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!!!! 

Autumn landscape

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

####

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

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.”

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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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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

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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!!!

#####

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

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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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Getting to Know Your Community- The Virtuous Women, LLC Presents The Passion 4 Fashion!

Fashion show Event

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman, founder of the Virtous Women, LLC presents a fashion event of a lifetime! Bring a friend, unwind, and relaxe while you learn the “Secrets to Healthy Relationships”, hosted by Studio Steffanie, Wealth and Wellness Coach.

Events will include: 

Enjoy Jazz Music   Networking      Poetry Reading    Model/Singer “S. Rose”    Fashion Show    Lingerie Lineup    Private Dance Lessons

Raffles and Much More!

Event to be held at: 

5351 Rock Springs Road
Lithonia, Ga. 30038
October 19, 2013 
4-7 PM.
Call StudioSteffanie for more information! 678-330-8139

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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

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#FeatureFriday- The Blind Date by Delaney Diamond!

Today I welcome my good friend, Delaney Diamond, who is back with a new series and a contest!

Cover_The Blind Date_200X300

One night changes everything . . . again.

Years ago, when Ryan Stewart saw Shawna Ferguson, it was love at first sight. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a free man, and his deception caused him to lose her after a weekend that changed his life.

When Shawna’s sister and brother-in-law set her up on a blind date, she has no idea it’s with Ryan, with whom she’d spent a weekend she wishes she could forget. She reluctantly agrees to finish the date with him, but doing so leaves her vulnerable to his charms and the heat he ignited in her that very first night.

 Get it now for FREE until October 7, 2013: Amazon

 

Excerpt:

Yvonne Wallace looked at Shawna from across the table in the kitchen. They were having breakfast, and as usual, Little Miss Homemaker—as Shawna liked to teasingly call her sister—had set out a feast of homemade raisin bread, butter and homemade jam, scrambled eggs, and fruit cups.

Only two years separated the sisters, but their personalities were as different as black and white. While Shawna had dreamed of opening her own boutique, which she’d accomplished four years ago, Yvonne had dreamed of becoming a wife and mother. At twenty-four she’d married a doctor, and by their second anniversary, she’d quit her job to make that dream a reality. After six years of marriage, they had a four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son, and Yvonne was seven months pregnant with her second son. Taking care of her family and getting ready for the baby filled her days.

Yvonne was one of those people who, because she was happily married, wanted the same for everyone else. She’d found her Mr. Right and claimed he existed for every woman. Shawna knew better. Finding a good man—with whom one was compatible—seemed as unrealistic as finding a diamond mine on her property. Basically, it wasn’t gonna happen, and Shawna had resigned herself to the fact.

Her sister couldn’t seem to understand she was perfectly happy being single, and she kept trying to help Shawna find a man through “chance” meetings and “unexpected” visits when Shawna came to visit her.

When the conversation came up about her paltry dating options, Shawna had a solution. “I’ll hire an escort the next time I need to attend an event with a date.” She shrugged.

“Ew. You will not. No sister of mine is going to pay for a date.”

“There’s nothing nasty about it,” Shawna said. “Lots of women do it nowadays.”

“Desperate women.”

No. Women who don’t have the time or energy to sift through what’s out there. The companies match you up with someone who has similar interests, you go out, and then you’re done. Bam. No fuss, no muss.”

“Why do that when I have the perfect man for you?”

“I’m not looking for a man.”

Yvonne rolled her eyes. “Okay, whatever. I have the perfect escort for you. Is that better?”

“No offense, but you haven’t exactly done a good job setting me up with the right men in the past.” Shawna pretended to be in deep thought. “Let’s see, remember the guy from your church, Steve, who started singing hymns in the car on the ride back home and prayed for my soul as we stood at the front door?”

“He loves the Lord. What’s wrong with that?”

Shawna narrowed her eyes and continued. “David, who wouldn’t stop talking about his ex-wife the entire night. Our date ended with him crying on my shoulder about how much he missed her.”

“Look at the bright side. You got a free meal, and at least you didn’t waste any more time with him than necessary. One date in and you already knew he was wrong for you.”

“And I can’t forget Nolan. Sexy, suave, rich. What a surprise to see his face on the evening news as the person who’d robbed several banks in the area and left lines of poetry as his trademark. Just think, I can say I dated the Poetry Bandit.”

“Granted, I should have dug a little deeper when he said he worked in banking.”

Shawna sighed. “I know you mean well, but your choice in men leaves me a bit . . . how should I say this? Terrified.” Shawna slathered butter on the bread and bit into a crunchy slice.

“This guy could be right for you, though. I really think the two of you will hit it off.”

“How do you know him?”

“So you’re interested?”

“Answer the question.”

“He’s a friend of William’s.”

The fact that he was one of her brother-in-law’s friends meant he was probably better vetted than the men her sister had introduced her to in the past. Interest piqued, she said, “Tell me about him.”

“I thought you weren’t interested.”

“Would you tell me about him!”

Yvonne giggled, cocky in her triumph. “Like I said, William knows him better, but I’ve also met him, and he’s really nice. You’ll like him.”

“What does he look like?”

“He’s about six feet tall. Great personality, really nice guy.”

Shawna watched her sister closely. She seemed evasive, which made Shawna suspicious. “You mentioned nice twice, but not whether or not he’s attractive. Does he have an eye in the middle of his forehead or something?”

Yvonne waved her hand and snorted, as if to say, don’t be ridiculous. “Of course not.”

“Then what does he look like?”

“Don’t worry, he’s attractive. He’s not your usual type, that’s all. So please don’t do that thing you do.”

“What thing?” Shawna asked, already offended.

“You know that thing you do when you’re trying to cover up your surprise or when you don’t like something—you smile, but it’s this weird, creepy smile. Be open-minded.”

“I don’t do that. And why would I need to be open-minded? What’s wrong with him, Yvonne?” Concern started to set in.

“Nothing. But really, I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Trust your big sister on this one, okay?”

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Get it now for FREE until October 7, 2013: Amazon

Not only is Delaney Diamond giving away a free copy of her book, she’s having a contest!

Prize: Winners choice of four (4) of the following items: (1) Delaney Diamond T-shirt in large or extra large (2) Delaney Diamond two-tone tote bag (3) $20 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (4) Delaney Diamond keychain (5) an autographed copy of Hot Latin Men Vol. I (6) an autographed copy of Hot Latin Men Vol. II (7) four bookmarks with Delaney Diamond book covers.

Eligibility: You must be a subscriber to Delaney’s blog. Prizes open to U.S. and international entrants.

How to enter: Correctly match each blog on her tour with its description. Visit the contest post on her website for the details.

Deadline to enter: October 13, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST

Winners will be notified by email and announced on the contest post on her website.

About the Author:

Delaney Diamond writes sweet and sensual romance novels and is the site manager of Romance Novels in Color, where diversity in romance in celebrated. When she’s not reading or writing she’s trying out new recipes or traveling to an interesting locale. Find free reads and the first chapter of all her books at www.delaneydiamond.com.

 

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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

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#GuestPost- Is the Grass Really Greener? by C.Michelle Ramsey

I’m proud to be feature a member of my writers group, C. Michelle Ramsey, and her new release, Is the Grass Really Greener? Her novel explores the relationships of five friends who secretly desire to have what the other has. Intriguing, right? Take a sneak peek at an excerpt, then buy your copy today!

Is the Grass Really Greener Book Cover_Final

Five women, five lives, five secrets. Each woman is battling her own personal demons, and hiding a secret from her friends and family.

Each of them envies another’s life, wishing her life was different, wishing she had what the other woman had. But what happens when what appears to be real, is all a façade?

Battling breast cancer, single parenthood, infidelity, the loss of a child, and managing the single life, can become overwhelming for these ladies.

Not satisfied with their lives, looking for something better, they contemplate alternative choices to improve their lives; crossing over to the other side of the fence is a very real possibility. We can’t see beyond the choices we make, but we must be held accountable for them.

And after they have crossed the fence, they realize two things simultaneously. Yes, the grass was greener on the other side; and also their grass could have been just as green had they taken care of it.

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EXCERPT:

Courtney found herself nodding her head to the beat of the music, more than she was focused on her report. Anita Baker’s “I Apologize” was on the radio playing softly in the background on KSTORM. She had to get this report done for tomorrow morning’s budget meeting. Stretching back in her chair, she let out a long yawn and shook her head to shake the sleep off. It was 11:55 at night and she knew that she had to be up at four in the morning. But these numbers just weren’t shaking out right.

The right thing to do would be to put it away and go upstairs with Nate and go to bed. She found herself going to bed after her husband more and more these days. She used to be the one who was knocked out by eight or nine o’clock, but not anymore. Some nights she was still up until two or three in the morning, if she didn’t have an early day at the office. Nate didn’t question it, because he didn’t want to be bothered with her anyway. She couldn’t remember the last time they had sex. She stopped to ponder that thought, had it really been five months now? Damn, it had. Seems as if she was always attempting to get him in the mood, and the last time she had done that he had brushed her off and he didn’t show even the slightest interest in her.

“Lonely hearts, find someone to love. Fellas, take care of your women; remember to love them long and strong, ‘cuz if you don’t, another brother will. And to all my lovely ladies, I’m wishing you a good night out there in the ATL; thanks for spending another night with me. And come back tomorrow for another night of love with Hypnotiq on the Storm.”

And with that he blew his traditional kiss and Pierce was off the radio for the night. As if this were some subliminal cue, Courtney closed her folder, switched off the radio on the bookshelf behind her, walked over to the doorway, switched off the light in her office, and walked upstairs to her bedroom. She was halfway up the steps when it hit her.

Damn, she thought to herself, I’ve been staying up half the night every night to hear the voice of a stranger. I’m falling for a man who I don’t even know. She started walking back down the steps to her office and flicked on the light and sat in her chair behind her desk.

Courtney furiously ran her hands through her hair shaking her head in disbelief. What the hell is this? I’m falling for a man I don’t know? He’s a kid from the old neighborhood that’s what it’s got to be. He brings back pleasant memories for me at this rough time in my life. Hell I had one cup of Joe with this man and ran into him at my art exhibit, and I sit up every night to hear his voice on the damn radio, how pathetic am I? He might have a girl, hell for all I know he might not be interested in women anyway, or black women, she shook her head laughing at that one. The way he came on to her that night she highly doubted it.  “This is crazy, it doesn’t even matter. I’m a married woman…not happily, but I’m married just the same and I love my husband with all my heart,” she said aloud, “I’m taking my butt to bed, I’m tired…that’s what it is,” and once again she repeated the steps she had just taken, not even three minutes earlier.

But this time when she got to the bedroom Nate wasn’t asleep. He was sitting in the bed staring at the TV. She could tell he wasn’t watching it. Courtney decided it would be best to not say anything, because she didn’t want to argue. All of their words turned into arguments these days and they couldn’t have decent communication. But it wasn’t to be.

“Courtney, I want a divorce,” Nate said.

Thinking she must have lost her mind, or maybe forgot to clean the wax from her ears, she turned over in the bed to face him. “Huh?” she said, a little befuddled.

“I want a divorce,” he repeated in that same monotone he had just used.

“Why?” she asked with panic rising up in her throat.

“I don’t wanna be here anymore, I can’t do this,” he explained.

“Do what Nate?”

“Do us, this thing we call a marriage, this faking it we’re doing day by day, I can’t do it anymore,” he said with a little emotion coming into his voice.

“Look Nate, I know that you’re hurting, I’ve been hurting, too. And what’s hurting the most is that you’re shutting me out. You won’t even talk to me. I know you’re grieving baby, we’re both grieving, but you didn’t suffer this loss alone. I did, too and just like we lost him together we have to find a way to heal together, to go on with our future,” she pleaded.

“I don’t think you heard me. There’s no future for us,” Nate responded a little more passionately this time.

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Author PicAbout the Author: 

C. Michelle Ramsey takes your emotions on a roller coaster ride, one page at a time, with every story she creates. Author of “Reflections of Promises” and “Real Secrets,” she has now released her third novel, “Is the Grass Really Greener?” Her stories take a look at real life situations, real drama, and real people, in a fictional story.

A writing consultant for Bleu Skies Writing Services, she enjoys reading mystery novels, African-American fiction, and chick lit. Her favorite authors are: Terry McMillan, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, and Stuart Woods. Michelle is an Atlanta native born and bred, where she currently resides with her husband and three children.

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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

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#SampleSunday- Love, Trust, and Secrets

The reality of relationships is there will always be secrets. Sometimes it’s good to keep a secret, sometimes it isn’t. What happens when  the truth comes out? Can a couple who seem to have the perfect relationship find their way back to happiness after their ability to trust each another has been tested?

Some secrets are worse than infidelity…

Excerpt:

Why didn’t I think about this before?

I was so stupid.

I pushed the button on my phone and brought the screen saver to life. An image of our wedding day appeared. Zack stood behind me, his hands wrapped around my waist possessively. Smiles of contentment, love, and joy were on our faces.

Four days of wedded bliss felt as if it happened a million years ago.

How were we ever going to find that feeling again?

I said a brief prayer, then sent Zack another text apologizing and begging him to come home. The chances of him replying to the text were greater than expecting him to answer the phone.

After all, he wasn’t sure how he felt about me.

I had to remain positive. Negativity already permeated our relationship.

I had to believe he would forgive me. I had to believe my husband would return to me.

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What readers are saying about Jaded

“After reading A Heart Not Easily Broken I was trying so hard to compare,but after reading the first couple of chapters of Jaded I was beginning to realize there’s no comparison! Jaded is a book all of its own. There is some laughter and some moments when you do get emotional but altogether this a great read.”

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!***

 

Autumn landscape

Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, Interracial Romance

 

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

***Read as a STAND-ALONE or as part of The Butterfly Memoirs series!***

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

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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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Getting to know your Community: A Chat with Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman, Director of The Virtuous Women, LLC

On August 17, I had the opportunity to speak at The Author’s Workshop, a community event held by The Virtuous Women, LLC in Lithonia, Georgia. The event brought together local authors who shared their publishing experiences and why they chose to write with the community. The goal: to inspire those who may have a story to tell but not know how to do it. I met some wonderful people that night and decided to share a bit more about the organization to those of you in the Atlanta, Georgia area who may be interested in joining in future events.

Let me share a little bit about the organizations director, Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman.

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman is a Special Education Teacher with the Dekalb County School System. She currently serves as the Department Chair of the Special Education Department. Dr. Harris-Coleman has over nine years of experience working with special needs students. Prior to working with the school system, she worked for the Department of Juvenile Justice in the capacity of the statewide transfer coordinator where she was responsible for the assignment of students to specific learning campuses throughout the state

TVW Pic

MJ:  Welcome, Dr. Harris-Coleman! I’ve visited your blog site and see the idea for your organization stemmed for a get together with your family. How did that turn into reaching out to the community?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  It went from a chance to get to know the newest member of our family, my sister-in-law, into a big event when one of my sisters who helped plan the party invited over 20 friends. In turn I invited a few people who own small businesses. We had jewelry, massages, and a few more things available for the guest. In the end we had over 60 people squeeze into my home. By the end of the night, people were asking when was the next event. We prayed on the matter and decided to do it again. We found a location to hold it in. Later, I began researching the term ‘virtuous women’ and discovered it had to do with health and wellness, which has become what we strive to promote with each event.

MJ: That is amazing! What is the general message or goal of the organization and how long have you been around?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  We officially had our first event in June 2013 which was on Women and Safety where the Dekalb County female officers came out to share safety tips for shopping, going on vacation, and home. July we did a Taste of Dekalb which featured different food vendors. The latest event was The Author’s Workshop. We are looking to reach more than the men and the women in the community, and strive to provide events that are good for the entire family as well. Our focus is on how to better the whole body, mind, and spirit. Each event is geared towards these themes.

MJ: How does your organization assist the community and its businesses?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  We help small businesses by inviting them to participate in events where their product compliments the event theme. The interaction with members of our organization gives  them the opportunity to test out their business ideas to see if it’s worth pursuing, and if it is, allows them to reach a customer base.

authors

The Author’s Workshop Participents: (From left to right) Dr. Harris-Coleman, Coach William “Buck” Godfrey, Studio Stefanie, Twala Meju, Earline Buchanan-Pitts, Terrance Ross, M.J. Kane

MJ: What has been your most memorable event?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  The last event held, The Author’s Workshop which was co-sponsored by Barnes & Noble. We had a lot of positive feedback and have been asked by those who were not able to make it ask when the next event will be held. Learning the truth behind why authors write was very touching. It’s not the same as reading about the author on the back of the book. I also enjoyed watching the children’s reactions and how they were in tune with what they learned.

MJ: I must say I really enjoyed being a part of that event and am happy you invited me to participate. You know I will happily do it again in the future! Are you looking for volunteers? If so, how can they get in touch with you?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  We appreciated having you! And yes, we are always looking for volunteers! Those interested can call  404-820-9210, or reach me by email at beverly@thevirtuouswomen.com. We need volunteers to assist with vendor set up, signing up potential members, and greeting members at events. Communicating with members and vendors between events would be a huge help as well.

MJ: You host events monthly and feature the calendar of events on your webpage. How can a vendor or someone interested in becoming a member find out more information?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  Visit the website for detailed information for membership and to sign up as an event vendor. We encourage people to become members for as little as $10 per month. We have been hosting one monthly event, but are looking to do events twice a month. Joining as a vendor gives you the option to host an event at the location as well. Keep an eye on the calendar to keep up with the events. More information is available on the website, or people who are interested can contact us by phone or email for more information.

MJ: Are you looking for sponsors?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  Yes! Anyone interested can contact me at the above information.

MJ: What is the next upcoming event and how can people find out more information?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  In September we will be focusing on relationships. We have been blessed to have Life Coach Robin May come and speak to the group about Women and Relationships. We would like to incorporate vendors that are geared towards the event theme; so again, anyone interested can contact us via email or call.

MJ: Dr. Harris-Coleman, it has been my pleasure speaking with you today, and I applaud what your doing to strengthen the community, and look forward to participating in future events. 

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman: Thank you for having me!

The Next Community Event:   

website-mays-flyer

 

 

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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

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