Breaking All My Rules

Breaking All My Rules

4.5 7
by Trice Hickman
     
 

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Born into wealth, Erica Stanford has followed in her family's successful footsteps and now runs her own upscale boutique in an affluent Washington, D.C., neighborhood. But despite her good fortune, she's still missing someone special to share her life with—until a chance encounter changes everything...

Handsome, rugged Jerome Kimbrough is hard to miss among

…  See more details below

Overview

Born into wealth, Erica Stanford has followed in her family's successful footsteps and now runs her own upscale boutique in an affluent Washington, D.C., neighborhood. But despite her good fortune, she's still missing someone special to share her life with—until a chance encounter changes everything...

Handsome, rugged Jerome Kimbrough is hard to miss among the fellow citizens serving jury duty with Erica. And as the two get to know each other over the course of a two-week trial, their relationship soon turns into a passionate romance. Although they come from opposite worlds—Jerome is a blue-collar, city sanitation employee—they’re both hard working dreamers with big ambitions. Yet while their differences aren't an issue for them, their friends, family—and Erica's ex-fiancé—disagree. As all involved are forced to confront their hidden stereotypes, can Erica and Jerome endure the challenges in store for them—including a startling secret that could destroy it all?…

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Trice Hickman is an amazing writer and storyteller!"
—Kimberla Lawson Roby

"I can't wait to see what Trice Hickman does next!"
—Mary Monroe, New York Times bestselling author

"A phenomenal read."
RT Book Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This novel, about a successful D.C. businesswoman who falls for a guy from the wrong side of town, entertains despite relying heavily on tired chick lit tropes. Though Erica Stanford comes from wealth, owns her own body-care brand, and is drop-dead gorgeous, love has been elusive since she dumped her fiancé. She also suffers from nightmares triggered by her father getting shot on her 10th birthday. Though she feels an immediate attachment to Jerome Kimbrough, a garbage man with a questionable past, who is now a loving father working toward having his own business, their backgrounds keep getting in the way of love. Jerome wonders if Erica is slumming, or worse, cheating, thanks to her ex-fiancé’s frequent reappearances. Erica’s best friend Ashley floats the idea that Jerome might be a stalker, and uses Erica’s romance to voice her own misgivings about dating a white man. Hickman’s (Play the Hand You’re Dealt) narrative is engaging despite clunky exposition (“I grew up behind the gilded gates of Hill Crest Manor just like you,” Ashley tells lifelong pal Erica) and a plethora of ridiculous coincidences and misunderstandings, including one that awkwardly brings the story full circle. Manage to ignore these and you’ll enjoy the story’s heart. (Mar.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780758287212
Publisher:
Kensington
Publication date:
06/30/2015
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
667,263
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Breaking All My Rules


By Trice Hickman

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2013 Trice Hickman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61773-999-6


CHAPTER 1

"Nooooo!" Erica screamed over and over, gasping for breath, drowning in fear. She was falling. Falling fast. Her slender arms and thick legs flailed through the air as if she were on a runaway roller coaster. Her mouth gaped open and her eyes bulged wide when she realized what was next to come.

She knew it would only be a matter of seconds before she hit the hard, rugged earth below. Death was near. She could feel it. Hear it calling her name. Smell it invading her nostrils. The bitter taste of it filling her mouth as she screamed. Then, suddenly, her panic and fear vanished into the whisper-thin air around her. She couldn't explain her newfound sense of calm, or what had caused the shift, so she did the only thing that was left to do at such a terrifying moment—she obeyed it.

She stopped struggling.

She relaxed her tired limbs and welcomed the uncomfortable peace spreading through every inch of her flaccid body—the kind of peace that only death could bring. This is it, Erica thought as she swallowed hard. She closed her eyes, anticipated the rough gravel and dirt that lay mere inches away, and readied herself for the fatal impact.

Bonk! Beep! Bonk! Beep! Bonk!

Erica shot straight up in her bed and fumbled as she reached over to silence the alarm clock blaring loudly near her head. Her chest heaved up and down with rapid speed as her lungs fought for air. She took two deep breaths, closed her eyes tightly, and began to slowly count backward from ten until her body no longer trembled with fear.

She breathed in and out as her heart searched for its natural rhythm. After several minutes she was finally able to inhale and exhale at a normal pace. "Thank you, God," she whispered, covering her parched mouth with her trembling hand. The exercise had worked again, just as it had so many other nights and mornings in the past.

Erica slumped her tense shoulders and shook her head, falling back onto her pillow. Waking up like this made her wish she could end her day before it began.

It was Friday morning, and despite the fact that the weatherman had forecast a bright, beautiful day to start what promised to be a picturesque weekend, Erica felt as if dark clouds were hovering directly above her head, ready to drench her at any moment.

"Aggghhhh," she moaned.

Erica Stanford was normally an upbeat, optimistic go-getter who always looked on the cheery side of things, no matter how bleak. If she had a bad day at work, she didn't sweat it, because she knew the next day would be better. If she missed out on a business contract, she didn't get discouraged, because she was confident that a much better opportunity would be waiting around the corner. Whatever the situation, she always tried to change her way of thinking so that she felt empowered rather than trapped by the challenges that faced her. But lately her state of mind had been steering counter to her character, and she couldn't seem to shake the funk it brought in its wake.

She knew she should adopt a better outlook and operate from a more hopeful place. After all, she'd learned long ago that negative thoughts led only to negative outcomes. But no matter how hard she tried to conjure up her usual glass-half-full, rainbow-laden optimism, she couldn't run from her haunting dreams or the seemingly bad luck that was bearing down on her.

This was the second nightmare she'd had this month, and she could feel the heavy weight of her past pressing into her here and now.

Erica turned over again and shifted her body against her dampened Egyptian cotton sheets as she adjusted her purple gown, which now clung to her skin. She wiped her perfectly arched brow, thinking about how her frightful dreams were always accompanied by unsparing panic and horrid night sweats.

Whenever she felt stressed, unsure, anxious, or confused, the nightmares would return. Some nights she was chased through winding, narrow streets that never seemed to end. At other times she was hiding from faceless assailants whose footsteps nipped at her heels. And in her darkest, most alarming dreams, she was completely helpless and without a way to protect herself. Those were the dreams she feared most, like the one she'd just had—falling powerlessly from the sky without a soul to help save her.

But no matter the particulars of her dreams, the results were always the same; she was fighting for her life, awaking just in the nick of time to save herself from a fatal ending. It had been that way for the last twenty-five years, and it had all started the night of her tenth birthday.

After a whirlwind day of fun, laughter, and gifts that had been capped off with chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream to celebrate her first double-digit birthday, Erica and her family had settled in for the evening. A peaceful quiet rested over their large brick and stucco home as her mother finished cleaning the kitchen and her father read in his study. Erica and Nelson, her twelve-year-old brother, were walking upstairs to their bedrooms when they heard frightening sounds that froze their feet into place.

From out of nowhere, a thunderous crash of glass, followed by the terrifying sound of gunshots, sliced through the still night. What happened next raced by so fast that neither young Erica nor Nelson had time to react as they stood motionless, watching the violent scene unfold before their helpless eyes.

In the span of the few seconds that it took her mother to dial 911, Erica's father was shot twice after racing from his study to defend his family. But despite his wounds he managed to break the would-be thief's arm, bust open his nose and lip, and leave him a bloody mess before the man hastily limped away through the broken glass of their patio door to a getaway car that had been parked down the street.

The intruder, a drug-hazed career criminal, was apprehended the very next day. Thankfully, Erica's father survived the brutal attack. It took months for the wounds to his right shoulder and upper abdomen to heal, but the emotional scars lingered with the family for long after. It was especially hard for Erica, a sensitive child who wore her emotions on her sleeve.

The violent home invasion had traumatized her on a day that had been otherwise filled with nothing but goodness.

Erica learned many things on that fateful night. She learned how strong and fearless her father was. How calm and levelheaded her mother was. How resilient and determined her brother was. And how painfully fragile she was. But most of all, she learned that no matter how wonderful your day started out, everything could change after the sun went down.

CHAPTER 2

Looking at her alarm clock for a second time, Erica considered crawling back under her luxuriously soft bedsheets. But instead of giving in to the urge to hug her mattress and block out the world, she willed herself to stand up, put one foot in front of the other, and lumber her way downstairs to her kitchen to make a cup of coffee.

Erica knew what her problem was, and she'd been thinking about this day ever since she had looked at the calendar last Tuesday and realized its significance.

She wanted to pull herself out of the dreary place where she was stuck, because it was like being locked inside a room without a key. But try as she might, lately it seemed as if every time her mind took one step forward, something would go wrong and pull her back two paces. And this morning she felt as though the gun had sounded but she was still hunched over the starting block, already behind in the race.

"You've got to get it together, sister," Erica whispered to herself as she rubbed sleep from her tired eyes.

One of the reasons for her less than enthusiastic mood was the fact that she had to report to D.C. Superior Court for jury duty by 8:00 a.m., which meant she had to leave soon. She had a jam-packed workweek ahead, filled with a million and one things she had to do at Opulence, the high-end bath and body care boutique she owned. The next three weeks were crucial for her business's future growth.

Through a combination of networking, planning, and being in the right place at the right time, she'd managed to score a game-changing business opportunity. Opulence products were going to be included in the coveted swag bags at the highly anticipated Tracy Reese fashion show during New York City's famed Fashion Week. Erica was ecstatic about the stroke of good fortune, because she knew it was going to catapult her small company to an entirely new level.

But ever since she'd signed the contract eight months ago to seal the sweet deal, everything that could go wrong had. From a mix-up with her chemical formulations for Paradise, the new body butter she planned to debut at Fashion Week, to a breakdown in price negotiations with a longtime supplier, to one of her employees abruptly quitting two days ago, leaving her short staffed, Erica had been scrambling to hold things together.

Her days were rushed, her nights were long, and the last thing she needed at this pivotal juncture was an all-day trip to the courthouse.

But the other source of her frustration, and what felt like a subtle blow to the pit of her stomach, could be summed up in three small, but painful words ... Claude Daniel Richardson. Or as her best friend, Ashley, not so affectionately called him, Lucifer!

Today made exactly six months since Erica and Claude had broken up, bringing their two-year romance to a crushing end. Erica knew that she shouldn't let a failed relationship have this kind of effect on her, especially since breaking up with Claude had been for the best. But she hadn't met a decent man worth mentioning since their split, or even gone on a date, and now her gloomy love life only added to her already dampened spirits.

Her breakup with Claude had been just one in a long string of disappointments that she'd experienced with men, and now she was what she'd secretly feared—a statistic. She was one of the reported 42.4 percent of single black women who had yet to marry. And worse still, she didn't see her prospects for matrimony getting any better, because one needed to actually meet and date men for that to happen, and right now things were looking fairly dim.

But what concerned Erica even more was the thought that she might reach over to the ugly side of that dreaded statistic and become the stereotypical bitter, angry black woman who ranted about all of life's woes and the sorry, no-good men who'd dogged her, yet didn't have an amiable disposition to attract anything different. That was why she was always mindful to be pleasant and kind to everyone she met.

Erica shook her head when she thought about her ex. Claude Richardson was supposed to have remedied her statistical fears. He was supposed to have been "the one." She'd thought he was her black prince, the man who would give her the two kids, the dog, and the big, beautiful home that most women dreamed of, and that she'd been accustomed to growing up.

Claude was the man who all her family and friends, sans Ashley, had referred to as a good catch. He was a successful investment banker who owned a sprawling home in the wealthy Palisades neighborhood of northwest Washington, D.C. He was handsome, successful, educated, well mannered, and responsible. He opened doors, always remembered special occasions and holidays, and showered Erica with thoughtful gifts and any material thing she desired.

After their split, Erica had received condolences and a strong show of support from her girlfriends, who had said things like, "I'm so sorry to hear about you and Claude. He was one of the good ones," and "I can't believe you and Claude called it quits! You two were absolutely perfect together." But within days, the very friends who had shared drinks with her, offering sympathetic words of comfort, had added Claude to their phones' speed dial and had linked up with him through various social networking sites. The murky, shark-infested waters of the D.C. dating scene were brutal, and it was all about survival of the craftiest.

Erica opened the cabinet over her sink and reached in for her Winston-Salem State University coffee mug. "Damn, why can't I at least go out on a decent date?" she mumbled to herself, thinking about her crappy luck with men. But she knew the answer to that question before she'd asked it. The real truth was that her work schedule and her underlying fear of being disappointed again were both blocking her way.

She inhaled the sweet aroma of hazelnut-flavored coffee and watched as her Keurig machine produced a liquid stream of black gold that filled her ceramic mug. She shook her head again, remembering how much Claude's lying ass loved a piping hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning. "Why didn't I see it coming?" Erica asked herself.

On the surface, Erica and Claude had been the ideal couple. They had both graduated in the top 10 percent of their class from Winston-Salem State University, loyally following in the tradition of both their parents and grandparents by attending a historically black college. They had each earned advanced degrees from Ivy League schools, Erica's in fine arts from Columbia, and Claude's in business from Yale. Even their backgrounds growing up had been similar. They each hailed from well-connected, old-money families and had been raised in affluent suburban neighborhoods—she in Maryland, he in Pennsylvania. As everyone had said, they were great together. At least on paper.

Erica had met Claude at a cocktail fund-raiser for a popular D.C. councilman who'd been running for reelection. She had attended the swank downtown affair at the urging of Ashley, a gregarious but pragmatic prosecutor who was in the know about all things social. "This event is not to be missed," she'd raved to Erica. "Everyone who's anyone will be at Councilman Perry's fund-raiser, so put on your best dress and sexiest heels, 'cause, girl, that party is the place to be!"

Claude and Erica had locked eyes from the moment she entered the hotel's lavish ballroom. Her confident stride and natural beauty had instantly attracted him. From her shapely figure and curvy hips, which she swayed like a gentle breeze, to her radiant chestnut-brown skin, which looked dewy to the touch, to her full, kissable lips painted in burgundy blush, to the neatly trimmed shoulder-length bob she sported with fierce style, Erica had captivated him.

Even though they shared the same undergraduate alma mater, they'd never formally met before that night. They were a few years apart in age, so by the time Erica had entered WSSU as an eager freshman, Claude was a graduating senior and an established big man on campus.

Erica had heard all the buzz about Claude during her first week of classes. She and Ashley had been roommates, but they'd shared completely different views on the handsome upperclassman. Erica thought he was amazing, while Ashley thought he was, as she often smirked, a slick-ass phony. But despite Ashley's negative feelings about him, Erica managed to get her best friend to tag along with her to social events where Claude would be. Admiring him from afar became her hobby.

Claude had been a star quarterback, a university scholar, a popular fraternity hunk, and the object of desire in nearly every young coed's fantasies, as well as some of the faculty members'. A knee injury during an end-of-the-season play-off game had sidelined his hopes of an NFL career, but his brains and strategic planning landed him in business school and then led him straight into a lucrative career with a prestigious investment banking firm.

Initially, Claude hadn't had a clue as to who the gorgeous brown beauty was when he'd spied Erica gracefully sipping champagne by a buffet table with an attractive woman, who he later learned was Ashley—the only woman he'd ever met who couldn't be lulled by his charms. But Erica had known exactly who he was, and she was looking forward to becoming better acquainted.

Once Claude introduced himself, they exercised the standard Q & A etiquette that available singles in their social milieu practiced. They quickly established a connection, and despite not wanting to swoon over him, Erica was hooked at their first hello.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Breaking All My Rules by Trice Hickman. Copyright © 2013 Trice Hickman. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

TRICE HICKMAN is an award-winning and bestselling author. Prior to becoming a published author, Trice worked in management positions in higher education as well as corporate America. She holds a BA degree from Winston-Salem State University and an MA degree from Wake Forest University. Visit Trice online at www.tricehickman.com.

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Breaking All My Rules 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was amazing you won third prize for the book collection!
OOSABookClub More than 1 year ago
A notice for jury duty could not have come at a worse time for Erica Stanford. The owner of Opulence, a high-end bath and body care boutique, she is gearing up for Fashion Week. Her products are to be included in swag bags. This opportunity could be crucial to her business’s future so attending jury duty presents a huge snag in her plans and preparations. While happy to have some time off from his job as a garbage man, Jerome Kimbrough dreads the possibility of being stuck in court all day. Also having had more than one brush with the law in his youth, court isn’t a place he’s looking forward to being. The attraction is instant. The chemistry is off the chart. Obviously from different sides of the track, will this couple be able to overcome their differences, to break all their rules? “Breaking All My Rules” by Trice Hickman is a love story. This tale of love is also a story about change, differences and acceptance. Hickman keeps things lively and the story moving as obstacles occur, realistic obstacles with emotions to match, that must be dealt with. In doing so, she delivers another enjoyable and entertaining read. With “Unexpected Interruptions,” Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies,” “Playing the Hand You’re Dealt,” and “Breaking All My Rules,” Trice Hickman is a force to be reckoned with. I look forward to reading more from this talented author. Reviewed by: Toni
Rhea-Alexis More than 1 year ago
Trice Hickman penned a novel that held you captivatingly enthralled from the onset.  Break All My Rules is the journey of Erica Stanford who was born of wealth and is an owner of an upscale boutique and Jerome Kimbrough who is a street savvy sanitation worker and dedicated father that has changed his life’s path.   This tale begins when these two meet during jury duty and there’s an instant attraction.  As they try to build a future, their union is plagued with drama from the people around them from non-associates to family to ex‘s .  Having to deal with the obvious differences of their life styles and upbringings, things are farther complicated by their family, familial connections and others that are doing things that add strife to their struggling beginning.   We witness their trials and triumphs then a long held secret explodes…. read this 5 star novel and see if their love can endure.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
MissMOLY More than 1 year ago
We all have “Rules” when it comes to Love…. We all know what we “Want” when it comes to Love…. We all want Love on “Our terms”… Sorry to burst your bubble… There are no set rules to Love. Love has a way of sneaking up on you. The last thing on Erica’s mind is falling in love, especially after breaking up with her boyfriend, Claude six months ago. She spends all of her time running her upscale boutique, Opulence. When Erica is summoned to do jury duty, her love life takes an unexpected turn. Jerome Kimbrough is a hard-working man who has had his own share of problems, but is determined to turn over a new leaf. When he is summoned for jury duty, he never expects to experience love at first sight. Will their differences bring them closer or will it drive them further apart. Breaking All My Rules is a novel that is sure to delight readers. While reading this book someone asked me to describe Trice Hickman’s writing. My response was her words are like warm milk – it soothes the soul. While reading this book I found myself getting lost in the words and the emotions of the characters. I enjoyed the sexual chemistry between the main characters. The writing made it very easy to experience the newness of the relationship. Side Note: My favorite character was Ashley… I definitely could relate to her on some levels. I highly recommend this book. I can’t wait to read the sequel. Orsayor
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am such a huge fan of Trice Hickman! I have purchased and read all of her novels and she has never disappointed me! This book is fantastic! If you haven't already purchased a copy please do so. I guarantee that you will be happy that you did. It is full of romance, suspense and just enough drama to keep you wanting to read more. In other words, once you start reading it you won't want to put it down! Congratulations Trice...you have done it again! -D. Smith, Winston-Salem, NC 
gmfuhlman More than 1 year ago
Well Trice Hickman, has done it once again. Writing a book that shows both a business woman, and a blue collar worker. These two characters in this story they come from difference background. But when you filter in the family’s them you know that there going to be problems.  You keep reading because you want to know what is going to happen to these two people who found love… I don’t want to give too much of the story away, because I really did enjoy this story. It only took me a day to read the book, because I needed to get some sleep.
AliciaLuv2Read More than 1 year ago
Best Selling Author Trice Hickman has done it again. She has given us a fast paced, drama filled page turner in true Trice Hickman style. "Breaking All My Rules" takes us on a journey with Erica and Jerome as they attempt to live their lives by the rules, not my type, different side of the tracks or even not the typical doesn't look like my type rules. Erica and Jerome both find out that rules are meant to be broken but of course with some jaw dropping drama thrown into the mix. You will not be disappointed when you pick up your copy of "Breaking All My Rules"