The Billionaire's Waitress Boxed Set - Blue Davis - ebook
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Looking for BWWM Interracial Romance featuring black women & white men? Try a whole BOXED SET Bundle! Includes Extra Special Bonus: Holiday Romance. Limited Time Only.All books contain elements of sex and violence. For adults only.BOOK 1: Nia Jones could tell you a few things about men: they hurt, they lie, and they’ll do anything to cheat their way into your heart.Nia Jones is an independent black woman who survived abuse from her ex back in Long Beach. Now she lives in Houston, where she cares for her grandmother and attends college. The last thing she needs is a man weighing her down.She meets Jake Carlton, a restaurant patron at the steakhouse where she works. A sexy, suave businessman from Tanglewood, Jake takes her into an enchanting world studded with diamonds, pearls, and fast cars.But does he truly love her, or is it just a game to conquer and control her heart?When Jake introduces her to family and friends, she quickly learns how unwelcome she is, and finds herself entangled in a web of broken trust. She must make a choice of whether to stand and defend her love or to face defeat and be sworn to a life without Jake.Will she learn to hold her own in a woven tale of love, sex, and deceit or will she destroy the bond that binds them?This is a fast-paced Interracial BWWM Romance Book.BOOK 2: Nia Jones has fallen for the one man who could take her heart and shatter it to pieces.Nia Jones has moved from Long Beach to Houston to attend college and care for her grandmother. Her abusive ex-boyfriend has trekked all the way from California to track her down.What the ex doesn’t know is that billionaire Jake Carlton is the sole owner of Nia’s heart. However, Jake is sworn to another woman through a pregnancy mishap. Will Jake and Nia ever learn to love or will they be haunted forever by their past mistakes? In a strange twist of fate, the abusive ex winds up at the billionaire’s Tanglewood mansion. A Texas-style showdown occurs, in which there is only one victor.Will they be able to seal their future together or will they be overpowered by a disastrous sequence of troublesome events?This is a fast-paced Interracial BWWM Romance Book.BOOK 3: Is a man worth dying for?Nia Jones is a strong black woman who has just been asked to marry by one of the richest bachelors in the world. He invites her to vacation on a mysterious tropical island. Everything seems picture-perfect. However, things take a turn for the worse when she receives a call from home. She discovers that not everyone is so excited about the prospect of marriage. In fact, a group of people would rather see her dead. Will Jake and Nia risk building a dynasty of their own, or will they break it off and decide that each other's lives are just too precious to lose? This is a BWWM pregnancy erotic romance.BOOK 4: BONUS HOLIDAY SHORT STORY: Nia thought she had it all--a baby, a billionaire, and an island mansion in Fiji.When her man, Jake needs to leave for a sudden business trip, Nia is left to fend for herself in a world of uncertainty.Will she prove she can take care of the billion-dollar dynasty without him?When her friend takes her on a diving trip, she returns to find her life in shambles.Will Jake return in time to help her pick up the pieces or will he choose business over family and leave Nia to suffer the consequences? This is a stand-alone short story within The Billionaire's Waitress saga.This is a fast-paced Multicultural BWWM Christmas short story. 

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Blue Davis

Contents

The Billionaire's Waitress 1

For Subscribers

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

About Blue Davis

Other Books by Blue Davis:

Next Book in Series

The Billionaire's Waitress 2

For Subscribers

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

About Blue Davis

Other Books by Blue Davis:

Next Book in Series

The Billionaire's Waitress 3

For Subscribers

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

About Blue Davis

Other Books by Blue Davis:

The Billionaire’s Waitress at Christmas

For Subscribers

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Other Books by Blue Davis:

About Blue Davis

The Billionaire's Waitress 1

Copyright © 2015 by Blue Davis

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

First Edition: July 2015

Second Edition : October 2015

Created with Vellum

For Subscribers

Limited Time Only

Have you downloaded your FREE Russian Mafia Romance book yet? It’s waiting for you over at www.bluedavis.com.

Chapter 1

Nia shifted from side to side, piling dirty plates into one big stack on the middle of the table. “Damn shoes,” she muttered under her breath, scowling.  No rest for the weary. Her phone vibrated against her upper thigh in the front pocket of her white apron. Now what?

She reached in and grabbed the phone. She looked down and thumbed through to the new message.

>Brie: Finer than fine @ table 4

She smiled and rolled her eyes. When is she gonna learn I have absolutely no interest in men at this point in the game?

She sighed and placed the big stack of plates on her tray. She swiveled around to head toward the gray swinging double doors that led to the kitchen. Just as she reached the door, she glanced around the restaurant. I’ll just hand these off to the butler, so I can make the royal ball in time. She chuckled and turned back around to push open the large door.

And then she saw him. The crook in his nose, his light brown hair, his soft, clear skin. She saw him. She drew in a fast breath. She stared at the statuesque man.

Suddenly, the door came swinging outward, with a flash of busboy, hitting her pile of dishes. The mass of clanking dishes slipped from her grasp, making melodic noise as they clattered down with silverware.

Customers whispered behind her. You’re not getting the opportunity to see me make an ass of myself. She turned her back to her amused audience. She bent down and began picking up the dishes. Then she scooped up gobs of potato salad with clean rags.

She headed back into the kitchen to slide the whole mess into the large garbage can. She stopped. What just happened? She felt a corner of her mouth sneak up into a slight smile.

“Nia!” Brie snapped her out of her daze.

Nia straightened her apron and cleared her throat. She looked over at Brie. At 5’9”, 190 pounds, Brie made her look like a china doll when they stood together. Nia was 5’5”, 126 pounds, but she felt like half of a Brie.

“Yes. How may I help you?” Nia asked, trying to bury herself under a perfect smile.

“Table four wants you. Better get out there. That dumb hussie he’s with looks pissed,” Brie said.

Table four? Hussie? How did I not see that?

Nia’s feet glided across the kitchen floor. She studied the couple as she approached the table. Slender, blond, dark-brown white girl. Overbaked.

She dared to set eyes on him again. Short, light brown hair that could be curly if given half a chance. Soft translucent skin, he looked as though he had just come from a hot shower. He stared straight down at his phone, punching in keys on the screen. 

“Welcome to Arnie’s. Sorry for the wait,” Nia said, as she began to set their table.

 The blond scowled and said, “It’s about time, Girl. You’re as slow as a snail.”

One of the forks slipped out of Nia’s hand. Clumsy the Clown today.

 “I’m so sorry. We had an incident in the kitchen.” She bent down and quickly grabbed the fork. She felt his eyes upon her and glanced up at him. His face was glazed over as they met eyes. She tried to drag her eyes from his gaze. She was glued. His eyes followed her until she was fully standing again.

“We had an incident in the kitchen, Ma’am.” the blond corrected her.

Nia pulled herself away from the intriguing man to look at the woman.

“Excuse me?” She asked.

“We had an incident in the kitchen, Maaaaa’aaaaamm,” the blond said again.

The man looked at his wife and let out a breath of disgust. He raised his eyebrow, and shook his head once or twice, but said nothing.

“I’m sorry, I’m not from around here.” Die, Bitch. Nia put on her best smile and said, “Now, what can I get for you?”

The man looked entirely gorgeous when he perked up. “Oh! Well, where are you from?”

“California. I’m going to school here, but I’m out right now for the summer. I’m taking care of my grandma too. She lives here.”

“Awww, poor grandma,” the Bitch said, with a theatrical look of sadness on her face.

“Well,” he paused, “Welcome to Texas.”

 Her heart raced. It was the most beautiful four words anyone had ever said to her. He didn’t say it quickly. Nor did he say it slow. His slight drawl was deep and clear, but the words came out as if he was singing them.

Pull yourself together, Nia. “Thank you,” she said, smiling.

“You are going to University of Houston, I presume. What are you majoring in?” the man asked.

“Finance. I’m good with numbers.”

“I’m sure you are good with many things.” He said, slowly. His eyes captivated her.  For a moment she forgot why she had a notepad in her hand.

The Bitch cleared her throat. “I’ll have the Chicken Caesar Salad.”

Nia unglued herself from his locked gazed just long enough to scribble something down on the pad. “And for you?” She took another opportunity to look at him and listen to the words coming from his artistically-shaped mouth.

“I’ll take the T-Bone, with a side salad, thanks.”

“How would you like your steak, Sir?”

He cocked his head slightly to the side. Nia saw him shift his gaze from her eyes to her lips.

“Rare. I’d eat it raw if I could.”

Nia let out a tiny smile, which she quickly concealed. “And to drink?”

“She’ll have the house wine, I’ll have water. I need to be sharp for a meeting in the morning.”

Nia regained her composure and switched her hips back to the kitchen, like the Southern girls do. She was in the South after all, and she didn’t want to be the only one bolting square-hipped from place to place.

She pressed her smooth ebony hand to swing the door open. Then she stood on the other side of the door and belted out a long, slow exhale. She rolled her eyes closed. She could see him now; his soft pinkish-white skin, his dark blue jeans and his slim-fitting white button-down shirt, all tailored perfectly to fit his fine body. Her eyes watered. She drew in a full, deep breath for the first time in her life.

“Girrrl, what happened to you? You look like you just been runnin’ around the block!” Brie stood over her.

Nia awoke from her daze to focus on her friend. “Uh yeah…I’m fine. Just feeling a little woozy,” she said as she walked her customers’ order over to the cook. The cook snatched it, then turned to stir a steaming pot on the stove.

Brie looked her up and down. “Do you not know who that is out there?”

“Uh…no, I uhhh…of course I know. The name just escaped me.” Nia relaxed her shoulders. “Who is it?”

 “That’s Jake Carlton.”

“Okay. And who is that again?”

“He’s only the wealthiest bachelor on this side of the Mississippi. His daddy retired and handed him his oil company to run. He’s worth about 1.5 billion dollars.”

“Hmmm. Shouldn’t he be eating at the Petit Pan, across the street?”

“No. He’s not gonna be eatin’ no sixteen little peas on a platter. Texas men like their steak.”

Nia lifted her head. “I see. And his wife?”

Brie snapped her fingers in Nia’s face. “Nia. Did you not hear a word I said? He a baaaa-cha-laaarr. He ain’t married. Now get yo butt out there and see if anyone else need to eat. They ain’t the only people sittin’ in here.”

She followed her friend’s advice and tended to her customers all night. It was Friday, and they were hungry and thirsty. She made sure to attend to the billionaire too. She knew the type. Rich people like that had a lot of clout in the city and she wasn’t about to lose her job over a billionaire and his bitch.

Now she stood at a table of old ladies with her notepad and waited for their order. She glanced over at the billionaire.

They were both staring straight forward while they ate. Don’t they ever speak to each other? They were so rich, that they were boring.

The man turned suddenly and looked at Nia. She quickly turned her attention back to the ladies. She scribbled their meals on her pad, then walked over to him. He watched her.

“Are you guys doing alright? Do you need anything?”

She awaited a quick nod or shake of the head from the couple. Neither said anything. She saw the man’s eyes slowly wander from her eyes to her lips, then lower. He passed her breast line, then stopped at her waist. He moved his head slightly to the side, as if he needed her to turn around so that he could examine what was on the other side. She fiddled with her pen and notepad.

Just then, the Bitch let out a small sniff. She stared at her chicken salad with watery eyes.

“Can I take that for you?” Nia asked.

“Yes. Take it away.” The Bitch pushed the plate to the edge of the table where it teeter-tottered. Nia jumped. She caught the plate. I’m not spending my entire shift picking shit up off the floor.

“Claire,” the man said, his voice warning.

This is so awkward. “I’ll be right back with your check.” Nia shot off to the kitchen.

“Damn, was the dish that bad?” Brie said.

“I have no idea what’s wrong with her. She can swallow the chicken whole, for all I care.” Nia’s upper-lip raised out of disgust. “If that’s what it’s like to be rich, I want no part.”

“Mmmmhm….If there’s one thing money can’t buy, its happiness,” Brie said.

“True that.”

Nia rang up the couple’s meal. Hmmm, $132.56. I guess that’s a normal bill for a rich guy. She place the bill and two breath mints on a tray and walked it to table. This time the man wasn’t looking at her. Instead he looked out of the window to his left. Nia collected a black American Express card from the table and headed back to the register to slide the card. She set out for the table again moments later.

“There you go. Thank you for dining at Arnie’s and I hope to see you guys back real soon,” she said, putting on her best smile.

The man looked at her, and then closed his eyes. When he opened them, she saw a flash of apology. Then he said, “Thank you Nia.”

She gasped for air all at once. She stood for a moment at the table, unable to move. How did he know my name?  She bolted back to the kitchen.

She watched the couple from the kitchen door window. He was a tall man, 6 foot, maybe. He walked down the aisle, nodding his head to greet staff as they walked out. She breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed her tense shoulders. She walked out to the table to gather his signature on the bill and the remaining dirty dishes.

She turned her head sideways to look at the bill. I wonder what a rich man’s signature looks like. She looked at the small handwriting. Her stomach leaped from her body. Her knees caved in. She broke the fall by barreling into the closest chair. She sat and read the small receipt three times.

Chapter 2

Whaaa???

 Nia stared at the receipt. She added the numbers up repetitively. The amount of the bill: $132.56. She read the small word, “Tip” and skated her eyes back and forth from the amount. $1000.-- was written in blue ink. Amount total: $1132.56. A suave signature read, “J. Carlton.”

Nia grasped the table while she lifted herself from the chair. The man gave me a thousand dollars for bringing him steak and water. She stumbled through the empty restaurant to where Brie was clearing a table.

“Brie. Read this, and tell me I’m not crazy.” Nia held up the receipt to eye level.

“Aghhhhh. Oh my…” Brie opened her eyes bigger and snatched the receipt. She looked flabbergasted. “Lord have mercy, you done hit the jackpot. What’d you do? Serve that steak up with a fresh piece of pussy?”

“This makes no sense whatsoever. It must be a mistake.” Nia collected the receipt and walked away. I know one thing and one thing only: I’m gonna return this money to its rightful owner. He must think I’m a charity case or something.

She clawed through her purse for her car keys. What a night. The old Camaro’s engine slowly turned over and over, hesitating until it came to a full rumble. She belted out of the parking lot and began her commute home.

She grasped her house key and headed straight for the door. Bassy rap music echoed through the streets. She clutched her purse tighter, while she slid inside the house. She bolted the door, headed straight for the kitchen, and threw her purse on the table. She stood and stared at the black bag. Then she unzipped it and laid out the loose cash. Trembling hands counted $1213. She counted it again. She held her hand up to her head. What am I going to do? This guy…I can’t…

She caught reflection of herself in a living room mirror. Her dark ebony skin glowed, despite her tiredness. But she looked as exhausted as she felt. At 29, she still looked as young as she did when she was 21. But tonight she looked as though years had crept up without warning. She moved some stands of hair away from her eyes. What was he looking at when he stared at me?What did he see?

She scooped up the money and stashed it away in an envelope. She placed it between “The Bluest Eye” and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” on the bookshelf. She sat back down and opened her laptop. She keyed in “Jake Carlton” and looked at her Google results.

Carlton Son Takes Over Family Business. Carlton Industries Strikes a Deal. How Jake Made His First Billion. She looked at the images on the page. That’s him. She leaned forward and closed her eyes. Blood rushed to her pelvis. She clicked on the company website. She clicked on a small tab that read, “Founders.” She copied the address and pasted it into a new message.

Sender: Nia Jones

Recipient: Jake Carlton

Date: June 12, 2015

Subject: (None)

Dear Mr. Carlton,

I hope this letter finds you well. Thank you for dining with us at Arnie’s Steakhouse tonight. I’m afraid you may have mistakenly wrote $1000 on the receipt. Surely you meant to write $10.00 and mistakenly placed the decimal point at the end instead of the middle. Please let me know how to return the money to you.

Regards,

Nia

Surely, the man would soon look at his American Express statement soon, and see the outrageous charge, if he didn’t get her e-mail first. She showered the day’s events from her face and body, and turned in to bed, exhausted.

She awoke early the next morning. She grabbed her phone and scrolled through junk. Nothing.

“Nia? You in there?” A familiar voice called from the kitchen.

“Yes, Grandma, I’ll be out in a minute.”

She stepped her aching feet into some bunny slippers and walked out to join Grandma.

Grandma Pat lifted her head and raised her eyebrows when Nia walked in.

“What’s been going on Baby Girl? Somethin’ happen last night?”

“Nah, I’m just tired. Long night.”

Her grandma continued her stare, but tilted her head slightly, and lifted one eyebrow. At 78, she still had a sharp mind.

“Alright. Yeah. Last night I was working, right. And this dude comes in…this rich guy named Jake Carlton—”

“The Jake Carlton came into Arnie’s?” Her grandma asked.

“What, am I the only person who never heard of him?”

“He’s a household name around here. Especially since what happened last year.”

“Hold up. What happened last year?”

“Well there was this orphanage…what was the name of it…” Grandma wrinkled her eyebrows, and squinted her eyes. “Oh, I remember. It was St. Mary’s, down in Friendswood. They was almost shut down. Ran out of money. So that Carlton gentleman…he came in and saved the whole thing. All them children. 150 of ‘em. Then he turned around and built a new library for them. All of that just outta the kindness of his heart. He a fine gentleman. They don’t make ‘em like that no more. No sir.”

Sure he was a nice guy. A nice guy with a big tax write-off.

“How nice,” Nia said, and looked away. “Well, I must be his new charity case. Cause he just gave me a thousand dollars last night for doing basically nothing.”

Grandma Pat gasped. “A thousand dollars?” She looked dumbfounded. Then she sat back in her chair and said, “Looks like you have an admirer.”

Nia sighed as she walked into the living room. She looked at the bookshelf where she had stashed the cash. She replayed last night’s events. The way he spoke to her. His deep accent, the way he looked at her. He was the most eloquent man that had ever spoken to her. His lips, the freshness of his face. His hair, the way it nearly came in to a full curl.

She checked her phone. A text.

>Brie: Figured out what to do with the $ yet?

>Nia: Hi Brie :-)

>Brie: Well if u can’t figure it out let me know. I be glad 2 help lol

>Nia: Thanks, I’m sure you would be.

>Brie: What time u working 2nite?

>Nia: 5:30. You?

>Brie: 6.

>Nia: K. See you there girl.

She looked at the notification icons at the top of the phone. When did that come in? She thumbed through until she saw it. Jake Carlton’s name sat in her inbox, like a diamond in the rough. She clicked through to open it.

Sender: Jake Carlton

Recipient: Nia Jones

Date: June 13, 2015

Subject: Re: (No Subject)

Dear Ms. Jones,

I don’t think anyone has ever questioned my ability to fill out a restaurant receipt before.

Please keep the money as an apology for my date’s deplorable behavior. You did exceptional work last night. Your skill has not gone unnoticed.

Sincerely,

Jake R. Carlton

A smile escaped her mouth as she threw herself back on a floral sofa and rested the phone on her chest. She picked up the phone and read it again. Exceptional work? It was just a steak.

Smart ass. She smiled. A billionaire writing wrong numbers on a bill.It would be a first.

She imagined his sexy mouth saying her name…Miss Jones. It would sound so good coming from him. She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

She dreamed she was putting on makeup along with a couple of her best girls from Long Beach. All three were decked out in nice dresses…the type of dress you wore to an expensive gala event. She suddenly found herself at a party. She didn’t know it would be his house until she got there. They had arrived to a massively heavy, mahogany door. The door had beveled glass on each side and church windows that reached high to the roof.

He greeted her at the doorway, sharply dressed in black tie. His hair was slicked back, and it looked more gelled and styled than it did at the restaurant. His shoes were expensive, polished Italian leather. He graciously took her hand and kissed it slowly, his lips soft and warm. She wanted them on her lips. She looked around at the magnificent surroundings. Champagne glasses, white marble floors, 18th century artwork placed perfectly on each wall. She once had a friend that introduced her to French and Italian art. She had come to appreciate it, though she had never seen any outside of the cheap prints they sold at Venice Beach.

She traced a long, white pillar that ran from the floor to the ceiling. On the ceiling hung an enormous chandelier that cascaded over the foyer. To the right, a plush-carpeted staircase spiraled down to the marble. To her left, a black Steinway sat, yearning to be played.

When she looked back toward Jake, he was gone. He had completely vanished. Her friends were also no longer there. She could only see a reflection of herself in the mirrored foyer. She was alone on the cold, white floor, in a beautiful white lace gown. Her long, black tresses fell over her shoulders onto the breast line of her dress. The slit in her dress ran from her upper thigh down to her dainty shimmering stilettos. And no one was there to see.

 How did she even get there? More importantly, where did he go? She wanted more. Her thighs trembled open and her breathing deepened. She looked for him. The lights suddenly dimmed. Her eyes watered. A single tear fell. She wanted badly to see him. And then she did.

 He floated from guest to guest laughing and mingling with each one. He flashed a brilliant smile she had never seen before. His straight, white teeth were almost too perfect. They glimmered in the dark room. She could hear conversations about last summer on the lake, about the new company projections, and about his poor Aunt Lilly that had passed away last year. He never looked her way. Why isn’t he paying attention to me?

She awoke suddenly and looked at the time on her phone. “Fuck.” She ran into the bathroom and threw a hot washcloth over her face, then used the same to soap her underarms. She separated her thighs and peered down between them in disbelief. The vagina oozed a wetness that spread to the small creases of her thighs. How did that happen? She looked up. The party, the kiss, the longing.

She sponged up the moisture. Then she threw on a clean, white work blouse and a plain, black skirt that showed off her lean thighs. She looked at her feet and saw a swollen blister beginning to form on her left pinky toe. She slipped on a pair of easy, black flats.

Grandma Pat sat, hovering over a section of the paper. She looked at Nia over slim golden reading rims. Nia hung on to the door frame, swinging around to give her grandma’s curly head a kiss. “Bye Grandma.”

“Stay outta trouble, you hear?” Grandma Pat half smiled.

She pulled her phone out. 4:38. She scrambled out the door with her purse, keys, and name tag.

She got into her car and placed the key in the ignition. Nothing.

>Nia: My damn car won’t start.

>Brie: Hey. U need a ride?

>Nia: Yes please.

>Brie: K…just barely put my shoes on. I’ll swing by tho

~10 minutes later

>Brie: Omw. B there in 10

She sat in the driveway and stared at the dented garage door. Hope Brie is seriously on her way. Maggie is gonna kick my ass if I’m late again.

Brie and Grandma Pat were her people. She touched the locket on her chest. She grabbed hold of the necklace and opened the locket. Her mother’s unassuming brown eyes were so similar to her own. Her hair shorter than Nia’s, slightly lighter skin tone. She kept her hair short and curled it with a flat iron. Sometimes she would do Nia’s too.

They lived in a modest two-bedroom cottage-style house in Long Beach. They didn’t have a lot of money, but it never mattered much. Where there was absence of money, there was love.

Her parents loved her and it was the type of love that could never be replaced, not by anyone or anything.  

Everything had changed on the night of November 27, 1992. They had driven up to visit her Aunt Shirley that lived in Bakersfield. It was only an hour or two from their house in Long Beach. Nia smelled the turkey and cranberries just like it was yesterday.

Nia gasped. The big chrome grill…it came so suddenly out of nowhere.

“No Daddy!” Nia screamed.

The articles all said the same: an 18-wheeler had lost control, driving over the center divider line, meeting its fate with their little Toyota. The truck was so powerful that it had completely wheeled itself on top of the hood and half of the cabin of their car. It reversed the car’s direction completely. Nia plunged backward, falling, falling.

Darkness.

She had no memory of her parents and the wretched machine that crushed them. She wracked her brain for more information, pleading for one more glimpse.

Still, darkness.

Alone.

She sat alone in her car in Houston now, with her eyes closed shut.  What if I had never asked for that teddy? What if mama had been awake? If mama had handed the teddy to me instead of daddy, would they still be alive today?

A loud honk of a car horn startled Nia. She looked up and saw Brie’s red Neon. She wiped her last tear to erase evidence. She didn’t feel like answering any questions. She rose from her black, rusty car. She looked at the street as she walked to meet her friend.

Weeds grew out of creeks in the sidewalk. Each house had four to five cars sitting in the driveway, half of them looking trashed.

In front of the neighbor’s house sat a strange car. It was a Lincoln Town Car: flawless, black paint, smooth tinted glass, rims shined to a polish. Too nice to be the neighbor’s car. Are they in trouble?

 She circled the car, peering into the front seat, spotting an older, dormant man wearing a cabbie hat. He looked down, as if he was reading something. Weird. She peered at the back window. When she tried to look in, she only saw a reflection of her pretty long locks.  They’ll be lucky if they don’t get hustled or jacked by nightfall. How long had it been sitting there? And why do I feel like I’m being watched?

Chapter 3

“You’re late Bitches. Get your asses in gear and get out there.” The boss squinted at them through orange, greasy hair.

“Sorry, Maggie,” they said, chiming in unison.

“My car broke down. It’s my fault Brie is late. She came and picked me up. I take full responsibility.”

They stormed toward restaurant floor.

“Can we sue her for that?” Brie said. “She can’t talk to us like that.”

Nia watched her friend put her apron and tucked in her own blouse. “I’m getting to think that is a normal way of speaking in Texas,” she said.

“I don’t think so,” Brie waved her finger and shook her head at the same time. “That bitch is dead out of place.” She sauntered off.

She and Brie juggled several tables at the restaurant that night. At slow periods, she couldn’t help but wonder about his soft, brown hair, and his crisp clean shirt. His gaze had intoxicated her.

She reached in her apron pocket and felt for her phone. She thumbed through to his email from this morning. So formal, but adorable. You’re skill has not gone unnoticed.Who talks like that? All I did was bring the man food.

“I think he’s trying to buy himself some attention,” Nia said.

“Who?” Brie puckered her face.

“Jake Carlton.” The words rolled off her lips like she had said his name a hundred times before.

“How the hell did we get on the subject of Jake Carlton?”

Nia rolled her eyes and turned to walk away. Brie called out after her.

“Jake Carlton doesn’t need to buy attention. He can have any woman in Houston if he wanted. It ain’t no secret. Women been flocking to him for the last ten years. He ain’t put a ring on the finger of any of ‘em. But that don’t stop women from throwing themselves at him.”

“Well, I won’t be doing any flocking. This is obviously just a standard game for him. I don’t need any man’s money and I certainly don’t need any man in my life fucking up things.” Nia shook her head. “Who does he think he is, anyway? If he thinks he can just waltz in here, pay a thousand dollars, and say a couple cute one-liners, he is sadly mistaken. I am not for sale.”

Brie raised her eyebrows and lowered her head a little.. “Pfff.. well, yes Ma’am!”

Nia stalked out of the kitchen.

She brushed some hair out of her face. Her forehead now had a grimy, thick layer from sweat and dirt. She rubbed the thick of it, smearing it around her face. She headed for the bathroom. She splashed water into her face and reapplied her lip color.

 She grabbed her purse and headed to the front door. “You going to give me a ride home, right?

“Yeah, gimme a few minutes. This baby threw up on one of the high chairs.”

“Ewww,”  Nia said. “K, I’ll be waiting outside. I’m so done with this place tonight.”

She pushed the heavy front door to the restaurant open and let herself out. She looked at the cars parked in front of the restaurant. Shiny rims. She examined the car. It wasn’t the cook’s car. Isn’t that the same black Town Car from earlier?

Nia’s eyes grew wider. Blood drained from her face. Her legs stiffened. Same car.

She whipped around and reached for the heavy, metal door handle of the restaurant. She yanked hard. “Fuck!” She willed the door through terrified eyes.

A strong hand grabbed her in the darkness. It held on to her tight. Her bones chilled.

 “Aaaaiiieeee!” Nia screamed. She reached up to bang on the restaurant glass. That arm was also grabbed in a stronghold. Her assailant was now behind her. His breaths poured on to her neck.

Her hairs stood upward. She inched her arms away from the tight grasp. Just as she freed them, she spun around to face her attacker. She gasped for air. It’s him.

She felt his hand on the back of her neck, shoving her head toward his. He breathed warmth on the corner of her mouth. She scanned his wild eyes.

 He sniffed her, inhaling deeply. He brushed his soft lips over her open mouth. Then he plunged into them, strong, daring. His tongue moved inside her mouth, shooting forward again and again. He pressed on.

Nia began to whimper soft moans of delight. Her shoulders relaxed, and she felt her back arching. She wanted more. Her arms were putty in his embrace. Her legs wavered while they opened slightly. Blood rushed to her pelvic area, and her juices began to well at her opening. She didn’t dare lift her arms to embrace him. She received all that he offered.

She closed her eyes. He stopped. She found his hazel eyes yearning. Her arms and legs weakened with desire, as she allowed her weight to be half-supported by his tight embrace. Beads of sweat formed above her lip.

“You okay?” Jake whispered, centimeters away from her face.

Nia cleared her throat. “Yeah. You just scared me. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be out here.”

“I uh…heard your car was out, and I figured you could use a lift.”

She straightened her shoulders. “How’d you know about that?”

He flashed a look toward the Town Car and then looked back at her.

Her eyebrows furrowed. “Ah, you had me followed. How’d you even get my address? And what about your girl--”

“Claire?

“Yes,” she said, frowning. “Claire.” The Bitch has soured that name.

“She drove back up to Austin this morning. She lives there. She was supposed to leave tomorrow, but something came up with one of my properties that I had to deal with.”

He drew closer until his warm lips touched hers.

Stop. Her mouth relaxed as she allowed him entry. His firm tongue protruded into her mouth. She heard a faint voice in the background.

“Uh…excuse me. I don’t mean to interrupt anything,” Brie said, standing at the door. “We can go now, Nia.” Brie looked as though she could have strangled Jake with her bare hands.

“Hi,” Jake said, turning to her. “My driver will make sure Nia gets home safe and sound tonight.”

 Nia looked at Jake, then at her friend. Then she eyed the Town Car. “I don’t think so,” she said. I’m not about to get in that car.

“Why not? Wilson says he will be on his best behavior.” Jake nodded once at the driver, who stood with the passenger’s door wide open. 

Nia closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Do not get in this car.

“Okay. But only if we go straight home. My grandmother is waiting up for me.” Lie. She’s fast asleep by 9 every night of the week. Nia bit her lip and flattened both of her feet on the ground.

“What?!” Brie pouted her mouth, squinting her eyes. “Are you out of your mind? What about what we talked about in there?” She pointed toward the kitchen, her voice stern. Her back hunched from looking down at Nia.

 Nia looked down at the ground. “It’s just a ride home. That’s all.”

“Tsss…I don’t have time for this,” Brie looked away, and waved her hand down at Nia. “See ya later girl. Stay safe.” She pressed her unlock button on her keys, then headed for her car.

A cold shiver sneaked up Nia’s spine. Her mind begged for Brie to wait. She let out a barely audible quiver. Then she turned to examine Jake. I’m sure he’s fine. A man like Jake Carlton wouldn’t harm a fly….would he?

He stood with his soft lips closed, staring intently into her eyes. He said nothing. He held his hand out to her, and stood next to the door of the luxury sedan.

Nia bit her lip. She looked from Jake to the car, and then back to Jake.

She lowered her shoulders, and drew in a breath. She placed her hand in his, then stepped into the car. Jake closed the car door with two hands.

She sat with her hands on her lap, peeping at the two men outside her window. Wilson was as black as she was. He looked like he was in his late sixties, his hair graying on both sides. He wore a black hat, and ribbed, black, vested sweater. Jake gave a friendly hand to Wilson’s shoulder, then he walked around to the other side of the car. He got inside and gave her a lopsided smile. 

“All comfy?” Jake said, leaning toward her.

She nodded and studied the man who sat next to her.

“Wilson, Nia. Nia, Wilson.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Wilson,” she said.

“Thank you Miss Jones. We have been awaiting your arrival.”

Jake raised his eyebrows, cocked his head to the side, and formed his lips as if to whistle. “Alright now, Wilson.”

“How are you enjoying our Texas weather?” Jake asked her.

“I’m not sure which I like better. The heat or the mosquitoes.”

“You been through a storm yet?” His Texan accent came on heavier.

“No.”

“They get pretty fierce around these parts. You’ll be wishing you had the heat and mosquitoes,” He smiled at her, then sat further back in his seat.

She looked out of the window to check the street names.

Jake eyed her as she turned her head back around. “There’s a place I’d like to show you.”

“No, I’m sorry, I can’t,” she answered, her voice constricted.

He looked at her mouth while she spoke. Did he not hear the instructions to take me straight home? She sighed and watched the coming street through the front windshield.

He moved closer. His lips launched into hers.

His warm mouth felt so familiar to her now. She could feel the fervor of his desire playing upon her tongue. She immediately relaxed her shoulders, and allowed him entry.

She let out a small whimper. He magnetized her. His lips, his touch, the way he smelled. He knows. He knows how badly I want him. He responded to her whimper.

“Wilson, take us to Jack’s.”

She pulled away. “Who’s Jack? I need to get home.”

“There is no Jack. It’s my jazz bar.”

She gasped. “That’s your bar? I’ve heard of that place.” Nia’s eyes lit up. “My mama always loved jazz.” She let out a smile.

“Ah. Who’s her favorite?”

She looked at the carpeted floor of the car. “Wynton Marsalis. I don’t have many memories of her, but I do remember her putting him on the turntable.” She closed her eyes and smiled.

“I’m sorry, Nia.”

“Oh, thank you. But it’s okay. They both passed away when I was little.” Nia had said the words many times, but it still ached each time she said it.

Jake took her small hand into his large palm and rested it there, while Wilson plowed through Houston’s night.

“Ah. Here we are,” he said. “Just take us around back, Wilson.”

Cars lined up down the block. Guys wrapped their arms around decked out girls.

“I’ve never been out clubbing in Houston before. Am I dressed okay?” She asked.

“Nia, I don’t think the club has ever seen a more beautiful creature walk through the door,” Jake said, his eyes focused on her.

She reached in her purse for her compact mirror and lip color. She moistened her lips, rubbed them together, then stepped out of the car. Wilson held the door open for her, giving her a hand with balance. Is this all some sort of weird fairytale?

“Thank you, Wilson,” she said, flashing a smile.

She looked at Jake. “Just one drink,” she said, holding out her index finger.

He grabbed on to the finger as she lowered it, and then they snuck through a small blue door. Inside, the aroma of Creole food filled the air.

“This sorta looks like the kitchen at Arnie’s,” she said, looking around.

As they walked through, everybody saluted them and some bowed their heads. A dark-haired man dressed in a black Armani suit came to greet them.

“Nia, this is Thomas Stanley. He’s doing a fine job of running the place.”

Thomas embraced her hand and said, “So pleased to meet you Nia. If I can be of any service whatsoever, please don’t hesitate to call for me.”

“Well, thank you Thomas. Nice to meet you.”

“Everyone is so nice here,” she said as they headed for the dining room entrance.

Jake smiled and said, “Well, I’m a nice guy, what did you expect? Treat people well, and they treat you well.”

When they reached the other side of the door, another staff member greeted them with a notepad.

“Hello Mr. Carlton,” the young clean-cut blond said. He held out a hand to her. “Who is this lovely lady?”

“She is Nia. She is divine, isn’t she?” Jake looked sideways at her. His eyes lit up and rested on her smile.

“Absolutely. Your table is open. Shall we?”

The man ushered them to a small, round table sitting to the side of the stage. A white table cloth surrounded the table, and a red, low candlelight sat in the middle. The waiter pulled out two chairs, and placed their menus on the table. Jake pulled his chair over to hers, then sat down with her.

“I’ll have my regular, and she’ll have--”

“White wine, please,” Nia said, finishing Jake’s sentence.

“Bring out the Corton-Charlemagne, Joe. Scratch my regular. I’ll have what she’s having.”

“Beautiful place. Who is everybody here to see?”

“I think it’s James Louis, a young trumpeter out of the Third Ward.”

The lights dimmed, and on walked a keen, young man into the spotlight. His hair was styled into a tight afro, and he wore a beige, vested sweater. He began with a solo, then was later joined by a pianist and a drummer. He played his trumpet hard and fast.

The music intoxicated her. She could see Jake spying on her from the corner of her eye.

The trumpeter slowed down to play a smooth ballad.

Jake moved closer. “Beautiful night. Beautiful music. Beautiful woman. A man couldn’t ask for anything more.” He leaned forward and kissed her softly. She felt his soul beckoning for more. She opened her mouth freely, allowing him entrance, once again.

He brushed ever so gently over her lips, his tongue dancing with hers. The smoothness of the jazz trumpet moved them into a synchronized rhythm, each revealing the depth of their desire.

He raised his arm. “Check,” he said to the waiter.

“You pay for the drinks at your own restaurant?” She asked.

“If I don’t, the accountant gets off-balanced.”

The waiter brought the bill. Jake settled the bill. “Ready?”

A frown crept up to her mouth. He’s keeping his word. I’ll give him that. “Yes.”

She stood up and grasp her chair for balance. Jake held her waist.  He whispered, “I got you,” into her ear. He pressed his hand into the small of her back, guiding her toward the exit.

Outside, Wilson had the car waiting at the back door. Jake opened the car door and let her in. She sat inside and closed her eyes. She felt warmth.

Jake got in his side of the car. He closed the door and swiveled to wrap his arms around her. His warm embrace felt like red velvet. He plunged into her. She held her head back, looking away. She sensed his hunger. She returned to his gaze and pressed her lips into his neck. Sandalwood.

She felt the hand on her inner thigh advance into the warmth of her lace panties. Her breaths became heavier. She felt the wetness strewing down on to the cotton patch of the lace. Please don’t. I can’t.

She parted her thighs slightly. His fingers lingered on her thigh, then explored their way to her opening. He began a slow circle on her smooth clit. His fingers glided on the same track ever so gently. What is doing to me.

“Feels so good,” she whispered. She examined the hunger in his eyes.

He hastened his circling. She heard his breaths quickening. Then he stopped. Suddenly, two long fingers entered her canal.

He then breathed in a pattern that matched her own. He reached in deeper. He closed his eyes and curled his lips upward.

“You feel amazing inside,” he said. His gaze lingered, his eyes watching her every response.

She opened her thighs a little more, welcoming his heated touch. Her skirt inched upward. She lifted her pussy slightly, bracing her feet on the car floor.

His smooth fingers fit inside her well, triggering a wave of pleasure.

He immersed his tongue into her mouth, motioning back and forth. His fingers did the same. His other hand moved to massage her right breast. She sighed. Don’t ever stop.

She looked up, removed her mouth from his, and straightened her clothing to fit over her chest.

“I think this is moving a little too fast for me.”

“Absolutely. I agree. I just can’t control myself when I’m around you. You’re just so damn sexy, Nia.”

Jake removed his eyes from her realm and looked out to the street. Then he shot a glance at his driver.

“Tanglewood.”

Wilson looked in the rear view mirror and nodded at the command. He veered a sharp right, and continued down a dark, foresty road, lit by a crescent moon.

Chapter 4

“Wilson,” Nia said. “Stop the car. I need to get out.”

 She waited for acknowledgment from the driver. He continued on the same dark passage and said nothing. Nia’s eyebrows furrowed. She spun around to Jake.

“I told you just one drink. You got me to get in the car, we went to your bar, we had some fun. Now I want to go home,” she said, her voice rising with every pronounced syllable. “Why aren’t you taking me home?”

“Your body says otherwise,” he said quietly, eyes focused straight ahead. “You’re body doesn’t lie, Nia.”

Nia said nothing. True. The way she felt about this man was undeniable. He was kind, and giving. Yet, his firmness and strength left her warm and ardent. She wanted him and he knew.

They drove along a quiet, well-paved road lit by tall street lamps on either side. She peeped up at the houses. Each house was bigger than the former. The colorful front yards of the houses were partially lit with small accent lights. Each long pathway led to an enormous front door. Some of the driveways were long, disappearing into the back. Other driveways were round, stretching in a semi-circle from either side of the house, passing by the front door.

“Oh my god,” she said, raising her eyebrows and shaking her head. “Who lives here?”

“People,” Jake said. “Neighbors.” He looked down at the carpet, his cheeks turning slightly red.

She reached over and grasped his hand. “It’s okay. You work hard. I’m sure these people do too.”

“Yeah, well. Sometimes we take up a lot more space than we need. I’ve seen people over off Tidwell that could have a decent life just living in the garage of one of these houses. It’s embarrassing, really. But we try and make up for it as best we can by giving back to the community. At least I do. I can’t speak for my neighbors.”

Nia nodded and continued scrutinizing the houses. Her Aunt Shirley always told her that money didn’t change a person. It simply brought out more of whatever was already there. Mean people got more callous. Nice people became more giving. How can these people even live like this when Third Ward is just a few miles down the road? Nia shook her head in disgust.

“Well, money can’t buy you happiness,” she said.

“No, but it can buy you freedom,” he said.

They pulled into a round driveway, behind a black Lamborghini. She looked through Jake’s window at the enormity of the house that sat before her. The grounds were perfectly manicured, with ferns and patches of fine blades. Red carnations graced the entry. The walkway and entry were made of rock and stone. Steps led up to a large, mahogany door surrounded by beveled glass windows.

“This house looks familiar,” she said, furrowing her eyebrows.

“Hmm…looks familiar to me too,” Jake said with a lopsided grin. “Shall we see what’s inside?”

“Smart ass.” Nia laughed. “That wine was good. I’m still feelin’ it. You?”

He paused to look at her. “I’m still feeling you.”

They stood at the front door. Her stomach swelled with butterflies. What was this place she was about to enter? The house was huge.

“Do you live here by yourself?”

“Yep. Well, with Wilson and Genevieve. Genevieve’s entire family was brutally butchered to death in Uganda when she was a teenager. After she came to America, she met my parents. She became like a second mother to me. My parents put her through college. She went to school, studied art, then came back and told my parents she didn’t want to leave us. I was getting too big to have a nanny.” Jake smiled. “So she became my personal assistant.”

“I see. And your parents?”

“They retired and moved to a ranch up by Austin. They wanted to sell this old house, but I wouldn’t let them,” he said, looking at the high arched ceiling of the raised entryway. “So I bought it from them at a fair price.”

“Your parents sold you their house?”

“Yep. I work for everything I have. My dad put me to work in the family business when I was only 9 years old. He wanted me to learn the value of a dollar.” He unlocked the door, then reached behind to push some numbers on a white, digital panel.

She took her first step into the house. Her eyes widened. She gasped, then quickly covered her gaping mouth. The sight paralyzed her. The chandelier, the marble floor, the baby grand piano. The dream.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

She relaxed her hand. “I feel like I’ve been here before. Just a bit of deja vu, I guess.”

“You belong here,” he said, his hazel eyes focusing on her. “Wilson has gone around back. It’s just us here.” He held out his arm for her to grasp. “Shall we?”

They walked through the foyer to a large family room. Wide, tall windows ran from the floor to the high-beamed ceiling. A sleek, oak bar with stools sat in the corner of the room. A comfortable-looking black leather sectional sat in the middle.

“Have a seat,” he said, motioning toward the sofa. “What would you like to drink?”

“I’m good with just water. I’m still a little tipsy from the wine.”

Jake prepared two glasses of ice water and sat down with Nia.

“It’s beautiful here,” she said.

He kissed her. She felt his fiery passion and responded by returning the heat. Her hunger matched his, and they swiftly advanced into fervent desire. Her pelvis burned from the longing. She could feel liquid oozing from her opening below.