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!
“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.”
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.”
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.”
“Enjoy your night.”
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.
“Hello,” he responded, his gaze a dark twinkle of excitement.
“I was surprised to find my name on the list.”
“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.