#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.”

####

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

 AHNEB FINAL COVER

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

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

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

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

#####

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

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

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

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

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

Chapter 2

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

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

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

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

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

Dylan nodded before passing the message to his brother.

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

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

They murmured their thanks before leaning against the tailgate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hell, yeah.”

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

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

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

Groans erupted from my passengers.

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

“What girl?” Peter blurted.

Dylan cackled from the back seat.

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

Dylan pretended to puke.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ebony was still sexy as hell.

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

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

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

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

“I thought you were a musician.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

####

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

AHNEB FINAL COVER

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

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

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

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

#####

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

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

Related articles

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

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

Read chapter two to find out….

 

Chapter 2

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

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

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

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

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

Dylan nodded before passing the message to his brother.

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

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

They murmured their thanks before leaning against the tailgate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hell, yeah.”

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

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

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

Groans erupted from my passengers.

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

“What girl?” Peter blurted.

Dylan cackled from the back seat.

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

Dylan pretended to puke.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ebony was still sexy as hell.

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

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

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

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

“I thought you were a musician.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

####

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

AHNEB FINAL COVER

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

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

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

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

#####

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

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email