Blackguard Hunters Series by Ellie Keys (First Chapters – 2)

r i v e

****SPECIAL SURPRISE****

As a little teaser, I am going to post on my blog the first chapter to each of the five short stories in my latest release. I have loved these characters for quite some time. I’m so happy to be sharing them with my followers.

Belinda’s Mission is Book 2 and tells the story of Belinda Banneker. She is a hard-nosed, fierce female that doesn’t take any mess from anyone. B.B. walked away from a man that she was too afraid to be with. Working closely with him and dealing with a blast from her past doesn’t help matters. Will she be able to handle both of these situations and not lose herself to the fear that caused her to run the first time around?

Here is chapter one:

The Seduction – Chapter 1

 

Belinda stood at the front door of the offices of J.H.C. Inc. and couldn’t help staring at the wall. The moniker mounted in the center of the wall was something that paid homage to Brian Wallace’s time as a Marine. He was their “Lead Dog” and the man that decided to turn something derogatory into something good. He was good like that. The man always had been and always would be. She smiled at the thought of what this building represented.

The men and women that roamed the halls and held offices on the third floor of the building couldn’t be more different, but they were united for one common goal. That goal was to protect those who came seeking their aide. The honor code the Jarhead Hunting Crew held dear spilled over into the motto of the company.

Finding those that don’t want to be found and some who need to be. Honor, Loyalty, and Commitment to the cause. That’s our decree.

B.B. was proud to part of the team. Her purpose for the day was to get a certain team member to have some form of outward reaction to her. The man was working her last nerve. She was growing tired of trying to get him to see her.

On that day, she’d opted for fitted jeans and a v-neck shirt. Both were dark in color. One was looser than the other. She kind of hated herself for feeling the need to wear anything slightly enticing, but there was a man in the office that needed to be reminded of who she was. Her long, waist-length hair shined a gorgeous hue of red as she walked in the front door. It hung loose and swept against her ass as she moved. Her masculine combat boots were traded for a heeled version and her hardened, almost goth-like make-up was softened.

If one were to flash back eight or nine years, they would’ve found the look had been her staple. It had been the way she looked when she’d first crossed paths with one, Mr. Elijah Reynolds, Prophet to the crew. The clean cut, buttoned-up way he dressed had caught her attention even then. He’d been beautiful, a light when her world was dark and ugly. Why then had she run as fast as her feet could carry her in the direction opposite of where he was waiting for her? It was the fear of leaning on him for her happiness that had her running as far away from that Miami beach as she possibly could.

Belinda had been there. She’d been dressed in a gorgeous white dress with lace—one that still hung in a bag in the back of her closet—with the gentle summer breeze softly lifting the hem of her calf-length dress. Her hair had been styled in soft waves by her friend, Kitty. The woman had followed her all over the world without a second thought. Katherine Milton had stated on many occasions that her “big ass” didn’t have anything else to do in her twenties.

“Why in fuck wouldn’t I take the chance on my friend and attempt to enjoy all this world has to offer? Your ass didn’t marry the ‘pope man’ and allow me to live vicariously through you. If you do, then we settle down. I’ll go ahead and let one of these guys chasing my tits around the globe saddle me with some babies while you get your freak on with Prophet.”

Forever the hopeless romantic, Kitty would never let go of the notion that she and Eli would get back together. Belinda didn’t hold out for that to become a truth. There was so much that had happened, so much time had passed, and so many things kept secret that she couldn’t even hope for a reconciliation to be an option. Yet, there she stood, looking like her former self, and heading into an office where the very man worked. She took a deep breath and flipped open the paper to take her mind off of what she’d put into motion. The headline caught her eye.

Victim Seeks to Find Attacker

Brooklyn Hamilton and her brother have decided to put their attacker’s crime out front for all to see. They are asking for any information on the whereabouts of this man.

“That ignorant bitch,” she said as she walked in the door.

Thomas “Hounder” Madison and all of his Cuban hotness looked up from the magazine he’d been thumbing through to see who’d walked in the door. When he saw it was her, he just smirked.

“Feeling better, I see, B.B.”

“Don’t say another word, Hounder, or you’ll be Thomas for the rest of the week.”

The smile on his face faltered as Trevor “Trig” Marshall and Brian “Ghost” Wallace chuckled. They came out of one of the smaller meeting rooms as she walked the hall of offices to get to her own.

“That wasn’t very nice, B.B. I was genuinely asking out of concern. You don’t have to go pulling out my first name on me.”

“What is he whining about now?” Samantha “Taps” Davis asked as she came out of the exam room that was the second space in the “Hall of offices.”

The first office was Eli’s, as to be expected since he was the one that kept security on point. There was an undetectable scanner built into the walls, floor, and ceiling overhead as each person took a step in the main hall. Alarms sounded if unregistered weapons crossed the walk. The exam room was the space next door to Eli’s office. Next door to that was Isa’s office then Brian’s office and then the major conference room at the end of the hall. All of that was on the right.

As a person walked the hall on the left would be Wellsie’s, Hounder’s, B.B.’s then Trig’s offices before one hit the turn in the hallway just outside of the main conference room. The hall continued and led to the kitchen, lounge, printing station, the Tech room, artillery or weapons room, locker/recreation area and Charlie Boy’s office. That was pretty much the third floor and offices of J.H.C. Inc.

The other spaces owned by the J.H.C. company were housed on the second floor. The spa, workout area, and additional office space was on located there. All of it was wired into a computer system that sent live feeds to Eli’s computer and was armed with the highest tech in security because Proph was a fucking genius.

Thinking of Eli caused her to snap back to reality. While she was lost in thought, apparently Brian had entered the exam room next to Sam’s office. Eli and Brian exited the room at the same moment.

It was odd that the two guys were coming out of the doctor’s exam room instead of one of the offices or the conference room. It was even more interesting if the person in the room was who she thought it was.

“Not whining,” Hounder yelled up the hall then grumbled something under his breath.

“Nothing important,” B.B. stated as she determined what was going on. “How’s Wellsie doing?”

“Stubborn as hell and even more frustrating.”

Hounder stood leaning next to the door with his arms folded, peering down at the two of them. B.B. did a double take then gave Sam a look of question. She hadn’t expected Hounder to be standing that close to her. The downfall of dealing with the lot of this crew is each of their ability to be stealthy. Looking at the crease in his forehead, B.B. figured out what his issue was. Well, the issue besides her giving him grief.

“That’s what has you on edge. Your girl is getting to you.”

B.B. smiled at the usually cool, calm, and flirty Cuban. He and Wellsie had been together for a couple months prior to anyone finding out about the two of them being their own little unit. All were even more surprised to learn that she was carrying his baby. Ever since that day, they’d been two halves of a whole and the cutest in-house pairing next to Brian and Isa.

Wellsie “One Shot” Sharp was officially in the final month of her pregnancy and Hounder was losing his fucking mind. Every time she moved funny or had a hitch in her breath, the man was on edge. He was driving Wellsie to want to kick his ass and kiss him stupid all at the same time. She loved and loathed how attentive he was.

“This time it was good for him to be on edge. I’m not an OB/GYN, but I know when a woman is in labor. You were right, Hounder, she’s in the early stages of labor and her contractions have just started. Your babies are trying to make an early appearance.”

“Babies?” B.B. asked.

If they were having more than one, then that was news to her. Had she been that out of the loop that she’d missed the announcement that Wellsie was having more than one baby? The Hamilton case had been her main focus over the last few months, especially since she believed that it was tied to her stalker. Eli’s rich, smooth voice had her fighting her body not to react. She fought like hell not to tremble at his proximity or his sexy as fuck sound.

“Yes, Ball Buster, they are having twins. They announced it a couple of months ago. You’ve been a little …”

She didn’t know why but her immediate response was to defend herself.

“Preoccupied doing my job? Yes, I know. Thank you for the breakdown. Congrats! I’m assuming a bus is …”

Just as she was speaking, the quick beep sounded to let them know that the ambulance was in the bay area on the main floor. Inwardly, she chastised herself for opening her big mouth with a snarky response. Eli only smirked in response but it was enough to make her want to retract her statement. That wasn’t the response she’d wanted from him.

Hounder’s hand motion snapped her out of her inner browbeating.

“Gotta go, guys.”

Hounder’s eyes were lit with glee and his stance was one of a nervous father-to-be. He took off for the elevator as Sam opened the door to a very pregnant Wellsie being assisted by Isa and Charlie Boy into a wheelchair. B.B. was surprised Hounder hadn’t been in the room.

“Fuck! Thomas Emory Madison, I’m going to fucking kill you for making me go through this,” Wellsie screamed. “I had a plate of crab legs waiting on me.”

On second thought, maybe it was a good thing that he wasn’t in there with her.

“I know, babe. I made them for you,” he called from the elevator.

“Don’t you ‘babe’ me. I’m not some fucking cutesy pig. Are you implying I’m a porker? I’ll have you know that this weight is the weight from your fucking babies, asshole. You couldn’t just get me pregnant, could you? Had to have your fucking super sperm hit me with a damn double whammy about to split my fucking ass in two, didn’t you?” Wellsie tilted her head and they quickly learned that no one was safe from her wrath. “What the fuck are you two behemoths laughing at? I feel bad for the two that fuck you. Can you imagine the size of those fucking kids? I’m surprise Isa’s shit knit back to-fucking-gether. Sam watch out! Fuuuck! This shit hurts. Hounder, you and that fucking fat ass cock are not getting anywhere near me or any of my holes again. I don’t care if I beg for it. The women of this office better remind themselves of this SHIT. RIGHT. FUCKING. HERE!” The group walked onto the elevator with a screaming Wellsie. After a few moments, things were quiet before her soft, pain-filled voice could be heard again. “Hounder, come here and hold my hand. Baby, please.”

He was there before she finished saying his name.

“I’m here, One. I’m here. You are …”

He began their phrase.

“My one, my only … my everything, as you are …”

Wellsie breathed out while leaning her head against his shoulder and breathing.

“Mine. Always …”

“And FOREVER. I think your fucking babies are trying to rip their way out of me, T. Baby, I’m going to have be knocked out if this shit feels like this now.”

“Don’t,” Isa said to Sam as the elevator doors closed.

B.B.’s phone buzzed with a message. It was from Brian.

Brian W.: Hamiltons coming in. two hours max. Once Wells is settled. Team will return. Discuss stats if no one back yet.

Brooklyn and her older brother, Landon, had practically moved into an apartment that the team kept not far from the offices. It was supposed to be a place for the team to crash if they didn’t want to make the trips to their respective homes. Each of them had a locker in the rec center locker room and a “go” bag in their offices. That spot allowed them a place to go and take a breath if needed. Working with the tough as nails group that she did made that apartment a more than necessary expense just like the recreation center or their weapons room.

B.B. was happy to know that she was going to be the one to meet with the Hamiltons. She had some choice words for that little female. With everything that was going on, no one else could possibly have had the opportunity to read the morning paper. It was then that she realized she was left in the offices with the Italian.

“Brian says the Hamiltons will be in soon. I’ve got some stuff to take care of before Brook gets here.”

The lobby area was so quiet that B.B. felt like she’d been talking to herself. B.B. turned to discover that she actually had been because the man she’d been talking to hadn’t heard a word she’d said. His eyes were focused on her ass. When she turned and gave him her front, his eyes traveled up to the swell of her breasts. Outwardly rolling her eyes, but inwardly doing a little dance, she started to walk by him.

“Lindy, did you dress for me?” he asked while following her to her office.

“You wish, Proph, and don’t call me that name,” she said as she continued up the hallway toward her office

“I do, Lindy. You know I do. It’s the reason I asked you to give me a sign to let me know that you’re ready for all I’m ready to give.”

“That statement sounds like more than just the second chance you proposed.”

B.B. had stopped at her desk and turned to face him. Eli stepped directly in front of her and looked down into her eyes. The hypnotizing pools of his deep blue eyes had her thinking of night skies. It had her thinking of all of the nights he’d made love to her on the beach that they’d planned to get married on. Why in the hell had she thought of that with this man just inches away from her?

“It is, Belinda. It so fucking is more. Say. The. Word.”

She’d cast her gaze to the floor after the thoughts of their previous time together had taken her in a direction she shouldn’t go. Upon hearing his usually serious voice growl out a command aimed at her, she had to admit that her grip tightened on the desk she’d been leaning against. Her focus went back to his eyes. Those eyes were filled with heat and something else. It was the something else that had her nodding her head.

“Oh no, Belinda. I want the words.”

“Yes, Eli.”

The plea that had been a subtle version of the response she truly wanted to give him to the look he gave her became a full on blaze of heat that he unleashed in the taking of her mouth. The kiss was full of everything. She could feel the joy, the hope, and the ever pressing need to have them connected. When she moved to grab hold to his ass, she was met with slightly exposed flesh. As she tried to pull back so she could catch a glimpse of what it was that she’d been missing all of these years, he moved with her. Her pants and boy shorts were being pulled off of her ass. He broke the kiss long enough to snatch her clothing down her legs.

“Lindy, shit. I can’t stop.”

He had just stood again and pressed against her. When she opened her mouth to ask him what he meant, he took control of it again before pressing himself between her legs. Pulling her knees up around his waist, he moved forward. His hand moved between them and she felt him. Every last inch of him pressed into her and she groaned. This groan had an added moan to it because she was disappointed with the fact that she didn’t get the chance to see him all large, extended, and fully in charge of what was about to go down between them.

“Eli. Yeeeesssss! I sooooooo missed this.”

Eli rocked into her as she grabbed hold to a handful of his hair and kissed him with everything that she had. He slowly rocked into her then pulled out. He repeated those motions until she was sure she’d fucking levitated off the desk and was floating on a cloud.

“No, no, Lindy. You don’t get to escape me. I want you here with me. I want you to feel every motion, every emotion, every wave of ecstasy as I take us into oblivion. When I swell to release, I want your walls to clamp down and drain all that I have into you. We’re then going to do this shit all over again so you’ll never attempt to do what you did to me before … ever again. This is my time and you will stay with me in this moment, while feeling me well into next week. Got me?” he growled as he switched his trajectory, making her body arch as delicious waves of pleasure crashed through her body over and over again.

“Fuck yes! I GOT YOOOUUU!”

She couldn’t help the scream that felt like it was ripped from her throat. Her vocal chords were straining with the force of the release.

“That … that was magnifico, bella amore. Let’s see if I can get another before I coat perfection with my essence, yes?”

Her beautiful Italian didn’t slow his pace one bit. He rode out her climax and carried her already satisfied ass into another state of bliss. Only then did he allow himself to join her. He held her legs apart as he’d watched their bodies join. She couldn’t help but watch as well when he’d smiled with glee before slamming into her and grinding into her. His deep penetration affirmed that she would feel him for at least the next week. When he finally tumbled over into sated bliss, he kissed her. It was a promise of more where that came from. Feeling him fill her was enough to send her into her third orgasm.

As she came back down, she noticed that his attention wasn’t completely on her. He was wearing a sexy smirk that said he’d been watching her for a little bit before she returned from her blissful cloud.

“Where are they?” she heard the familiar voice ask.

Her eyes were as big as plates when she looked at the smug look on Eli’s face. He didn’t make a move to slide out of her. In fact, the only move he made was a twitch of his dick and an arching of his eyebrow when she made to move.

B.B.’s mind was reeling. She was trying to figure out what she could say when her office door was flung open and they were literally caught with their pants down. The two of them would not hear the end of it and they would be the butt of every joke for the next … well, forever. Anytime some similar situation was brought up this would be the incident everyone would refer back to. Attempting to move again, she tightened her thighs then lifted her leg to try and pull her leg around his solid body. Sometime during the second round, he’d pulled his shirt over his head. The t-shirt was around his neck and shoulders, which meant his amazing chest and abs were on display for her to see.

“Please move more for me. It gets me that much more excited,” he whispered as she felt him grow more between her legs.

Dipping his head, he nibbled on her nipple through her clothes. His motion locked her leg in place as he rubbed his thumb along the area of her body that wasn’t filled or covered by his lower half. The gentle swirling motion coupled with the feel of his teeth made her bite back a moan. B.B. groaned and he shushed her.

“You don’t want him to know what I’m doing to you, do you?”

He swiveled his hips and she felt the delicious feeling of him being accepted within her depths again. How in the hell was it possible for her to want him so soon after he’d just taken her?

“Eli … mmm … he’s going to know … yesss … mmm, hmm … he’s going to know any minute anyway.  Fuck … that feels good,” she moaned as he quickened his motions and swallowed her next words.

A knock sounded on the door, yet Eli continued his stroke as if he didn’t care that someone was getting ready to walk in the office and expose them for all they were worth. They were two horny as fuck adults giving in to their base needs. B.B. tried to pull her mouth away from his intoxicating kiss, but he grabbed hold to the back of her neck and kept her in place. Rubbing against that sweet spot she tried to moan her displeasure at his continuation of their coupling, but it only sounded like an approval.

B.B. didn’t think it was physically possible, but Eli drove deeper within her. His massaging of her exposed breast made her want her next orgasm as much as she wanted her next breath.

The knock came again and the handle jiggled as she felt the sign of need for release rising.

“Hey B.B., I know you probably don’t want to be bothered since your door is locked and all, but will you let Proph know when he comes back from wherever he went that the info he and Ghost asked me to pull on the Hamilton case is on the external drive under ‘ham.’ Thanks. Gotta go. Hounder’s waiting for Wellsie’s bag.”

Eli continued as if they hadn’t been about to be busted. He waited for the closing of the elevator doors before he made a sound by picking up the pace. As their bodies slapped together, he kept his eyes glued to hers. She knew hers had to register shock and awe. The focus he had told her that he wouldn’t be able to speak to her for at least another few minutes. It was fine with her. She could wait him out while having some of the best sex she’d had in years.

He pumped into her awaiting heat a few more times before he growled then groaned, giving of himself over to his orgasm. The muscles of his neck tightened and he braced his hands on the desk on either side of her as he bucked then slammed into her once more. She could feel the thrust, her walls clamping down on him, and their combined release between them.

She didn’t speak until she knew she had his full attention.

“When in the hell did you lock the door?”

He chuckled before kissing her.

“When I walked through it and made sure to close it behind me. I knew I would have all of this splendor before me. I didn’t know hellfire was going to be so open and ready for me. My Hellfire had some heat she needed to release. I’ll gladly put out the flame anytime you’re ready.”

“You think I’m such a sure thing.”

“Oh, I know you are. In fact, I’m going to prove it to you. On the sofa, Hellfire. Face forward, on your knees and spread those perfect thighs. I will feast then I will extinguish. You’ve kept me waiting far too long. We should have this shit figured out and in place already. Don’t fret, amore, we’ll talk after I’ve had my fill. Now, assume the position.”

Eli had his fill, all right, his and a couple other people’s fill. By the time the Hamiltons arrived, B.B. was practically delirious and couldn’t focus. She had no inkling how she made it through the meeting. Eli tore Brooklyn a new asshole for her. Apparently, B.B. hadn’t been the only one to read that morning’s paper.

“You’ll need to follow every rule now. There will be no leeway given. You’ve painted a huge target on both of your backs. You’ve also ruined the element of surprise we had going.”

“I understand, Mr. Reynolds. I just …”

B.B. tried not to giggle. It was weird hearing anyone refer to Elijah as “Mr.” anything. In the mode that he was in, there was no reasoning with him or explaining anything. She knew firsthand.

“No. I get what you wanted, but you hired this company to do a job. You need to allow us the necessary time to do what we were asked to do. There is a lot riding on this and there are a great many people whose lives are at stake. This isn’t a game.  It’s reality. It’s a reality that is dangerous and could get a lot a people hurt if you aren’t willing to play your part as you were instructed to.”

The Hamiltons didn’t speak again until they were saying goodbye to B.B. and Eli. As soon as they were out the front door, Eli had her pinned against the door and her clothes were being worked off of her body.

“Needy much?” she asked as he hooked her leg over his shoulder.

Before he buried his face in between her legs, he looked up and responded.

“Greedy much? Hell yes, I am. Too many years I’ve waited to have at you. I’m going to have as many helpings as I want and you’re going to enjoy every moment of it.”

Any futher response that she could’ve given died on her lips the moment that his mouth was attached to her most sensitive area. Yeah, she would enjoy every last moment of him reacquainting himself with her body and would never utter one complaint. B.B. was in heavenly bliss with every way Eli showed her how much he missed her.

Belinda's Mission Teaser 3

*** AVAILABLE NOW ***

Five hot and steamy romances.

Ten lives changed

One book that will tug at your heartstrings and kick the temperature up ten notches. Get ready!

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Blackguard Hunters Series by Ellie Keys (First Chapters – 1)

r i v e

****SPECIAL SURPRISE****

As a little teaser, I am going to post on my blog the first chapter to each of the five short stories in my latest release. I have loved these characters for quite some time. I’m so happy to be sharing them with my followers.

Brian’s Call is Book 1 and tells the story of Brian Wallace. It shares how he brought the team together and a little-known fact about his past. The  woman who held his heart is now a member of his new team. How shall this man deal with working with someone who chose to walk away from him years ago?

Here is chapter one:

The Introduction – Chapter 1

 

Brian Wallace is the self-proclaimed “token black” of their group. He always jokes that he doesn’t know why he hangs out with them, but they all know their very own “golden boy” wouldn’t have it any other way. At six feet five inches, 250 pounds of solid man, he is and will always be a beautiful being; drool worthy even. His beautiful, deep, chocolate brown skin is marred by a cut to his left cheek (Marine football tackle gone wrong) and a few moles. He has that big, pretty, Julia Roberts type of smile, but his seems to take over his entire face. The clean cut look (a completely bald head) he has been sporting recently is better received by the group over the braids that he formerly wore. His expressively bright, brown eyes crinkle in the corners when he smiles. He is also the unspoken protector.

Brian Wallace had been part of the Marine Corps until he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. He was a Sergeant Major in the service and enjoyed the time he was enlisted. The condition he now lives with caused him to walk away from everything for a while. He was honorably discharged from the Marines. Members of his former unit would regularly stop by the ranch-style house that he kept. They would come through and hang out with Sgt Major Wallace then move on. During those times, he wouldn’t be as available to hang out with them. He would make up for it when he returned or when his “buddies” left by hosting some crazy event at his place.

All of them were told that he worked at Whole Foods Market, but no one ever saw him in the store. He always parked outside the building in the employee parking lot. When anyone called, they were told that he was unavailable. His big black F-250 sometimes sits there for a few days. Sgt Major Brian dated a young woman by the name of Scarlett for a couple of months, but has recently been tied to another who goes by the name of Artemis. It is said that she was a goddess. They only dated for a few months as well, but neither woman could handle the very obvious “disappearing” acts. He let the second know he was there for her, but there were things that he had to tend to and he couldn’t be at her beck and call. With that statement, he had effectively ended their relationship. After some tense moments, they both agreed that they made better friends than boyfriend and girlfriend.

“What in the hell kind of report is this, Kevin? I’m looking to find out more information about the team we’ve heard reports that this man putting together and I feel like I’m looking at the beginnings of a love letter or homage to him. Who put this shit together? Was it you or Isa?”

“Sir?”

A female’s barely suppressed groan comes through the comms as the two men stand poised to take a shot if they deemed it necessary. The two silently communicated that a change in position was needed to get a better line of sight on their target as well as the unsuspecting inside man who stood in the middle of the calm before the storm. The taller of the two stood and became a shadow as he moved through the night.

“Lead Dog, for such a mass of man, you sure know how to disappear like a damn ghost. Guess that’s why your name is fitting.”

A growl of disgust could be heard from a gruffer tone than the rich timber of the first male’s voice.

“Hound, watch Lucky, not me.”

“Got eyes, Lead Dog,” came a third male’s voice. It sounded as if it were coming from the bottom of a barrel. It was just that deep.

“Hey man, don’t imply I don’t. I’m focused on … shit! Movement. Eyes on the prize. Eyes on the motherfucking prize. It’s going down.”

The prize was a suitcase full of weapons that was stolen from the docks the previous night. This step was going to get them a bit closer to the grand prize. Brian noted the win to himself. His man on the inside had the case in hand and was set to give the signal so that they could get moving. He’d wanted this quick and clean. It appeared that was exactly what he was going to get.

The sign was given just as he got into his new position. The man inside fired first and in quick succession three other shots were fired. Not one could be heard on the winds since silencers were used. As he moved to stand, two men came out of the shadows within the room to attack their guy inside from behind. Turning, Brian’s man fired the kill shot for one as the other was taken out by his fourth guy. Tipping his head, he acknowledged his man who was quick to respond. They each moved quickly to the rendezvous point.

Brian was giddy like a kid with a new toy as he thought about the team he’d assembled. The four members, who included himself, he already had in place worked well together. He hoped the added members would, as well. The next phase of the job depended on it.

Brian's Call Teaser 1

Brian's Call - Honor Anthology

***  AVAILABLE NOW   ***

Five hot and steamy romances.

Ten lives changed

One book that will tug at your heartstrings and kick the temperature up ten notches. Get ready!

Amazon (US)Barnes & NobleKoboI-TunesAmazon (CA)Amazon (UK)Amazon (AU)

Nyema by E. L. R. Jones (Chapter One)

2e3c3-elrjones2blogo2bpngThe Norton Sisters series has somehow become a series that tears at my heart every time that I sit down to write.  My muse has been tapping away at my psyche as their stories play out in my thoughts and dreams.

The series is going to span six books since there are six sisters.  I’ve always wanted to tell the stories of the lives of women that were close nit sisters and the best of friends.  Yet, even in their closeness they are still unaware of what each has had to endure to become who they were.  The first two stories have already been released.  Rayna and Zoie shared their stories.  In the process they found love. The hope is each of the sisters follows suit.

CoversELRJ.jpgNyema book 3 cover

Zoie Cover 2

Norton Sisters - Rayna 1 - Final cover

TeasersELRJONES.jpg

norton sisters nyema and jamesNyema

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The proposal - ZoieZoie

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Promotional excerpt for RaynaRayna

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Thank you so much for stopping in and seeing what I was sharing today.  I am ever so grateful as are these women.  So many have been able to identify with one or all of the sisters.

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Nyema sat in the restaurant at exactly five minutes to one. The cool afternoon air said that Florida was entering into the season and the summer was soon coming to an end. She’d stood outside for about ten minutes before finally coming into the restaurant. The man who greeted her was far too happy to hear the name of the man that would be soon joining her. She didn’t like what this said. She felt at odds about meeting him here. Looking around again, she actually contemplated just leaving.

The problem with that was then she’d have to explain to her brother-in-law why his closest friend showed up at the restaurant and found himself dining alone. Nyema picked up her little notebook and pen then moved it the other side. It had started on her left hand side and to the left of the elegant table setting when she was first seated by the nice, French gentleman that practically did a little jig when she mentioned her client’s name. Do French men jig? Oh, never mind. It doesn’t matter. The notebook had then been moved to her right because she has always been right handed. It moved again a few seconds later and now she was thinking of moving it again.

She didn’t know why she was so nervous. Nyema laughed at herself. She’d mentally begun to admonish herself as soon as the thought had started to formulate. The reason being, she knew good and well why it was that she was nervous. When Rayna’s husband, Christopher Leigh, had come to her and made the request that she take on his “buddy” because he was going through a hard time, she should’ve just said no. That, of course, wasn’t what she did. She’d known something was off as soon as she’d picked up the phone.

“Family Matters Therapy Center, Nyema Norton speaking, how may assist you?” she quickly answered the line.

Joanne had gone out to pick them both up something to eat and she’d been expecting a call. It was the only reason she’d bothered to answer the phone that day.

“Dawnie? Is that you? Where’s Joanne?” she’d heard a male voice respond.

Since he referred to her by her middle name, it could only be one of two people: Chris, Rayna’s husband, or Victor, Zoie’s husband. Lynnie’s friend, Dario, would never dare to act that familiar with her. Those were the only males within their circle. Considering the fact that there were six very attractive sisters and one amazing mother in the Norton clan’s immediate circle that was a sad, sad statement.

“Which newfound brother is this? Is it Chris or Vic because I haven’t been able to take a moment to decipher timbers and such to just know by voice?” she said as she’d sifted through the file on her patient that was to come in that day at two.

“I’m sure Ray and Z. will appreciate knowing that you think that their husbands sound too much alike for you to know them apart on the phone,” the voice had responded then a chuckle quickly followed.

“Hello Christopher, what’s going on? I don’t usually hear from you so recalling your voice isn’t something that I decide to store in my database of things to remember,” she’d responded distractly because Joanne had walked in with their lunch.

Her stomach uttered its protest the instant the scent of the grilled salmon permeated the room. She was starving and the rice that was on the side of that entre with steamed vegetables was screaming for her complete attention. It’s amazing what the mind can recall and what is chosen to forget.

“Cut me to the quick, why don’t you, sis? Man! I’ve been with your sister for almost two years now and I can’t get a little phone recognition,” he’d said and she had to let him off the hook, but one last jibe first.

“If you would provide me with a regular auditory sample, then I will be more than willing to oblige any reinforced comfort my recognizing your voice will offer,” she paused and listened to the silence. “I’m just kidding. I knew it was you all along. Victor only calls when there is trouble at the school and his secretary is the one who initiates that call. What can I do for you?”

“The things that you hold in that head of yours are astounding. I didn’t know what in the hell you had said. Anyway, I called to set up a meeting with you, but realized that I couldn’t do a meeting. I was told that you had a couple trips coming up that wouldn’t free you up,” he stopped talking and she heard him take a breath. “Listen, this is kind of a touchy subject and I really don’t know how or what to do here.”

“Start at the beginning. It’s always the best and tends to get you to where you need to go the quickest. I’m free for the next hour or so. However long you need, go ahead and take it,” she typed a quick note to Joanne to make sure that she didn’t schedule anyone to fill the one o’clock she knew she had open. “Everything is fine with Ray, right?”

“Oh, yeah. She’s good. Tired, but good. It’s not anything to do with the three of us, Dawnie. It has to do with my friend. I’m really worried about him and I don’t have anyone else to turn to. If I go to his family members, then I’m afraid they will take this to a level that is far worse than what it already is. You know, James? He was my best man at the wedding and he comes by from time to time.”

He’d been quiet and she realized that he was waiting on her to respond. She’d begun to take notes. She hadn’t known why. Something just said to do so.

“Yes, I remember him. I also remember Zoie and Lynnia not being his biggest fans. I think there is a bit more there with Zoie. She never would expound on why it was that she didn’t care for him. Anyway, what seems to be the problem?” she’d asked.

What he said in response had her sitting back in her seat. Chris had told her that James had been the father of Zoie’s baby. Nyema hadn’t been aware that her nephew’s father was a known donor. Did Zoie know? She had to have known. Why didn’t she tell any of the sisters? It seemed like something that they should know. They’d put Victor’s name on the grave stone because it was a special request and just seemed like the right thing to do since the father’s name wasn’t known. Now, having not only a name, but a face to go along with it just made it feel wrong. She wondered if Zoie even took a moment to talk with James. Her sister probably hadn’t since she didn’t really like him and she was dealing with the loss of her child, the fact of being a newlywed, then her miraculous chance to be a mother. Talking to James about any of it would have probably been on her very short list of things to do.

“Houdini couldn’t have pulled a better trick out of his hat if he wanted. What are the odds that one of the few people that Zoie didn’t like would be the person to give her the blessing that Nathaniel would have been? I can’t believe that she didn’t say anything,” Nyema had taken a drink of her tea then a deep breath before speaking again. “Okay, so James is having a hard time dealing with everything? How am I supposed to be part of this little equation?”

“Nyema, I don’t know if you will be able to help at all, but I don’t know what else to do. I’ve done all that I can think of. You are my last resort. I know that this is probably going to be a bit much for you. It will be going above and beyond the call of duty as my sister, well sister-in-law, but it’s needed. I really believe that you might be the only one to get him out of this…” Chris had paused for seconds then was off again. “He isn’t himself. I’ve never known him to hole up in his place and stay. He travels, socializes, meets and beds women. He is not a homebody. He is not one to back down from a challenge. I didn’t think that I’d ever see the day that the wind was knocked out of James Kenyon’s sails, but it is. He is literally coasting through life. I took him out the other day for a beer and we passed a baby store. His eyes stayed focus on this bear blanket and he went inside the store. He came out five minutes later with the bear and a little mitt. I just about lost it because I had no clue what to say to that. The man didn’t say word. He hailed a cab, got in it and left my ass standing there with my mouth open. He’s not dealing. I didn’t think he wanted to be a dad. He argued the point of not wanting to have anything to do with the kid once Allison was pregnant. She was the one that was supposed to get his donation. Seeing the broken man that he is now tells me differently. I just need you to talk to him. I need to see if you can get him to talk about all of this. I know it’s a tall order, but I’m hoping that it works. I’ve never seen him like this. What do you think? Are you willing to do this?”

Nyema hadn’t said a word. She’d been attempting to process all that he’d relayed to her. Chris had mistaken her hesitancy for apprehension in dealing with an adult patient. His assessment couldn’t have been further from the truth. She was a little concerned about that factor, but she’d studied family psychology as well as adult psychology during her college years. She often kept up with those studies when her schedule allowed for it. Dealing with children could be far easier, but she was up for the challenge.

Her hesitancy came because she felt instantly like a hypocrite. Speaking to a child, coaching them through their pain is one thing. When children ask a question, you can lead them in a different direction and usually get away with the misdirection. An adult tends to be a bit more astute and far quicker in catching on to misleading or misdirection. It wasn’t often that she had to employ such tactics, but it was there if she ever needed it. Her arsenal was full of those types of tools.

Nyema didn’t want to talk to James Kenyon for a number of reasons. The one at the very top of the list was the fact that she shouldn’t be attempting to lead anyone else to learning to cope with loss since she hadn’t fully learned to deal with her own. See! She was the biggest hypocrite ever! There was no way that she should be meeting with this man. He would see right through her tactics and advice. She was insane. Why? Why did she do this to herself?

Nyema looked to the entrance again. Her mental castigation immediately ceased. Seeing the handsome, dark hard, blue eyed, clean shaven, six plus foot man that smiled at the waitress that had just walked in front of him reminded her why she agreed. She watched him. It wasn’t an open watching. She made it look as if she were looking around the restaurant, but her focus was on watching the man walk. Awful! Insane! Silly! All of these words described her perfectly. She had to be all of those things because she was sitting the ogling the way the man strode with a purpose toward her. Watching him move was an appetizer to seeing him smile and maneuver his way to her, wading through the adoring throng of women. Her license to practice should be taken. She shouldn’t be taking on a man that she had any form of attraction to as a potential patient.

Placing her hand on her notebook, she turned her attention to the table setting before her. She would remain professional, see if this was a lost cause then move on from there. When she looked up again, he was standing right next to her, smiling with a cleft in his chin. Had she actually thought that she would be able to remain focused and professional in his presence? That wasn’t likely since she didn’t seem to have the ability to make her body respond to her mental commands. This meeting was going to go well. Chris was going to owe her big time if she made it through this lunch without making a fool of herself.

NortonSistersPromoSaying.jpgI hope you enjoyed the excerpt from the upcoming release. Thank you again!

~E.

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Queen Mother by E. L. R. Jones (Chapter One)

I have done this for my other books and decided that I would keep with that tradition.  I love sharing my works with all of the readers that give me an opportunity to do so.  Thank you to each person that will take the time to read this.  My next release is coming October 30, 2014 and I cannot wait to see what those that have read the first book in the series think of this next installment.  Queen Mother is available now for pre-order.

 Here is the link:  Amazon

 I am sharing the first chapter of the book just to see what kind of response I get from this.  Also, I am sharing so that you might get an idea of what my writing is like if you’ve never read my work before.

 Here are some teasers for the book:

Chapter One

“Bear down, Milady,” the lady in waiting practically yelled at the royal whose face was tear-streaked and reflected an air of exhaustion.

“No, I cannot. I’m so famished and weary. I ache all over. I don’t have the ability to do this,” the young woman with copper toned eyes and light, sun-kissed skin yelled.

The words were thrust from her on a weakened breath. Her normally curly, almost jet black hair was now spread over her regularly pearl colored pillowcase. The pearl color was now a smoky grey because of the sweat pouring from her forehead.

       “You must! Your young is almost here. You have waited for so long to hold your babe. Milady, please,” the lady pleaded and began to position herself to between the young royal’s legs.

The royal knew she must push forward. She knew that this was her last attempt to give her beautiful Intended his last child. He’d sought to have five. She never understood his need, but she agreed to it. He was so adamant about that number. If she really put thought to it, then she would realize that she already knew why. This child was to be his gift to her not the other way around.

If every child that had inhabited her womb had lived they would have nine no ten babes. It was not to be so. The all knowing mother had not seen that they were fit to bear that many. This was the one that wasn’t supposed to be. No one knew this child would come. Every child before had been spoken of by a soothsayer or dreamwalker. Not one had come and spoken of this one. No one came until it was far too late for any to know what was to come from this one.

The Fated came to them in the night and delivered the horrifying “gift” from the Eldest Soothsayer.

The Fifth child born to the King of the Demoans and the Queen Mother will bring pain and death with his life. In his name, war will wage and peace will be abolished. He will be the harbinger of all that is evil in living by the error of his ways. No good will come of the child that will live as the one that hunts his own.”

When word was received, she’d wept for days. The fear of the words played in her head hourly and were the reason for each horrible sight she saw when she closed her eyes at night. A request was made for further divining or more knowledge to decipher the meaning behind the words. It wasn’t until much later, far too late for anything to be done, that she and her Intended were informed there was a second portion to that message.

The second portion was never given to the queen or her Intended. It crushed her to know that she had more information only after there was nothing in her power to be done about it. The worst part about finding something was intentionally being kept from her was learning the reason that it was done. The Fated feared the words of the first portion of the message far too much to relay the second. The ignorance of youth overrode the wisdom of age. They wanted the child removed from the kingdom as fear overruled their sworn duty. The Fated had sworn a duty to protect the kingdom from such a child. They had many in place to make sure that such a child would never come to be or so they thought. What they hadn’t realized in their youthful exuberance was their actions were what brought about the foreseen actions in their message.

As a result of the steps that they took, she was now dealing with something no person, especially a mother, should ever have to deal with. Her children were her own. They are the sons and daughters of Zephora Carthage-Veering: the Queen, Mother of their race and Foreseer. Yes, she was hated because she was able to change the heart of a Demoan from his evil ways. Doing so had split one of the most evil and deadliest duos to ever be spawned from hell. Devianté, her Intended, and the father of the supposedly cursed child spent many, many days trying to put the broken Queen Mother back together.

Things may have been so different had they only seen the second portion of that message.

Take heed in this message for it is truth. His heart is the key to his destruction. Without the evil that touches it, he will be the greatest warrior and live by his mother’s twice blessed sword.

All was not right in her world and it probably never would be. She hadn’t lost just one child because of those words. She’d lost two. The Fated were cruel, heartless bitches. So many days of wishing and praying for the return of those lost children were thrown back in her face. It wasn’t enough for her to lose them then have them brought back into her life. No, they were brought back with a secret so terrifying that she almost requested someone take her life. It was the worst thing imaginable.

All of her hopes for those boys, her sons, were dragged through the mud, trampled on by horses, then chewed up and spit out. They weren’t those beautiful, innocent little babes that she’d for mere moments at her bosom. They weren’t the kindhearted little ones that she’d always thought they’d be, expected them to be. It was part of their family’s nature, their lineage, to be kind and nurturing. Her boys were men. They were men that were hardened by a life of anger, hostility and a childhood without love. How could they be anything less than that growing up with a Demoan that knew not what it meant to truly be loved and cared for? She wouldn’t expect them to be gentle men. She couldn’t. Yet, she’d still hoped. When she heard of their depravity and who that youngest child had become, her heart instantly chilled.

Only a mother that has heard of a child doing something that goes against everything that they taught their child would understand what she felt. Only a parent that learned of a child committing a crime so heinous no other could hear of it without cringing could know the depth of her sadness. Her anger knew no boundaries. It seeped into her veins and screamed for release. Every person that was within her kingdom tried to look at her with sympathy, but so many had been lost that the attempt was lost in their reflected heartache.

Zephora couldn’t take it. So, she left. She took her leave of her kingdom that had been her safety net and sanctuary for as long as she’d been alive. Even in her greatest moment of pain, her kingdom and the Foresayer L’ahelle had been her home. There she’d always found peace. She couldn’t find it. So, she went to the second place that afforded her the opportunity to let down her guard. Her arrival at the first space that she ever shared with Devianté had her trembling. She hadn’t been there since she and Devi lived there with the children so many centuries before.

Looking upon the gates with the Veering crest brought tears to her eyes. The “v” that spread to take on the shape of dark wings was one she knew as well as her name. It was etched into Devi’s skin. The marking of one wing started at the top of his left pectoral and spanned the length of his torso. It dipped around his side and the other wing spread out across his hip then lower back. The dip of his “v” cut across part of his abs. It was the sexiest thing she’d ever seen and couldn’t help, but learn every dip, turn and section of the marking with her tongue whenever she had the opportunity.

Smiling to herself, she turned slightly and nodded her head. He was there. He was always there. Devi thought that he was hiding himself when he silently followed her in the shadows, but she knew. She always knew. Her heart told her when he was near. Knowing that he was with her, watching out for her, allowed her to be brave when she needed to be.

“Devi, I need you here with me. As much as I feel this is my own to bear, I cannot be in this place alone. Plea…,” she began, but stopped when he stood before her.

“You know you only have, but to ask. I should have known that you knew I followed you. I haven’t really been able to hide much of anything from you in all of our years together,” he stopped and looked around the area where they stood. “I cannot believe it has been as long as it has been since we were away from this place. It seems like yesterday that we were putting things together to make it our own. The staff has done well in keeping up the grounds, don’t you think?”

Zephora tore her gaze away from her husband’s six and a half foot, hard body that was barely hidden in the dark jeans and blue sweater that he wore. Anytime he was in that color, she thought of the deep blue eyes that called to her every time that he looked at her.

“Evo, your thoughts have turned to things that will get you taken where you stand if you are not careful. You came here for other things, I believe. If I am going to be a distraction, then I will return to our home. Even if looking into those beautiful brown eyes that darken with your desire make even speaking those words the hardest thing I had to do right now,” he said as he glanced over his shoulder.

She’d heard it to. There was a whisper on the winds and she knew they wouldn’t be alone long. Her mother would be joining them soon. Oh well. So much for that little thought. It would be a while before her mother would arrive. She would make the most of the time that she would have alone with her husband.

Her gaze moved to the home that stood before her. The grandeur of the estate had never been lost on her. It was an amazing place. The palatial home was one that she didn’t think she’d ever get used to when she’d first arrived. Sure, the home she lived in with her mother was more of a castle than home, but she’d known every nook and cranny of it.

To be honest, she’d thought that Demoans lived in a hovel or cave. She hadn’t expected to find such a wondrous place. It had been cloaked in a protective spell the first time she’d arrived. Devianté showed his first signs of not being the typical demonic killer when he’d brought her to this place. The house looked like it was owned by a Lord from the Victorian Era. The tower that set off to the right if you were facing the home was one of her favorite places to be. The grey toned shingles, pillar like columns, grand windows and staircases and porch that ran the width of the front of the house made her love the house, instantly.

Devi had the house modernized as time went on, but he never changed those things. He knew how important those things were for her. The five bedrooms and two bath home had been theirs. It had been there’s and held so many memories. It was also the place where she’d thought she’d lost herself forever.

The cover:

The first book in the series is Night Hunter.  It is available now for purchase at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Thank you so much for taking the time to check out what I have shared.

~E.

A little taste of beauty…First Chapter of Rayna: The Norton Sisters (1000 likes and counting)

A Contemporary Romance novel with a touch of sisterly love!

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AVAILABLE NOW!! Recent release!!

I’m excited to announce my latest work. It is part of a series, but it’s also a standalone. The Norton Sisters: {Book 1: Rayna}

A taste of beauty in Chapter 1:

Chapter 1

 “Are you freaking serious right now?” Rayna said as she looked down at the split in her skirt.

“What happened?” her sister, Zoie, questioned from the other end of the phone and her Assistant echoed from the main office at the same time.

“I just snagged my skirt on this stupid desk,” she spoke a little louder so that she could respond to both at once.  To her Assistant, she added, “Karen, please call Landon’s Carpentry and Restoration shop and have the edge of this desk taken care of.  This is the third skirt that I’ve had torn by this thing.  I don’t have time to replace my entire wardrobe.”

“First off, that would take months to do.  Second, you know, good and well, you would make time for such a thing if it was necessary,” her older sister chimed in from the phone she still held to her ear.

“Z, I’m going to have to call you back. Love you,” she told her before she ended the call.

Rayna pulled at the fabric of her skirt.  It was ruined.  Growing up as the third oldest of seven, she was used to wearing worn and tattered clothes.  Considering the fact that she was a well paid business owner and Lawyer who kept her family’s affairs in order, she didn’t have time for those types of garments now.  When she was hanging out around the house the casual attire was fine, but not at work.  Her place of business was a place for work appropriate attire.  Her small practice was on the same floor of her younger sister, Nyema’s, office on Tomlin Street.

Always the one that was the most serious, she definitely didn’t have time to play around with a desk dead set upon destroying her business clothing.  Yes, she blamed the inanimate object in the room and not the fact that she’d been distracted.  She was the one that was the take charge member of each family member’s business contracts.  The meaning of let her hair down was lost on her because she felt she always had to be on point or else everything would fall apart. The high stressors of her daily dealings and the utter incompetence of most individuals had her tending to take care of everything herself.  If she could, she would give every imbecilic Lawyer and Judge a crash course in “Rayna Law.”

With all that had gone on and was going on in her life, she felt her sister’s demands for her to “let go” or “find love” and have a man in her bed every night would be cause for more trouble than good.  She had occasional “bed warmers,” but to her that was all they were.  Her male counterpart would be commended for his ambition.  She was usually looked upon as anal and, more accurately, controlling.  As far as she was concerned, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  She and Kelly Clarkston had that in common.

After leaving Karen instructions for the documents she had on her desk, Rayna returned home.  She stood in her condo looking in her mirror that was positioned next to her bedroom door.  It had been a gift from her Great Aunt Elaine. When she’d gifted it to her, Rayna had the artwork changed in the cherry wood to reflect her sisters’ saying, “In the end, family means everything and your sisters hold you up no matter what may come.” Her two older sisters had come up with the statement and uttered it so many times to the younger ones that they now all lived by it.  It had become their own little “Norton code.”

Rayna had the loopy design replaced with the saying in a calligraphy style. She was impressed by the intricate detail work and craftsmanship.  She was just as equally impressed every time she saw it.  Now, she stood in front of her mirror wearing only her satin and lace bra and panty set.  Her magenta toned undergarments would match perfectly the soft and flirty dress that was a pale pink with magenta flowers.  The base of the dress flared out catching the slightest gust of wind.  She liked the concept behind it, but felt the need to possibly go with something a bit more fitting for a possibly more businesslike affair.  Standing there, looking at the reflection of the bed and the more conservative black a-line skirt and magenta silk shirt, she was still inconclusive when it came to deciding what to wear.  The drop of the neckline in front made it a bit more casual.  The scoop neck hinted at just enough of her cleavage to make the shirt risqué for the office.  It was one of the reasons she liked it.

This was the part of her personality she disliked the most.  She was such a clothes whore that she had a second bedroom created for the closet space.  Her bedroom closet was overrun with all of her clothing and shoes.  Even though she considered herself quite organized, she could find herself somewhat overwhelmed by it all.  She looked over at her armoire with two drawers for her bra and panty sets.  Sad to say the foot deep drawers had boxes within which separated her satin, silk and lace undergarments from the cotton.  She had another drawer for comfy pajamas.  Her dresser held her softer, sexier nighties in two drawers and socks in another.  The bottom two held her gym attire and comfortable around-the-house items.

Looking at her walk in closet, she recalled all of the garments hanging on each side.  She’d organized each side by color.  Her jeans, slacks, capris and skirts hung on one side in descending length.  On the other side, were her shirts, dresses, suits and gowns.  She didn’t have many gowns, but every now and again an occasion called for it. At the back of the closet on each side were shelves.  Those were organized on each side by season.  On the floor beneath the clothes were shoes that didn’t have boxes and sat on a rack.  Hanging on the back of her door was a hanging rack for her quick “go to” shoes.

What she had was a sickness for which she didn’t want a cure.  She loved herself enough to know that wasn’t something she would change. It was just something that annoyed her from time to time because it caused her to have to allot for extra time to finally make a decision on what she would actually walk out of the house in. Rayna tended to give herself at least an extra hour.  Most of the time, her choices were narrowed down to 3 outfits that she would prefer to wear.  On a rare occasion, she might have a fourth. Knowing the time it would take, she made sure everything else was done: shower, shave, hair, nails, make-up and even her accessories.  It always came back to what garment she would don.

Tonight, a part of her longed to actually go to the comfy drawer and pull something out to toss on, but she’d already promised L that she was coming. Reluctantly she moved toward her bed to look at her other choice.  As far as the evening went, she was going to have to grin and bear it.  Her sister should know that she was dearly loved if Rayna was willing to spend a rare, free evening schmoozing and being an able body, walking billboard for her little sister’s restaurant, L. Norton’s Cuisine.

Opening her own restaurant was always something that L had dreamed of doing.  She’d enlisted Rayna’s help with finding the property and drawing up the paperwork to make it a reality.  Rayna was proud of her sister and knew that no matter how she was feeling she was going to have to get over herself and go.  Her hope was that her little sister, or any of the others, wouldn’t use this as an opportunity to set her up.  She just needed to make a firm decision on what to wear.

Christopher Leigh stood in the gallery, actually the living area, of his condo trying to make a decision that would start his evening off right.  He’d been trying to focus on what stood before him but his thoughts kept floating back to the woman that had captured his attention, but didn’t notice that he existed.  Rayna Norton had fascinated him from the moment that she walked into her sister’s new space.  He’d been speaking with L. for quite some time and he thought he knew all of her sisters.  He, at least, thought he’d met them all.  He found out quickly that he’d been wrong.  The very busy lawyer sister, Rayna, hadn’t made it to the meetings prior.  The family was stocked with a beautiful gene.  All of the sisters were quiet lovely creatures, but Rayna was stop traffic beautiful.  She was run into a pole gorgeous.

As she’d walked in that morning with a briefcase in one hand and a cell phone in the other, he’d been sure he’d stopped breathing for a moment or two.  L. had to clear her throat to get his attention to return to what they’d been discussing prior to her sister’s entrance.

“She’s going to busy for a moment or two so you can finish what you were saying before she came in,” he’d heard her state as she tried to meet his eyes. “Chris?”

“Hmm, yeah? Oh, right.  I was just saying that the Tuscany and Me would probably go best in the window so that…um…you can…,” he’d been unable to formulate a thought after seeing her.  “I’m sorry…who is the woman that just walked in?”

“Oh, that’s Ray R…my sister, Rayna.  I told you that I had another sister you hadn’t met yet.  Well, that’s her,” she’d sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes then.  “Always working.  I tell you.  If you couldn’t figure it out, she’s a lawyer.”

“Really?  Wouldn’t have been able to figure that one out.  She looks like the no nonsense type though,” he’d looked over her 5’7 frame, dressed in a dark grey business jacket and matching skirt.  Her long caramel toned legs glowed in the sun as it kissed her skin.  The honey tones seemed to call his name. He realized then that someone was calling him.

“Chris? Chriiisss!  See something you like there?” L. asked with a slight curve to her lips and a giggle.

“I’m sorry.  That was completely…inappropriate.  I need to take a moment.  I need some…” he’d started, but as he was closing his portfolio of smaller scans of his work, the object of his infatuation made her way over.

He stood stunned for a moment as L. made the introductions then he thrust his hand forward and shook her outstretched, more petite hand.  He liked the way it curved into his much larger, more callused hand.  Her curly dark brown hair fell into her eyes as she looked down at something on the counter.  He realized then that she was looking at his work.  If the curve of her full lips was telling then she quite enjoyed what she saw.

“L., I love these.  Your taste of Italy is going to win over so many people.  Your soul food Friday’s won’t hurt the neighborhood, either. I love the…,” she’d looked down at her phone, for a moment, then continued distractedly.  “…fact that your…food isn’t going to be just about one…just focused on one culture.  I’m so sorry I’m so distracted.  It’s just this case is close to closing and I’m kind of excited to reunite this family.”

“Oh, right, the mother who lost her two children to their father’s mother because the family thought it best…” L. began, but Rayna was holding up a finger, silently telling her to give her a minute.

“Rayna Norton speaking.  No, I will not.  I didn’t sign off on it and it…” Rayna walked away to another area of the building, but her voice carried.  Luckily, the words didn’t.  Whatever was happening, she wasn’t too thrilled about it.

“So, that is the youngest of my older sister’s, Rayna.  She owns her own practice and is building quite a distinguished group of clients.  Today’s client is one that she has been working with for quite some time and was in the closing stages of her case load.  I hope that phone call doesn’t change things,” L. looked over at him then and studied his face.  She must’ve noticed his look of distraction. “So, what would you like to know about the good counselor and my gorgeous older, not by much, sister?”

“I…what?” Chris said as he tried to gather his thoughts and turn them away from the dark brown eyes that had looked over his work and actually said that she loved it. “We have to get back to what pieces you want hung where in your restaurant.”

“Uh huh, right.  So that’s what you want to focus on?  It wouldn’t be a certain caramel skin beauty with oval shaped eyes, a pert nose and a body that most would kill for that just so happens to be a lawyer.  A Lawyer who practically drooled over your work which is a crowd pleaser for any audience of one who is an artist and a master at his craft,” she’d continued, studying his reaction like he was the subject posing for her canvas.  “You are actually going to try and stand there and pretend that you don’t want to get at my sister.  I saw how your green eyes lit up when she was looking at your work.”

“I will admit that I enjoyed the fact that she likes my work.  What artist wouldn’t want that?  I would be a complete and utter fool if I didn’t take pride in the fact…” he’d been cut off by L. then.

“Blah, blah, blah…stall tactic.  The next words I better hear are ‘please L. will you make it happen?’  If they aren’t then we have nothing more to discuss.  I can see when a man knows what he wants.  I would not have taken you for one that didn’t rise to the challenge or one that backed down from one that might not fawn at your very feet.  If I’m wrong then…” she’d stated as she lifted her hands in mock surrender.

“Nice.  I like the fact that you just threw down the gauntlet and basically told me to man up or else, inadvertently.  Are all of your sisters…” he’d begun.

“What? More than willing to keep a man on their toes or call them on their junk or speak to the truth of the matter?  Nope, I’m one of a kind.  Although, my sister’s all tend to be outspoken when they want to be. It makes our weekly lunches very interesting,” she laughed and he found himself laughing along with her. “So watch out and what do you say?”

“I say that I am man enough to handle this all on my own.  I am more than capable of holding my own with one of the Norton women,” he’d responded and quickly added when she quirked an eyebrow at him. “All of the Norton women at one time, that is a horse of a different color.”

She’d laughed again.  She was still laughing as he’d gathered his things and made his way to the door.  When he’d reached the door, he’d heard Rayna return.

“What’s so funny, sis?” he’d heard Rayna ask.

“Oh, nothing.  It was something Chris said,” he’d heard L. reply.

“Chris? Chris who?  A new guy?  I thought you were dating Travis?” he’d heard Rayna ask and he tried not to take that to heart, after all they hadn’t had a moment to be introduced.

As he’d opened the door he heard L. say, “Chris is the artist whose work you were looking at and loved.”

“Really?  Was he here?” Rayna had asked.  He hadn’t realized that he was that invisible.  His 6’2 frame usually got him noticed, but I guess not by the lawyer.

He’d heard as the door closed behind him, “You know that is so sad when you don’t even notice that a gorgeous Greek god was standing in the room with you.  I seriously think that we need to make you an appointment with Nyema.”

“She sees children, wonderful…”

That was the last of the conversation that he would hear.  He made up in his mind then that he would be sure to make an impression on this evening.  He was sure that all of L.’s sisters would be at the opening of her restaurant and he was definitely not going to miss it.  He just needed to decide the final canvas that would be the focal point of the restaurant.  It would be the piece that could be seen by every table in the area and the first piece you saw after you entered.  He was trying to decide between a piece he called Family Play or another called A Palate to Remember.  Both pieces spoke to different aspects of the passion behind L.’s restaurant, but whichever one he chose would be the one that remained in that area.  It was the one thing that L. had left up to him and the team would be there soon to take it so that it was hanging for the opening.  He had 5 more…maybe not.

Chris walked over to the door of his condo and opened it to the delivery man.  He silently cursed as he moved out of the way so he could bring in his equipment.  Chris looked around the man at the pieces again.  He watched the delivery guys, now there were two, walk over to where he was looking.

“Which one?” the shorter of the two questioned.

Chris looked again and on impulse pointed to the depiction of a family passing along plates of different foods.  Some of the members looked as if they were mid-seating.  A couple looked as if they were dashing to make it to where a particular plate was heading.  The family was made up of people of different ethnicities gathered around a table.  As he thought about it, he found it to be the perfect thing for L.’s restaurant.  She didn’t want to be stereotyped or categorized.  Her meals would change daily.  She wanted the meals to showcase versatility.  She’d planned on having signature dishes that remained on each day’s menu.  For the most part though, the chef was allowed to create and pull from whatever culture he saw fit that night.  Opening night was themed, A Seat in Tuscany.  The night’s cuisine would be based on tastes of Italy and he looked forward to the changes to come.  He stepped back as he watched the guys cart his work away.

His focus then turned back to another canvas that had caught his attention that morning.  The canvas of Rayna Norton.  She was truly a work of art.  He knew he had his work cut out for him.   He could feel the excitement that always came with a new challenge begin to course through his veins.  He was going to find a way to gain her awareness if it was the last thing that he did.

Rayna was standing in front of the mirror again.  She was putting the final touches on her outfit.  She was enjoying the way she felt in the flirty dress.  She liked the feel of the material against her skin.  She also enjoyed the hint of risk she was taking by wearing something that a good wind would cause her to be exposed in.  She was putting in her stud earrings that matched the magenta floral ring when she heard her computer chime.  She walked over to the mouse and moved it.  Waiting for the screen to respond, she drummed her fingers, then logged in when prompted.

As she figured, her sister’s faces awaited her on the screen of their personal video chat room.  If nothing else, she knew her sisters well enough to know that they were not going to allow her to just attend this party.  None of her other sisters were in committed relationships, but for some reason all of them seemed to worry about her.  She could hear Zoie saying, “All work and no play makes Nika a lonely mega billionaire with no one to share her riches.” It was one of the things that she hated hearing.  All of her sisters, even the youngest seemed to take it upon themselves to take advantage of every opportunity and use it to try and get her hooked to some man.

Rayna wasn’t going to let that fly today.  Plus she felt more secure in her stance since only two of her sisters were in the chat and not all 5 of them.  She was even happier to find that it was Lynnia and Nyema.  The two younger siblings were easily driven off course since most of the time they were so busy with their own things that they tended to not hassle her as much.  It usually was her two older sisters that led the charge with making sure she didn’t completely lose herself in her work.  Some days she was grateful they came and tore her from the office, but most of the time she just wanted a moment to breathe. She appreciated their concern, but she had goals she wanted to meet.

“Hello Frick and Frack attack.  What’s up?” she greeted her sisters laughing to herself that she was watching them both use the camera as a mirror.

“Hey there, sis.  I’m so loving the dress!  Definitely one that I will be stopping by to borrow,” Nyema stated as she applied a soft brown gloss to her lips.

She primped her curls.  She was the only one of the sisters that regularly wore her naturally curly hair.

“Thanks Nye.  Coming from you that is the highest form of compliment.  You usually hate all of my clothes,” Rayna responded as she sat down in front of the computer.

“I don’t hate them per se.  I just know that I wouldn’t wear anything so businesslike and…,” she paused and sat back as she tried to think of a word.

“Prudish… conservative… stagnant?  Choose any word to fill in the blank,” Lynnia added as she giggled and hummed to herself while applying her eye make-up.

“I resent that remark.  I am none of the above.  I wear clothing that is suited to be taken seriously in my line of business.  Who is going to take a lawyer seriously if…,” she was cut off by Lynnia.

“Oookay, so evidently someone is sensitive about her wardrobe today.  Duly noted, Counselor.  On another, completely off topic subject, someone was the object of someone’s fancy today,” Lynnia stated as she took one final look at her face.

Rayna watched as she smiled to herself then looked directly into the camera.  Why did Rayna feel as if she was the one being scrutinized in that moment?  Suddenly both of her sisters were staring into the camera.  They were quiet as if waiting for her to respond.  She decided to go ahead and give in to play the game.

“Okay, so who?” she asked.

“Wow, I didn’t believe L. boogie until this very moment.  You really didn’t notice the hot artist that has been gracing the space of L. Norton’s, did you?” Nyema stated stopping mid air with a bronze toned earring that had one single leaf dangling from the end.  “I always thought everybody was just giving you the business for no reason, but maybe they were right.  If you didn’t notice that beautiful packaging then you might just be a lost cause.”

“I don’t see how my not noticing some painter guy means that I’m a lost cause.  I was a bit distracted today.  I had…” Rayna started again and Lynnia interrupted her again.

“Um, no Miss Ma’am, it wasn’t just today.  You have had plenty of other occasions that could be used to build a case that you are completely oblivious to anything other than your caseload.  If there was a way to marry work then you would be the first person to sign up,” Lynnia sucked her tongue as she put on her necklace.  “The fact that a 6 foot 2 inch lean version of David with red hair and the most amazing green eyes stood not more than a foot away from you and you took no notice, rests my case.”

“I’m sorry, I hadn’t realized that I was on trial hear.  I feel like we are in closing arguments on what is my life.  My observational skills are firmly intact and I don’t appreciate…” Rayna felt herself beginning to get worked up.  She was truly getting sick of being on the receiving end of this type of attack. She felt herself about to get up to pace the floor to gather her thoughts when she heard Nyema’s voice.

“Look, Ray Ray, we’re not trying to put you on the defensive here, but you have to admit that if it were any one of us, you would be reaming us a new one.  I was standing at the checkout counter last week and a beautiful specimen of man stood right across from me and I didn’t take notice.  You didn’t let me hear the end of it until three days later.  All’s fair, sis and you know it,” Nyema stood and looked at the back of her earth toned dress.  It fit her slight curves perfectly.  Rayna thought the pattern of fall colors fit her sister’s calming personality perfectly.

“I’m sorry.  You’re right.  I just don’t have time to try and focus on my career and deal with a guy right now.  Besides, I’m not the only single sister, here,” Rayna stated matter-of-factly.

“No, but you are the only one that has “bed warmers” and doesn’t date.  At all,” Lynnia added for good measure.  “Well, ladies I’m going to sign off.  I want to do a final run through.  Rayna, I love you and I hope you aren’t offended.  I also hope that you give Chris a chance.  He is a genuinely good guy.  It also helps that he is so wonderful to look at.  He is going to love you in that dress by the way.  Smooches. L. boogie signing off.”

Her window closed out after that.  Nyema said that she had to make sure Nakia was ready for bed.  She had school the next day and wasn’t going to be able to attend the opening.  After telling her to give her niece her love, Rayna watched the screen close entirely.  She knew there was some truth in her sister’s words. She also knew that the truth of the matter was she wasn’t willing to sacrifice her career for a chance at love.  With that thought in mind, Rayna stood, quickly unzipped the dress and let it drop to the floor.  She pulled on the skirt then picking up the shirt, she allowed it to slip over her frame.  There was no need to give this Chris guy any more reason to think that he might have a chance with her.  Her next thing was to pull a brush through the big curls in her hair.  She pulled her usually mid-back length hair back into a ponytail at the nape of her neck. To complete the ensemble, she grabbed the jacket that matched the skirt and laid it across the bed.

Rayna jogged around her bed to her bathroom and quickly washed her face.  She didn’t need the full on evening face after all.  After removing the makeup, she applied some moisturizer, eyeliner, mascara and gloss.  She grabbed some of her hair oil and rubbed her hands together after putting a couple drops in her left palm.  Her oiled hands were then rubbed over her hair so that her stray strands of hair would lie down.  After she finished, she walked over to the mirror.  Rayna liked the “no nonsense” look.  This look should ward off any advance from any male this evening.  She thought to herself.  She was trying to find ways to de-prettify herself, but gave up after about 5 minutes.  Rayna wasn’t up for the bait and flirt the evening would bring if her sisters had their way.

She arrived exactly ten minutes before the official opening of the restaurant and fought the slight crowd that was standing outside waiting to get in.  Evidently, the City of Tempa was very interested in her sister’s opening and cuisine.  At least that was what she’d gathered from the conversations that she overheard on her way in.  Carlita, the hostess and one of her sister’s dearest friends, had the doorman open the door for her.  The hosted went on to explain who Rayna was to the owner and advised to commit her face to memory.

As she walked into the gold and red lit main entranceway, she felt the palpable excitement about the night’s event from every member of her sister’s staff.  She made her way around the opulent waiting area. Comfortable bank seating lined both sides of the entryway that led to the hostess stand that had a comfortable high back leather chair behind the black lacquer podium.  The plaque on the front had the name of the restaurant in a gleaming gold on a black shining surface with the statement “Greeted by a Hostess daily” centered in a bold yellow gold.

Rayna looked up to see the nightly specials on a parchment style backdrop in a clearly defined elegant font that she was sure would be reflected on the menus as well.  Her sister was a stickler for continuity.  Each plant, piece of art, chair, the choice in linens and clothes would tie into one another.  It would be clearly defined once you took in all the aspects of the bigger picture.  She loved that about her little sister.  As she hooked the corner and stood on the platform before taking the main 5 steps descending into the restaurant, she took in every table.  The tables held shades of every color of the rainbow over pieces of fabric that matched the tone of parchment surrounded by chairs that had black curved backs and leather style seating.  Each table held a vase the color of yellow, red or opal with individual flowers that sat in each at the center flanked my mini lanterns encased in black.

The scent of cherry blossoms, herbs and spices filled the air.  The place was enchanting to say the least.  A large painting was mounted as the main focal point at the back wall just above the entrances to the restrooms.  The portrait was a perfect backdrop to the intimate atmosphere that her sister had created.  Seating was arranged in various arrays of 2, 4, 6 and at least 3 tables that could seat larger parties were spaced out around the room.  The overhead lighting was set to give enough light to cast a glow over the room, but not overpower the room.  The crystallized chandeliers had an opal central piece that glimmered with a beautiful soft hue over each area that it fell over.  Jazz played over the speakers that were mounted in different areas of the open space.  In the center of the restaurant was a cooking station where one of the chef’s would cook a special meal for those that would be seated around the area.  Rayna knew Lynnia loved the idea of that type of special treatment at some of the Asian restaurants she’d frequented. Artwork flanked every wall in the open warehouse turned restaurant.

Rayna couldn’t completely take in all of the wondrous opulence.  She also didn’t feel she would do her sister’s restaurant justice trying to describe it, even to herself.  She looked around the room and noticed a tall, red-haired man talking to several individuals and pointing at different pieces on the walls. The long auburn toned hair was hanging loose around the man’s shoulders.  The man wore a tailored pair of slacks with an indigo shirt that fit his frame well.  He turned to speak to one of the gentlemen with him, obviously buyers, and she got a full on view of one of the most perfect derriere’s she’d seen in quite a while.

After seeing that, Rayna knew she was going to have to make a call this week to one of her bed warmers, maybe even this evening.  She had no business giving in to the desire to continuously leer at this man’s backside, but she didn’t feel guilty enough to tear her gaze away.  Her eyes watched the man continue to try and detour the woman’s advances.  It was quite comical to see the determination in the woman’s face and the tension in his shoulders as he tried to continue to answer the questions of the gentlemen with them.  He led the men toward another piece of art, effectively shutting her out.  She was obviously invested in being his arm candy and quickly scampered after him.

Rayna giggled to herself as she watched the woman with the shape of a model attempt to gain the man’s attention again.  She almost howled as his body went rigid when the woman touched his muscular arm.  She was so caught up in her personal entertainment for the evening that she hadn’t seen her sisters’ approach.  She didn’t know how, but somehow the Norton girls always ended up in a group together at events.  Most of the other partygoers usually congregated around them.  This was probably going to be the only time they stood together for the night though.  They recognized the idiosyncrasy and decided that they would mingle with others.  Besides, they didn’t need to be the focus that evening.  The restaurant was the focus tonight…and for some reason Rayna’s love life.

“Look who finally took notice,” Lynnia stated dryly as she stood next to Rayna.

“What are we taking notice of?” Wynter asked as she grabbed a flute of champagne from a passing tray.

“Big little sis has her peepers trained on a certain Artist slash Greek god,” Nyema answered while grabbing one of the hors d’oeuvres, an artichoke square from the look of it.

“What Greek…oh you mean the Artsy stud man?” Zoie asked.  “I wouldn’t have pegged him to be your type little Nika.  Although, I can definitely see the appeal.”

Zoie was the only one that refused to call Rayna by any other nickname but the one that she gave her.  Nika would be her name from now until they died and even beyond.  Rayna was sure that they would be in heaven and her sister would still greet her the same way.  The eldest sister looked upon her younger siblings like they were her own children, so each had a nickname given by her.  Rayna’s would forever be the shortened version of her middle name, Tanika.  Zoie would call her some variation of it, either Nika or NiNi or Nika Ni.  Simple and everyone accepted it.  Out of all of her sisters, she was closest to Zoie.  She and Z. had quite a bit in common.  One thing was they completely devoted themselves to growing their respective businesses.  Z. had seen Rayna through a lot in her life and she would forever be grateful.

“Yeah, her type is usually either the stuffy Lawyer type, Ryan, or the pretty boy toy, Leonardo.  How are your ‘bed warmers?’ by the way,” Nyema asked. “I haven’t heard you speak about them in quite some time.”

“If you must know, nosey Frack, I haven’t had…,” Rayna thought about what she was getting ready to say as her sisters turned their full attention on her, watching, as if they knew her response before she said it. “…more fun.  You never know, I might be meeting one of them here.”

“Ha!” Zoie practically howled in response.

“Oh really?!” Lynnia and Wynter exclaimed at the same time.

“You would never actually allow either one of them to join you at a family gathering, even something as public as your sister’s restaurant opening.  So, basically, it’s been a minute and you might want to stop clamping down or when you finally do…” Wynter began, but Lynnia cut their older sister off.

“Oh, if I have anything to say about it, she won’t have to worry about solo clamping.  Actually I don’t think I’m going to have to do anything,” Lynnia gestured with her head in the direction just ahead of them.  “I believe Chris has his eye on you big sis and I don’t think he is going to allow your evasive actions to deter him.”

“I don’t have…” Rayna began.

“Oh yes you do, Nika, and you know it! No guy stands a chance of anything long term because you refuse to be open to it.  You never know.  You might have met a man willing to work with your busy, workaholic schedule.  With you, it’s shut it down before they even get the chance to express an interest,” Zoie stated, clearly on the beginnings of what could be a lengthy closing argument if Rayna allowed her to go on.

“Fine,” Rayna responded, exasperated.  “Fine.  Enough!  You’ve made your points.  Shall we move on?  I really don’t want to do this here.  I thought we were celebrating and mingling.  If you will excuse me, I would like to take a look around the finished product of our sister’s restaurant.”

Rayna didn’t give any one of them an opportunity to respond.  She simply walked away.  As she left her sisters’ inner circle, she made her way toward the kitchen area.  It was one of the spaces that she knew would immediately lift her spirits.  She wasn’t the best cook in the family but she did enjoy the time spent there.  Anyone’s kitchen could conjure up memories of growing up with her sisters, their mom and a few with their dad.  If she knew her sister then she knew one of the specials would incorporate a little flavor of down home cooking.  Their mother grew up in Alabama.  She brought the southern style of cooking into their home and made sure all of her girls knew how to “burn.”  Rayna needed the safety of that area and the comfort it brought if she was going to make it through the night.

Chris watched as Rayna and her sisters separated from their meeting of the minds.  It looked as if things were tense between the sisters and Rayna walked away from the group a little worse for wear.  Her face was an array of emotion from anger to frustration to determination as she made her way to the kitchen area.  He’d been trying his best to keep his attention on Mr. Gettyson, Mr. Pincher, Mr. Harris and Decadence Parker.   He knew it was a losing battle.  The potential buyers kept him interested as long as they were questioning him about his work.  Yet, the moment they spoke amongst themselves, he found his eyes began to wonder.  They seemed to immediately zero in on Rayna even before his mind realized what was happening.  It didn’t matter where his conversation took him, he seemed to know where she was in the room.

As the sisters had spoken, he’d watched them move fluidly from the doorway to the middle of the warehouse turned restaurant.  The eyes of quite a few of the guests that were starting to arrive found them.  Lynnia had worried about her sisters not mingling with the other guest and those guests in turn crowding around them instead of taking in the ambiance of the restaurant.  She’d made each of her sisters promise to not “congregate with one another” as she said they often did.  He could see the pull to the beautiful women that made up the Norton family.  There was just something about each of them that made you want to be near them.  The one that he wanted to be near was currently making her way toward the doorway of the kitchen.  Chris lifted his hand to interrupt the conversation between the gentlemen and the lady when said lady slid next to him.

He was frozen, once again, by her closeness.  Chris usually didn’t have a problem with an attractive woman being near him, but there was an unnerving side to one Ms. Decadence Parker.  She was practically offering herself up on a silver platter.  The more he tried to field off her advances, the more persistent she became.  Ms. Parker must’ve noticed where his attention was veering to.  Every time he pointed his sight in the direction of Rayna, she chose that moment to move into his line of sight.  She also kept pressing up against him or grabbing his forearm.  Her refusal to let him become completely distracted was bothersome and a turn off.

Chris smiled genially at Ms. Parker then turned to pomp 1, 2 & 3.

“Excuse me gentlemen.  I need to extricate myself from your fine company for just a matter of moments.  I will return shortly.  I have a few cards here for each of you, just in case you decide to leave the party prior to my return,” he said as he simultaneously peeled Ms. Parker’s hands from his forearm.  He turned to her and stated, “It has been quite a pleasure meeting you this evening.  I thank you for your time.  Enjoy the rest of your evening.”

He turned away from the obvious pout then outrage that crossed her make-up caked face.  Chris smiled to himself when he was sure she couldn’t see his facial features.  He knew he couldn’t handle what she would offer even if it meant a potential buyer.  She fit the bill of purveyor of goods.  He wasn’t one to allow himself to be bought.  He knew upon meeting Decadence he needed to be clear that only his paintings were for sale.  If he was going to be offering himself up to anyone, then he could only think of one café au lait, heavy on the cream, individual he would allow himself to sacrifice for.  Said individual was quickly disappearing into the kitchen area.

The sight of seeing one of Lynnia’s sisters taking an interest in the kitchen space or at least retreating to it aroused Chris’ curious nature.  What would make the kitchen a place that would possibly calm a flustered person’s nerves?  He could tell by her determined stride that her sister’s had gotten under the beauty’s skin.  What he could do to issue any comfort, he didn’t know, but he wanted to see if there was anything that he could do.  He didn’t know why she would seek said comfort from him considering he was a complete stranger to her.  Maybe he could offer a listening ear since he was outside of the family.  All he knew was he needed to be near her.  He was just about to take the corner to enter the kitchen when he heard Lynnia’s voice.  Was there some reason every female at this party was trying to get in the way of him and the woman who’d captured his attention that afternoon?

“Chris. Hey, sexy artist man,” Lynnia called when he didn’t immediately respond.

He turned after releasing a slow breath and acknowledged the owner and procurer of quite a few of his pieces.

“Hey there gorgeous, you have quite a turn out tonight,” he commented as he took in the sea of faces that were taking up the space of the warehouse converted restaurant.

He couldn’t help but notice individuals pointing to different pieces.  Lynnia made sure there was a table dedicated to having his contact information in every corner.  She even went as far as helping him to choose and recreate smaller versions of the “best of” his creations for a pamphlet.  She aided him with coming up with the idea of having his information placed on the back of 4×6 postcards.  He appreciated the fact that she was willing to help him get his start as she was just getting her own.  She repeatedly stated that Chris was allowing her to purchase his pieces at next to nothing and it was the least that she could do.  He even saw a mention to his Facebook page and the soon to come website on her own Facebook and website.  He laughed when she mentioned something called Pinterest.  She said that the offers for him to commission a piece would be flowing so heavily in the hopefully none too distant future that he wouldn’t have time to do anything else.  He hoped she was accurate in her prediction.

“It is.  I am enjoying every moment of it,” Lynnia said as she turned and gave the crowd a once over.  “That’s not why I came over here and you know it.”

He sighed and waited for her to continue.  He could hear the words of The Sounds of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel begin to play in his head.  Chris felt a great weight bearing down on him as the silence pressed on.  He finally gave in and decided to bite the bullet.

“So L., why did you come over?  I can wager that it has everything to do with a certain Attorney that just so happens to be your sister,” he stated as he gave her a once over.  “I can almost guarantee that a hefty piece of advice is about to be doled out.  I just wonder if it is warranted or needless.”

“Hmm, you can be the judge after I’m done speaking,” she responded almost immediately.  Chris found himself smiling as she began.

“My sister is a wonderful person and a spectacular Lawyer.  She is one of the greatest individuals I know.  The woman is loving and protective, as any older sister should be,” she took a loaded breath and slowly released it.  L. looked as if she felt like she may be betraying a sacred trust.  He watched a glimmer of remorse flit across her features.

“You know, this isn’t really necessa…,” Chris began, trying to buy her an out.

“Yes, I do.  My sister is also like one of your completed masterpieces.  The task of retracing your strokes to the very first would be a great feat.  As such, she is one that will challenge you and be a challenge just as intricate and delicate.  I would rethink approaching her in any normative way,” Lynnia stated as she waved to someone walking into the main entrance.  “My sister will not be easily swayed, but she is truly worth all that you will have to endure.  I hope you’re…yeah, I believe you are.  I think that you will give my sister a much needed distraction from herself and another avenue to focus on.  Have fun!”

Lynnia quickly hugged him and waved the person she’d previously waved to over.  Chris recognized the matriarch of the family, immediately.  She carried herself like a true lady of a different era.  She stood 5’7 with a curvaceous figure, even for a woman of her late fifties.  Her jet black hair and deep brown eyes complemented one another well.  Chris always said the Norton ladies beauty came solely from their mother.  It appeared that their great taste also stemmed from the eldest Norton woman.  Style and grace were to be attributed to her as well.  She walked into a room and, just as with her daughters, all eyes were drawn to her.  Chris felt bad for the other women that were meandering around the restaurant.  Compared to the six…correction, seven Norton women everyone else paled in comparison.  There was something that mesmerized you about each individual woman.  He also envied the men that would attempt to win the hearts of these fearless and independent women. He had one of his own to contend with and evidently her sister felt he needed assistance.  Fortunately, their mother interrupted anything she was going to say.

“Good evening to the most stunningly spectacular Norton of the bunch.  How are you this evening, Mrs. Norton,” Chris asked as he stepped forward and into the open arms of said woman.

He loved the woman because she refused to allow anyone that her girls brought home to feel like an outsider.  It just so happened that she was also one of the best cooks that he’d ever met.  She beat his mother’s cooking hands down.  His mother was always one that was one of the most creative individuals he’d ever known, but she was horrible in the kitchen.  Their neighbors knew this and helped out by supplying her with a meal to serve every night.  In return, she usually created some token to decorate their home with and she supplied the groceries.

His mother came from old southern money and a family that tended to have someone to tend to the family’s needs.  Katherine Elizabeth Dubai did not hold on to those same beliefs.  She had and has always been one of the more liberal women.  Her heart was captured by an equally liberal man.  His father, Douglas Davis Leigh., was an Educator and a businessman.  He’d recently retired from his position as Professor of History.  His father always told everyone that would listen that he knew the moment that he met Kathy D. that she was the woman to become his wife and bare his children.  Douglas said their families loved one another dearly and were happy that two such free spirits found one another.  Chris shook his head as he dismissed the stray thoughts.  He focused on the two women standing before him.

“So Lynnie girl, you look beautiful as always and I love, love, love what you’ve done with the place.  Chris, your art is just breathtaking.  I am so proud of you both.  It’s such a perfect setting.  You done good girl,” Mrs. Norton finished as she pulled her daughter into a hug while still holding tightly to Chris’ side.  “Now, on to other things.  I see that I interrupted the two of you talking.  What am I hearing about a possible interest in little Miss Ray of Sunshine?”

“Mama! Chris, you have to forgive her.  We did not learn the art of tactfulness from this one here,” Lynnia stated as she winked at him.  “I was just getting ready to fill Chris in on possible tactics of approach.”

“Right…because you would be the expert on all things Rayna.  Take it from her mother and a woman who has had her share of interest from the opposite sex, my Ray is one that is well versed in the world and worldly affairs.  She also believes that she is not ready to meet anyone nor does she believe she has the time to maintain a relationship,” she paused and made a face at Lynnia who stood somewhat tongue-tied on her right side.  “That’s right.  I know my daughters very well.  I can’t wait for Mr. Man to cross my path for clarity, but he’s not ready yet.  You on the other hand are ready, Chris.  My daughter is cunning and masterful at disguising things.  It’s what’s protected her and kept her alone, as well as, what makes her a damn fine Lawyer.  You are going to have to outmaneuver that one.”

Chris chuckled as Mrs. Norton shot her daughter a look that said that she better not speak.  To which, Lynnia just threw her hands up in the air in a movement that stated she was acquiescing to the master.  When those wise eyes turned back to him, he immediately straightened up and cleared his face of the smirk that he had prior.

“Now, I know that most of you younger men tend to be direct and want to run head long into the fire, but that is not what should be done with Rayna.  Your approach…” she began, but he had heard enough.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Norton, but I would like to try a couple things first, if you don’t mind.  I appreciate what you and Lynnia are trying to do, but I believe I have this covered,” he said as calmly as he could.

The last thing he wanted to do was to offend either of the women that were standing before him.  One was his best and currently, his only customer.  He hoped that would change after tonight.  The other had earned his respect from the very first meeting.  He didn’t want either of them to feel like he didn’t appreciate them.

“Well, well, well, I didn’t know you had that in you.  You might just do after all.  You’ll need that backbone if you’re going after my tough as nails sister,” Lynnia smiled and looked at her mother.  “Come on, Mama.  It looks like Chris might just have things under control.  Although I should say…”

“…catch her while you can,” Lynnia and her mother stated at the same time. They both looked over his shoulder at Rayna who was slinking around the corner.

“Yeah, that’s what I intend to do,” he stated as he made his way to try and do just that, only to be caught by Decadence again.  Tonight was going to be a long night and it seemed everything was working to get in his way.

While exploring the restaurant Rayna noticed the Artist guy, Chris, checking her out but she refused to allow herself to relinquish control even for the night.  Rayna knew where her focus was.  She was making strides in her practice and finally had a growing client base to attend to.  As she watched the from a corner booth, she determines she won’t let a man, even one as attractive as the man that her sister told her was interested in her a few hours prior, destroy what she worked so hard to build.  Focus, focus, focus.  Gazing longingly into the handsome green eyes of the Artist that was trying to work his way to her was not going to allow her to reap any great reward.

She’d spent the evening purposely engaging any and every person possible in conversation.  She’d walked away with some prospective clients in the midst of it all. Rayna was trying to enjoy that but every time she lifted her eyes, they met his.  She was growing increasingly uncomfortable.  It wasn’t just the fact that their eyes kept finding one another no matter where she moved to, but it was the fact that she seemed to be seeking him out.  She was entirely disgusted by the way that she was reacting.  She knew what needed to be done and yet her eyes still searched the room.

Rayna was repeatedly chastising herself for allowing even that slight intimacy.  She was going to have to make a couple of calls if she could just stop her sisters from trying to get her drunk.  Each one of them had brought her a drink at different points in the evening.  She finally had to tell the last one to send a message to the rest that she didn’t want another drink.  She felt the need to get away for a moment and had slipped into the entirely insanely posh restroom.  Her sister had outdone herself in more ways than one.

The restroom was beautifully designed and calming in a way that could possibly unnerve a woman.  The tones of the entrance area prior to the facilities were similar to that of a spa.  A woman could wait in style for a friend or to be next in line.  Lynnia had thought of it all.  Rayna found herself not wanting to come out of the restroom because of the lavender, roman chamomile and rose aromas that swept you up and gently laid you down.  The lighting in the waiting area cast a soft orange tone over the cream and cherry wood furnishings.  Rayna felt the need to redo her office space in that tone.  It was just how much she loved it.  She knew though that she couldn’t remain in the restroom forever.  Her mother or one of her sisters would be looking for her, if they hadn’t already begun.

At the door, she blew out a breath then exited.  Her eyes immediately found Chris’ and she could tell that he was trying to excuse himself from the clutches of two women.  The women were trying to keep him interested with their subtle but pawing touches.  Rayna turned away and tried to slide around a crowd talking about the samples that the Chefs prepared.  She felt a stroke of pride as she listened and moved.  She was just barely free of the area when the owner appeared in front of her causing her to gasp loudly.

“Where do you think you are slinking off to?” Lynnia asked her as she held two drinks in her hand.

“L., you scared the crap out of me.  What is wrong with you?” she almost screamed at her little sister.

“If you weren’t practically skulking behind this crowd here then you wouldn’t have been scared, now would you?” Lynnia smirked and Rayna could tell she was trying not to laugh.  “I have watched you engage every living creature in this room except for a certain redhead Artist, who is the guest of honor.  Him, you have avoided like he was a carrier monkey of a rare disease tailor made for one Ms. Rayna Tanika Norton.  Is it that bad that you can’t even allow yourself to give him a…”

“Look, I love you dearly, but you have got to give it a rest.  L., I didn’t come here to be fixed up.  I came to support my sister’s new venture.  He’s not bad looking or anything, quite the opposite.  I just don’t want to go there, all right,” Rayna stated as she gestured animatedly, a sure sign that she had one too many.  Her impatience was another.

“Ray Ray, I’m sorry if it feels like we’re pushing but we worry.  That’s all it is.  Sisterly love,” Lynnia held out her arms.  When Rayna didn’t immediately respond, she stomped her foot and said, “Ray Ray, throw me a bone here.  I’m trying.”

“Oh, whatever,” Rayna stated as she hugged her sister then found herself giggling as Lynnia ran her hands in circles around her back and shimmied in her arms.

It was a thing that all the sisters did to make each other feel better.  Zoie said their mother used to do it to her when she felt down.  It was one of the many things she did.  Zoie had passed it on to each of them and it became the sign that everything was all right between each individual. She responded in kind.  After all, she wasn’t upset with her sister.  After releasing each other from the hug, Lynnia quickly extricated two flutes of champagne from a passing tray and held one out to her.  She’d previously abandoned the others before giving Rayna a hug.

“I thought I told Nyema to put out the word that I was officially done drinking for the night.  My goodness!  If I didn’t know any better I’d swear all of you were trying to get me drunk,” Rayna stated as she stepped away from her sister.

“Oh, shut it, Ray.  It’s a party and you need to enjoy yourself.  You don’t even have an early day tomorrow,” Lynnia stated and continued when she saw Rayna about to speak.  “I already checked.  So, go and enjoy yourself for once in your life and stop building your client list.  Have some fun.”

Rayna was going to respond, but her sister had turned to thank some of the attendees behind her.  She’d spoken her peace and quickly moved on.  It was Lynnia’s way: stick and move.  She’d always been good like that.  Rayna stepped around another crowd being sure to keep her eyes cast to the ground.  She tried to keep them focused on the art, the tables, the plants, but lost the battle as she moved around another group of four.  She sees Chris following behind her.  She quickly scoots around another group and barely makes it back to the restroom.  Until then, she hadn’t realized that she’d completed a circle.  As she looked over her shoulder, she saw the look of disappointment on his face.  She downed the drink in her left and realized that somewhere along the way, she picked up another.  She downed that one as well.

Rayna berated herself again as she thought about the fact that she’d spent the night avoiding a man.  She had never had that problem before.  There was just something about Chris that made her know she needed to run.  If she allowed herself to be caught then she knew she would certainly be caught up.  She also knew the man that was relentlessly pursuing her was not one that she could call for a midnight romp.  Nor was he one that would be willing to give her leeway to be free to run her practice how she felt she needed to.  Her hours would have to shift to accommodate their budding relationship. In doing that, she would lose a major part of herself.  All this would transpire if she even provided a semblance of a window of opportunity.  She had no time for care free days or pleasure trips.  Business as usual.  With that thought in mind, she stood and immediately dropped back to the seat she’d previously occupied.  She was in trouble.  She had to find a way to get out of the room and to the hostess area to get Carlita to call her a cab to take her home.

Rayna slipped out of the bathroom and leaned against the wall.  She spotted a corner booth with very little light not far from where she was standing.  She decided that she needed to take a moment to gather herself before trying to make the long trek to the main entrance of the restaurant.  She couldn’t let on that she wasn’t one hundred percent coherent or her family would not allow her to go home alone.  Quietly, she moved along the wall toward the table.  She nodded slightly to a couple but not too much because she didn’t have complete control over that function.  She watched people to see if they noticed her or her behavior.  When she finally made it to the booth, she was grateful that there was quite a crowd of individuals near the information table.  Their congregation effectively hid her from other’s lines of sight.

Rayna didn’t know how long she sat in the booth.  She remained in the darkened corner of the restaurant until she felt she was able to move without looking as if she were under the influence.  She slid out of the booth area and began to make her way around the outside of the restaurant towards the main entrance and safety.  Knowing that she needed to take it a bit slower when she stumbled, she slowed her steps.  She’d previously thought that if she made quick moves then she would get it over quickly.  Rayna made it to the hostess booth, but as she looked at Carlita, she realized that she left her wrap and purse in the booth.  She flopped down on one of the benches.  Carlita turned acknowledging her and quickly understood that Rayna is not herself.

Chris watched Rayna as she stumbled after standing finally and allowing him to realize where she’d been hiding for the last hour of the evening.   He made his way through the crowd, thanking potential buyers and new fans of his work.  He made it just in time to catch her when she slipped as she tried to ask Carlita to call her a cab. Carlita hadn’t even realized the woman was standing behind her.  He helped her stand then watched her flop down on the bench.  The fact that Rayna was slightly hammered amused him.  He listened as Rayna tried to inform Carlita that she was missing something that she came with.  Carlita tried to understand what she was telling her, but all she could make out was that Rayna wanted a cab to go home and she left something.  Chris wanted to laugh at the exchange.

He couldn’t believe the sight before him.  He took comfort in knowing that she couldn’t run anymore.  Chris was actually beginning to get a complex.  Every time he made his way to her, he was stopped.  He was happy about the prospects that the evening’s event had warranted, but he was hoping to get to know the beauty that was slurring her speech as she tried to relay once again what she needed.  Tonight, he’d also noticed that if he wasn’t being derailed by Decadence or a buyer or an admirer or woman offering him her phone number then Rayna was sure to move out of his line of sight and as far away from him as possible.  He’d almost had a moment of freedom to speak with her when he saw her quickly slide into the ladies room.  Frustration was starting to get the better of him until he noticed her inebriated visage make its way toward the main entrance.  He had started to think that maybe he was going to have to conscript one of her sisters or her mother to assist him.  Opportunity was knocking, even if she may not recall his presence or assistance.

Chris hated that his next gesture had an ulterior motive, but he needed to strike while the iron was hot.

“Carli, you don’t have to call her a cab.  I’ll take her home. If you would be so kind as to ask one of her sisters where she lives then we can get going,” he offered as he moved to sit next to Rayna and prop her up.  Fortunately, none of the other guests noticed Rayna’s state.

Chris sat next to Rayna and searched the crowd trying to find one of her many sisters.  He located Lynnia and pointed her location out to Carlita just as Rayna managed to state that she left her purse and her wrap.  As he sat there, Rayna turned and leaned into him.  As she rested her head on his shoulders, he smiled.  He mentally slapped himself because he was an idiot if he thought that her finding, even the slightest, comfort with him was a good thing.  She probably wouldn’t even remember the moments leading up to her return home because of her state of mind.  He had no right to take pleasure in the slight gesture.  As he gathered his wits about him, Lynnia arrived with her purse and wrap thing.

Lynnia made quick work of getting Rayna’s wrap/jacket on her.  As she did she gave Chris direction on how to get to where Rayna lived.  He immediately recognized that they lived in buildings adjacent to one another.  She offered to give him better directions but he informed her that he lived in close proximity.  He didn’t reveal how close though.  In the past, he’d always showed people to his warehouse.  Even someone as close as Lynnia had become still didn’t know where his personal residence was.  Having once dealt with a woman who stalked him, he was very protective of his space. Something told him that it was something that he didn’t have to worry about with Rayna.

Chris gathered her up in his arms and leaned in to kiss Lynnia’s cheek.  He watched her face as her close friend, Dario, walked in with his current girlfriend.  Her initial response was disappointment, but she quickly recovered and smiled.  Even though it looked as if someone had painted it on, it was convincing enough for her friend not to question it. Chris said hello and goodbye as he carried his precious cargo out the front door.  He walked swiftly to his Expedition, unlocked the door and slid her into the passenger seat.  As he reclined the chair, he noticed the supplies that were in the back seat.  He closed the door and walked around to the driver’s side of his vehicle.  He rearranged the things in the back to make sure that nothing fell on Rayna. He also made sure to crack the windows so she wouldn’t inhale any of the fumes from the paints he’d mixed.

Chris’ next project was actually his condo. He had something special in mind for the main wall.  It was the first thing that you saw as you entered.  He disliked the fact that it was a stark white wall, but he’d needed inspiration to determine what to cover the blank palate with.  He found it the day his mother visited him.  Ever the creative mind, she’d told him to have the wall depict who and what he was.  She wanted the work to embody the man her son had become.  The wall would be one of his personal favorites upon completion.  He was excited to start the prep work.  Although, he may now have to put that off.  His plans for tonight had effectively been changed.  He knew his mind would be focused on the young woman lightly snoring in his passenger seat.  He wouldn’t be able to put brush to canvas and not have it turn into an homage to her very being.

As she slept on the ride home, he thought more about the non-interaction they’d had and her adamant determination to not allow him five minutes of her time. He closed his thoughts off on the subject as he pulled up in front of her building.  Lynnia told him about her access card and the key to her building.  She failed to advise him of a gate code.   He tried to get into her building several times but he couldn’t because Rayna refused to wake up and her sister wouldn’t answer her phone.  He stood near the gate for about 20 minutes hoping that someone would come by and open it.  It was interesting that no one had tried to speak to him through the intercom.  The security guard either was asleep or ignoring his attempts to gain entry.  Chris knew what he had to do, but he didn’t like it.  He was going out of his way and doing something that he’d never done before.  His mother would be laughing hard enough to wet her pants if she could see him now.

He knew he had no alternative but to take her to his place.  Chris hesitated momentarily.  He’d told everyone that he knew that he made a home where he worked.  This would be the first time that anyone other than his parents would cross the threshold.  He’d always told his mother that no other woman would come into this space.  He’d kept that as a true statement until now.  Rayna still slept as he walked back to the truck and climbed into the driver’s seat.  He thought about all the females who’d begged to know where he really rested his head and chuckled humorlessly to himself.  This wasn’t exactly how he’d pictured bringing a woman into his place but it was something he was going to have to do.  Besides, the woman next to him wasn’t going to remember anything about it.  She was out for the night.  He would have to text her sister and let her know what happened.  Her sister would then let him know how to get in to Rayna’s space and he could take her home.  She could wake up in her own bed.

Chris thought about all of this as he made his way to his normative parking space and gathered her once again into his arms.  As he lifted her again, he was hit by her scent.  The smell was so feminine.  It reminded him of a gentle breeze after a spring shower.  The scent was fresh, clean and pure.  It suited Rayna well.  It complemented the complicated woman that he held against his chest as he swung open his gate then the door to his building.  He sent a quick hello to Mike, the head of security for his building and headed directly for the elevator to the fourth floor.  His and three other condos took up the entirety of the fourth floor.  He enjoyed the fact that theirs’ were the only spaces on the floor.

Chris didn’t have to worry about dealing with the juvenile happenings that Mike told him went on within the apartments and hallways on the other floors.  He knew the good Doc, the Musician and the Dancer well.  They each were nice enough to pre-warn of any possible events that would bring extra movement or noise to their floor.  They each took care of one another.  If a package was delivered to the main floor for any of them then one of the others would bring it up and leave it by the door.  Only those who resided on the floor had the access card to it.  It was a feature he appreciated more than any of his neighbors knew.

Chris opened the door to his condo and sat Rayna’s purse on the table next to it.  He hung his keys on the hook, dropped his satchel and kicked the door closed behind him.  Once inside his condo, he took Rayna to his bedroom and removed her shoes. He removed the wrap/jacket thing and hung it on a nearby chair then he positioned her on the bed so that she was lying on her side. He then went to his art studio and grabbed an empty bucket and set it by the bed not far from her head.  The whole time he thought about just how peaceful Rayna looked when she slept.  She didn’t have the hardness that she projected as she went about her day, as her sister described.

Chris relished the thought that she embodied the character of a woman he would want in his life.  He shook himself from his inner musing as he headed into the kitchen and pulled out a bottle of water from the refrigerator.  Going into the bathroom, he grabbed a couple aspirin from the medicine cabinet and placed them on the makeshift nightstand next to the water for her to find when she woke up.  He wanted them there just in case she woke in his place and not her own.  He returned to the living area and placed his wallet and his remaining cards on the coffee table as he sent Lynnia a text informing her of what happened.  Leaving the phone on the table, he went back to his room, removed his shirt, shoes and socks.  He then went to the bathroom and removed the rest of his clothing.  Trying hopelessly not to think of the woman that was lying in his bed, on his side, he took a shower.

After the much needed cold shower, he wrapped a towel around his waist and moved to the dresser then quickly slung on a pair of boxers.  Chris stood there for a moment gathering his resolve to remove himself from his room.  He couldn’t climb into his own bed.  He walked out of the room, grabbed a pillow and blanket from his hall closet and headed to the living area to sleep on the couch.  He checked the phone before he prepared to lie down and found no response.  Sleep was a hard thing to submit to that evening.  Chris’ thoughts kept returning to Rayna and he battled with the notion of trying to rouse her again and repeatedly calling Lynnia’s phone.  Finally, he fell off into a fitful sleep.

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Happy Reading!!

~E.

A little taste of hotness…First Chapter of Night Hunter (900 likes and counting)

Kin, Kat and a “Twinkie.” A “Twinkie” you say? Have to pick up the book to find out more?

The taste of hotness starts with Chapter 1 of the book:

Chapter One

Alkinai placed his hands on the sides of her face and moved forward.  He kept moving until their bodies were flush together.  She felt his chest against her own and reveled in the feeling of it.  He lifted her face so his turquoise almost grey eyes could hold her hostage.  There was no white in them, only the turquoise blue.  It was a sign of his power and one that she would normally have feared.  At least it would have been so, if she hadn’t known he was hers and she was his. His in every way but the one way she most desired.  He wouldn’t share his mind with her and therefore his heart would always be off limits.  Katana knew her place even though her sisters had previously warned her this, being with him, was not something she should do.  They continued to warn her about not linking herself completely to an Y’Satnaf male.

Y’Satnaf people were the people of her lands.  To the outside world, the humanoids, they would be called the “creatures” that go bump in the night.  Some were even considered the characters of myths and fairytales.  She was living proof that they were neither myths nor fairytales.  The creatures she dealt with on a daily basis and called family would take offense to her calling the lot of them people.  Although humanoid in many ways, the tails, wings, fangs, horns and other extras would set them worlds apart.  They’ve lived amongst humans in the world for as long as the humans have come to be.  Yet, the humans were safe from harm and her people were hunted.  Many said that they were hunted by one of their own.  Her hope was that it was not true at all.  It would take a fairly sick individual to hunt one of his or her own kind.

The creature that stood before her now and held her heart captive was one Alkinai Carthage.  He stood before her with long, wavy, dark brown hair pulled back into a neat leather cuff at the nape of his neck.  His long sleeved sweater was long forgotten as he’d stalked to her with only one purpose in mind.  He always wore fitted sweaters or sweater vests with button down stripe shirts and loose fitted jeans or dark tailored slacks.  He wore black or brown shoes or boots.  The only time he wore any form of athletic shoe was when he was playing one of his Lieutenants on the basketball court.  (Yes, these creatures do play ball and quite well. No human would be able to handle their games.  Not even Jordan.  That statement alone was telling.) He had a natural grace with enough swagger that said he was nothing but all man, especially when he sighted something he desired.  His raw sexual magnetism was enough to make any girl drop to her knees and beg for a taste of any part of him.

Katana knew the treats that lay beneath the clothing.  His washboard abs made you want to run your tongue along every groove.  His skin was so perfect and flawless, save one scar where, he’d told her, someone tried to carve out his heart while he was sleeping.  It all happened when he was younger.  A time that he never really spoke of.

During the daylight hours, the sun called for a moment of his time.  It beckoned to be blessed to shine upon him and change the color of his skin from its natural creamy tone.  He looked even sexier with the bronze pigments within his skin from head to toe.  She knew that all he needed was a hint of the sun on his finger and his ability would move the golden glint to the rest of his skin.  There were quite a few women and some men that would kill for that ability.  Her own skin was just as coveted, but she ignored the admirations and admonishments that she overheard in others voicing their thoughts.  Hers were always of him and him alone.  That was the way of it.  Once you found your “Intended” there was no other for you.  On many occasions, it hurt her that her “Intended” chose to guard himself from her.  Still, when he came to her in the current mood that he was in, she willingly gave herself to him.

Alkinai was born a Half-linea.  Half-linea were those that were born with lineage from two different “Creatures” lines.  Alkinai had been showing signs of abilities from the line of Shiftons and Foresayers.  Shiftons were those who had control over their form and could change from the animal or Mammalii; their spirit has been touched by another.  They usually shifted from that form to the Humanoid form.  In rare cases, there had been Shifton that had the ability to shift between the two Mamalii of their lineage and the Humanoid form.  Only one has been spoken of that could change their form to a Mamalii or humanoid of their choosing.  She was the one that few know much about but all fear.

Foresayers were the most powerful “Mentalists,” for lack of a better word, to walk the earth.  Their abilities would manifest with their minds being their most powerful weapons at a young age.  They usually could see the future or manipulate elements of the present by controlling time.  There were tales that state there were those that have the ability to control the minds of those surrounding them.  They could communicate intention through touch as well. (Frightening, right?)

Katana had yet to meet one that had all of the abilities to manifest in one being, but she had a feeling that Alkinai might have the talent.  She also feared there might be others like him with the same abilities.  It had something to do with the dreams she was continuing to have.  As a Nymphil, she was part of the “Mamalii” that controlled the life of the plants and earth.  It was due to this gift that she would notice the shift in power that was permeating through the lands.  The dreams brought her to distraction on many occasions and were the source of Alkinai’s frustration with her.  He always felt when her mind shifted focus to the dreams that were becoming more like nightmares with every passing eve.  It also worried her that she had this ability that felt like foresight of things to come.  No one in her line had ever had that ability.  Intuition? Yes. Foresight? A whopping, unwavering no.

“I will not allow you to be distracted by any other, whether person or thought, this night, Katana,” Alkinai stated as he brought his firm lips down over her own. She heard his growl as she fought his demand.

Katana never quickly gave herself over to him.  She knew that he loved a challenge.  It was one of the reasons that she and she alone remained in his bed.  His strong, callused hands moved over the simple clothing that she wore.  She’d come straight from a session with her sisters which included bathing in the pooling waters of Remaerd.  There, they would bathe and purify the water that the plants and people of the lands would partake of.  They would call the waters over the lands to be cleansed and make deliveries to the leaders of the different Mamalii of the area.  It was a monthly thing that allowed them to replenish their powers as Nymphil, but it didn’t call for a great deal of clothing.  She wore a simple golden backless sheath that matched her eyes and the hue of her skin. The cinnamon brown color of her skin, she was told, glistened in the sun and was a sight to behold. Her hair matched the darkest brown of a tree bark with grey threaded through the crown and base of her head.  She’d always had the coloring for as long as she’d been alive. The fact that it had been centuries wasn’t lost on her or her siblings.

Katana was the only one that was so blessed.  Each of her sisters had dark brown almost black hair and were only just about a century old. Her brother was only 2 years older than her. She was the oldest daughter but the last to find her Intended.  Her sisters felt the need to tell her all the things that she was doing wrong.  Despite their parents (well, her father and their mother) continually telling each of them that the meeting of one’s Intended didn’t happen to everyone the same way.  Nor did it always happen when a person was in their first century.  To which her beautiful sisters would always remind them that most Nymphil did, Katana just had to be the exception to the rule.

Alkinai’s hands began a trail up her back again pulling her from her inner musings.  He pulled her closer.  She didn’t think that they could be, but then she felt the sign of his attraction to her as he kissed her well beyond her mental distraction.  It was a long forgotten thought after that.  This always surprised, but delighted her.  He was always excited to be near her.  It was another indication that she was right.  She was his Intended.  She didn’t know how it found the space with them being so close in proximity, but his hand found its way to her breast.  His hands were large enough to take the rather hefty weight of each of them and play as he saw fit.  His mouth slid from her mouth to her ear, tongue playing with her lobe, then down the side to the base of her neck.  There, he played for a while, making sure to mark her as he always did.  Her skin was light enough that he could have his fun marking it with his initial. The letter “A” would mark her body in some peculiar place that she would find later. How he did it, she would never know because she was always too distracted to pay any attention. He lifted her other breast to his warm and waiting mouth.  Sucking and nibbling to the point of almost pain.  She heard the release of one then felt him descend to the other as his hand played with the one he’d just aided in being brought to a sure sign of arousal.

She heard the moans that always came as a result of this interaction but couldn’t focus.  Katana could feel his hand as he began to slide down the front of her then in between her legs. She felt her impending release as she felt his hand glide over her butt. Some part of her brain realized that she felt his hand on her left breast, another lifting the right one to his mouth, another bringing her to the top of her pleasure cliff and a last gripping her backside and driving her into his extended, fully aroused appendage.  She tried to open her eyes to see if what she thought was true was, in fact, the case.  In that moment, her sheath was ripped from her body and his jeans were pulled from his.  He lifted her and she instinctively wrapped her legs around his waist.

“K, my lady, Kat,” he practically growled as she felt her body slammed into the wall near the bed.  “I need my name on your lips.  Now!”

Katana felt as if she were splintering from within as she felt his powerful, repeated thrusts.  They found their rhythm meeting somewhere in the middle.  Her pleasure center had her screaming and panting then screaming again.  The phantom hands or extra hands wouldn’t let her go.  They were everywhere and he was relentless as she hit her peak for the third time.  (Yes, she’d had three and not even realized it until she heard the whisper of his voice chuckling three times and yet I need her to have more in her mind.) His name, his full name was on her lips and took up every aspect of her mind.

“Alkinai Bartholomew Carthage, please…oh…please.  PLEASE,” she bellowed.  She knew her screams would be heard throughout the entire castle, but at that moment, she didn’t give a damn.  “PLEASE…let me breathe…oh…I don’t…”

His answering chuckle was all the response that she received as he pushed her body even further.   She knew he wasn’t anywhere near finished with her.  His mood spoke to the need that he had for her.  He was tense for some reason and he wouldn’t be able to talk about it until he released a portion of whatever was built up within him.  This was the only way he knew to deal and she was more than happy to oblige.  She could feel his power coursing over her body.  The tingling caused a warmth that she’d never felt before with him.  He was close to his release.  She knew it.  Every fiber of his being was strung tight.  I need her more than she will ever know.  I can’t see my life without her.  She can’t lea…

Whatever the thought was it was cut off as he swiveled his hips and moved within her to touch a place that she didn’t even know was there until that moment.  This time, they screamed together.  Her body melted against him as he found the strength to move them from the wall and over to the bed.  He allowed his mind to be open to her for just a while longer.  She was able to hear his thoughts.  She knew it. Now that she was able to regain a portion of her consciousness.  There was no containing the joy that was coursing its way through her.  Katana knew that this was something that she couldn’t even attempt to discuss with him.  He gently placed her in the bed and made his way up her body. His kisses took in every portion of her legs, then torso and up along her neck.  When his lips met hers, she realized that he was not completely sated. Those hands were there again and he was ready to torture her some more.  As he seated himself within her again, she moaned his name.  Alkinai was relentless in his torment.  He had her body thrumming and filled with sensations that they’d never shared before.  Hours later, he finally found the relief he needed and allowed her to drift off into a peaceful slumber.

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~The “E” motioned News Team

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As promised on the Facebook page, you will find below the first chapter of Hades Mistress.  Enjoy and give feedback.  It is appreciated!!

 

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Scarlett and Hades want to share their story with you.  Are you willing to find out what it’s like to be loved by a god?

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Happy Reading!!

None shall be made to suffer as much as the one that causes many to suffer greatly just with his breaths alone. 

~ Rhadamanthys, Minos & Aiakos (the Judges)

Tell that group of bitches I said to sit on it and twirl.

~ Hades, Fucking Ruler

 

Called by a line that was cursed from the first

She will be able to carry the spawn of the damned 

Be forewarned

For a great change may come

One that may change the kind of man

Presenting a new face

Of one that was set in ways before

 

1592: the Patterson Home

“What does it mean, Father?” the little girl asked. 

“It means that your brothers and I are going to have to keep a close and watchful eye on you.  I wish your grandmother would’ve shared this little piece of your history earlier,” the father mumbled.  “I would have done away with trying to create another child had I known.  No man should be made to suffer so.”

“Elias, your daughter sits before you.  She may not understand your words, but she does understand your intent.  Besides, the hatred is rolling off of you in waves,” Madelynn responded. 

“Madelynn, this is not the time for one of your positive outlook moments.  Do you know what our lives are about to entail?  Don’t you understand what we are about to endure with this new piece of information?  We should’ve known what was to come, what we might have to fight if a female was born of your line.  Why would the old woman not tell you of this accursed news prior to your adulthood?” Elias was beginning to get himself worked into a tizzy. 

Seeing where this was going, Madelynn tried to steer her husband’s thoughts in another direction.

“Elias, no one can be blamed for things that happened in the past.  We must learn to take what comes to us and find a way to make it work for the good. It is our way,” she spoke calmly as she continued her needlepoint. 

“Curse your continuously calm nature.  Our child has been signed up to be some god’s whore and you set there with that womanly pastime telling me to calm myself and look at the good within this. I’m in no mood for that simple type of behavior,” Elias huffed. 

“Amazing to me, husband mine, that my suggestions are simple now but you had no problem with them when they were used to calm your mother’s wild woman antics.   For this, I’m not…”

A horn sounded in the background and the building shook with the rumble of hoof beats that were coming towards them.  Both Elias and Madelynn turned to look at their now sleeping 8 year old’s face.  They both wore mirrored masks of horror. 

“General, you’re needed at the main gate, Sir.  A being is there calling for your presence,” one of the guards called from the other side of the door.

The panicked sound to his voice increased the trepidation they knew they were both feeling. 

“Gather the boys, our daughter and take the tunnels…” Elias began.

“You really believe that taking the child will hide what belongs to my Master from his all powerful eyes. I was sent here to warn you.  When it’s time, when she has come to be of age, she will be called to his side.  There will be no hiding, no protecting, no bargaining nor pleading for leniency on the girl’s behalf.  She will come forward whether you desire her to or not,” the two headed creature before them stated. 

Neither knew which head to focus on.  Both focused on someplace other than the four sets of red eyes that looked at them. 

“You have been forewarned.  It is futile to fight the inevitable.  His desire will overrule your own,” it said in a foreboding tone.

They looked upon one another for a moment then to their child and back to where the being had appeared.  It, whatever it was, was gone. 

“Elias dear, what shall we do?” Madelynn exclaimed.

His only response was to shake his head.   

So it began. 

The gauntlet had been laid down and every male that had been born to the line had picked it up.  They had a sacred duty to protect the women within their family; a warrior’s call and a fool’s response.  Though their resistance was futile, within a few years that child who was now a woman was called forth.  The men waged a war against the minions that came, but lost many.  She was able to hear her family’s demise.  She was brought to the being’s Master, spent the allotted time with him then took her own life the following year when she was to be called upon again.

The Master waited for the next one to be of age, gave the warning, fought the men, won and the woman refused him in the end.  The patterned continued until he came to the realization, by way of reminder of his curse from those spineless cretins, that he would not have what he wanted so desperately if the woman lost so greatly.  He devised a plan to get the next to agree to be by his side, but those interfering bastards thwarted his attempt. 

How was he ever to get what he wanted if he kept having to deal with the odds being stacked against him?  Leader of the Underworld or not, he didn’t want to resort to the underhanded measures if he didn’t have to.  He wanted to use those for more pleasurable tasks. 

He’d been dealing with this for well over four centuries and this one wouldn’t get away.  His plan was one that made him smile with just how brilliant it was.  His brethren wouldn’t have the ability to stop what he’d already set in motion.  This one would be his.  He’d attempted it before but he knew this one he’d perfected.  He peered over at her from his side of the glass.  As he looked over her shape and body, he knew he was right.  She was worth the wait.  There would be no battles with this one. He would finally gain all that he’d wanted and those judgmentally judicial jerks would have to bow down to the beauty of his moxie.

He would have his prize and tell that overrated, self-important group of stuffed shirts just how far they could jump up their own…

…the Harvest arrives.  Time to play…

 

Patience, None (1)

ΨΨΨΨΨΨ

 

Present day, the depths of hell: Hades

Pacing. Pacing is what seemed to be his greatest pastime during these days.  The time beginning the solstice in the earthly realm marked a time where his body was strained with anxiety, nervous energy and anticipation.  He’d waited a great many moons for the timing to be accurate.  Assured this time would be the perfect timing for his seed to be planted, he had his minions scouting the earth for what seemed to be eons before he found the one.  The one with the right bloodline and the marking that would allow her to be what he needed her to be.  He’d promised death to any who attempted to touch her or dared to sully her virtue.  When the one he sought was found, he ordered a guard at the gateway to her space every moment of every day.  Wherever she went, she was shadowed and was none the wiser. 

His perfect beauty was the epitome of grace and elegance.  Her 5’8” height and dancer’s frame called to him when he gazed upon her through the looking glass that was his dining table.  His Rouge had long wavy red hair, oval shaped cat-like light green eyes and fully pouty lips.  Her high cheek bones and the kiss of peach in the color of her skin had him wanting his hands on her all the time.  The curves she sported belied the standard thought of what a classically trained dancer would have.  Yet, it worked for her.  It worked for him as well. 

He refused to let on to anyone realize just how much time he spent gazing into eyes when she was awake.  It would be a sign of weakness to give away how much she’d come to mean to him.  Their time spent together was time that he greatly cherished.  The ones he led would not be able to understand, could not comprehend, the depth of what he felt for her.  His lady didn’t know the hold she had on him either. 

Tonight, he was to leave the place that was his very own and collect the heads of those that would dare to try to rise against him.  It was a dirty job but someone had to do it.  His eyes found hers again and he knew he could remain where he sat, perched on the edge of his recliner, for a short while longer.  Days could go by and he could remain where it was that he’d already spent hours, days, honestly weeks, gazing upon her face.

The natives were getting restless.  He could hear the war cry on the winds.  The chanting was beginning.  The old magic was being called forth.  Seen as one of the greatest evils that was ever created, he had a name to uphold.  A perception that was his duty to maintain.  He was one of the most revered yet feared men breathing.  The mere mention of his name would cause many to cower, run or hide.  He enjoyed it most of the time, but seven years ago something began to change.  She was found and entered his world on this night.  Exactly seven years ago to the date and he saw things in a new light. Everything changed, nothing remained the same after the moment he laid eyes on her. 

He hadn’t expected her to appear before him.  The first night she did.  He’d spent years perfecting “the call.” The call to the one that would bring forth his heir.  The call to the one that would aide him in filling the emptiness, the void that he felt for so long.   Yes, he’d shared a time with P., Persephone, but they weren’t the right fit.  They never clicked.  They didn’t mesh well at all.  Their individual tempers caused great pain to those that surrounded them.  When they were together, every moment was volatile.  It wasn’t that way with her.  His Rouge St. Clare had gazed upon him as if he were a man.  Her big eyes took every aspect of him in with one quick perusal.  He’d heated and a quick fire blaze burned its way through his veins. Her then cropped honey blonde dyed tresses were set with loose curls.  She’d gazed upon him then a look of confusion passed over her face. Her perfectly kissable lips formed an “o” when she took in the breadth of him.  Her excitement was reflected in the way her form fitted tank pulled taut against her large chest. His mouth watered and he couldn’t wait to be near her, to feel her, to know her in every way that a man could know a woman.

Hades had told himself repeatedly when he found her that he would give her time to acclimate.  He’d attempt to tell her what was going on.  When he saw her and acknowledged that she was actually there with him, he was lost.  She was a tangible being and not a figment of his imagination.  Any prior assurance to himself was thrown out the window.  The first night they spent together was all about them giving each other pleasure.  Their coming together was epic and he was hard enough in that moment that he could split his pants open with just the mere thought of her.  He knew that she felt as if what she was doing was a dream.  It was part of the stipulation of the curse.  There was no way that he was allowed in her world and she could only come to him during this time of the year.  What was one night in her time was two months in his own time.  Every year the pattern repeated.  The call pulled her from her dream state to the space before him.  He’d taken the time to prepare something for her every year.  This year wouldn’t be any different. 

Rouge told him last year that she seemed to find herself thinking of him at random times of the year.  She informed him that she always knew without a clock or calendar when she would have the recurring dream.  Her body seemed to itch to be near him and the days before the dream were filled with enough desire that she thought about going out and finding the first man she could, just to have someone to satisfy her.  Last year, when she arrived, her curls were completely straight and her hair ran just below her shoulders.  The front bangs were a loud cherry apple red with reddish brown flowing through the remainder.  He found he enjoyed the longer length to the shorter.  This year he wanted to explain everything that was going on with her and try to reign in his temper.  Each time that she left and the results of their time together proved to be not fruitful, he’d be in a rage for weeks.  Hades would have all that he expected this year.  He would have it or not only his enemy’s heads would roll but quite a few others.

Thanks so much for your support and for stopping by!

~The “E” motioned News Team