DNA is Live

Friday, June 26, 2020

DNA is a different journey for me because it's the first time I've written inspirational fiction. 

I hope that readers will consume the story with an open mind and take something away from the pages. 

The process took four years, but that's the way it is when you're trying to move in a new direction - life happens and other projects intervene.

I'm happy the story finally got done and now I can relax and take a breather. If you take a chance on DNA, be sure to leave a review so other readers can know what you thought about the book.

Check it out at www.lrd.to/DNAvav

Thanks for your support!

Sunday Sample - DNA

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Here's today's snippet of DNA, which will be live on June 26.

Russ studied Amoy, admitting that with one incident, he no longer trusted her. His reaction was weird, given that what happened was far in the past. But there it was, and until he got past the hurt, he'd second guess everything, including her reluctance to move abroad. That was a whole other matter. When his gaze met hers, he shoved the thought aside but knew he'd revisit it.

“Russ, would you pray for us, please?” Amoy asked.

He said grace, thanking God for His provision and for their family.

They dug in, with the boys ignoring Amoy's instructions for them to stop talking with their mouths full. Their chatter rose and fell in waves. Junior was curious about everything and normally, his observations would have tickled Russ. Now his questions about Amoy's face—which was now free of makeup—served as an irritant.

“Can you give it a rest, Junior?” His tone was harsher than he intended it to be, and he was sorry the moment he spoke.

Junior dipped his head, and Russ winced.

The boys were not used to hearing him speak that way.

Silence descended around them and Amoy's concerned gaze went to Junior. Then her focus turned back to Russ. Though she wouldn't say anything about his tone in front of the boys, her disappointment was clear.

Was he picking on Junior because of what he knew, or was it the boy’s concern for Amoy?  Whatever it was, Russ didn't want to dig too deeply.

They finished their meal in silence, while Russ grew more uncomfortable. His snooping changed things in a way he never anticipated. With every hour that crawled by, Russ wished he'd left the past where it belonged.

To find out more, go to lrd.to//DNAvav

Sample Sunday - DNA

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Amoy sat on the mattress facing him. When she didn't do anything but stare, Russ met her gaze. “What do you want from me, Amoy?”

The hurt in her eyes wrung his gut, but what did she expect? The hair covering her forehead fell into her eyes. They were red and watery as if she'd been crying.

Right now, he didn't give a damn. She deserved a taste of what he'd gone through since he found out how she'd duped him.

She sniffed and pressed the corners of her eyes, then cleared her throat. “We need to talk.”

“You keep saying that, but nothing you tell me is going to make a difference.”

Amoy folded her arms and lifted her chin. “So you're condemning me without even trying to find out what happened.”

“We both know what happened.” His dull response turned nasty along with his thoughts. “You tricked me.”

“For heaven's sake, Russ, can you stop playing the victim long enough to listen to me?”

His voice was louder than intended when he answered, “You don't get to talk to me like that.”

Amoy glared at him. “And you don't get to write me off without giving me a chance to—”

“A chance to do what, Amoy? Justify cheating me? Making yourself feel better about what you've done?”

Her skin was pale and her full lips drooped as if it was the end of the world. In a sense it was. Nothing would be the same for him.

Pre-order your copy of DNA at lrd.to/DNAvav

Wednesday Writing Prompt - May 27

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The month of May has slipped by and we are at the last Wednesday Writing Prompt. What is Wednesday Writing Prompt? On Wednesdays in May, we’ve been writing a short story from a writing prompt. You can hop from blog to blog to read each one and see the different ideas that come from each prompt. Thanks for following. I hope you haven't missed any of the prompts.

Writing Prompt: 
“Can you picture it? You and I together?” 

“Can you picture it? You and I together?” Dale parked our suitcases next to the double beds and faced me, smirking. His warm eyes danced with humor, disarming me while the wicked thoughts I’d suppressed about him for years flared to life inside my head. He’d been teasing me since we agreed to share the hotel room rather than getting two for the night.

Arms folded across my chest, I shook my head. “Nah. You’re too wild. Too much of a party animal and I’m … ”

His eyebrow tipped up and his head tilted to one side. “You’re what?”

“I’m about different things in life.”

“Like what?” he asked, sitting on the bed and easing off his boots and socks.

I pulled out a chair from the table in the opposite corner of the air-conditioned space and sat. 

“Settling down—”

“You don’t have a man.” Dale’s gaze pierced me.

Stubbornly, I continued. “Having children and—”

“You don’t have a man.”

“You said that already. Anyhow, making my name in marketing is also on my list.”

“Now you’re talking,” he said, yanking off his socks.

“Hey now, you don’t know anything about me,” I protested. “You’re Isaac’s friend, not mine.”

“But you followed us around for years, so I beg to differ.”

I cut my eyes at him and slid my feet out of my slippers. So, I had shadowed them when my eyes were filled with stars and they were my heroes. That changed ages ago. Dale and Isaac’s friendship had lasted fifteen years. My brother was getting married and I was stuck with his best man, whose SUV refused to start after we ate at a rest stop in Ocho Rios hours ago.

He’d done everything in his power to see what the problem was and eventually had the Escalade towed. The spicy jerked chicken and roasted breadfruit we had for lunch were now a memory and my stomach growled. I ignored it. “Like I said, you don’t know anything about me.”

“Oh, yeah? That’s what you think.” Dale’s perfect teeth flashed in his dark face. He stood, and my gaze slid over his muscled frame. For a computer geek, he looked anything but, thanks to the three days he spent in the gym each week.

“What d’you think you know?” I said, distracted by the way his tee-shirt clung to his broad back as he sauntered to the closet and dropped his shoes inside.

“You like tame men.” He grinned with a mischievous glint in his eyes. “Tall. Dark. Placid.”

“What?” I screwed my face into a grimace. “That’s so not true.”

“Really?” His tone was cool when he continued. “Over the years, there’s been Tym, Peter, and what’s his name … Jack. All nerds, who I’m sure didn’t dare to touch you in certain ways.”

As he scanned my snug tee-shirt and jeans, my skin prickled. Now that I thought about it, he was right, but I wasn’t about to admit it. My boyfriends had always been calm and mild-mannered. The total opposite of Dale. He’d likely been the reason I avoided getting involved with men I considered off-limits. The ones who were confident and brash.

His voice snapped me back into the room. “You also like walks on the beach, top-of-the-line electronics, Moscato – any kind, and being with family.”

I swallowed the involuntary smile teasing my lips. “Impressive. You’ve been keeping tabs on me?”

He shrugged and walked to the window to pull back the drapes. “Yeah.”

That one word meant everything and nothing, yet Dale didn’t seem inclined to expand on what he’d just admitted. Sliding the glass door open, he asked, “You coming?”

“Be back in a minute,” I said, on my way to the bathroom.

After answering nature’s call and freshening up, I opened the door to a soft chuckle from Dale. “I’ll take good care of her. No need to worry, man.”

He leaned off the railing and smiled at me. “That was Isaac, threating to tear me limb from limb if I don’t watch over you properly.”

I scoffed, “He knows I can take care of myself.”

Dale nodded. “I agree. You’re all that and then some.”

Frowning, I pulled my head back. “Are you coming on to me, Dale Winslow?”
Our eyes met and held. I licked my lip, thinking I’d put my foot right into my throat. But what the heck? I wanted to know what I wanted to know.

A slow smile greeted me as Dale leaned against the balcony rail and folded his arms. “What if I am?”

“Weren’t you trying to remind me I was like your baby sister?”

His focus shifted to my waist length-braids, then he did a slow study, sweeping me from head to feet and back. He cleared his throat. “Maybe when you were ten, but you’ve grown into a beautiful woman.”

Wearing a smug grin, I answered. “Why, thank you, Dale. I bet that’s a standard line you use on all the women.”

His brows drew together. “D’you know me to be a womanizer?”

It was my turn to frown. “Well, you’re out every weekend and you used to have a fair number of women hanging off your arm.”

“I don’t go clubbing much anymore. Since Simone … ” He chuckled and didn’t finish his sentence.

“I understand.”

His daughter was a cutie, and according to Isaac she sometimes spent the weekend with Dale.

“And by the way, I do not have women hanging off me.” At my disbelieving expression, he chuckled. “Well, not for a few years. Come on. I’m thirty-five, I don’t do that anymore. Matter of fact, I’m cooling off. Been doing that for a while. Simone is the only girl in my life right now.”

I considered that. Come to think of it, since Isaac stopped tomcatting, I hadn’t seen much of anything posted on Instagram with them out and about. Used to be, I’d follow their feed and roll my eyes at the women they dated.

“What about you?” he asked, leaning toward me. “Who are you seeing?”

“That’s none of your business.” I laughed and shook my head, unwilling to reveal my current status.

A horn blared from the street below as Dale snorted. “You're such a liar.”

Propping my hip against the door, I scowled. “You're calling me names because?”

“Maxine isn’t seeing anybody.” Dale’s head moved side to side. “She just wants me out of her business, but she doesn’t know I have a secret weapon.”

Him referring to me in third person was amusing, but he had me curious. “What’s that?”

“Maxine doesn’t know that I recently moved into her neighborhood and I know she doesn’t have a man.”

I couldn’t help laughing. “So, why are you asking then, do-do head?”

“I wanted to see what you’d say.” Wearing a hundred-watt smile, he continued, “Nothing happens before the time. I figured today was fated to take place and we were meant to make this connection.”

“Oh really? That’s convenient.”

In a husky tone Dale said, “You doubt I’m interested in you?”

“Just because you know some stuff about me doesn’t mean you care about me.”

“It doesn’t, but if you’d go out with me tomorrow evening after the rehearsal, we can re-familiarize ourselves with each other.”

“Hmmm. Does my brother trust you enough to approve of me going out with you?”

“Isaac knows everything about me.” He stepped in close. “Including the fact that I wouldn’t hurt you.”

Anticipation stole my breath and I cleared my throat. “There are no guarantees, Dale.”

Dale tipped my chin towards him and stared into my eyes. “I know, but there’s something about you … always has been, but the time was never right.”

I rested both hands on his solid chest. “The way this is looking, it’s a good thing I hitched a ride with you, huh?”

“You know that’s right,” he whispered as his lips covered mine.

Would you be willing to go out with someone who has a history? Is a date with your brother's friend off-limits? Would you share a room with someone of the opposite sex in a similar situation?

Don’t forget to visit the blogs of my writing friends below to see their stories:

Delaney Diamond delaneydiamond.com
Tiye Love tiyelovebooks.com
Nyora René nyorarene.com
S.Taylor staylorromance.com

Wednesday Writing Prompt - May 20

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

I’m participating in Wednesday Writing Prompt with some author friends. What is Wednesday Writing Prompt? On Wednesdays in May, we’ll write a short story from a writing prompt, and you can hop from blog to blog to read each one and see the different ideas that come from each prompt. Follow my blog to make sure you don’t miss any of the prompts!

Writing Prompt: His best friend sets him up on a blind date, but he’s surprised when he shows up for the date and his best friend is sitting there.

Bradleigh got out of his car wearing a navy shirt, matching slacks, and a wry grin. He’d been a fool in the last five years and needed nobody to tell him so. Aside from messing up his relationship with the woman he’d loved but didn’t know at the time, he was also best friend to another female who should have been his wife. Now, Sereta had set him up with a date he didn’t want.

According to his mother, he needed an attitude adjustment and sense knocked into his head. He walked into the bar, a hot-spot that opened recently in Kingston. At first glance, all he saw was a manufactured haze that wasn’t cigarette smoke. He supposed the owners thought that the effect was trendy. He thought otherwise. As a police officer, his inclination was to reach for the gun strapped to his ankle just in case anything popped off.

He walked farther into the open space divided by a half-wall made of opaque glass. Damian Marley’s latest song blasted from the hidden speakers. Surely Sereta didn’t expect him to find whoever she set him up with in the smoky darkness. She knew he had no time for games.

He was about to do an about-face and leave when someone waved at him. She had a red flower—a hibiscus he’d guess per Sereta’s instructions—attached to her wrist. As he got closer, he thought she seemed familiar. Slender. Elegant. But she’d shrouded her face in a scarf, the same color as the flower.

He’d kill Sereta if she wasted his time with any of her kooky friends.

From the opposite side of the booth, Bradleigh slid into the seat. He realized then that Sereta had gone into full Secret Squirrel mode and hadn’t told him his date’s name. And he’d been too distracted by last week’s drug bust to ask.

He squinted at the person facing him. “Our date would get off to a better start if you removed your scarf and told me your name.”

In one movement, she pulled the fabric away and dropped it in her lap.

“Sereta?” His brows rode high on his forehead. “Where’s the date you promised me?”

“I thought you didn’t want it.” She gestured to her torso, sheathed in a black, leather dress. “I’m your date.”

“Didn’t you say—”

Sereta’s smile was slow and sensuous. “I know what I said, but a lady is entitled to change her mind, right?”

While she slid a glass of soda water with a slice of lemon to him, she held his gaze.

Her body language and this setup confirmed that she’d finally pulled the plug on the best-buddy relationship they’d settled into over the past six months.

“So, let me get this straight. You get me a blind date I didn’t want in the first place, to blindside me with a reconciliation bid?”

Her face fell, but only for a few seconds. “It’s not exactly what you’ve termed it.”

“Then what is it, sweetness?” He sipped the soda water appreciatively. Sereta always knew what would hit the spot.

“I’ve missed you,” she said.

He cocked his head. “Say that again?”

“You heard me.” She cut her eyes at him. “Don’t go getting a big head.”

Bradleigh spun the glass on the tabletop and scanned the room, which was filling up with even more 
people. “The thought never crossed my mind. I seriously don’t understand what you want.”

But he did.

They had an intense relationship. He met her coming off his split up with his previous partner. Sereta wanted all of him, but at the time he didn’t have that to give. He’d been in healing mode. Through an investigation into items stolen from Sereta’s family business, they kept in touch. Eventually, he asked her out. But her jealousy of his ex ensured their connection was brief and fiery. Fact was, Corra wanted nothing to do with him but Sereta had never been convinced.

“Although we’re supposed to be just friends, I … ”

When she didn’t continue, he said, “I’m listening.”

“Don’t make me beg,” she snapped. “You’ve been feeling me as much as I’ve been feeling you, so cut the crap.”

“Now, who’s getting a big head?” he asked, looking into her sparkling eyes.

“Whatever.” She sipped from her wine glass, then licked her lips and scooted closer to him. “I like you better as my man than my friend.”

“And why is that?”

As if by its own accord his arm settled around Sereta, who turned her face into his neck. Her shoulders rose as she inhaled against his skin. The rush of warm air as she exhaled caused an immediate reaction at his groin. She’d always had that effect on him and she knew it. A wicked smile lifted her lips as he dipped his head toward hers. “You’re a wicked woman, but I suspect you know that.”

“Oh yeah?” She breathed against his mouth, then touched her lips to his.

“So, you fooled me into a date to take advantage of me?” he teased.

Sereta slipped her hand to the back of his head and eased his lips open with her tongue. She laved his mouth, taking her time and leaving him near breathless. The port lent a sweet flavor to their kiss. When she pulled back, he cupped her cheek and went in for seconds. She raised a hand to his chest and when her fingers met his shirt button, he gave her a chaste peck and whispered. “Down girl. How would it look for a police officer to be arrested for lewdness in a public place?”

Her grin took a second to emerge, then she shoved him in the chest. “You’re such a d—”
Squeezing her close, he said, “Really, Sereta?”

She swallowed deeply from the remaining port.

Hiding his smile, he spanned her nape and gently turned her head toward him. “We can’t go back 
after this, you know that, right?”

“Doesn’t setting up this date tell you that I know exactly what I want?”

He raised both hands in a gesture of surrender. “I want to be sure where I stand with you.”

She stared at the bar, then looked at him. “So, I can be a bit demanding, but … ”

“Tell me about it,” he quipped.

“Can you stop being nasty.”

“When we met, you said you appreciated my honesty.”

“Not to the point of you telling me I told you so.”

“Fine.” He folded both arms across his chest. “So you’re finally admitting I’m the man you want even though I told you ages ago that I loved you and you’re the woman I want in my future?”

“Something like that.”

He tipped her chin toward him. “Sereta, just to be clear. At thirty-eight, I’m too old to pretend I don’t love you the way I love you. Truth is, I only agreed to stay friendly with you because I wanted to know what the heck you had going on when you weren’t with me.”

“You sneaky bas—”

He poked her side. “Don’t act like you weren’t keeping your eyes on me, too.”

Sereta let out a peal of laughter. “You’re never going to let me forget it, but yes, our friendship was definitely about keeping tabs on you.”

“So, why have us go around the mulberry bush when you know you want me?”

She shrugged. “I guess it was hard to believe a guy like you, who could have anyone, would want an ordinary woman like me.”

He pulled her into a hug. “Never let me hear you talk about yourself like that again. What you consider ordinary, I consider more than worth my time. Extra-ordinary, in fact.”

“For real?”

As their breaths mingled, he said, “Let me show you.”

Would you have taken the risk Sereta did? Would you have given Bradleigh another chance since he was prepared to go on a date with someone else?

Don’t forget to visit the blogs of my writing friends below to see their stories:

Delaney Diamond delaneydiamond.com
Nyora René nyorarene.com

Wednesday Writing Prompt - May 13

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

I’m participating in Wednesday Writing Prompt with some author friends. What is Wednesday Writing Prompt? On Wednesdays in May, we’ll write a short story from a writing prompt, and you can hop from blog to blog to read each one and see the different ideas that come from each prompt. Follow my blog to make sure you don’t miss any of the prompts!

Writing prompt: Hero and heroine work late and end up getting locked in the building alone.  

Chad’s smile would have weakened Venetia’s knees if she’d been standing. Through the plate-glass window of her office, he flashed a grin at the new woman in Accounting. 

He’d been with her family’s marketing company for a year now and while he did good work—according to her brother, James—she couldn’t think of another positive thing about Chad. Except for his charm, his super-fit body, and his smile, of course. Her lips curled into a grimace. She wouldn’t even admit to herself that he had it going on.

She shifted her gaze in case he happened to look in her direction. Then she tapped the spacebar on the laptop. The document was taking shape, but she needed to finish it for Monday’s meeting. She’d catch up on the weekend. 

Her door swung open and Yaneke, her close friend, walked inside. “I’m about ready to leave. What about you?”

“I have something to finish up, so I was going to stay for a while.”

Yaneke dropped into a chair in front of her desk. “We need to find you a hobby or something because you’ve forgotten how to live.”

“Just so you know, I’ve taken up paper crilling—”

“It sounds like something little old ladies do. I came to invite you out with us for drinks.”

“Who is us?”

Yaneke’s dimples showed up as she secured her braids on top of her head and reeled off a list of names.

“Sorry, I think I’ll pass.”

“I didn’t say Chad was going.”

Venetia tipped one brow. “So? I didn’t plan on going whether he was there or not.”

“You know he’s not into Happy Hour fun.” Yaneke stood and smoothed her pants over her
hips. “One day I’ll find out why you hate him so much.”

Venetia didn’t take the bait. Instead, she wriggled her fingers at Yaneke as she went through the door. Minutes later, she decided to go downstairs to the retrieval room for a presentation they did several years ago since they had only just started the process of converting their files to digital versions.

She debated turning on the light as she left the office but didn’t. Everybody knew she was usually last to leave the office. Still, she pulled the door shut behind her. Downstairs, she pressed her back to the heavy door of their records department, surprised to find a light on inside.

Frowning, she walked past each aisle. When she got to the last row, Chad was sitting on a step ladder. The muscles in his broad back rippled as he shifted position. The earplugs in his ears explained why he didn’t hear her. 

She was about to go back the way she’d come when he faced her, frowning. His tone was wary when he spoke. “Hey, can I help you with something?”

Venetia shook her head while trying to unstick her tongue from the roof of her mouth.  One year since they’d been introduced and he still had this effect on her. 

“Are you sure?” He got to his feet with several files in his hands. “You must have needed something.”

Yeah, well, it’s nothing you can supply. 

“No, it’s fine.” Her terse tone was embarrassing. This was why she stayed away from him. 
Chad Greaves brought out the worst in her. At least, since their one date.

She took another step back, but he advanced on her, his lips twisted in a smirk. “I think you’re refusing simply because I offered.

“You’re free to think whatever you want.”

It took all of Venetia’s willpower not to move as Chad entered the narrow passage and stood inches away. His royal blue tie was slightly askew and he’d rolled back his sleeves and stood with both arms folded across his chest. 

She avoided his eyes by studying the hairs on his dark-honey skin. Then her gaze moved upward to stop at his well-defined lips. When their eyes met, his was filled with amusement. 

“See something you like?”

Venetia snorted and stepped around him. “I know where to find the file I wanted.”

She could have sworn he scoffed under his breath.

“I’ll wait for you.” He propped himself against a shelf and watched her. 

Flustered, she grabbed the first file that came to hand and walked past him. She didn’t check if he was behind her when she climbed the steps and marched to her office. 

“See you later.” Chad’s tone was cheerful as he disappeared down the corridor. 

Venetia packed up her laptop and the file. With her keys in hand, she made her way to the front office. 

Chad stood at the entrance, talking on his phone. 

The man was suddenly everywhere.

He turned at the tap of her footsteps across the tiles. 

“We’re locked in,” Chad said, sliding the phone in his pocket. 

“How come?”

“New security guard. I guess he thought the building was empty.”

“Oh, crap.” Venetia’s shoulders drooped and she turned back toward her office.

“What does that mean?” Chad gripped her arm and fell in step with her. His touch sent tingles radiating up to her shoulder and into her chest. Her gaze jumped to his and she tried to ease away but his fingers didn’t budge. 

“The guard armed the building and left,” she choked out.

“So this means … ”

“The security company has to disarm the system before we can get out.”

“How long will that take?” Chad asked.

He stood in the doorway as she slumped in her seat and picked up the phone.

“How should I know?” She dialed the security company and when she looked up, Chad was staring at her across the desk. Smiling, she used his earlier words. “See something you like?”

His chuckle was low and throaty. “Is there a doubt?”

That killed her amusement. She was not doing this with him. Chad was vain and shallow. 
Definitely not worth her time or attention. 

After a quick conversation, she rose and paced the office. “We’ll be here until the guards do their rounds and return. That could be another two hours.”

On her way past him, Chad gripped her wrist. “No sense in wearing yourself out. There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you.”

She tugged her hand away. “What?”

“We had that one date last year—”

“Let’s not go there.”


She sounded stupid repeating his question but did it anyway.

He frowned. “You went dead cold with no explanation, plus your bro—”

“Weren’t you seeing Nordia Grant at the same time you were trying to date me?”

 His frown deepened. “Who told you that?”

“She said you—”

“So she told you a story and you didn’t check if she was lying? I never looked in her direction, other than to say hello.” 

He leaned against the door jamb. “Your brother made it plain you wanted nothing to do with me.”

“Wait. Which brother?” Venetia suspected she knew. “Richard.”

Chad nodded. “Matter of fact, he said if I didn’t leave you alone, he’d fire me. Then when you started treating me like I was invisible, I figured it wasn’t worth pursuing you because I actually like working for the company.”

Venetia’s breath streamed out in a long hiss and she muttered, “Seriously, Richard?”

Her gaze shot to Chad. She owed him an apology. “Look, I’m—”

“Hold the apology.” His eyes darkened. “I have a better plan.”

Pulling her head back, she whispered. “What?”

“Let’s have a do-over.” He stepped in close. “Have drinks with me this evening.”

“Now or later?”

“There’s no time like the present.” His breath caressed her lips. “I have this bottle of Appleton Estate Signature Blend that I celebrate with when I snag major accounts.”

Their lips touched as she said, “What are we waiting for?” 

Would you have given Chad the time of evening after getting that explanation? Have you ever come close to being locked up in an office building? Would you enjoy seeing more of Chad and Venetia?

Don’t forget to visit the blogs of my writing friends below to see their stories:

Delaney Diamond delaneydiamond.com
Tiye Love tiyelovebooks.com
Nyora René nyorarene.com

S.Taylor staylorromance.com

Wednesday Writing Prompt - May 6

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

I’m participating in Wednesday Writing Prompt with some author friends. What is Wednesday Writing Prompt? On Wednesdays in May, we’ll write a short story from a writing prompt, and you can hop from blog to blog to read each one and see the different ideas that come from each prompt. Follow my blog to make sure you don’t miss any of the prompts!

Writing prompt: The heroine is at a bar playing a drinking game with her friends and loses, and as a result is told that she has to ask the next man who comes through the door out on a date.

“Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing!” Zoya flipped her braids over one shoulder and acted as if Juanita had won a prize. Above the soft reggae music and conversation inside the quaint pub in Montego Bay, she continued, “I knew you couldn’t stay off your phone for long.”

“Ugh!” Nita rested against the leather booth and groaned. “Just what I needed.”

Denise and Kate clinked their glasses together. Aside from downing the rest of her drink, Nita was obligated to ask the next man who appeared in the doorway for a date.

“It could be worse,” Denise said, running one hand through her nest of curly hair. “Remember last time? I had to tell the ugliest man in the room I adored him.”

“Right,” Zoya added, “With your luck, whoever comes through that door will be tall, dark, and delicious enough to lick.”

Nita swallowed the last of the potent rum and grimaced. “That’s nasty, considering what’s going on lately. I think I’ll pass. I only came because of the horrendous week I’ve had.”

Her job as an executive assistant meant hard work and long hours. She hadn’t gone anywhere in weeks and needed to unwind. Too bad, she forgot the outrageous drinking games Zoya couldn’t resist.

Kate bumped Nita with an elbow and poked her ruby-red lips toward the doorway. “There’s your mark.”

“Oooooh, la, la.” Zoya fanned herself, then picked up her margarita. “I have a mind to go after him myself.”

 “Be my guest,” Nita said.

“You’re not getting off that easy.” Zoya made a shooing motion with her hands. “Get to it.”

Dark-skinned, brawny, and oozing confidence, the man walked toward an empty booth. On his way past them, Nita caught a whiff of cologne. Something earthy with leather and musk undertones. When seated, he pulled back the cuff of his shirt to look at his watch. Then his gaze went to the waitress, who stood at his elbow.

When she walked away, Kate winked. “Your move, chica.”

Nita pulled in a breath and approached her target. His dark gaze told her nothing, but his detailed perusal of her flawless cinnamon skin, sleeveless silk blouse, and fitted skirt said he’d taken notice of her assets. She slid into the booth across from him and gathered her courage.

Aside from cocking one brow as he studied her, the handsome stranger didn’t move.

“I take it you’re here to meet someone.” Nita’s nerve endings tingled at his nearness.

The waitress returned and set a clear drink with a wedge of lemon at the man’s elbow. “Anything for the lady?”

Nita declined and glanced at her friends as the server left. They all wore cheetah grins. 

After sampling his drink, her tablemate spoke. “You don’t look desperate, so I’m guessing your friends put you up to this.”

His voice made her think of rich, dark chocolate, which in turn revived Zoya’s outrageous comment. She suppressed a grin. He did look good enough to lick.

“And yes, I’m meeting someone, but … ” He delivered a breath-snatching smile that made her toes curl. “If you’re here to ask me out, I can oblige, but you have to do something for me first.”

Intrigued, she said, “What could you need from someone you haven’t met properly? And how d’you know they encouraged me to come over.”

“I notice things other people don’t. Details are my business … ” He raised one eyebrow in a question.

“Nita,” she supplied. “And you are … ”

After a small pause, he said, “Neil.”

“Have doubts about your identity?”

“That’s not likely.” He stared into her eyes as if she was the sole reason he’d walked into the pub. “So, Nita, what is your telephone number and when would you like to go out with me?”

A flush warmed her face. “I’d prefer if you gave me yours, and tomorrow evening will be fine.”

“Not a problem.” He reeled off a number, which she committed to memory. “Let me know where we’ll meet.”

His slow smile warmed every cell in Nita’s body and made her heart thud. She came back to reality when he said, “Come closer. It’s time for that favor.”

She edged closer, asking herself if she was sane.

Neil cupped her elbow and they stood. 

At his touch, her nervous system went haywire and she heard nothing while Neil introduced her as his wife to the timid man, who hovered inches away. Mystified, Nita took her seat and kept a straight face. Her heart stuttered when her foot brushed against Neil’s. She was sure she felt the outline of a holster at his ankle.

After a cryptic conversation she didn’t understand, the man left. Neil followed minutes later saying he’d expect her call.

As she returned to her friends, Nita wondered if she shouldn’t opt out of her date with the mysterious man she just met.

“Well, did he say yes?” Zoya asked, her eyes alight with curiosity.

“Do zebras have stripes?” Nita hiked her shoulder in a nonchalant shrug and refused to answer any questions.


As the boat cruised around the Ocho Rios harbor, the balmy wind brushed her skin. Nita turned her face up to sniff the sea air, then sighed. With one arm around her waist, Neil spoke behind her. “You sound contented.”

Raising her glass of champagne, she said, “I am. This is wonderful.”

Tonight was her fourth outing with him. On their first date, he took her to the Sugar Mill Restaurant at the Half Moon resort. The dining experience under the stars was romantic. The background music, the sounds of crickets chirping nearby, the melt-in-your-mouth prime rib roast, and their proximity to the ancient water mill made for a memorable evening. Neil had spared no expense.

Since then, a couple of months had passed. Neil traveled extensively in his role as a security consultant and on two occasions, he’d left the island immediately after their dates. Today, they climbed the falls at Dunn’s River, then swam with the dolphins at Dolphin Cove.  This cruise was a fitting end to the day.

Neil touched his glass to hers and murmured, “I aim to please.”

She slid a hand over his chest and caressed the back of his head. “You certainly do.”

His lips touched hers in a soft kiss. Her eyelids closed and her lips parted. She groaned, which encouraged Neil to delve deeper, coiling his tongue around hers in a slow and intense rhythm that had her clinging to him. Good thing, they were in a secluded spot.

As Neil slowly withdrew, Nita released the pressure on the wine glass. A moment longer and she’d have snapped the stem. He kept his arm around her and leaned in to nibble her neck. With a smile in his voice, he whispered, “I’m so glad you propositioned me.”

She chuckled as her lips crept toward his. “And I’m happy that dare was worth my while.”

“So, tell me,” Neil said against her cheek, “D’you trust me enough to visit Cayman with me?”

“I’ve been connecting dots.” Nita’s said in a pensive tone. “I believe you’re a do-gooder, but in an unusual way.”

Neil’s smile was indulgent. “You don’t say.”

“I do say. That man you met needed something, and you had to reassure him you were on the up-and-up, which is how I became your wife without warning.”

Neil released a deep chuckle. “You do spin a great tale.”

She drank the last of the champagne. “I do, don’t I? But the question is, will you be honest and say I’m right?”

He lowered his head and nudged her mouth open for a kiss that left Nita shaking. She'd barely recovered when he swiped the lobe of her ear with his tongue, then whispered, "Come to Cayman with me and find out.”

Want to see Neil in action? Watch him at work in The Pain Of Things lrd.to/ThePainOfThings

Would you ask for a date on a dare?

Don’t forget to visit the blogs of my writing friends below to see their stories:

Delaney Diamond delaneydiamond.com
Tiye Love tiyelovebooks.com
Nyora René nyorarene.com
S.Taylor staylorromance.com