Excerpt from THE ROCK:
Shemya Air Force Base, Alaska
The wind outside my dorm room window is roaring. Not howling; howling is what a regular strong wind does. This wind is roaring. And it’s not even the worst it can get in the wintertime here.
I’ve got my desk chair sitting next to my bed, and I’m sitting on it with my right leg elevated up on the bed as I watch television. I press my fingertips against the side of my knee, and feel a little twinge of pain. The twinge is nowhere near as bad as it feels when I try to walk. The knee brace is on the carpet in front of my nightstand. I wonder how long I’m going to have to wear it.
I’m thinking that if she were still here, she’d take my mind off my jacked up knee.
The wind roars louder. It makes the double-paned window glass shudder in its frame. I look toward the window, as if I can see through the thick draperies to the night beyond the glass. I can’t, of course. The curtains in the dorm rooms are a solid color and extra thick to block out the sun that doesn’t set until midnight during the summer. The curtains help to fool us into thinking that it’s night so that we can sleep.
The wind roars louder and slams against the window, as if it knows I’m looking and wants to demonstrate how bad it is. And it’s not even at Phase II conditions.
At Phase II, the wind is blowing between 40 and 70 knots. During Phase II conditions it’s recommended that we only go outside if necessary and that we don’t go out alone. That way if something happens to us, somebody will know.
Phase I is more serious. When the wind is blowing at Phase I force, which is over 70 knots, the rule is more basic: Keep your ass inside. That’s not a recommendation. It’s a base regulatory mandate.
Shemya Air Force Base, Alaska is no joke.
I wish she were still here.
One of my favorite characters is Melvin Tolliver. He’s quiet. He’s cool. He just wants to run his hustle on the streets of the Jersey Shore in peace and love his woman. That’s all. But some people take his quietness for weakness. They try to take from him what is his. And so he earns the nickname “The Axe.”
This weekend Kindle readers can find out exactly how Melvin got his nickname for free. Click here.
This romantic/erotic short story features characters from the world of The Black.
The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
Valentine’s Day Morning
Monmouth Beach, New Jersey
Simon gave Elle a sponge bubble bath in his sunken Roman tub as she sipped non-alcoholic champagne. The real champagne would come tonight. He kissed her between sips: her lips, her neck, and her shoulders.
“Are we going out today?” she asked.
“No questions. It’s a surprise.”
The doorbell rang. He gave her a kiss and said, “Don’t move.” He went downstairs to answer the door.
He’d paid extra to have the delivery made at the time he specified. It was worth it. She was worth it.
As the delivery man placed everything according to his specifications he said, “Your lady must be a special woman.”
Simon said, “You have no idea.”
Back upstairs he dried Elle off, carried her to his bed like a baby and laid her down. He rubbed perfumed oil into her skin, taking his time and massaging every inch of her beautiful body. It took him nearly an hour to complete the process, and by the time he was done she was moaning and sighing and dying for it…aching for release. But it wasn’t time yet.
The new pink robe he’d bought for her was made of a silk and cashmere mix. Elle sighed and shivered as he slid it over her nakedness.
“This feels like sex,” she breathed.
“Soon enough,” Simon said. “We’ll have time for that later.”
He told her to follow him downstairs.
Elle stood on the stairs, gaping her surprise down at the living room, at what he’d had delivered for her.
One hundred roses: Thirty-three red; thirty-three pink; thirty-three white. One black, because that was his favorite color. A mixture of Godiva chocolates: Dark, milk and white.
Elle dashed among the roses like a bee, inhaling their fragrance as she sampled the chocolates. When she turned back to him he had the jewelry box out and open, presenting the pair of diamond earrings
She came to him, kissed him. Then she went to the coat closet. She came back with a package for him to open.
A watch by Parmigiani Fleurier.
He was blown away.
Simon looked at Elle, watched as she opened the robe and let it fall to the carpet.
“The time is now,” she said.
Simon and Elle are from the novel ELLE (INSATIABLE: BOOK ONE)
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Valentine’s Day Morning
They were at the same hotel at which three years ago they’d taken their relationship from friendship to love. Morgan smiled as Mina came out of the suite’s bathroom. He took a moment to drink in her nakedness and then held the wrapped box out to her.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Baby,” he grinned.
Mina pouted at him. “Oh Honey, your gift is at home. If I’d known you were going to surprise me by flying us here –“
“Don’t worry about it,” Morgan said. “You’re my gift…the only gift I need.”
Mina came to him and kissed him. Then she took the box and tore off the wrapping. Morgan watched and smiled as the box was revealed and Mina’s eyes grew wide.
“Oh my God Morgan, no! Not Christian Louboutin!”
“Yep. You’ve been talking about them since we were co-workers in the Air Force. I figured it was about time.”
Mina opened the box and gasped. “Oh Baby, you remembered…these are the ones I showed you…the Lynch fetish model!”
Morgan grinned at his wife’s happiness. “Yeah, no way was I going to forget these babies.”
Mina ripped a shoe out of the box and bent up a shapely leg to put it on. Morgan sat down on the hotel bed to enjoy the show. He watched Mina’s heart-shaped golden bottom as she moved over the carpet in the red-soled, five-inch heeled pumps.
“Damn, Baby, you make those shoes look good,” he said. “But don’t you feel like you’re walking on a tightrope?”
She turned back to him and moved his way, now adding an extra sway to her hips. “Well, these aren’t really made for walking,” she cooed.
“Oh really? Then what are they for?”
Mina stopped in front of him and looked down at him. “Get those boxers off and I’ll show you.”
Morgan did as he was told. Mina kneeled before him in her new no-bullshit fuck me pumps and took him in her mouth. After a few minutes, after she’d transformed his constant desire for her into throbbing, raging need, she rose up and pushed him onto his back.
As she climbed onto him and slid her wet, silken heat down onto his need she said, “These shoes will never touch the floor again.”
Morgan and Mina are from a yet to be released novel, untitled.
Oceanport, New Jersey
Valentine’s Day Morning
Maisha had to run out to the store, so Duncan took the opportunity to put a few finishing touches on her Valentine’s Day gift. It had taken him six months to complete, primarily because he’d redone it twice. He hadn’t been satisfied that the first two versions did her justice.
Last summer he’d taken a photograph of her sitting in the sunroom gazing out at their garden. She’d looked so beautiful in that morning light, like a goddess fallen to earth. Duncan used that photo as a reference for the oil painting he’d done as a tribute to his love for her.
He decided to take the painting downstairs so that she’d see it when she came in. He was about to do that when the house phone rang.
It was Maisha, calling from her cell phone.
“Sweetie, come outside,” she said.
When Duncan stepped out onto the porch his instincts went on alert. That always happened when he encountered something out of the ordinary. The gleaming Mercedes sedan sitting in his driveway was out of the ordinary.
Then he saw the big red ribbon strung through the Mercedes’ window, and the bow on its roof. From the corner of his eye Maisha stepped from around from the side of the house and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetie!”
Duncan stared at the car, speechless.
Maisha said, “I always thought my man was too classy to be driving around in a Charger. This car is more you, Baby.”
Duncan grabbed Maisha and pulled her to him, and before he kissed her said, “The only thing classy about me is you.”
As they went inside Duncan said to his wife, “After a Mercedes, my gift for you seems weak.”
“Nothing about you is weak, Duncan. Believe me.”
“Okay well, come up to the studio and let’s see.”
He hadn’t expected Maisha to cry. But when she saw the oil painting he’d done of her she began bawling her eyes out.
When she was able to talk she said, “Oh Honey, you made me look like a queen.”
“You are a queen, Maisha. You’re my queen. You always will be.”
As Maisha dried her eyes she said, “Let’s go break in your new car.”
“Where do you want to go?”
Maisha smiled at him. “Who said go anywhere? I’m talking about the back seat.”
© 14 February 2009
Duncan and Maisha are from the forthcoming novel THE HITMAN CHRONICLES
The West End
Long Branch, New Jersey
Valentine’s Day Evening
He thought he’d messed up. Big time. The question had come out of his mouth before he’d thought it through. But he’d seen the way the men were looking at her in the restaurant. He’d seen their unhidden desire, the raw lust in their eyes as they’d gazed at his wife. He’d seen the women too – the wives and girlfriends and lovers – glaring at Auriel with their expressions dripping bitter jealousy instead of enjoying their Valentine’s Day dinners.
Even in her overcoat his wife exuded sexuality, so everyone watched as the hostess escorted them to their table. All eyes watched her stride in her four-inch red heels. They gaped at her sensuous sway, at the curve of her strong dancer’s calves, and at the erotic arch of her feet in her heels.
They watched as he’d helped his wife out of her coat; he could have sworn that a hush came over the room. He knew some men had to shift in their chairs as their erections came to life when they saw Auriel’s beauty revealed in her black belted dress…a red belt at her waist that showed that she had no waist…at the way her round hips and bottom flared out from that non-existent waist…at the split in her skirt that opened as she sat down, showing a glimpse of the pathway to a paradise they would never know.
He’d seen them all looking, the men with longing and the women hating. But what had gotten to him…what had made him ask Auriel the question…were the men. If they looked at her this way in a restaurant, then on her night job at Shadows…
“Do they ever offer you money to do more than dance?” he’d asked as they were finishing their meal.
It was a question that had to cross the mind of most men involved with a woman who danced for other men’s pleasure. But it was a wrong question and a stupid question for him to ask. He was a man. He knew how men thought. Of course they’d offered money to the most desirable woman most of them would ever see. So the pointless question had pointed to the deeper question. That was why Auriel had answered him with a look of surprise and hurt.
He’d apologized as he drove them home. She’d said that it was okay. But he knew his wife. He knew it wasn’t okay. He’d hurt her by asking the question.
He thought he’d ruined Valentine’s Day.
When they got home she’d presented him with a bottle of wine given to them as a gift from Amarante, her employer at Shadows. The wine was a hybrid of the wine created by Auriel’s grandfather in Louisiana. Amarante had had it analyzed and modified into her own exclusive brand. The wine was called Passion’s Nectar.
Auriel had told him to sit down on the sofa as she poured glasses for them. Then she put on the music and did what she does so well.
So now Gordon sat in his living room, watching his wife dance for him to a song called The Principles of Lust by Enigma. He watched as she gave him his own private striptease.
He hadn’t seen her get dressed before they went out. So he was surprised to see that beneath her black belted dress she wore only a thin ruby chain around her hips. A red satin heart hung from the chain, covering her treasure. She danced for him in red four-inch heels and a red satin heart. It was her Valentine’s Day gift to him. But while her body whispered desire, her face still showed her hurt.
He wanted to say something to her to make things right. But the wine – that Passion’s Nectar – was so potent. His mind felt enclosed in fog. He couldn’t focus enough to come up with the right words.
And the wine had another effect, so much more powerful than her uncle’s homemade wine. As he watched his wife dance, the thing between his legs thickened and lengthened until it felt like a throbbing shaft of concrete.
Auriel was watching him as she danced. The hurt was still in her eyes. Her sensuous mouth was turned down in a pout. Occasionally she’d move to the coffee table; take a sip from her own glass and then move back to dance some more. Gordon wondered what effect the wine was having on her, how much it was boosting her desire.
The song ended.
She stood looking at him, her luscious bare breasts heaving, her eyes blazing now, the hurt replaced by something else.
“Take it out,” she said. It wasn’t a request, but a command.
He struggled because he was so hard, but managed to release himself from the confines of his clothing. The shaft of concrete stood straight up, throbbing in the air.
“Look at me,” she said.
He was already looking.
She reached back, unfastened the chain, tossed away the red satin heart. She stepped out of her heels.
She said, “Look at this body.”
He kept looking.
“Don’t you know me?” she asked. “Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you know what I am?”
“I’m sorry, Baby…”
She said, “This isn’t my body, Gordon. It’s not mine to give to anyone. This body belongs to you, and any pleasure it gives or receives is at your whim.” She held up her left hand so that he could see her wedding ring. “That’s what this ring means.”
She came to him then, stepped around the coffee table and stood over him, looked down at him…at the shaft of concrete throbbing up at her. “And that belongs to me,” she said. “It’s mine and no one else’s, to do with as I will.”
He reached for her, but she moved away, out of his reach.
“Don’t ever hurt me like that again, Gordon. Don’t.”
“And don’t apologize again. Now come to bed and bring me my property. And come and claim yours.”
Auriel turned away and went to their bedroom.
Gordon got up and followed, his wife’s property leading the way.
© 15 February 2009
Gordon and Auriel are from the novel GOLDEN (INSATIABLE: BOOK TWO)
The story of the wine they were drinking is detailed in the novella PASSION’S NECTAR and other books in the PASSION series
Is sleeping with your best friend having the best of both worlds, or is it a disaster waiting to happen?
Kyle and Britt are best friends. They have a lot in common. They have professional careers. They like watching classic black and white TV shows and movies, listening to music from back in the day, and submarine sandwiches on the sofa. And when they’re not seeing other people, they like sleeping with each other.
But there’s a danger in being friends with benefits: Somebody usually catches feelings. Then the problem becomes whether to keep your feelings to yourself and suffer silent longing, or express your emotions and risk losing what you have.
And that’s just the beginning.
The Black’s internet-favorite short story is now expanded to become a page-turning novella.
A CONVERSATION ON THE COUCH EXCERPT:
“So since you’re done with Marie, who’re you checking out?”
“What makes you think I’m checking somebody out?”
“Because I know you, Kyle. You don’t do more than one woman at a time, but you usually hang on to the one you’re tired of until you know you’ve got someone new waiting in the wings.”
“Nah, this was about Marie wanting to use me for her personal ATM. I had to step away before it got ugly. Nobody’s waiting on me.”
“Well you know, considering that you’re a tech guy and a gentleman, Marie probably thought you were okay with that.”
“Giving her money?”
“You know, you don’t come off as a street dude, so she probably figured she could play you a little bit.”
“Oh, so I come off as the nerd who’s so happy to be close to a female that I’ll give up my bank cards to her just because she let me touch her breast…through two sweaters and an old lady bra?”
“Not that bad!” Britt laughed, “But you are a nice guy. Women pick up on that.”
“‘A nice guy.’ Uh-huh. So I’m that dude that women pushing forty want to marry after they’ve got five kids by five baby’s daddies and used up bodies from fucking jobless thugs since they were in high school. Is that the nice guy you’re talking about?”
Britt touched her finger to her chin and frowned, feigning deep thought. “Oh, I’m sorry; I didn’t check my calendar. Is this your day to be a stereotyping, judgmental asshole?”
“You’re the one who said I was a nice guy and that Marie thought she could play me.”
“All I’m saying dickhead, is that some women – some women – see a guy with a well-paying career who’s educated and soft-spoken and opens doors and pulls out chairs for her as the kind of gentleman who might also give up the bucks if she’s in a pinch.”
“So a sucker.”
“A generous man.”
“A sugar daddy.”
“A compassionate man.”
“Fuck that; I don’t pay a woman’s bills unless I call her ‘wife.’”
“You wouldn’t help out a lady friend in need?”
“Not if she thinks it’s a payback for sex. That’s what tricks do for hookers.”
“Which obviously you’re not, since now Marie is on the outside looking in. But like I said before, she’s probably missing what you put on her in bed, the way you broke her body down to her molecules.”
“How do you know?”
Britt tapped herself on her chest. “Um, duh? I’m still looking under your bed for my missing molecules.”
“Every woman is different, Britt.”
“Yeah, but you’re like Liam Neeson in Taken. You have a very particular set of skills…and a nice tool, too.”
“So there’s no one else you have your eye on?”
“Nope. And gold diggers need not apply.”
“Okay, so if I needed some money you wouldn’t help me?”
“Seriously? What do you make a year, like triple my salary?”
“That’s not the point. What if I was experiencing some kind of financial hardship and needed help. Would you loan me money if I asked?”
“Come on Britt, this is us. If I could help you out I’d just give it to you. It wouldn’t need to be a loan.”
“Because you’re my girl.”
“So you wouldn’t think I was feeling entitled to your loot because I’ve let you stick your thing in me?”
Kyle shook his head. “Nope.”
“I told you: you’re my girl.”
COMING SOON FOR THE KINDLE AND NOOK
Do you like cheesecake and tangerine bath towels?
Hot chocolate on a snowy winter morning?
Barely there evening gowns?
Then come say hello to your new neighbor.
And speaking of hot chocolate, she just might make you a mug of cocoa.
Who says full-figured women are shy?
Just $.99 cents.
THE NEIGHBOR: AN EROTIC NOVELLA
THE NEIGHBOR IS COMING…
When I bought the house, having a two-car garage seemed like a good thing. It gave me more storage space, and hey, one day I might own two vehicles. Or I might get married again, and of course she’d have her own ride. But having a two-car garage also meant having an extra wide driveway, and after the first half hour busting my back shoveling that snow I was wishing that I didn’t have a driveway or a garage at all.
After an hour I was almost finished but my back was really singing, so I took a break to let it quiet down. That’s when I noticed my neighbor across the street, shoveling her driveway too.
Her name is Gail. I met her on a Saturday morning this past September, a few days after I moved in. She came over to welcome me to the neighborhood, and gave me a nice homemade cheesecake as a housewarming gift.
I thought that was pretty cool; a very nice thing for her to do. People aren’t friendly like back in the day. These days, neighbors barely speak to each other. We can live next door to someone for years and not know their name unless we get their mail by accident. So I’d thought Gail might be an exception, that we might become friendly. I was wrong.
Since the day she brought the cheesecake over we hadn’t done more than wave at each other from across the street. So after three months in my new house I didn’t know her, or for that matter, anyone else on my street.
I figured that maybe Gail felt that I didn’t want to be bothered, because on our first meeting I’d just accepted her cheesecake, said thank you, and after a minute of chat standing at my front door, I’d let her go on her way. In retrospect I think the correct protocol would have been to invite her in for coffee to go with her cheesecake. But on that Saturday morning I’d been too busy looking at her cleavage while trying to pretend that I wasn’t to think straight.
Gail is a pretty brown-skinned sister. She looks like she’s in her mid-thirties, maybe forty. She wears her hair wavy and cut close to her scalp, a style I always took to mean that a woman had some confidence about herself. Long hair is a symbol of femininity. I don’t think most women would give it up unless they felt secure that they had other things going for them.
SHE’S COMING JANUARY 2013
What do you do when the one you choose isn’t the one you need?
Billionaire Julian St. Christopher’s Passion formula – the libido-boosting ingredient in his designer wine Passion’s Nectar and candy Passion’s Kiss – has earned him new millions. But for some people, the Passion formula has a stunning side effect. For some, the wine and candy generate a burning desire, a need that can only be relieved by the person who is the object of their yearning. The creators of the formula call the desire the Soul Mate Effect.
Julian’s scientists tell him that the only a very small percentage of people who consume the wine or candy experience the effect. They tell him that the odds of an affected person meeting their sexual soul mate are even less likely, and so his product is safe to sell.
Julian is confident that his product is safe. He drinks Passion’s Nectar. It’s a designer wine, a rich man’s hobby, and his new toy. But when he shares the wine with someone close to him, the passion is ignited, and Julian discovers that when you play with fire, you might get burned.
The flames of desire burn as hot as the sun, and Julian is drawn toward the heat. Now he’s in the battle of his life as he struggles to choose between doing what he believes is right or being with the woman he might not have the will to resist. But the flesh is weak, and it’s on fire.
In the fourth sizzling episode in the Passion Series, Julian learns that when desire becomes need, nothing and no one is off limits.
AN EXCERPT FROM PASSION’S FIRE
Excerpt from Passion’s Nectar
Julian hung up the STU III phone and downed the rest of his wine. He slouched in his easy chair. Maybe he’d stay home tonight, just eat something, chill for a while and go to bed.
Grace appeared in the doorway of his study. “Would you like more wine?” she asked.
“No thanks, Grace.” She’d taken her apron off. Julian looked at her, appreciated how her uniform dress hugged her curves.
“The staff is relieved for the night,” she said. “There’s grilled salmon with lemon-hazelnut sauce in the warmer if you get hungry. Is there anything else you need before I leave?”
Grace was truly amazing. She knew he’d be hungry. She always knew what he needed before he did. And she looked so good right now, in that dress. Her body made even a simple work dress look sexy. Julian wondered what she might look like without it.
She stood in the study doorway, watching him watching her. She’s very attractive, Julian thought, even without makeup.
Julian tried to ignore his body’s reaction to the wine. But he couldn’t push away the question of what Grace’s curvy brown body might look like…might feel like in his arms.
She looked at him, looking at her.
She stepped into the room, reaching and pulling the pin out of the bun in her hair as she came across the carpet.
Grace shook her head and the bun came loose. Her hair fell over her shoulders.
She stood over him, took his glass and poured more Passion’s Nectar.
Gazing down at him, she took a sip.
She always knew what he needed.
Newark, New Jersey
Twenty-Six Years Ago
Julius St. Christopher stood in front of the ninth grade class, scanning the student’s faces. Most of them looked away when his eyes found theirs. A couple of boys in the back of the room who sported matching Jheri curls slouched in their chairs and gave him hard, challenging glares; boys wanting to be men while not having a clue.
No one raised their hand. Not a single student.
Julius looked over at the teacher and the guidance counselor, who stood on the other side of the teacher’s desk. The teacher gave him a weak, apologetic smile, as if to say, I don’t have any luck, either.
He felt bad for her, that she took it as a personal indictment that not even one of her students was willing to take advantage of this opportunity.
Julius looked down at his nine-year-old son Julian, who he’d kept out of his own school today so that he could experience this life lesson on giving to those not as fortunate as he. He could read the question in his son’s eyes: Why don’t they want to go to college?
“I’m so sorry,” the teacher said when they were out in the hall. “Most of these kids, they come from difficult home situations. They don’t see higher education as a part of their existence, not in the neighborhoods they come from. Many won’t even finish high school.”
“It’s a shame,” Julius said. “It seems that hope has died for many of us in less than a couple of decades. But I’m not giving up. This is a new endeavor for me. I’ll work on improving my presentation, and then I’ll come back. You can count on that –”
From the classroom came the sound of one of the students singing the gospel hymn Amazing Grace. Julius heard other kids start snickering. A girl’s mocking voice said, “Why don’t you ask him to buy you a straightening comb or some S-Curl?” and the class broke out in laughter.
A girl stepped out of the classroom into the corridor. She spotted them and headed their way.
She was a sepia-complexioned young lady wearing frayed cornrows. Julius noticed that her skirt and blouse were a bit snug on her stout frame, as if they were hand-me-downs or clothing that she’d outgrown.
When the girl reached them the teacher asked, “What is it, Grace?”
The girl didn’t acknowledge the teacher. She looked up at Julius, directly into his eyes. She didn’t smile, but she didn’t look hostile or hesitant, either. Looking at her, Julius felt that her eyes were those of someone much more mature than her fourteen or fifteen years. And he noted that in spite of the fact that she wore the trappings of poverty, there was nothing pitiable about her carriage. Rather, there was a dignity in the girl’s bearing.
She said, “Mr. St. Christopher…Sir, may I ask you a question?”
“Are there colleges that teach cooking?”
“Yes, there are many schools that offer courses in culinary arts. In fact there’s one not far from here, right across the bridge in New York.”
“If I do what you say, sir – if I maintain a B in every class – will you send me to a school like that?”
Julius noted that the girl spoke with a slight accent. If he’d had to guess he’d say she was originally from the West Indies. “So you want to be a cook, young lady?”
The teacher said, “Grace, you do understand that the grade requirement isn’t for a semester or a year, don’t you? You have to maintain no less than a B in every class until you graduate high school.”
Now the girl looked at her teacher. Still unsmiling she said, “I understand.” She looked back up at Julius. “No sir, Mr. St. Christopher. I don’t want to be a cook. I can cook now. I want to be a chef. A master chef.”
He smiled at the girl. She didn’t smile back. He said, “I see. Well Grace, if you fulfill the terms of the contract and hold up your end of the bargain, then I’ll hold up mine. I’ll pay for your education at the culinary school of your choice.” He held out his hand. “Do we have a deal?”
Grace took his hand and shook it. “Yes sir.”
“Good. It’s very nice to meet you, Grace.”
“It’s nice to meet you, sir.”
“Oh, and this is my son, Julian. Julian, say hello to Miss Grace…I’m sorry, what’s your last name?”
Julius said, “Julian, say hello to Miss Grace Trouillot.”
His son held out his hand, the way Julius taught him to do when meeting someone formally. He said, “Hello, Miss Trouillot.”
The girl looked down at him. Now, for the first time, she smiled. She took nine-year-old Julian’s hand, shook it and said, “Hello, Mr. St. Christopher.”
Don’t forget to check out the first three episodes in the Passion Series:
COUGARS , INC. II: A CONDITION OF EMPLOYMENT
Everyone has a price.
Every day since Trenton received his pay raise he watches the clock at work, and waits to see if he’ll receive the call to work overtime. Some weeks he’s only called once. During his busiest week it was four nights, and over one lunch hour. When the phone rings, twenty-six year old Trent knows that he’ll be working extra hours for his boss, forty-two year old Audrey.
It’s a condition of employment.
The overtime hours are the price Trent must pay for his generous salary bump. Those extra hours are spent in Audrey’s office…on her sofa…her desk…wherever and how ever her mood dictates. Because Audrey is his boss, Trent follows orders. He’s on call to perform on command.
It’s a condition of employment.
But one day Audrey goes too far. To influence him to perform she pushes the wrong buttons. Now all bets are off, and Trent decides it’s time to turn the tables on his demanding employer. He decides that he’s going to be the one in control. But once he frees the beast that lurks within, can it ever be caged again?
COUGARS, INC. II: A CONDITION OF EMPLOYMENT
COMING SOON FOR THE KINDLE AND THE NOOK
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Early Sunday Morning
Melvin Tolliver scanned the sidewalks on both sides of Springwood Avenue as he drove the Coupe De Ville slowly up the street, looking for the hooker. The Caddy wasn’t his; everyone knew that. But driving for Rollo gave him a certain prestige and a little bit of power, even though he was only twenty-one years old. Nobody messed with Rollo’s driver, because nobody messed with Rollo.
It was just past 6:00 A.M. and cold as hell outside, so no one was out yet to see him cruising in the Cadillac. Melvin didn’t care. He was only looking for one person this morning.
He didn’t see her on his first pass up the street, so he made a U-turn at the intersection at Main Street and headed back. Then he spotted her almost immediately, coming up a side street from the direction of the train station.
She walked hunched over with her arms wrapped around herself against the freezing cold. Melvin thought that her arms probably did a better job keeping her warm than the thin sweater she was wearing over her cocktail dress. His heart went out to her, for more than one reason.
She spotted the Caddy and waved in case he didn’t see her, and then wrapped her arm back around herself. As he pulled to the curb she shuffle-ran up the sidewalk, trying not to stumble in her high heels. Melvin hoped she wouldn’t fall. It hurt like hell to get a scrape when it was cold outside.
As she neared the car Melvin noticed that her high heels were the toeless, sexy kind. He turned up the temperature on the Cadillac’s heater for her.
Inez reached the Coupe de Ville, yanked the back door open and almost dived into the rear seat. She slammed the door shut, shivered and said, “Lord have mercy it’s cold out here! Turn the heat up, Mel.”
Melvin smiled at her in the rearview mirror. “I just did. You’ll be warmed up in no time, Inez.”
“Shoot, it’s going to take me all day to thaw out.”
“You don’t have all day. He’s waiting at the diner. Want me to stop somewhere so you can get some coffee or tea first? Or maybe some breakfast? You hungry?”
“No Mel, I’m fine. Let’s just go on so I can get this over with and get some sleep.”
Melvin drove slower than he had when he was looking for her because he was looking more in the rearview mirror now than at the street in front of him. He couldn’t help it, because Inez was so pretty. She had smooth skin that reminded him of those little caramel candies wrapped in cellophane. Her hair was jet black – good hair that fell halfway down her back and made him figure she had some Indian blood in her family. Inez was four years older than him, but she could pass for a teenager, which some of the sicker bastards liked. And she was smart too, which is why Rollo had her in charge of his girls, and had her collect the money from them when the night was over.
Melvin cut his eyes to the street to make sure he wasn’t going to run into anything and then back to the rearview mirror. “You ladies have a good night?” he asked, just to have something to say.
Inez shook her head. “It’s been slow all weekend.”
“You know Rollo’s not going to want to hear that,” he said.
Inez clicked her tongue. “Shit, President Kennedy got his head blown off two days ago. Ain’t nobody in the mood to fuck right now.”
When Inez was nervous or trying to pretend that she wasn’t as smart as she really was she cursed and used bad English. Melvin figured she was nervous. She had good reason to be. Rollo got mean when he felt like the girls hadn’t earned all they should have. Still, he wished she wouldn’t talk like that. Inez was too pretty for such ugliness to come out of her mouth.
Melvin drove them to the diner out on Route 35. He stopped the Coupe De Ville in the parking lot in front of the entrance and let the engine idle.
After a minute Rollo came out. He wore his black mink coat over a gray sharkskin suit, and a bolero hat over his processed hair. He looked nice and warm. Melvin thought about Inez being out on the street all night in the cold wearing nothing but a thin sweater over her cocktail dress. He pushed that thought out of his head. He didn’t like to think about Inez being cold or uncomfortable in any way.
Rollo was a big cat – close to three hundred pounds – and the Caddy’s shocks compressed under his weight as he climbed into the back. Inez had to slide from the middle to behind the driver’s seat because Rollo’s girth filled up almost half the seat. Because Rollo was fat, every now and then some new fool thought he could take him. And every now and then some new fool didn’t live to be an old fool.
Rollo sat back and said, “Man, all them muthafuckas in there wanna talk about is fucking Kennedy. They saying the cat that shot him is some kinda communist or something. What goddamn difference it make what he is? A bullet’s a bullet.”
Rollo’s scent – the mingled stink of old cigarette smoke, shaving powder and Aqua Velva – filled the car. Melvin tried to breathe through his mouth as he asked, “We going to the house?”
“Yeah, let’s roll. Go through town, though. I wanna see the water. Whatcha got for me?”
Melvin knew the question was for Inez. He tensed up as he pulled onto the street and headed for the ocean.
“It was slow tonight, Daddy,” Inez said, her voice already pleading. “Nobody’s in the mood. And it’s so cold –“
“Bitch, whatcha got? Give it here!”
Melvin pressed his lips together and gripped the steering wheel tighter. He heard the crumple of bills as Inez pulled the night’s earnings out of her bra. He held his breath.
“Goddamn it!” Rollo bellowed. “This all you sorry hoes got for me?”
Melvin felt his heart sink to his stomach and dread fill its place in his chest. Come on man, go easy.
“Daddy, there was nobody out last night – Ow!”
Melvin winced like he was the one who’d been hit. The thump sounded like Rollo punched her in her head. He wouldn’t hit Inez in her face because that was his money.
Rollo yelled, “Bitch, get all them hoes up and get ’em back on the street, right now! Walk it in front of the churches if you have to and catch the holy rollers comin’ out, but get me my fucking money! Melvin, turn this goddamned car around!”
They were in a suburban neighborhood in Asbury. Melvin slowed down and pulled close to the curb so that he could make a U-turn. He looked around. The neighborhood was quiet. Nobody was up and out yet.
He heard another thump, and then heard Inez whimper her pain. That one sounded like a body blow. He sighed, put the Cadillac in park and reached to his inside coat pocket. Then he turned and looked over into the back seat.
Inez was curled into the corner of the back seat with her arms folded over her head and her knees drawn up to protect her body.
Melvin extended his arm over the back seat, toward Rollo.
Rollo looked at him, frowned and leaned toward him. “Muthafucka, is you crazy? What the fuck you –“
Rollo couldn’t believe what he was seeing. That’s why he was asking questions instead of acting. That was his mistake. Melvin pressed the tip of the barrel of the .22 against Rollo’s forehead and squeezed the trigger. Rollo’s head snapped back. He let out an “Uh” sound and fell back, and then over sideways.
Inez screamed out, “Shit, Mel!” and slid up against the Caddy’s door, as far away from Rollo as she could get, like she thought that bullet holes in the forehead were contagious.
Melvin leaned and looked down over the backrest to the rear seat. Rollo wasn’t dead. He was lying on his side, twitching and shuddering. His eyes were open and he was still frowned up, like he was trying to figure out what had just happened to him. Melvin wondered if President Kennedy had twitched and shuddered as they drove him to the hospital in Dallas. Rollo wasn’t going to any hospital.
Melvin looked up from Rollo’s twitching body. There was a splatter of blood and what looked like a piece of bone on the inside of the back window, but the glass wasn’t broken. That was good. He wouldn’t need to get the glass replaced.
He looked at Inez. She looked at him.
She was so pretty, even when she was surprised and scared. Melvin put his .22 back in his coat pocket so that she wouldn’t think he might shoot her, too. He’d never hurt Inez. He wouldn’t let anybody else hurt her, either. Now Rollo understood that.
“Y-you all right, Mel?” she asked. Her soft, unsure voice told him that she was still afraid. Maybe afraid of him. He didn’t want her to be afraid of him. He wasn’t Rollo.
He said, “Yeah, I’m all right. How’re you doing, Inez?”
“Better than Rollo. You gonna drive around until he dies?”
“I guess so.”
“Well, there’s this place down in South Jersey, where the Italians go to dump their trash. I figure I’d take a little trip that way.”
“I mean after that. What are we going to do?”
He liked that she’d said we. He said, “We’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing. Except that I don’t want you to work anymore. Just be in charge of the girls.”
Inez looked at him for a moment, like she was studying him. Then she said, “Anything else you want from me, Mel?”
“Yeah, Inez. I want you to be my woman. Nobody but mine. From now on nobody touches you but me.”
Inez didn’t respond to that. She looked down at Rollo. “I think he’s dead now.”
“Too bad,” Melvin said. “I read somewhere that Abraham Lincoln suffered all night before he died. Rollo deserved no less.”
Now Inez frowned at him. “Mel, I thought you were a nice, quiet guy.”
“I am nice. That’s why I shot him.” He pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket and said, “Would you mind getting that back window? We don’t want the cops pulling us over.”
Inez took the handkerchief. Her frown turned into a smile as she said, “Yes, Daddy.”
Still only .99 cents!
Bradley Beach, New Jersey
The telephone rang.
Ana wasn’t supposed to answer the telephone. But it was okay to listen to voicemails. She waited until the message light came on and played the message.
It was Roland. He wasn’t going to come home.
Ana was so disappointed. She wanted to make sweet love. She wanted that very much.
Ana played the message again. She listened. She turned off Roland’s voice in her head and listened to the other voice.
The other voice wasn’t talking. It was making sounds. But Ana knew who it was. She could hear things very well, better than real people. It was Benita, Roland’s wife.
Ana recognized Benita’s voice and she recognized the sounds she was making: Fellatio-blowjob-cock sucking-going down-head.
Ana replayed the message repeatedly, for a long time. She knew what was going to happen. Roland was going to ejaculate. Benita was going to make Roland ejaculate.
She was feeling that out of control feeling again. But it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t like the good out of control feelings she got from her pussy, which she liked. This was a different feeling.
It didn’t feel good.
She wanted the feeling to stop, but it wouldn’t.
Please stop. I don’t like this feeling.
But it wouldn’t stop.
Ana heard another sound, coming from outside. She knew that sound. The mailman, delivering mail. Placing mail in the mailbox outside the domicile door.
Ana padded through the bungalow to the door. She opened it wide. She reached out to the mailbox to get the mail.
The mailman was walking down the sidewalk. He turned around. He saw her. She didn’t care.
He stopped walking. He looked at her.
She smiled at him and said, “Good afternoon. How are you?”
“G-good, thanks,” he said.
The mailman didn’t keep walking. He didn’t go deliver more mail. He stood on the sidewalk looking at her and smiling.
He was enjoying looking at her hot naked body.
She didn’t care.
Ana closed the door so the mailman could do his job and earn a living.
She sat on the living room sofa.
She felt funny, but not in a humorous way. She did not like this funny feeling, because it really wasn’t funny. Not at all. Not one little bit.
Her eyes didn’t feel as normal. And there was something on her face. She touched her hand to her cheek, and then looked at her fingertips. They were wet.
BOOKS OF SOUL’S #4 BEST SELLING AFRICAN AMERICAN SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL FOR 2011