A Hire Love

( 15 )


In Candice Dow's witty, romantic new novel, a woman whose young husband dies unexpectedly comes up with the perfect plan to find a new man, and learns that writing her own happy ending comes with a few surprises. . .

Fatima Mayo had it all--a gorgeous, loving husband;a creative job as a romance editor;and a fabulous home in New York City. But when her husband died suddenly of a heart attack, her life lost its luster. Now after three years of ...

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A Hire Love

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In Candice Dow's witty, romantic new novel, a woman whose young husband dies unexpectedly comes up with the perfect plan to find a new man, and learns that writing her own happy ending comes with a few surprises. . .

Fatima Mayo had it all--a gorgeous, loving husband;a creative job as a romance editor;and a fabulous home in New York City. But when her husband died suddenly of a heart attack, her life lost its luster. Now after three years of widowhood, she's decided to plunge back into the dating pool.

But dating services are enough to put any woman off men forever. Her friend Mya jokingly suggests that Fatima will only find the perfect guy if she writes a script and hires an actor to play the role, and suddenly Fatima has the perfect idea. She will write a script--and Mya, a casting director, will find the ideal leading man.

Good-looking, intelligent, and talented, Rashad Watkins's acting career is going nowhere. The money Fatima offers is good--but he realizes immediately that the companionship the sexy young widow offers is even better. What he feels for Fatima is the real thing. But now he has to prove he's not just acting. . .

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758219381
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 2/1/2007
  • Pages: 290
  • Product dimensions: 8.54 (w) x 11.06 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Read an Excerpt

A Hire Love

By Candice Dow


Copyright © 2007 Candice Dow
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7582-1938-5

Chapter One

Scene 1


I scrounged around the house stuffing papers in my bag. When I reached the front door, I realized that I hadn't had my caffeine. I rushed back into the kitchen and opened almost every cabinet. Where is it? I just bought some yesterday. After a five-minute search, I noticed the huge Pathmark bag on the kitchen table stuffed with bags of coffee. It was too late to even consider, so I rushed out and I peeked in the mirror over the dining room table. My wedding portrait on the opposite wall was reflected in it. Derrick smiled at me. Just as I do every morning, I took a deep breath and smiled back. His voice vibrated through the room: "Chill out, Fatty."

I frowned at him through the mirror. He continued, "You can't take on this world by yourself. You need help. It's that time."

With my hands propped on my hips, I rolled my neck. "Time for what?"

The silence left me wondering if I were hallucinating. Here I am speaking to myself and hearing him. Maybe it was time. It was time for me to get my butt to work.

After sprinting up 138th Street to Adam Clayton Powell, I stuck my arm out and hopped into a gypsy cab. I exhaled, "Fifth Avenue. Between Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth."

This, of course, would be the day that someone would want to play me. I wiped the moistness forming on my nose. Then, I askedhim to repeat the amount I thought he stated. "How much?"

With a strong West African accent, he said, "Twenty dollar."

"No, fifteen."

He demanded, "Twenty dollar."

"I catch a taxi everyday from here. It's fifteen."

He continued to drive. "Twenty."

"Whatever. Fifteen-or I'll get out first."

This bastard called my bluff, as he had the audacity to pull over on 125th Street and pop the trunk. What could I say? No, you're going to take me to work for the right price?

Instead, I flung the door open and contemplated cursing him out, but I chilled. My mobile office was in his trunk. Five dollars wasn't worth losing the possible bestseller that I was reading.

He said, "Six dollars."


As I rushed to the back of the car, I spit obscenities. Why this morning of all mornings? When I looked up and saw Starbucks, I was thankful. It's hard to cope without coffee. Derrick learned early in our relationship that I was addicted. He would have it ready for me by the time I got out of the shower. He'd always brag that that was the key to our happiness. Derrick spoke to me again, "Fatty, you need a hug."

I do not need a hug. I just need some coffee and I'm twenty steps away.

"You need someone to take care of you."

I can take care of myself. The last person that offered to take care of me retired early, so I'm not interested.

"Yes, you are. Maybe you should start dating."

Dating? Do I look like I have time to date?

"You have to make time. I'm dying watching you battle this world alone."

Ah! I think you already died. It's a great thing that everyone in New York is crazy, because no one questioned my conversation with the sky. I rushed into Starbucks and ordered my medication. As I stood there waiting for it, Derrick made sense.

When the caffeine circulated through my blood, I woke up. Why am I acting like I'm dead, too? I am young and vibrant. How long am I expected to be the mourning widow? You're right, Derrick. It is time.

It was as if all I ever wanted was his permission, because I was suddenly eager to get on the dating scene. I rushed out and hailed a taxi. Again, I told him where I was going. He nodded. I asked, "How much?"


I nodded and rested my head on the cracked leather seat. I called my home girl, Mya. As the phone rang, I giggled about how Derrick used to call us C1 and C2. That stood for Country One and Two. She grew up in Mississippi and I'm an Alabama girl and we met first day of freshman year at NYU. We took pride in our country nicknames. Guess that's the Southern happy side of us, but over the years we've become more Northern than Southern. She answered, "Hey, Tima. What's up, lady?"

"Hey, C2."

"Haven't heard that one in awhile. What's going on? I tried calling you last night."

"I was reading."

"The story of your life."

"Pretty much. Anyway, girl, I had that dream that Derrick is still alive. You know the one where he comes to the funeral . . ."

Although I don't believe it was intentional, she sighed impatiently and confirmed that she recalled which one. Her familiar snicker told me her thoughts. She thought I was insane. Considering the circumstances, I do damn good. Imagine marrying the man of your dreams at the age of twenty-two and he ups and kicks the bucket by the time you're twenty-five.

"Well, why did my alarm clock come on and his favorite song was playing? I mean I just felt his presence."


"I feel like he wanted to tell me that I'm free to date again."

She laughed. "Again? You've never dated. He is the only person you ever dated."

"I did date."


"Remember freshman year, I went out with ..." I paused. "Um ..."

"No! I remember you interning at Vibe magazine freshman year and becoming Derrick Mayo's assistant." She chuckled again. "And he scooped your young, tender, country butt up."

"I didn't get that internship until May. What was I doing before then?"

"Being a nerd."

"All right. Whatever. I think I want to start dating."

"Tima, are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure."

Apprehension rumbled in her sigh. "Tima?"


Time had ticked away so rapidly. It took almost two years to get over the shock. He drove me to work. I kissed him good-bye. He said, "Kiss me again, Fatty." I kissed him again and he asked, "Do you love me?"

Though he should have always been stressed, it was never evident in his face. But that morning, his forehead was wrinkled. Dark rings formed shadows under his eyes. There was a cloud over him as I voluntarily leaned in for another kiss. "Of course I love you, honey."

"See you at seven."

"Where are we eating?" I laughed. He'd worried me all night about going to get ice cream. I said, "Ben and Jerry's?"

He chuckled. "We'll hit BJs after dinner. I'll call you after lunch."

I hopped out of the car and that was our last exchange, our last words. The phone call that came wasn't from him, but his secretary. He was rushed to the hospital and pronounced DOA. For two years, I waited for the punchline. This last year, I've just been trying to stay afloat. It wasn't until he mentioned it this morning that I internalized my loneliness. I swore if Derrick wasn't reincarnated, I would be single forever. Hey, some things are easier said than done.

As my mind reminisced on our last encounter, the phone sat glued to my ear and the taxi driver asked, "Left side or right?"

I sputtered, "Right."

Mya was still on the other end, explaining why she thought I wasn't prepared for the dating game. "Mya, maybe you're not ready for me to date?"

"I guess. It's just a dog-eat-dog world out here. I don't want you to have to deal with that. See, I know what's out here. I think you'll be shell-shocked."

"Whatever. Maybe we can go for a drink later and discuss the pros and cons. I have to go. I'm at work now. What's your day like?"

"I have a casting at one. Depending on how many good actors come out will determine how long my day will be. I'll call you and let you know."

I sighed. "Oh the life of a casting director."

"Tell me about it."

Shortly before one, Mya called. Surprisingly, her first question was, "Are you sure about this dating thing?"


"Okay, if you're really serious. I guess I should do my part to help you out."


She suggested I use a dating service. My lips curled. "Girl, please. Only desperate people use services like that."

She laughed. "See what I mean? You don't know anything about dating. Remember, that romance stuff you edit is fiction. Real people are on the Internet, using services, and anything that works."

"Whatever? I know some people use those services, but not me."

As she rushed off the phone, she did her best to convince me why I needed to go to an upscale dating service. "Although it's just a date, he needs to be handpicked." She snickered. "Okay, so I made you an appointment with the Black Love Agency."

My nose wrinkled. "That sounds like a porno agency."

"See, you are so outdated." She paused. "Now, would I send you to some sketchy place?"

"I guess not. When is the appointment?"

"This evening at six."


"Yeah, I just sent the email with all the details."


"I figured we should do it while you're pumped. Tomorrow might be too late. Who knows? Derrick may drop by tonight and tell you he changed his mind and he doesn't want you to date."

"You are such a smart-ass."

"Love me or leave me alone. I got to go. Hopefully, we'll talk before you go. If not, we'll hook up after your meeting."

My mouth sat open and my heart pounded, as I held the phone. Kia, my editorial assistant, stood in the doorway and interrupted my thought process. Her timid smile greeted my confused look. My eyes shifted left and right. Hers returned the gesture. As I motioned for her to enter, I laughed.

Unaware of the joke, she laughed too. I asked, "Kia, would you use a dating service to find a date?"

"Uh, a dating service?"

I smirked. "You're single, right?"

She nodded as I tried to recall my last question. "Yeah, you're single or yeah, you'd use a dating service?"

She covered her smile with her right hand. "Both."

"Would you?"

She nodded, and I asked, "Really?"

"Yeah, if I could afford it."

"So, is this what people do?"

"Yeah, some people. Most people will try anything at first."

Her confidence surfaced as she became the expert and I, the rookie. She continued, "It's just another way of meeting people. That's how I look at it. You never know where you'll find love."

Love. Technically, I've already had my shot at love, a love that would be impossible to replace, so I am just searching for a date. She giggled as my mind wandered off.

"I don't know." I lowered my chin and said, "I have an appointment at Black Love this evening."

"That's great, Fatima. I heard of people meeting nice guys through that agency."

Her excitement settled the doubt blustering in me, I blushed. "Really? So you think I should go?"

"Yeah, tell me how it works out for you."

"I certainly will."

After I changed from my stilettos into my loafers, I dodged to the subway to make my appointment on time. While I sat on the train, I took note of all the people without rings. It would be interesting to take a survey of how many people would be willing to go through an agency. When the train approached my stop, I daydreamed. Derrick's voice yanked me from my seat and before I could rationalize, I stood in front of the building.

Do I really have to stoop this low? As I debated the purpose of an agency, my cell phone rang. Mya shouted in my ear, "Go ahead, Fatima. Go in."

"How do you know that I'm not already inside?"

"Because I know you."

After looking around to make sure no one recognized me, I grabbed the door. "Whatever. I'm already inside."

"No, you're not. I can hear all the traffic on the street. You can't fool me. I know you too well."

"All right, all right. I'm going in now."

"Okay. Call me as soon as you're done."

Just as a matter of accuracy, I checked the directory for the suite. When I noticed only the initials BLA on the plate, I thought that was suspect. Why didn't they want to publicize that they were the Black Love Agency?

Before getting on the elevator, I took a deep breath. Inside the elevator, I took another deep breath. As the elevator went higher and higher, my reasons increased: You can't be single forever. An occasional date to accompany you to professional engagements. A nice guy to take you out to dinner. And after a three-year drought, an occasional lay probably wouldn't hurt either.

I stood in front of the young receptionist and smiled. "Uh ..."

"Good evening. Do you have an appointment?"

"Yes. My name is Fatima." As I was about to state my last name, I felt like I was committing adultery. When I looked at the twenty-something black chick across from me, I wanted to beeline out of there. Most people who knew people knew Derrick Mayo. How could I use his last name at the damn Black Love Agency?

"Fatima Barnes?" she asked.

My eyes expanded and my smile stretched even wider, because Mya was clever enough to book the appointment using my maiden name. I felt pumped again.

The receptionist handed me a clipboard with a stack of papers. "If you could just fill these out and give me your thousand-dollar deposit, we can get started."

Can't I appraise the damn prospects before they want to take my money? I leaned onto her desk, "So, do you think it's worth it?"

She shrugged her shoulders. "A lot of people say it is. Many of our clients have gotten married."

"So, usually how many dates do most people go on before they find what they're looking for?"

"Well, we charge a thousand per month and you get unlimited dates. So, it's hard for me to say. I mean most people stay with us on average three or four months." Trying to whisper, she added, "You know, depending on their personality, some are with us longer."

"This is the first time I've ever done anything like this." Her smirk assured me that she thought I was lying. "Yeah, I understand."

"Do you have any tips?"

She chuckled. "Only pick men who are new to the service."

"Thanks." I checked out the nameplate on her desk. "Sha-kee-me-a. Did I pronounce it correctly?"

"Yeah, most people get it wrong. That's amazing."

Being that people often mispronounce my name, I know how important it is to get it right the first time. "Yeah, I hate when people say my name wrong."

She nodded. "I know. I blame my mother though."

I laughed and plopped into one of the chairs in the waiting area. "Uh-huh. Me too."

We giggled a bit about the name game before I began filling out the stack of papers. As I plowed through the pages, I became apprehensive. There were too many clauses. They're not responsible if someone kills me. They will not refund for loss or damaged property. This is ludicrous. As I disputed everything on every page, I scribbled in my address, my name, my expectations, my signature, and damn it, I signed my check.

I stepped back up to Shakemia's desk and handed her the clipboard. Before I gave her the check, I asked, "Are you sure it's worth it?"

She nodded. "Yeah, we have a good selection of men. You'll be happy with our services."


She winked. "I'll look out for you."

I covered my chest with my hand. "Really?"

"I gotchu, Ms. Barnes."


"No problem. Someone will be out in a second to take you back."

A middle-aged lady opened the door, came out, and smiled. My insides frowned. How is she supposed to help me find someone with the right combination of street and intellect? I crept toward her, "Hi."

Her quivery voice said, "Hello, Ms. Fat-a-mah."

I smiled at Shakemia, and corrected her, "Fa-tee-mah."

"Yes, Fat-a-mah, I am Gertrude. C'mon back."

As we walked back to her conference room, she went over what I was supposed to have read. "I'm sure you know that I've been doing this informally for over thirty years. The business has been in existence for about ten. I'm really good at what I do. I help you handpick all of your dates. I do a full psychological pro- file before the first date."

"We have to do this tonight?"

"It depends when you'd like to go on your first date. Are you in a rush?"

"Oh no, I'm in no rush to date."

She snickered. "No, honey. I mean are you in a rush this evening?"

I checked my watch as if I had more to do than read manuscripts and she waited for my response. I shook my head and she invited me to sit at the conference table.

"Okay, we'll profile you this evening."

The dysfunctional connotation associated with profiling rattled my nerves. "How do you profile?"

"You take a series of quizzes."

"Are they open book?"

She didn't respond. Her fifty-something maturity didn't find me at all humorous, so I reverted to intellect. "So what do you conclude from these quizzes?"

"They give me an idea of what you're looking for. How you expect to be treated. What type of person you'd be most attracted to."

"So, when do I get to the pictures?"

"Well, you'll only see pictures of men that you're compatible with."

"So, how long does it take you to grade the quizzes?"

She chuckled and pointed to the computer workstation. "Your answers will be analyzed immediately. Then, our database will be automatically searched for matches. And you and I will analyze the results. How's that sound?"


Excerpted from A Hire Love by Candice Dow Copyright © 2007 by Candice Dow. Excerpted by permission.
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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 16 of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 10, 2009

    What an original and cute story!

    This was such a cute and feel good story! I love Candice's style of writing and her humor. My only criticism of this book is the ending. Although I loved the way the story ended, it was too abrupt of an ending. I think this book should have had a more detailed conclusion. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, I just didn't want it to end. I would have loved to have had about 2 more scenes to show more development to the ending of the story. I kept checking my book to see if some of the chapters were mistakenly left out at the end. I was thinking man, please don't tell me this book is about to end right now! I loved the characters Rashad and Fatima. I couldn't put the book down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. You should definitely read this book if you are looking for a really cute romance story. Good job Candice and please keep the stories coming.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2008


    Great book! Loved the characters and the storyline!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2008


    I really enjoyed reading this book. If only we could write the perfect script and have the perfect man follow it to the letter. Fatima was finally able to embrace true love once again, after she was able to put her husband's death behind her. Fatima was then able to give Rashad a chance to prove himself to her. Believe me there is no acting envolve, this is straight from the heart. Enjoy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2007


    Successful, hard working and dedicated, Fatima Mayo has put her all into her j-o-b. A young widow, Fatima has had the very best when it came to mates, and she can¿t fathom ever replacing Derrick. After a sequence of dreams, Fatima is confident that Derrick is telling her to move on with her life. Fatima tries to transition into the new ways of dating and is quickly disappointed by the lack of quality men available. So instead of giving up, she puts a new spin on dating. WANTED! Handsome, educated, well dressed man, who has a little thug to him. Only serious applicants will be considered. Now that Fatima has placed the ad can she handle the impact? I laughed, cried and sympathized with the main character. I too am a widow, and it can be scary stepping back out into the dating world. A Hire Love was a very good read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    amusing second chance at love

    Alabama native Fatima ¿Fatty¿ Mayo was a country bumpkin when she came to New York to attend school at NYU and obtained an internship at Vibe where she met Derrick and fell in love with him he reciprocated. They married and she became a romance editor. All seemed perfect in her world until Derrick suddenly suffered a heart attack and died. Three years later, she still mourns her loss, but decides being young she needs to start dating. Her best friend casting director Mya, known as C2 (country girl 2 as opposed to Fatty being C1), reminds her she never dated as Derrick just saw her cute butt and the rest is history. After Fatty flunks dating service 101, Mya facetiously recommends that Fatima write a script focusing on what she wants in a hunk and hire an actor to play the role. Fatima loves the concept and writes her script while Mya sends five actors to try out for the role of leading man with Ms. Barnes the name Fatima is calling herself for this endeavor, choosing the perfect player. One of the five actors, Rashad Watkins, recognizes the widow of the late CEO of Droppin¿ Dimes magazine and needs the money, but quickly feels the role as he falls in love with the ¿director¿, who assumes her companion¿s passion, is Oscar worthy. --- Though the initial concept of writing a script seems to farcical, readers will enjoy this amusing second chance at love due to the reactions of the lead couple especially the actor. Rashad knows he is in love, but feels he must somehow climb an emotional Mt. Everest to overcome his profession, her paying him to play the role, and the ghost of her larger than life late husband. His efforts and Fatima¿s reactions to them with the assistance of C2 make for a fun urban romance. --- Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2013

    Tacos r yummy!!!!


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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2012

    Childishly spoiled

    The herione in this book is ridiculously childish and spoiled. She was "raised" by a sugar daddy and it shows.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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