Sunday Sample: Move Your Body

Hey reading family! The countdown is on. My newest standalone, Move Your Body, will be available THIS Thursday, 3/26!

Even better news! I’m back today with a sneak peek. You’ve pre-ordered, right? If not, now’s the time! You can do so HERE.

Keep reading and then make sure you pre-order. But before you do, check out this teaser.

Chapter One

He was sure she hadn’t heard the bell chime when he walked through her studio doors. It was most likely because of the upbeat Caribbean music that vibrated through surround sound speakers.

Standing at the entrance, off to the side that kept him hidden from the floor-to-ceiling mirrors, Messiah West watched Tatiana Anderson as her hips rotated, round and round, back dipping as her hands swayed with her motion. He instinctively began to move as his torso mimicked a few of her gyrating drifts while his gaze remained glued to her steps. 

Messiah hadn’t meant to spy on Tatiana. His reasoning for being there was innocent, or so he told himself. In actuality, Messiah was looking for an excuse to present himself a bit more appropriately—because their initial meeting didn’t go as well as it was planned in his head.

A year ago, Messiah had been forced to break a lease on a studio with a landlord who he found was unceremoniously using the business for money laundering. And by unceremoniously, the feds had shown up at Messiah’s dance hall, questioning Messiah about his dealing with his now-ex-landlord. 

The problems stemming from that situation had been odious, but the first thing on Messiah’s to-do list was to get as far away from his scamming landlord as fast as possible. 

His only problem with that was trying to find a place suitable for his needs, and that wasn’t easy. As an A-list celebrity choreographer, Messiah needed not only a large floor plan, but his new location would require a friendly, yet secure neighborhood where his clients would have the pleasure to come and go without being bombarded by fans or paparazzi. 

It had taken him six dreadful months when a friend of a friend introduced him to a building manager who was looking to sell his state-of-the-art dance facility. One look at the place and Messiah was sold.

But then another problem reared its ugly—or not-so-ugly—head. That problem came in the name of Tatiana Anderson. When Messiah first laid eyes on her beauty, unpleasantry was far from his mind. That was until he crossed the street to speak. 

He would never forget that day.

The Chicago wind had been a soft flurry of ruffling as Messiah crossed the road. Tatiana watched him stroll forward, and Messiah wondered what the thought process was behind the way her eyes roamed from his dark brown eyes, past his bearded mouth and thick neck, to the stretch of his T-shirt over the hills of his shoulders to his washboard abdomen. 

A grin arched at the corners of his mouth. Just as he jumped the curb and held out a hand, her pleasant semi-oval face, full lips, ebony nose, and cat-like eyes turned into a steely scowl. She folded her arms and leaned into a curvaceous hip that had been covered in skinny denim jeans.

Messiah’s grin dropped just a little, and with his greeting unaccepted, his hand lingered in the air. 

“Hello, Miss.”

Her eyes roamed over him again, then flipped over his shoulder to his building name that was strewn across the top of the door across the street.

“Move Your Body?” she questioned.

Messiah dropped his hand and took a glance over his shoulder before bringing his gaze back to her pecan skin and sharp cinnamon glare. 

“Yes. I’m your new neighbor. I wanted to introduce myself since my dance studio is right across the way from yours.”

“That much I can see. But what kind of name is Move Your Body, anyway?”

Messiah’s hesitation was fleeting. “I thought it was fitting, considering my line of work.”

“Ah, yes, cute.” 

She dropped her arms and reached for the entry to her door, dismissing him without so much as another word.

“I’m sorry, did I do something wrong here?” he asked.

Tatiana turned back around, studying him for a moment before she responded.

“Oh, I don’t know. I find it interesting that you found the only other dance studio in this area and moved yourself right across from it. But hey, it’s your choice, right?”

That’s when it hit Messiah, and a smile grew back across his face.

“Oh come on, there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition,” he teased.

“Whatever.”

Tatiana swung the door open and entered her studio, the door slowly closing on a gust of hesitant wind. 

“I was just kidding,” he said after her back, knowing she couldn’t hear him any longer.

The door shut that day on his promise to establish a better connection with Tatiana when the opportunity presented itself. But that day seemed to come and go as Tatiana made sure to get in or out without running into him. At least it felt that way to Messiah. But after noticing her leave the building alone for the last few nights, he thought it best to close early in the hopes that she would spare him the chance to assert himself again.

Watching Tatiana now Messiah knew was a dangerous thing. The last scenario he wanted was for her to believe he was a Peeping Tom. But unfortunately, he couldn’t take his gaze off of her routine, or the sway in her hips, and the passion with which she danced.

When the song faded on her final sway and dip, Messiah brought his hands together in applause, causing Tatiana to gasp and spin around so fast she almost became dizzy.

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” Messiah said, noticing how she covered her heart, eyes wide.

“You didn’t think sneaking up on a girl would startle her?”

“I didn’t sneak up, I—”

“Can I help you with something, Move Your Body?”

Messiah cracked a grin. She was determined to tease him about his studio name.

“Messiah.” He approached her slowly. “West.” He offered her a hand, and her eyes dropped to his open palm, consideration of accepting his greeting roaming through her eyes. 

“That’s a nice name. What, you come here to save me, Messiah?” She cracked a smile at her joke, and Messiah’s gaze dimmed. His stare moved through Tatiana in a way she wished it wouldn’t. 

“That depends,” his deep baritone murmured. “Do you need rescuing, Tatiana?” 

A tinge of incandescent heat sprinted through Tatiana, but she kept her feet planted, determined not to let the desire that moved through her be made known. Her eyes traveled over his fresh low haircut, groomed facial hair, brown piercing soulful eyes, thick nose, and spreading full lips.

“How do you know my name?”

Messiah held on to a sexy smirk.

“Unfortunately, I had to research you since you refused to speak to me. I, unlike you, find pleasure in being well-informed on who my neighbors are. Can’t be moving across the way from a serial killer, you know.”

Tatiana pursed her lips, and her lids lowered to that glare he’d witnessed the first day they met.

“Thank you, by the way,” Messiah said quickly, wanting to stay on her good side before she had a mind to kick him out. 

Her glare loosened, and her brows arched. “For what?”

“The compliment. You said I had a nice name. Tatiana is a beautiful name as well.”

He watched her breath quicken as she inhaled, indignantly attempting to hide her undeniable attraction to him. A gleam sailed through her cinnamon-brown eyes, and she turned her head, taking a look at her space as if she hadn’t seen it before—avoiding his eye contact.

“Your moves are professional. Are you the teacher here?” 

The drum of his voice pulled her attention back to him.

“I am. I teach Monday through Friday.”

“So do I. Are your classes open to the public?”

“On Wednesdays. Any other day, you’ll need an appointment. Why, are you in need of a course?”

The rumbling undertone of his laugh made her belly flop. 

“What’s so funny?”

His laugh faded into a singular grin. “I think I have it covered.”

“Is that so?”

He lifted a hand and rubbed his chin, making her eyes travel to his goatee.

“I think so.”

“Yeah, but there’s always room for improvement.” Her lashes fluttered. “You don’t think?” She stepped to him, getting into his personal space. “Oh, wait. You’re Messiah ‘Mr. Perfect’ West, Teacher of Hollywood and the like.” She nodded in her tease. “I get it now. You couldn’t possibly learn anything new.” 

Messiah inhaled her fragrance. The smell of lavender and rose was brimming from her, even in her sweaty state at the end of her day. A hot balm of heat coursed through his veins, and he became entirely aware of her femininity.

The curve in her feline eyes, the vibrancy of cinnamon that glistened from her irises, the bridge of her ebony nose, the perfect circumference of her face…her upturned lashes fluttered right along with his heartbeat, and God help him if he wasn’t in trouble. His gaze ventured down her mocha neck; full, perky breasts; a flat yet wholesome waist that sprouted into full, rotund hips. 

“You know what. On second thought, I could use a class or two,” his deep voice murmured.

Tatiana’s brows rose, and she smirked. “Let me check my schedule, and I’ll get back to you.”

“But…” He tugged his bottom lip with a nibble as he eyed the fullness of her mouth. “Today’s Wednesday, so…can’t you take me now?”

They stared at each other hotly, and Tatiana found herself stuck in a dilemma that she herself had created.

Chi-town Flavor + Caribbean Vibes + Carnivals = Carnivale

Hey reading family! Okay, check it. I’m apart of a multi-author collaboration due to come out on Kindle and paperback edition, March 26th. The series is the Carnivale Chronicles.

Each author will bring a different experience of the Carnival to their story. For example, at a carnival you have the headliners, vendors, parade, dancers, stylists, management etc.

My characters are dancers on opposing teams.

Here’s the blurb for my story, Move Your Body. And I can’t wait for you guys to read this because I danced through the entirety of this book.

Kickstart Dance Studio owner Tatiana Anderson is excited about her squad’s upcoming competition at the Afro Caribbean Carnivale. Practicing day and night has her team in tip-top shape, and she’s confident they will take home the win. That is, until she discovers the rival dance studio across the street is who they’ll be facing off against. 

And not only will they compete for the victory, but getting to know the leader, Messiah West, has Tatiana wondering if they’re battling for something a little more. Determined to ward off any sentiments of desire, Tatiana’s guard remains elevated. But Messiah’s perseverance is just as strong in his ambition to break down her walls.

Be sure to pre-order Move Your Body HERE and can you check out the entire series by clicking this link.

On The Horizon!

Hey reading family! I hope you’re having a great March so far. It’s time for a sneak peek into what I’ve been working on.

With the exception of a few short stories, the project that I’m focused on features Kyle Valentine & London Jones. Kyle is the last bachelor in the Valentine septuplets series. Yes, there are three Valentine brothers on the Uncle’s side but as for the family we’ve grown to love, their love stories will end with Kyle. 

Right now, I have no dates, plans, or thoughts on when those cousins will get a story.

I’m always up for writing holiday novellas so I have no doubt the readers will see the septuplets again, just to catch up on what they’ve been up to.

Also on my desk is Jacob Alexander Rose and Carla Jones. Jacob is the last bachelor in my Falling for a Rose series to find love. They, too, have Rose cousins by way of uncles and aunts but as with the Valentine series, I don’t have any preset dates or thoughts as to when those stories will happen if I decide to pursue them. 

A look into the latter part of the year will bring my Royals of Kéra Asnela and The Clarks of Northshire Bend series.

Readers met the Royals in the special edition novella, A Game-Changing Christmas. The Clark’s were introduced in Her Naughty Suitor

Aside from that, I’m apart of a 13 book author collaboration series, The Carnivale Chronicles. My novella is titled, Move Your Body, and as a collective, these books are set to release in late March. 

More about that series within the next week! ✨

Buckle up and get ready for this ride because these stories are coming in hot!

And This I Swear is available now!

As the matriarch in one of Chicago’s elite families, Bridgette Valentine has the weight of the world on her shoulders. Coordinating soiree’s for every season, along with pulling her weight as the co-owner of Valentine Media Group, Bridgette is left little time to indulge in the one person who rocks her world, Leslie Valentine. As a domineering force to be reckoned with, and head honcho of their dynasty, Leslie is the epitome of Bridgette’s wildest dreams. He’s not clueless to the way she’s withdrawn from him, and instead of forcing her attention, Leslie sets out to eliminate anything that threatens to come between them, determined to reclaim her soul and nourish her heart once again.

*This novella follows the mother and father of the Valentine men. This is not Kyle’s story which comes next.

Click HERE to download a copy of And This I Swear now, and be sure to leave a review!

Sunday Sample – And This I Swear

Hey reading family! I’m back today with a snippet of my upcoming novella. And This I Swear, which features the matriarch and patriarch of the beloved Valentine family; Bridgette and Leslie.

Good news! This will be hitting your eReaders THIS Wednesday, 2/12!

Keep reading for a sneak peek and the pre-order link.

A new day

When Bridgette awoke the next day, she found herself surrounded in a potent fragrance that made her sit straight up in bed.

“Oh, my God.” 

Her hands covered her mouth as her eyes roamed from one bouquet of cherry-red roses to the next, covering her floor, the end tables, the furniture, while rose petals trailed up her sheets to her knees. 

Bridgette’s heart swelled. She knew Leslie was gone, already getting a start on his day like most mornings. However, this display of love had utterly taken her breath away, and that made her hands drop to her chest, where she covered her heart. 

She vowed, right then, to always do right by him, to never push him away again. Besides, if the morning went well, she wouldn’t have to. 

Glancing at the clock on the nightstand put Bridgette’s thoughts into motion. It was a good thing she bathed last night, or she would be running late. 

She retrieved her cell phone, dialed a number, then put the receiver to her ear as she slipped out of bed. 

While she listened to the phone ring, her eyes glanced down at her feet, where she had landed on cool petals that were light and fluffy against her toes.

A smile encouraged the rise of her eyes, and then she heard her husband answer the phone.

“Good morning, milady,” Leslie’s thick voice grooved before she had a chance to greet him.

“A very good morning indeed, handsome.”

“Ooh, I think I like that,” his dark voice murmured jokingly. 

“I hope so, and I’m sorry I haven’t said it more often.”

“No need to be. I hope your day is beginning well.”

“It is. Thank you for the lovely flowers. They absolutely take my breath away.”

She could feel the smile in the way of his response. “Success,” he teased, making Bridgette giggle like a young woman.

“I only wish you were here to send me off with a kiss. That would be the icing on the cake.”

“If I were there, I’d send you off with more than a kiss.”

She squirmed on her feet. “I love you.”

“I love you more, sweetheart.”

“Is such a thing even possible?” she asked.

“Absolutely.”

“You’re so convinced.”

“You know what they say about when you know…”

“You know…” she finished biting down on one lip. “I won’t hold you much longer.”

“One could only wish,” he responded.

She was hot for him. Always had been, but within the last twelve hours, Bridgette found herself swelling almost painfully for her husband.

“I left a trail for you to get out of the room. Juan will clean up the roses, so don’t worry about them.”

Juan was their housekeeper and a long-time friend of the family. It had been a running joke among Leslie’s friends that he must trust Bridgette wholeheartedly with a sexy Latino like Juan as a maid. They’d boasted that they would never leave their wives with a man that had the looks to steal their woman away. But Leslie paid them no mind. 

“I’ll make sure to leave a note for Juan not to throw them away but to distribute them throughout the house. I want to see them in every room I enter.”

“That is very sweet of you.”

“No, I’m going to show you what’s sweet…or more like, nasty.” Her mouth spread wide in a smile. 

“Oh, is that a fact?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Now, it’s on.”

Bridgette laughed naughtily. “Later, my love.”

She disconnected the call and all but skipped through the makeshift garden of roses to enter her closet. 

Humming a tune, she twirled and dressed, then headed to the kitchen where she grabbed a bottle of water and sailed to the front door.

The bell rang out just as her hand grabbed the knob, then with surprise in her gaze, she opened it, taken back by the visitor.

“Good morning,” the woman said.

Bridgette swept an eye over the younger woman. It was the same woman she’d spotted having dinner with Leslie the night before.

Narrowing her eyes, Bridgette held on to the smart retort that lay on her tongue. Seeing the woman face-to-face didn’t help the air of insecurity she’d felt seeing her dine with Leslie at the restaurant. 

Smooth, tight chocolate skin, vibrant light-brown eyes with lashes that fluttered ever so softly—the woman was divine. 

Bridgette’s gut tightened, right along with her throat, and no response came from her as the woman’s smile decreased by just an inch. 

The woman cleared her throat. “You are Mrs. Valentine, right?”

“What do you want?” Bridgette snapped. 

“I…” The woman’s mouth hung in surprise at Bridgette’s feistiness. 

“If you’re coming to tell me that my husband’s been cheating with you so you can drive a wedge between us and slip your homewrecking claws into him in peace, then you can forget about it, bitch.”

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

Sunday Sample – In Pursuit of You

Hey reading family! I hope your holidays have been great so far. We’re three days away from Christmas so surely you’re done shopping. Right?

I did all my shopping online from the same store so thankfully I was done last month. 🙂

Today however, here’s a little sample of our upcoming release, In Pursuit of You. It is currently available for pre-order and will hit your kindles in TWO days!

Enjoy!

Chapter One

Club Sangria

December 1st

“Are you sure this looks okay?” Avery asked.

Tina Braddon took an eye over her best friend’s body-hugging knee-length turtleneck dress.

“Are you kidding?”

Avery fidgeted with the hem of her garb. “You wouldn’t lie to me, would you?”

“Girl, after I just stood in that long line in freezing temperatures with you, you think I’d lie?” Tina’s cheeks rose as she squinted. “Why didn’t we have VIP access if you were invited to this thing, anyway?”

Tina glanced around Club Sangria, already feeling the heat from the bodies gyrating inside as they sauntered deeper into the party.  

“Because I told him I was busy.”

Tina placed her hands on her waist, then paused her stroll, halting Avery’s progress as she leaned into a hip. “Why’d you tell him that? It’s obvious you like him.”

“How is it obvious?” Avery fidgeted with her turtleneck.

“Would you stop doing that?” Tina tugged Avery’s fingers, and Avery dropped her hands and took in a deep breath. “Why are you so nervous? I’ve seen you stand in front of a crowd of thousands with a microphone in your hands having more poise than this—what’s going on?”

As the owner of WTZB Chicago news station, Avery Michele had found herself in positions most owners normally wouldn’t. Because her station was still filling open positions for the last two years—Avery occasionally found herself in front of the camera acting as a reporter, and behind the anchor desk as well. She was also engaged in meetings with top executives in ongoing efforts to expand the network.

As the sole heir to her grandfather’s legacy, she’d inherited the business upon his passing. Now, after five years as the station’s owner, Avery wanted to do what her grandfather always wanted—to see WTZB flourish.

But even with her master’s degree in journalism and being the most extroverted person in the room on most occasions, Avery couldn’t shake the butterflies that fluttered in spirited animation, knowing the man she spent restless nights dreaming about was near.

Bringing her focus back to Tina’s squinting leer, Avery sighed.

“I just want to make sure I look my best. I…” She cleared her throat. “For some reason, spending time with this man makes me feel…” She pursed her lips and moved her eyes around the gallery of partygoers.

“Makes you feel…” Tina leaned in, her shoulder-length hair brushing her shoulders as if to rush Avery to her conclusion.

“Like, I want to get to know him better. In a way that I could possibly learn to…love him.” Tina’s eyes lurched, and Avery was hasty with her follow-up explanation. “I’m not saying I love him because…” she stuttered, “God, I don’t. I mean. I don’t know him well enough to, you know.” She linked her hands to give them a place to rest because of the nerves that bounced through her entire body.

“See, that’s what I meant when I said it’s obvious you like him. The few times I’ve seen you guys in the same room you get all doe-eyed and you stop listening to me.”

“What do you mean, I stop listening to you?

“You can’t focus on anything but him. And vice versa. Y’all are cute together, by the way.”

“But we are not together. We’re just friends.”

“How many times have I heard that before?”

Avery frowned and cocked her head to the side. “I haven’t—”

“I mean, in your lifetime. Most of the time, when a woman is hiding the true nature of her relationship, she hides it behind the guise of ‘just friends.’ Which is total bullshit, by the way.”

The DJ came through the speakers. “Come on in, beautiful ladies. And fellas, make sure you keep our guests comfortable tonight. We want to have a great time as we celebrate the collaboration of Valentine Innova-Corp and NASA.”

The crowd cheered, with patrons throwing their hands up and some shouting in merriment.

“Congratulations, DeAndre Valentine.” The DJ pointed toward the railing that wrapped around the inside of the third floor, and all eyes traveled to find DeAndre Valentine move to the edge of the clearing, a broad smile brightening his handsome, bearded face. “We’re here to party with you all night, brother. Much love and respect for your growing business endeavors!”

The crowd cheered again as DeAndre tilted his head and held up a hand in salute.

“I think it’s time that you make yourself known,” Tina said.

Avery nodded. “Let’s go.” She turned to leave, but Tina’s resting palm on her shoulder gave her pause.

“I think I just saw Malik Anthony Clark,” Tina said. “Sooo I’mma head to the dance floor.”

She was no longer looking in Avery’s direction as she was all but zeroed in on Malik’s supremely rich chocolate skin. Malik and his brothers Derek James Clark, Tristian Neil Clark, and Langston Jamal Clark were the infamous Clarks of Northshire Bend—a high-class African-American family who were famous for their philanthropy efforts.

“So, knowing I’m nervous, you’re going to leave me?”

Tina turned back to Avery. “You won’t want me there once you get caught up in his attention. You’ll probably forget I’m there. But hey, look on the bright side, I’m still in the club, and if ever there’s a moment you need me, text me. My phone is on vibrate, so it’ll make my titties jiggle.

Avery laughed out loud, letting her head fall back.

Tina nodded, knowing her jokes would calm Avery.

“Feel better?” Tina asked.

“You did that on purpose, didn’t you?” Avery squinted, and her face reflected her happiness.

“You know how I do. Wouldn’t be much of a friend if I didn’t try to attempt to calm you and send you off with confidence.”

“Or maybe you just want to get me out of your hair so you can go take Malik from that girl he’s dancing with.”

“That, too.”

Avery laughed as Tina spun around and sashayed to the dance floor. She couldn’t—and wouldn’t—blame her friend, but still, as she watched her tap Malik on his shoulder and lured him to her with the collar of his shirt, Avery snapped out of her nervousness—instead, drawing on Tina’s confidence, she headed to the staircase that led to the third floor.

Meandering around people coming down, then shaking one guy off who decided to grab her to get her attention, Avery continued up her path to get to him.

At the rope that separated the club from the VIP, she stood behind five other women who were trying to impress the security guard with their looks in order to gain entrance into the area. He gave them the attention they were looking for, smiling, and winking while he admired their racy looks. But still, he sent them away after finding their names weren’t on the list.

Avery bit down on her lip. She should’ve never told DeAndre she wasn’t coming. The thought of being turned away like the other women gave her pause.

“What’s your name, pretty lady?”

Avery’s brows rose. “Huh?” She snapped from her thoughts to look at the guard. “Oh, um, I’m probably not on that list, either.” He gave her a look that said too bad. “But Mr. Valentine and I are close friends, so if you let him know I’m here, I’m sure he’ll let me in.”

“Unfortunately, miss, I can’t leave my post.”

“Oh.”

He saw her eyes dim.

“Okay, then, don’t worry about it. I’ll catch Mr. Valentine when he comes out.”

“Why don’t you give me your name, and we can check to see if you’re on the list.”

She started to decline. “I don’t know.”

He shrugged. “It can’t hurt. You’re either on the list, or you’re not.”

She smiled. “Avery Michele.”

The guard lifted an iPad and scrolled through the list of names.

“Avery Michele,” he said with a smile. “You’re on the list.”

Avery’s eyes lit up, and the guard winked, then removed the rope and stepped to the side.

“Wow, okay, thank you.”

“It’s not my business, and usually I don’t get in other’s business, but I feel the need to tell you to just chill. Be yourself. I can tell this is your first time at one of Mr. Valentine’s parties. He’s a pretty upstanding guy. No need to be worried or unsure of yourself.”

“Damn,” Avery said, “Am I that transparent?”

The guard smiled. “Yeah. But remember my advice, and you’ll be fine.”

“Thanks.”

“Enjoy your night.”

“You, too.”

Avery turned to take an eye over the interior of the VIP room. It was decorated with maroon and navy blue furniture, accent chairs, plush sofas, and drapery to match. A never-ending bar wrapped the length of the wall, disappearing into another room that Avery couldn’t see.

But she didn’t need to because when her eyes landed on a muscular, stocky build, accentuated behind a white button-down that stretched over intricate biceps, her belly clenched at the same time her heart jigged behind her breasts.

He was talking in a circle of family and friends, people Avery recognized instantly.

Brothers—Hunter, Xavier, Lance, Raphael, and Kyle Valentine. Beautifully designed men in chocolate skin that spanned them from head to toe. Goatees, beards, freshly cut and groomed, their personal styles perpetuated by the taste of their unique swagger.

DeAndre’s mouth spread into a broad smile, and a burly guffaw drummed into the air, making Avery’s ovaries shift with excitement.

Then it happened. DeAndre scanned the room, his gaze landing on her quietly watching him from the entrance. His highlighted smile eased to a subtle grin, his lids dipping as his lustful eyes traveled over her form.

Stepping out of the circle, DeAndre made no mention to the others about his departure, only strolled on the strength of his iron masculinity in her direction.

“Avery Michele…” his thick voice stroked. “What a beautiful surprise.”

A tiny smile made her cheeks rise into a blush.

“Hey.”

“Hello,” he responded, his gaze a dark twinkle of excitement.

“I was surprised to find my name on the list.”

“Why?”

“Well, I knew you didn’t think I was coming, so…”

“Yeah, but I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to get you next to me should you change your mind.” His gaze traveled her again. “Like now.”

Avery’s cheeks burned with heat. “If I had known that, we wouldn’t have stood in that line outside so long…” she chuckled, trying to make some of those butterflies settle down by being comical.

DeAndre’s brows dipped. “Sweetheart. You will always be on the list now.”

She shook off a shiver, and DeAndre stepped closer, his arm sliding around her waist to pull her into the heat of his aura.

“You’re cold,” he surmised.

“I’m thawing now.”

They chuckled, and he nodded. “Good.”

The music changed, and “Tonight” by Summer Walker replaced the previous upbeat tempo.

“Do you dance, Ms. Michele?”

“Only if you call me Avery.”

His ginger-and-coffee brown skin was highlighted by the appreciation in his lifting mouth.

“You have a gorgeous smile,” she added.

DeAndre’s mouth dropped slightly, and he chuckled. “Girl, don’t be stealing my lines.”

Avery laughed, and he enjoyed her merriment, clearing his throat in an attempt to calm the stirring in his gut.

“Nah, I’m kidding, Avery.”

They stepped into a grinding dance. Avery accepting his pull as her arms slid up his chest to wrap around the thick column of his throat. Heat trapped them in a blanket of warmth, and the spicy scent of his cologne tingled her nose.

“So tell me, Avery, what made you change your mind about attending tonight’s gathering?”

Her lashes fluttered. “I wanted to celebrate you.” She shrugged. “Tonight’s the best time for that. So, here I am.”

“You mean you wanted to celebrate with me?”

Her smile was flattering. “No, I meant celebrate you. It’s not every day a handsome, educated, successful black man snags a deal with NASA. You should be celebrated.”

DeAndre eased out of her space, taking a step back and twirling before reentering her space to reclaim her body once again.

Avery laughed as her body tingled all over at his shenanigans, ignited by his wide-spreading smile, grinding hips, heated touch, and penetrating gaze.

“So you think you can call me handsome, and I wouldn’t notice it?”

Avery held on to a closed-mouth smirk before responding. “What I said is the truth. I’m not telling you anything you’re probably not used to hearing.”

“On the contrary. The same words spoken still make a difference when experienced with such a coiling warmth of animation, sweetheart.”

Avery’s heart sprang in an upbeat of invigoration.

“Same,” she managed to whisper.

Somehow, without any effort of their own, their bodies compressed as if melting into one another, charging their loins with potency neither of them could dismiss. DeAndre lost his reserve for a second, slipping masculine fingers into her hair and drawing her mouth so close their breaths bounced between their lips.

Static charged their center, and his dick grew up her belly where it pressed into her navel, formidable, and unwavering.

“Oh…” She blinked as a gasp left her mouth, and her eyes widened.

DeAndre snapped out of his lustful haze just then, alarmed and taking a full step back.

He cursed. “Avery, I apologize, I…”

“Uh, no!” She reached out to him, clasping his forearm to stop his retreat. “You’re okay. I promise.” Her smile calmed him, and he dropped his head a bit and smirked.

“Come back,” she said, tugging on him.

DeAndre reclaimed her eye, then glanced around before settling back on her.

“Walk with me.”He slipped his hand into hers and led Avery to the bar.