” I kissed her lips. “There’s no looking back, remember?”

“I know.” She sighed heavily, then looked down at her hand resting on my chest. “To be honest, Zack, I didn’t know how to handle Valentine’s Day. I’ve always spent it alone. Besides, spending money to tell someone you love them is overrated. If you love someone, you show them every day. There’s no need to go out and spend ridiculous amounts of money. Do you know how many relationships are ruined over the type of gift someone did or didn’t buy?”

“True, but that’s not us.” I ran a hand over her check, brushing her short locks away from her face.

“I know, I’m just saying, that’s how I feel. I guess since we’re married, there’s no need to feel like that anymore.”

I chuckled. “It’s funny, you’re anti-Valentine’s Day, and I’m willing to go all in.”

“And that’s what I love about you, Zack. You wear your heart on your sleeve, even when you think you don’t.”

“Only when it comes to you. You and our children are my future. I’m nothing without you.”

“I know what you mean. I can’t imagine being without you, either.”

I sat up and kissed my wife. The soft feel of her lips and fragrant smell of her skin was all I needed to know my wife loved me. “You know, there’s only one gift you can give that will forever mean the most to me.”

She studied my eyes as if getting the answer meant the difference between life and death. “What’s that?”

I rubbed her belly again. “Our children. Speaking of which, we need to decide on some names.”

“We already have two names. Belinda and Charles. I promised your mother her granddaughter would be named after her.”

“True, and I thank you for it. But don’t you think those names are a bit out dated?”

Yasmine smiled. “You sound just like your mother. She said the same thing.”

“I am my mother’s son. Why don’t we use them as middle names?”

She inclined her head in thought. “I can do that. I’ve been thinking…do you want to have a junior?”

“I thought about it, but since I’m not a junior and want my son to have my father’s name, I’m willing to wait until the next time I get you pregnant.”

Yasmine laughed. “Who said there would be a next time? I’m knocked up with twins. Our hand will be full for a while.”

“True, but I’m willing to bet after a year or two, I can convince you to try again.” I grinned and wagged my eyebrows.

“Yeah, well, I guess you could, especially since you know exactly how to turn me on.” I groaned as my wife ran a hand over my chest.

She had no idea how sexy she was. Full breasts, wide hips, and just the right amount of flesh on her already sexy behind…I loved my wife’s pregnant body. While I would love to have her back at her pre-pregnancy physic, a part of me was going to miss this.

“So, if we don’t name him Junior, and Charles will be his middle name, what do you think about Jayden?” she asked.

“Jayden? I like that.”

“So our son’s name will be Jayden Charles Givens. What about our daughter?”

“Well, I imagine her being as strong-willed as you, so she needs a strong name. I like Mackenzie.”

“Wow, that’s different. Mackenzie Belinda Givens?” Yasmine mulled over my suggestion.

“You don’t like it?”

“Actually, I do. Zack, do you realize in three months we will officially be a family? Your mother would be proud.”

I felt tightness in my chest. “I know, my father, too.” I kissed my wife, grateful yet again for the blessing bestowed upon me and for listening to my mother’s advice. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Yasmine.”

“Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too.”

 

The End

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I hope you enjoyed this brief peek back into the life of Yasmine and Zachariah. For their full story, read Jaded (Book 2 of The Butterfly Memoirs). Be sure to check out the character bios, and diary post! Look out for book 3, Lonely Heart, which will be available from 5 Prince Publishing on March 6, 2014! Follow this link to learn more about The Butterfly Memoirs. Happy Reading!

 

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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 story, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow my blog!

MJ

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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

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

LONELY HEART (Book 3 of The Butterfly Memoirs) Cover Reveal and Contest!!!!!

This has been a long time coming….okay to readers that is, but to me, it got here sooner than I expected! In 25 days, Kaitlyn Rodger’s story will be here. If you’ve followed The Butterfly Memoirs since Book 1, A Heart Not Easily Broken, then you know Kaitlyn has had a back seat to the drama in the lives of her best friends, Ebony and Yasmine. But regardless, every one has their own story….and some aren’t as innocent as they seem….

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Contemporary Romance, Interracial Romance, Women’s Fiction

Instead of planning her wedding, Kaitlyn Rodgers is facing motherhood alone, the pressures of a new job, and caring for her rebellious younger sister. What should have been the happiest time of her life turns into one stressful event after another.

After watching his father struggle to raise a family by himself, auto mechanic Antonio Rodriguez refuses to follow his father’s footsteps…even if it means a lifetime of loneliness.

When Kaitlyn’s car breaks down, though, Antonio goes beyond auto repairs to take care of her needs. An unexpected friendship begins, allowing them a glimpse of happiness…until the father of Kaitlyn’s child returns, ready to offer her marriage and a future. But at what cost?

 Available from 5 Prince Publishing March 6th

Excerpt: 

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 two years keeping our family together was best, I had 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.”

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 ***Psst!!! If you haven’t read Book 2, Jaded, grab a copy today! Kaitlyn’s story starts here!***

***By the way, if you haven’t read the first novel in The Butterfly Memoirs, A Heart Not Easily Broken, now’s your chance! For ONE WEEK ONLY you can get it for .99 cents! Sale ends February 14th! Follow these links and tell a friend! Enter the RAFFLECOPTER CONTEST for a chance to win an Autographed Paperback copy of Lonely Heart (Book 3 of The Butterfly Memoirs)! Winner will be announced Monday 2/17/14! ***

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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

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

Introduction to The Butterfly Memoirs Series is on Sale for .99 cents!!!! LIMITED TIME ONLY!!!

That’s right! To celebrate the upcoming March 6th release of Lonely Heart (Book 3 of The Butterfly Memoirs), the first book in the series, A Heart Not Easily Broken (Book 1 of The Butterfly Memoirs), has been reduced for a LIMITED TIME ONLY!!!! Buy the eBook copy from your favorite local eBook retailer for just .99 cents!

AHNEB Sale with seal pic 450

Already read it? Don’t forget to find out what happens next in Jaded (Book 2 of The Butterfly Memoirs), available for $3.99!

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Amazon      Amazon Stores Outside of U.S.     Barnes & Noble     Smashwords     Kobo     iTunes      Paperback 

And in the meantime, enter the Rafflecopter contest to win an AUTOGRAPHED PAPERBACK copy of Lonely Heart! Come back tomorrow for the COVER REVEAL!!! 

***ENTER THE CONTEST!!!!! *** (Contest has ended)

Winner will be announced Monday, 2/17/14!

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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

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

What I am Most Grateful For and My Chat with The Pink Diamond Lady, Minnie Lahongrais!

As the year winds down (can you believe it????) and Thanksgiving is just a few days away, its time to take stock of the people in your life and achievements made during the course of the year.

I am most thankful for my family who continue to support and encourage me, even when I get on their last nerve!

I am thankful for my health and for the creativity I have been blessed with that allows me to write. I’m also grateful for not wearing a straight jacket because of all the characters (aka Voices) in my head! 🙂

I am thankful to all of my readers who connect with me every day by sending messages, shout out the books, hit the ‘like’, ‘share’, and ‘tweet’ buttons on their pages and continue to ask when the next book is coming out (March 6, 2014! Whoo hoo!!!)

I am also grateful to all of the bloggers, eMagazines, television hosts, and Blog Talk Radio hosts who have invited me to participate in interviews, conferences, and phone chats. Every opportunity has allowed me to share a piece of me as an author, a mother, and wife.

(If you’d like to check out the interviews and guest post from this year, click here!)

My latest radio interview was done with author Minnie Lahongrais on her show, The Pink Diamond Inspirations Show, which is featured on All Media Radio 1 in the UK. And what fun did we have! I met Minnie several years ago via social networking on Twitter, back when I was learning the ropes of the social networking site. As an aspiring writer at the time, I was touched by her frustration from family and friends in regards to a book she published. I commented, offering my support, and since then, our friendship has grown. So when she contacted me saying she would like to interview me for her show, I was more than happy to say yes! So, sit back and listen as two girlfriends chat it up like we’ve been knowing each other for a lifetime, and get to know ME….

download (3)

Pink Diamond Inspirations on All News Radio

The Interview     The Blog Post

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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 by following this blog!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

#FreeReadFriday!- A Heart Not Easily Broken- Chapter Three

Over the past few weeks, I’ve enjoyed sharing the next chapters of Ebony and Brian’s story. If you’ve read Chapter One  you’ve gotten seen when they meet. You’ve also been introduced to the different side of Brian’s life in Chapter Two which threw Ebony for a loop. Now that she’s seen the ‘other side’, how does she react?

Today I’m featuring Chapter Three which happens to be one of my favorites! Why? Let’s just say there’s something about being ‘caught’ that leaves a lot of room for some fun. 🙂

Chapter 3

“Damn it.” I pushed the door shut with my foot, nearly dropping the books balanced in my arms. A quick peek out the living room blinds showed Brian staring at the closed front door with a smug look on his face.

Of all the people in southern California who cut grass, how in the world did he end up at my home? Where did Yasmine find this guy? Did she know Brian? After Saturday night, this smelled of a set up. My roommates gave me a hard time for not accepting his VIP offer. And now this. First, Yasmine calls at the last minute, knowing I’m on the way home and tells me to expect someone to be there cutting grass, and then coincidently forgets the guy’s name. Yeah, right.

Annoyed, I pulled my phone out of my purse. Of course, Yasmine’s phone went to voicemail.  Kaitlyn’s did too. It would be a waste of time to leave a message, but when they got home, there would be hell to pay. I appreciated their interest in my love life, but it was exactly that. Mine. After Saturday night’s attempt to set me up, they agreed to stay out of it.

The sound of a lawnmower gliding past the living room window got my attention. One of the guys rolled the mower across the grass. At least the yard would receive the attention it needed. I sighed in resignation and headed for the kitchen.

It was my turn to cook dinner. Tonight’s menu would consist of frozen lasagna and salad. Thank goodness for bagged salad, because I was in no mood to cut up any vegetables. Even though school was not in session, my goal was to stay on top of my game. Dr. Jacobs, my mentor and one of the head veterinarians on staff at the Los Angeles Zoo, allowed me to borrow several books from his personal library. He appreciated my hard work and offered to give me a heads up on classes I’d be taking in the fall. I was anxious to get started.

First, I needed to take a shower and wash off the odors of the animal clinic where I worked as a veterinarian’s assistant. Juggling both jobs was a lot of work, but the rewards were well worth it.

I closed my eyes and groaned. Oh, no, I reeked. No wonder Brian grinned like an idiot when he thought I wasn’t looking. It wasn’t as if he could talk. His shirt clung to his body, saturated with sweat as though he had run through my neighbor’s sprinklers.

I sighed, grabbed my things, and headed upstairs.

Unable to resist, I stacked the books on my desk and pulled out one that caught my attention the most. It dealt with the daily care of orangutans. The topic interested me most because of the zoo’s recent addition. Baby Nala was born a few days ago, but sadly, her mother died. It was now up to the zoo’s staff to provide the care she needed to keep her healthy until she matured enough to join the zoo exhibit. As an intern, I would be one of the select few tasked with this job. It promised to be a very rewarding experience.

After a quick review, I set the book down. The lasagna had another forty-five minutes to cook. I walked over to my window to check on the guys’ progress. They were nearly finished. It wouldn’t be long before Brian would be looking for payment.

Crap. He never answered my question. If he didn’t accept checks, he would have to follow me to the ATM.

I stripped down and reached in the shower to adjust the water temperature. Body wash in hand, I stepped into the steaming water.

The stench of work swirled down the drain, replaced by the scent of melons while the water caressed my body like a summer breeze. I pulled off my ponytail holder, letting the water run down my face while washing my hair. The next time Brian smelled me, I wanted it to be something soft and sweet, not animalistic.

Hold on, why did it matter how I smelled? Irritated by the thought, I scrubbed a little harder.

Brian smelled nice at the club. His rough, callused palm felt nice too. No wonder. He did more than strum a guitar all day. I admired that.

Getting out of the shower, I toweled off. Even though Brian was five times sweatier than when we’d met, it somehow made him more attractive. When I realized it was he standing at the truck, I assumed he would demand to know why I avoided his invitation. Instead, he’d been cordial, thank God, making the surprise easier on both of us. He was definitely about his business.

Oiled up, smelling good, my damp hair in a bun, and wearing a pair of cotton shorts and tank top, I headed back down to the kitchen. The lasagna should be nearing completion and so should Brian.

The buzzing sound of yard equipment drew my attention to the bay window. Somehow, they’d gotten over the locked gate. Oops, I’d forgotten to take the chain off before hopping in the shower. He was resourceful too.

Brian stood with his weed whacker, swinging it in a controlled arch along the fence. My eyes widened; the man was shirtless. The man had an incredibly strong looking back. His shorts hung loosely from his hips, exposing the top of his underwear from the weight of the sweat-stained shirt stuffed under his belt. Hmm, boxers or briefs? Sweat ran in heavy rivulets down his shoulder blades, trickling to the already damp shorts.

None of that compared to the way he looked when he turned around to speak to one of the guys working with him. His long torso, free of body fat, sported a light sprinkling of blond hair between his pecs.  His abdomen showed every cut of muscle I’d seen in high school biology textbooks. His abs were tight, his belly button nearly nonexistent.

Brian’s bronzed skin reminded me of a Greek statue, a testament of many hours spent working outside. His backward baseball cap hid the thick blond curls I’d seen at the club. The damp ringlets hung below its rim, accentuating his square facial structure and the shape of his nose. His blue eyes seemed to glow from deep within his skin.

Brian was unbelievably sexy.

One of the younger guys stepped into my line of sight, blocking my continued admiration of his anatomy. I bit my lip in irritation until Brian extended an arm. My eyes widened at the sight of tattoos over well-defined muscle. Intricate dark rings banded both biceps. How did I miss that? Oh yeah, his abs had distracted me. Curious, I stepped closer to the blinds, parting them. Damn, I couldn’t see the entire design. What was it?

At that moment, Brian faced the window. He remained expressionless for a moment before he squinted, then smiled.

Busted.

My face felt crimson. I took a moment to clear the expression on my face before grabbing three cold bottles of water out of the refrigerator and walking outside.

I surveyed the yard while offering him a bottle. “It looks good.”

“It sure does.”

I glanced at him. He didn’t hide the fact his gaze started at my bare legs and slowly traveled back up. His expression made his thoughts apparent. I started to open my mouth and comment, until our eyes met. His gaze sent a warm tingle along my skin, reminding me of the way I felt when he held my hand.

“Thanks for the water,” he added, before whistling to get the other workers’ attention.

Try as I might, it was impossible to keep my eyes off his body when his back was to me. I took the opportunity to peek at his tattoos again. Standing this close, I could make out a little more of the intricate design. To truly see it, I would have to get close, so close I could…

I looked up to find his lips tilted in a lopsided grin. Damn, busted again.

Not wanting him to think I was impressed, I forced my face to stay blank. “How much is it going to cost?” It was impossible to ignore the laugher hidden in those gorgeous blue orbs.

Brian took long draws of water, apparently in no rush to answer my question. I forced my eyes to stay on his and ignore the fact that sweat should not look so good.

“I haven’t decided yet.”

I frowned. “What do you mean? You’ve been here for nearly an hour.”

He shrugged, pulled a rag from his pocket, wiped his face, and then dragged the thing down his chest. I automatically followed the movement before snapping my eyes back to his. A slow grin spread across his face.

“It depends.”

“On what?”

“On how honest you’re going to be with me.”

I clamped my jaw tight while crossing my arms, fighting the irritation building. Brian apparently thought he could do or say anything to get his way. He did it when buying me a drink at the club. He’d done it when assuming I’d meet him in VIP. Now this.

My lack of a sex life and unexplained physical attraction to him made my irritability worse.

“Honest about what?” I ground out.

Brian’s eyes flashed with humor as he finished off the last of his water. “Why didn’t you meet me the other night? I looked for you, waited around thinking maybe you got stuck in the bathroom.” He crossed his arms, taking a wide stance. “Nothing. Not a note, not a message left with security. You just disappeared.”

Realization hit me. “You’re going to charge me more because I didn’t hook up with you?”

“Hey, don’t put words in my mouth. I haven’t decided what to charge. That’s not the same thing.”

“Okay, so what you really mean is if you like my answer, I’ll get a discount. If you don’t, then you’re going to screw me.”

Brian’s mischievous smile caused me to suck my teeth. Bad choice of words.

“Overcharging my customers is not good for business.” He chuckled. “Besides, offering a discount would be an incentive for you to answer the question and not avoid it the same way you avoided me.” He paused to unhook the weed whacker’s strap from around his neck and set it on the ground. He rolled his neck and shoulders then crossed his arms and resumed his wide-legged stance.

I glanced down and noticed the slight bow in his muscular legs. Damn, he looked good.

“Brian.” I forced myself to stare at the men bagging lawn clippings. “I went home.”

“Obviously. Why didn’t you stick around? You could have left your number if you needed to leave.”

Brian regarded me intently while waiting for my reply. His scrutiny made me nervous.

I took a deep breath and held it for a few seconds before blowing it out. “Why do you care? There were plenty of women ready to jump at the opportunity to be with you. Why are you interested in me?”

“Why not? I’ve seen most of those women before.” He laughed at my screwed up facial expression. “That didn’t come out right. What I mean is they are all the same. None of them have caught my attention like you do.”

My mind went back to the buffet of women available at the bar, the brunette who gave me the evil eye, red heads, a few blonds, women of every size and shape.

“So you wanted me because I’m black. Or is it because you saw me wearing a tight dress and figured you’d get me in bed as a trophy. You know, sex with a black woman?” I rolled my eyes. “I’m an educated black woman with a good head on my shoulders, not some ‘ho from the hood. If that’s what you want, then I suggest you go take a ride down−”

Brian’s dimples popped as his lips pulled back in a hearty laugh. He shook his head. “I knew there was something about you I liked.”

I stared at him in confusion. Was he serious?

“You’re feisty and don’t hold back, I like that. And yes, the color of your skin did have something to do with it.”

I pointed a finger at him. “See, that’s what I thought.” I moved to march back inside, steam practically blowing from my ears.

“No, I’m pretty sure you’re thinking the wrong thing. Your skin is beautiful. And by the way, I’ve dated black women before.”

That comment put the brakes on my exit. “You’re kidding.”

“No, I’m not. But the color of your skin is not why I want to take you out.” His head cocked to the side as if remembering something. “Wait a minute, you’re avoiding my question. Why did you stand me up?”

“Stand you up? We weren’t on a date. You assumed I’d come running because you bought me a drink. Was I supposed to be impressed?”

A roguish grin appeared. “Most women would have been. Honestly, I’m glad you didn’t. It makes you more interesting.”

I smirked. “Interesting, yeah right. Would I have been this interesting if we never saw each other again?”

He shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not, I guess we’ll never know. What I do know is we’re here now. It’s a second chance to get to know you. I already know your name, where you live…” He wagged his eyebrows in an attempt to make me laugh I suppose.

It didn’t work. My internal alarm began to chime. If he didn’t like my answer, would he start stalking me?

He raised a hand to tick off fingers. “You’re educated, you have a smart mouth, and you’re not supposed to be attracted to me.” He creased his eyebrows in thought. “That’s not enough, I’ve got more questions.”

Vexed beyond belief, I threw my hands up in surrender.

“Okay, fine. If it will save money, I’ll play along. What’s the question?”

He grinned in victory while I massaged the bridge of my nose.

“Do you have a problem going out with me because I’m white?” he asked, straight to the point.

“What?”

His hands went up in defense. “Hey, you’re the one who made a big deal about it. Me? I see a sexy woman who’s got more to offer than just her looks and a body that’s…well, there’s a lot more going on, I’m curious. So what do you say?”

That was unexpected. It took several tries before I could open my mouth. “No, I don’t have a problem with you being white.”

“Somehow I find that hard to believe,” he said, matter-of-factly.

“Well, it’s true. One of my best friends and roommate is white,” I said in defense.

“Good. Since race is not a problem, go out with me tomorrow night.”

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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! 

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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!

MJ

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Wanna get your chat on???

No Sample Sunday today, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have something for you!

Tomorrow is the last day to enter the contest to win an eBook copy of Lonely Heart (Book 3 of The Butterfly Memoirs) on the day it releases! That date will be announced on Tuesday, October 1st,  along with the winner! Good luck!

Contest and interview with Brian and Ebony of A Heart Not Easily Broken! 

This evening I will be participating in a phone chat with the Real Readers Real Words Facebook group! This should be a lot of fun! If your not a member of the 3RW, no worries! You can still participate! Call and listen in! If you have questions you’ve been dying to ask, post them to my Facebook Author Page and I’ll try my best to answer them on the air!

7:30 PM EST!!! 605-475-4000 code 126643#

Hope to ‘see’ you there!

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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 by following this blog!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email