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"Dow presents an interesting conundrum wrapped in a hip contemporary story."—Booklist on A HIRE LOVE
"The message of the story resonates long after the last page."—The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on TAPPIN' ON THIRTY
"Candice Dow has convincingly demonstrated that she inhabits the writing skills to illustrate stories that will captivate readers and cause them to become caught in the mix of her pen..."—Books2Mention Magazine
"Dow's writing allowed me to feel a connection with the main character of this novel. "—The RAWSISTAZ? Reviewers on AIN'T NO SUNSHINE
"Candice definitely has a legitimate flavor and I can't wait until the next book is on the shelves."—Urban-Reviews.com
"CAUGHT IN THE MIX is full of realistic characters with real problems and is a story to which many will relate. "—The RAWSISTAZ? Reviewers
I remember my first escorting experience like it was yesterday. The driver parked directly in front of the Roosevelt Hotel on West Hollywood Boulevard. It was the first time I’d been to LA during Golden Globe weekend, so I was smitten by the various celebrities jumping in and out of cars. They were dressed in the best designer clothes to mix and mingle at all the major parties. Various magazines and production companies were hosting parties for LA’s A-listers. No parties for me. I had other business to handle.
My heart pounded loud enough for the driver to hear. The concept of selling my body had been proposed to me just hours earlier, packaged in a bunch of encouraging words, travel opportunities, and networking possibilities. I should have taken more time to decide but not many entry-level jobs were offering those perks, so I agreed. I felt somewhat cheap for being so easily enticed into the forbidden profession. I had arrived at the place where I would first sell my soul.
When I stepped out of the limo, the warm February night breeze blew through my fresh weave and I tossed my hair over my shoulder. My large sunglasses were propped neatly on my slim nose, mainly for me to remain incognito because it was close to midnight and the sun had long gone. My hands ironed over my slinky black spaghetti-strap cotton dress. The black-and-cream snakeskin-print stilettos I wore made my legs look long and lean.
My initial steps were reluctant and nervous, but the perfectionist side of me warned me that if I was going to do it, I should do it with confidence. My stride became more determined and assured, as if I’d been doing this for a while. I had to hype myself up.
I stepped into the palatial lobby: A huge antique chandelier hung and comfortable sofas were strategically placed. I paused momentarily, looking for the elevators. Finally I spotted them across the lobby. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My full lips were glossy and my copper skin glistened like it had been buffed and polished. The absence of a bra caused my C-plus breasts to bounce just enough to still look sexy and give my already slim waist the illusion of being smaller, which made my round butt look even rounder. My hair was long and straight with a part in the middle. I patted the sides to make sure there were no strands out of place. I winked proudly at the reflection staring at me. My one dimple, on my right cheek, winked back. The black suede vintage Chanel tote bag propped on my shoulder was stocked with essentials: toothbrush, ponytail holder, underwear, condoms, and a change of clothes.
I stepped into the elevator and headed to room 714. The hallway was empty when I stepped off and was greeted by another mirror for one last check. I lifted my shades to get a good look. Then I read the sign posted on the wall and headed in the direction of the room. In seconds, I was about to knock on the hotel room door. My life would never be the same again. Several breaths and a bunch of affirming words later, I knocked. I wondered if he’d been at the door the entire time, because it opened immediately. I was shocked to see an older white man cheesing at me. He stretched out his hand. “Mr. G.”
I smiled. “Tammy.”
I didn’t think it was wise to tell a stranger that my name was London. My eyes cased the room, searching for anything suspicious. He was a trusted client and, although it was my first time, he’d been with many of the other girls from what I’d been told. He placed his hand on my waist, ushering me to the wet bar.
“You need something, Tammy?” he asked, swirling his dirty martini.
“I’ll have what you’re having.”
I leaned in front of the bar as he shook my drink. I watched him. His energy was relatively calm and relaxed. I sensed a bit of arrogance but in a harmless sense. He was an accomplished movie director, and I could see he didn’t need anyone’s approval by the shameless expression on his face. I sat on the bar stool and tried to psychoanalyze him, wondering about his story, his likes and dislikes. As a dog walker, I do the same type of observation with a new dog. He walked around the bar and kissed my neck. “Glad you could make it tonight.”
As I ran my fingers through his mixed gray comb-over, his large belly poked me. He made growling sounds, mixed with heavy breathing; I assumed this was a result of his weight.
I said, “What would you like?”
He grabbed my knees and yanked them apart. Several fingers shoved inside me at once as he bit and slobbered on my neck. It seemed like we’d gone from freezing to boiling in a matter of ten seconds.
“Oh, baby,” I whined as if I were enjoying his sudden aggression.
He yanked my dress straps off my shoulders and reached back to unzip the dress as he continued kissing me.
“Call me King,” he said out of nowhere.
“Don’t hurt me, King.”
I hoped that my submissive words would be a calming gesture and assert that he was in control and there was no need to be so aggressive. The rapid finger-thrashing inside me slowed as he licked inside my ear. “I won’t hurt you.”
He touched my face softly and repeated, “I won’t hurt you. I promise.”
He opened his tuxedo shirt in what appeared to be one quick motion. It was almost magical as he exposed a rug hiding underneath. His chest was covered with thick salt-and-pepper hair. Yuck. But I continued to pretend he was the most attractive man alive.
He carried me to the bed and lifted my dress over my head, pulling off my thong. Standing at the bottom of the bed, he looked like Fred Flintstone in a pair of black boxer briefs. He spread my legs apart and said, “Kiss my chest.”
Ugh. I hesitated, but for a thousand bucks an hour, surely he expected to have no complaints. I sat up at the edge of the bed and ran my fingers over his chest, searching for his nipples underneath the forest. Once I found them I pushed the surrounding strands away from one and twirled it while putting the other in my mouth. I closed my eyes and imagined he was my ex-boyfriend, because I probably would have vomited picturing the man in front of me.
He begged to enter me. So I reached over and grabbed my bag to pull out a condom. I pulled his shorts down and his medium penis protruded, a bit shy of his belly. Quickly rolling the condom on, I asked, “Which way do you like it?”
He sat on the bed and lay back. “Get on top?”
After pushing his stomach up I climbed on top of him and twirled my hips vigorously, and in about twenty minutes he was satisfied. He asked me to lie beside him. After a brief rest, he was ready for one more round. When we finished, we chatted a little about the weather and movies; pretty much a superficial exchange. Shortly after, his eyelids became heavy and he finally said, “Thank you.”
My job was done and it didn’t seem so bad. I looked at the clock; I’d been there for nearly two hours. It felt like the easiest two stacks I’d ever earned. That was the last time I wondered where I’d get my next dollar. Before I knew it I was in too deep, taking on multiple clients per week, making men feel like the leader of the pack.
It’s funny how time flies because seven years had passed and I couldn’t turn around if I wanted to. As I sat in a hotel room, watching the spring rain drench the windows, I had no one and nothing to show for all the men I’d made happy through the years. I wish life came with a rewind button.
Every call girl, prostitute, hooker, or whatever you choose to call the sex-for-hire professional finds something to help her cope; something that allows her to disconnect from reality and convinces her that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the career path she’s chosen. My love for dogs and my quest to make them all happy was all I ever needed to completely escape myself during the act, because men were nothing more than intellectually superior canines.
It was probably my sophomore year at Georgetown University when it dawned on me that they were one and the same. Men like to be praised and petted. They protect their pack. They bark when you interrupt them or let’s say when you nag them. They hate doing tricks in front of your friends. They don’t give a damn what you look like as long as you let them hump you. And despite what women think, men are actually dedicated creatures.
From as far back as I can remember I have had a natural gift with dogs and it was only natural that I would want to be a veterinarian. I majored in biology and was almost certain that with my good, not great, grades and charming personality, it would be a breeze getting accepted to my veterinary school of choice. Wrong! Not only did I not get accepted into the high-ranking schools, I didn’t get into any school. The consensus was that my grade point average in my major was not high enough, nor was my personal statement strong enough to override that. Let’s face it, how many black female vets do you know? They should have accepted me on my demographics alone. What the hell was I supposed to do now? I asked that question over and over for the remainder of my senior year and still came up with nothing. I didn’t really have a plan B. There was always the option for me to retake many of the science courses, continue working with dogs, and reapply the following year. That seemed too much like hard work for me to face the possibility of not being accepted again. I wasn’t sure my heart could handle another disappointment like that.
Unfortunately, with a degree in biology, even one from Georgetown, there isn’t much you can do except teach. You have to get a professional degree and, from the looks of things, that wasn’t happening for me, at least not when I wanted it. And I didn’t plan to be in someone’s classroom dealing with a bunch of damn kids. I’d always related better to animals than to people anyway. Reluctantly I began to search for a real job, in between partying like it was 1999. Actually, it was. It was the spring of 1999. I was weeks away from a purposeless degree. I’d broken up with my boyfriend and had no job offers. Practically, I was shit out of luck.
Returning home to my mother wasn’t an option. Not only did I not want to have her nagging me, she had moved clear across the country. I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, right outside of DC, the mecca of the black elite. And when I moved onto campus, her job offered her a promotion in San Francisco and she bolted out of the area like lightning. I went to visit once and it wasn’t my type of town. So that was out of the question for more reasons than one.
The other reason is that my mother and I never really saw eye to eye anyway. Even the thought of living with her was like a natural disaster. Our relationship had been strained from as far back as I can remember. We were complete opposites. She had adopted me as a baby and I couldn’t tell you why, but we just didn’t click. I’m thinking that during the time a woman carries a baby in her womb, she develops into a mother. Then there are special women who instantly become mothers whether they adopt or give birth. I think my mother was one of those women who needed nine months of pre-bonding before my arrival. Not to mention that less than two months after the adoption, her husband told her that he wasn’t in love with her.
She obviously thought I would bring them closer; instead I made their weak marriage crumble. It’s possible he would have left anyway, but I think she often looked at me as the primary reason. He went from our home straight to his mistress’s house. Adding to the injury, he subsequently married the other woman and they had three or four children together. Still married, I believe.
My presence probably didn’t help her heal because it seemed like she was an eternal man-hater. She busted her ass as a corporate VP of a cosmetic company so she’d never have to consciously or unconsciously depend on another man again. I don’t remember her dating, or even flirting for that matter. She never showed anybody much love at all. There was a bitterness that lingered around her, making her already bland personality stink. It was never clear to me if this was a result of her ex-husband’s betrayal or if it was just the way she was. If it was the latter, I could see why he left her.
She gave me a plush life, she sent me to the best private schools, she fed me, she took me on a yearly vacation, she bought me a car at sixteen, but I can honestly say I never really thought there was much love there. Never saw her cry. What kind of woman doesn’t cry?
When I was seventeen my concerns about her love were validated. Her then-forty-year-old brother was at our home visiting from New Jersey with his family for a weekend. Uncle Leo was an accountant and he always had a square, calculated way about him. I liked when they visited because it made my mother smile, something I never did because I was always in some kind of trouble. She somehow thought my mischievous spirit was a result of something she did or didn’t do. She was always calling an expert to psychoanalyze me and make me conform to her mold. I was always the type to go against the grain and I think that made her more unhappy.
I’ll never forget. It was a Saturday afternoon and Uncle Leo’s wife and my mother had gone out shopping. I walked out of my room wearing shorts and a tank top. Uncle Leo startled me as he headed toward the guest room in the upstairs hallway. His eyes burned through me in a somewhat predatory way. He had small, sneaky eyes anyway so I tried to shake the feeling of him inspecting my curves. He was wearing a pair of yellow shorts, a yellow-and-gray plaid shirt, and one of those yellow golfer’s hats tilted to the side. The bright color combo made his dark skin look like midnight hiding from the sun. Although I’d always known him to be a professional man, he looked like a city slicker that day. After passing me, he paused.
“Give me a hug, Niece.”
Something in the pit of my belly hesitated, but I reached out to give him one anyway. What I thought would be a kiss on the cheek turned into his tongue down my throat. I snatched away, and before I could even rationalize what had just happened I said, “You’re a pervert?”
I spoke softly as if I was confused, because I honestly couldn’t believe what he had done. I backed away slowly. My facial expressions probably condemned him. I wondered if he’d tried some young girl before, because he stood there paralyzed like he was stunned that I had responded in such a way. Did he think I’d just oblige? Did he really think that I didn’t know any better than to allow my uncle to kiss me? For God’s sake, I had been sexually active since I was fourteen years old and I knew his advance was inappropriate.
He stepped toward me and tried grabbing my arm, pleading with me to keep this between us. I looked over the banister at the foyer one story below, wondering what would happen if I pushed him over there. After a short struggle he let go. I rushed into my bedroom and slammed the door.
Though I’d always been slim, I’d always had that lean thickness that men like. I started getting breasts and booty probably by the age of twelve. It seems that most women get one or the other. I’ve always had a perfect portion of both and a tiny waist to match. My mother always tried to make me feel uncomfortable. She would say, “Stop walking like that. Stop batting your eyes. You’re fresh. You need to cover up.” She practically convinced me that I was doing something to entice men. It wasn’t my fault that grown men were attracted to a damn teenage girl.
I called my then-boyfriend, crying. I cried because I somehow felt guilty, like maybe I did actually do something to turn my uncle on. Uncle Leo called for me at my bedroom door. He kept calling my name in an apologetic manner. I cringed at the sound of his voice as I whispered on the phone with Glenn McCall. He didn’t know what to say, he kept questioning whether I had misinterpreted my uncle’s actions. As I defended myself on the phone with him, I became more concerned that no one would believe me. I felt alone and finally I hung up because Glenn was only making it worse. In retrospect, he was just a little boy and I had called him with an issue way above his intellectual capacity.
I didn’t want to talk to anyone else about it. I wanted to forget it had ever happened. All I really wanted was for Uncle Leo to go home. I stayed in my room until my mother came back and I planned to tell her right away. Instead, I couldn’t find the words and I didn’t want to be blamed for the shorts I was wearing. So I said nothing. I let the incident boil inside me while we ate dinner. Uncle Leo looked at me like he’d shoot me if I said something. So I didn’t.
For several days and weeks after I tried desperately to push it out of my mind. But each time I thought about it I cried. I cried because I wasn’t sure who was at fault. Finally, nearly a month after it happened, I walked into my mother’s bedroom holding my puppy Snuggles in my arm. I stood at the foot of her queen-sized bed. I said, “What would you do if I told you someone touched me inappropriately?”
She removed her chestnut-framed reading glasses and put her book on her platinum satin comforter. Then her eyes returned to me, as I stood there in a Mickey Mouse nightshirt rubbing Snuggles. She looked through me. My heart pounded because her initial response made me feel like she would condemn me. I said, “Never mind.”
As I turned to leave her room, she said, “London, if you have something you want to tell me, I suggest you do it.”
I paused and considered telling her that I was joking, but I knew her well enough to know she would not let it go so easily. I got it out as quickly as the words would come. “Uncle Leo tried to kiss me that day you and Aunt Linda were shopping and—”
Her hand gestured for me to stop. Mid-sentence, my mouth hung open. She smirked. “London.”
That was the way she said my name when she accused me of stretching the truth. I said, “Honestly, he put his tongue down my throat.”
Her big eyes bulged from her chubby brown face, demanding that I shut up. Her wide nostrils spread and she pursed her full lips. She didn’t speak. She just kept looking through me. Her reaction made me wish I could eat my words. She took a long, deep breath and put her book back on her lap like she was done with the nonsense I was talking. Her non-response left me shattered. Even Snuggles whined a little. I shook my head and headed to my room. I sat on my bed and muffled my cries with my pillow. Snuggles lay beside me, licking me, trying to make the wound all better. Without words, Snuggles expressed her love to me and my mother couldn’t even say anything to make me feel safe. I hated her and a part of me thought she hated me too.
That was the summer before my senior year of high school and I was accepted to Georgetown that December. When she packed me up the next May to live on campus, it felt like she was relieved. She’d committed to raising me and I’d gone as far as getting into a prestigious college. Her job was done and she acted like it. While my other friends’ parents called frequently, she called about once a month.
As my college graduation approached and my mother discovered that I didn’t have any plans for the future, she was livid. She wanted me to find a corporate job, but I didn’t think that was for me. She made an offer for me to come and stay with her, but I decided I’d starve to death first. She explained to me that if I didn’t follow her advice, she would not be able to help me. I guess the threat was supposed to make me listen, but I didn’t. Finally she told me that it was time I made my own way. I guess she’d spent enough money on a child she didn’t love. She told me that she was proud of me, but in the same breath she said she would not be my crutch. A woman can never have it all. Something suffers. That was her motto. She really thought that women were put here to suffer. She would always tell me that a woman’s life is hard. We carry the burden of the world. It was my turn.
Excerpted from Off the Chain by Dow, Candice Copyright © 2011 by Dow, Candice. 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.
Posted July 31, 2011
Candice Dow delves into the world of escorts. London Reed is a college graduate but she's doing anything but using her degree. After not getting into veterinary school as planned, circumstances lead her to taming another type of beast. With only exclusive customers, London soon finds herself traveling the world with luxuries at her fingertips. But all that glitters is certainly not gold as London soon finds out.
"Off the Chain" is as much about choices, regrets and consequences as it is about the main character, London, finding herself. London is kind of coasting through life until she smacks into the wall of reality. While Dow has consistently produced enjoyable reads, this one was just a little lackluster for me. The plot and characters were interesting enough but the story seemed to be missing some umph and was a little predictable. With a list of six books and a half to her credit, "Off the Chain" is unfortunately my least favorite.
That said, "Off the Chain" is entertaining as it has its moments and is worth the read. Look forward to what Candice Dow has in store for readers next.
Reviewed by: Toni
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Posted June 24, 2011
As an undergraduate at Georgetown, London Reed developed her theory of relationships that is based on men like petting and praise as much as dogs do. London planned to attend veterinary school after graduation, but that failed to happen. Instead she becomes a dog walker with a college debt rivaling the Feds. Her mother believing being a canine companion is beneath her daughter and arranges for London to obtain a position working for Quinn Forester Senior Investment Banker William Thorne.
However, her admin position at Quinn Forester ends due to budget cuts. Instead Thorne offers a chance to make real money in the high end call-girl service that he and his wife have run lucratively for a decade and a half. He trains her and she makes quite a bit of cash for two hours with her first client the "King". As London becomes a woman of choice, Thorne selects her to keep the business running when his spouse becomes deathly ill. Someone sells the sex story to a magazine that leads the FBI to the DC Madam London who has a choice tell all for five years of probation or plead client confidentiality and go to jail. Until her kennel burns, London is unaware of the second order effect of confession as an adversary wants her dead.
This is an entertaining look at the high priced DC call girl business. London is a terrific protagonist who along with her Johns keeps the story line focused on the activities of a woman of pleasure. Although a late happening feels contrite but thankfully dangling (like some of the protagonist's customers), readers will appreciate the dog walker servicing the affluent on and Off the Chain.
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Posted September 25, 2011
Posted August 8, 2011
Wow!! Off the chain for real! Awesome! This book is a must read... it's well written and easy to read. I hope it will have a sequel.
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Posted July 12, 2011
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Posted June 30, 2011
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Posted October 22, 2011
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