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From the Publisher"Yaye's story is refreshingly atypical"- RT Book Reviews on ESCAPE TO PARADISE
"The heat from the two leads practically sets the pages on fire..."-RT Book Reviews on A FOREVER KIND OF LOVE (4 1/2)
"The heat from the two leads practically sets the pages on fire..."-RT Book Reviews on A FOREVER KIND OF LOVE (4 1/2)
Simone Young saw her husband's silver Escalade roll to a stop on the driveway, and she leaped off the couch like a hurdler exploding out of the starting blocks. Chucking the September issue of Vogue on the coffee table, she flew down the hallway of her sprawling, five-bedroom Lincoln Park home, her arms swinging at her sides and her heeled bedroom slippers pounding violently against the hardwood floor. Seizing the lock, she yanked open the front door and planted herself in front of her husband like a living, breathing statue. "Marcus, where in the world have you been? I've been worried sick about you!"
"I can tell." Chuckling good-naturedly, Marcus Young patted his wife on the hips. "Baby, get back inside. It's freezing out here!"
The crisp Chicago wind sliced through her designer robe, chilling her legs to the bone. Stepping aside, Simone reluctantly allowed her husband to enter the foyer.
"I didn't expect you to still be up," he said, slipping off his polished leather shoes. "It's almost midnight. You're usually fast asleep by now."
The stench of sweat made Simone wrinkle her nose. "You stink."
"It's nothing a quick shower can't cure." Marcus wrapped his arms around her and lowered his mouth for a kiss. "Come here and give me some sugar."
Simone turned her face toward the wall. "Knock it off, Marcus. I'm not in the mood."
"Lighten up, babe. It's all good."
Oh, no, it's not! His blithe, carefree attitude aggravated her, and when he strode nonchalantly into their gourmet kitchen, opened the stainless steel fridge and grabbed a bottle of Vita-minwater, her frustration mounted. "Where have you been?" she repeated slowly, as if he was hard of hearing. "You said you'd be home in time for dinner."
"Lower your voice, baby. You'll wake the boys."
"Is it too much to ask for you to call when you're going to be late?"
Marcus broke the tab on his water bottle and leaned against the sleek, granite countertop. Hiding a self-incriminating grin, one that was sure to fan the flames, he tasted the cold, lemon-flavored drink. Despite the peeved, almost combative expression on his wife's face, she looked as pretty and as youthful as the day they'd met. It was hard to believe they'd been married for five years. It seemed like just yesterday he was chasing Simone down for her number. It was her staggering beauty that had caught his eye in that smoky, crowded nightclub, but it was her intelligence and wit that kept him coming back for more. And after discovering that she was pregnant—after dating for only six months—he'd gladly "put a ring on it." I hit the jackpot the day I married Simone, he thought, admiring her dark eyes, plum-thick lips that looked as sweet as they tasted and curves that made him drool like an old basset hound.
And she looks even sexier when she's mad, he thought, wetting his lips with his tongue. They were opposites in every sense of the word—he was a calm, laid-back type, while Sim-one was headstrong and impulsive, but Marcus felt their differences only heightened their chemistry. And seeing her riled up always made him hard. Turned on, he suppressed the urge to reach for her shapely body. She'd gained some weight over the summer, five, maybe ten pounds, which had gone straight to her hips. All the more to hold, he decided.
His mouth dried, and his heartbeat pounded in his ears like a jackhammer. He was trying to listen to what Simone was saying, but when her silk robe parted, revealing a wealth of cleavage, Marcus lost his focus. How was he supposed to concentrate when she looked so damn tempting in that short, virgin-white nightgown? The need to touch her was intense, overwhelming. But Marcus knew now was not the time to put the moves on his wife. Her hands were glued to her hips, and her stiff, unyielding stance told him he would be asking for trouble if he tried to kiss her again. But dammit if he didn't want to.
"Samson's closed hours ago, and I know you weren't working late because I called your office twice and there was no answer."
"My eight o'clock meeting ran longer than expected and—"
"Liar!" she accused, her thunderous voice tinged with disgust. "You weren't working late. You were probably at the bar with your stupid friends doing God knows what."
"You're right. I did go to All-Star, but that was after the meeting with my accountant." Marcus scratched at his neck. His skin felt itchy, like he'd spent the last hour rolling around in a bed of poison ivy. To get some relief, he loosened the knot on his tie.
Simone watched Marcus shrug off his jacket, and she couldn't help admiring how nicely his broad shoulders filled out his suit. All those years he'd spent training for various bodybuilding tournaments had given him a sculpted physique, and although he'd turned thirty-five over the summer, he had a better body than a college athlete. That's why he was paid substantially to train everyone from movie stars to chart-topping singers and entertainers.
Marcus was devastatingly handsome, and it didn't matter if he was wearing jeans, basketball shorts or a three-piece suit; he always looked fly as hell. He stood over six feet tall, had thick, perfectly groomed eyebrows and a smile that incited lustful thoughts in women of all ages. He was rugged, masculine, undeniably sexy with killer swag. And a pain in the ass, too, sometimes, Simone decided, crossing her arms.
"I took the staff at the new downtown center out for drinks," he explained, guzzling a mouthful of water. "I thought treating them to a beer would be a nice gesture on my part. You know, to show them that I'm not just the owner, but a part of the team."
Simone didn't want to stand in the way of her husband's career, but she wanted to see him for more than ten minutes a day. Their sons needed him, too. "You promised Jayden you'd set up his electric train set," she said, forcing herself to speak calmly. "He sat at the front window waiting for you, but you never showed. He's only five years old. How do you think that made him feel?"
"I'll make it up to Jayden this weekend. After I get his train set going, I'll take him to the mall and buy him whatever he wants."
"The kids don't need any more toys, Marcus. They just need you."
"Cut me a little slack. I'm trying my best."
"So am I!" Simone argued, her voice raising despite her attempt to keep it under control. "It isn't easy keeping on top of the chores and taking care of the boys alone, you know."
"Then ask the housekeeper to work a few more days a week. Better yet, make her full-time. You know that girl loves to bust some suds!"
Marcus chuckled at his own joke, but when he saw the terse expression on his wife's face, he stopped. Simone didn't laugh, didn't even crack a smile. He frowned, wondered what that was all about. She always laughed at his jokes, even the corny ones, and usually fired back a witty retort or two.
Marcus thought of telling Simone about his upcoming business trip to Manchester—the one he was hoping she'd accompany him on—but he sensed he should hold off. He'd tell her when she was in a better mood. Like tomorrow during breakfast, or the next time they cuddled in bed. With two kids, a demanding business and a large extended family, finding one-on-one time was rare, but he was going to make time this weekend to hang out with his wife. Who knows? Marcus thought, his gaze clinging to her soft, moist lips. Maybe we can get started on baby number three.
"I hate to see you stressed out, so if you need more help around here just ask the staffing agency to send over a maid." Pleased that he'd found a solution to her problem, he moved closer. He touched her cheek, stroked her flesh ever so softly. "Hire a nanny to help you with the boys, Simone. That will free you up to do more things in the afternoon. Like coming to see me at the office."
"I don't need a nanny, Marcus. I need you to help me raise the boys and spend quality time with us every day. Is that too much to ask?"
"No, of course not, but sometimes my schedule just doesn't allow it."
A shiver rippled through her, but Simone steeled herself against his caress. "Why can't you be home for dinner? Or take weekends off like everybody else?"
"I will, baby, as soon as the new gym is up and running to my satisfaction."
The look Simone gave him said she didn't believe him for a second. He knew he'd fed her that line when he showed up late for her cousin's wedding last month, and every time he canceled their dinner plans.
"I'm going to take a whole month off," he promised, winking at her as he put his arms around her waist. "I'll be around here so much you'll be begging me to go back to work!"
"You've said that so many times I've given up hope of it ever happening."
"Don't be like that "
"Don't be like what?" she repeated, her eyes narrowed, her tone harsh as if her tongue was coated with the bitter, acrid film of resentment and anger. She wasn't backing down. "I'm sick of being a single parent. It's time you stepped up and became the man of the house."
He dropped his hands from around her waist. "Until I hire a suitable manager for the downtown location, I'm in charge. That means I'm the first one at Samson's and the last one to leave. What do you expect me to do when the women are dawdling in the changing room or the Michael Jordan wannabes ask for five more minutes on the court to perfect their jump shot? Tell them to get out because my wife's given me a nine-o'clock curfew?"
Simone gave him a look that could freeze hell. "This is not about me. It's about the boys. Jayden and Jordan are constantly asking me where you are, and I hate making up excuses for why you're not here with us—"
"Thanks, Simone, I can always count on you to make me feel like crap." Marcus crushed the water bottle and hurled it into the recycling bin. "I don't have the energy to argue with you. I had a long day, and all I want to do is take a shower and go to bed."
Anticipating his next move, Simone slid beside the stove, cutting off his intended escape route. Arms crossed, her furious scowl matching the smoke in her eyes, she spoke freely, without restraint. "All you care about is your business and hanging out with your asinine friends. You don't care about me or the kids or our family. We hardly see you anymore, and when you're here, you're on your cell or working in the office."
"What are you talking about? Everything I do is for you and the kids."
"Just admit it. You'd rather be out having fun with your staff than—"
"Having fun?" He barked a loud, harsh laugh. "Do you have any idea how crazy things are at the new downtown location? I'm so busy I have to schedule bathroom breaks."
Simone hated seeing the defeated expression on Marcus's face, hated herself for being the one who put it there. Taking a deep breath helped her regain control. Her husband didn't respond to threats, and although there was a lot more Simone wanted to say, she knew when it was time to back off. "Can you at least try to be home by dinner, so we can eat together as a family—"
"I'm going to bed." His words were clipped, his tone stiff. "Good night."
"Aren't you going to eat?"
"I'm not hungry."
"But I made chicken marsala." Simone opened the microwave, took out an overflowing dish and set it down on the granite countertop. "I made it just the way you like it, with tons of garlic, fresh basil and oregano."
"I had a steak burger at the bar."
Simone watched Marcus trudge out of the kitchen and up the winding staircase. On the second floor, she heard his steps slow, then stop, and knew he was checking on Jayden and Jordan. He did it every night, no matter how late he got home.
Simone stood there, as still as a mannequin in a department store window. She didn't know if it was arguing with Marcus or all the hours she had spent scrubbing the kitchen floors, but she could feel the beginnings of a headache. What just happened? she wondered, massaging her temples. Marcus is the one who messed up, so why do I feel guilty?
After putting the food in the fridge and turning off the lights, Simone checked on Jayden and Jordan. They looked so peaceful, asleep in their deluxe bunk beds, clutching their teddy bears. She stood in the doorway, watching her babies sleep, and felt such an overwhelming sense of love that tears pricked her eyes. It was hard to believe they were already in kindergarten. They were growing up so fast, learning so many new words and skills that she was struggling to keep up.
Seeing her sons lifted Simone's spirits, and as she walked down the hallway, past the den and the playroom, a smile warmed her lips. She had two beautiful children; a gorgeous, lavish home; and, for the first time in her life, financial security. And once Marcus stopped taking her for granted, and put their family first, she'd have the marriage she had always dreamed of.
Inside the master bedroom, the balcony doors were ajar, allowing the dazzling, crescent moon to light the colorful, cozy space. Marcus was perched on the edge of their custom-made bed in his boxer shorts, clutching his cell phone. He looked deep in thought, as if he was grappling with the answer to a trigonometry problem, but Simone knew he was only checking the day's football scores. "The couples seminar I mentioned to you last week is being held at the Regency on Saturday night," she said, "and I'd really appreciate it if you were on time. It starts at five o'clock."
Marcus rested his cell phone on the side table. "I'll try my best, but I have a session with that Persian fitness model on Saturday afternoon, and her workouts always tend to run long."
I bet they do. "Please be on time. This is important to me."
"Like I said, I'll try, but there's no telling when she'll show up."
"Then find someone else to train her and come home early."
Her suggestion was met with a yawn.
"I don't even know why you signed us up for that seminar. We're fine."
"We haven't been fine for a long time," Simone confessed, avoiding his gaze. "We argue constantly, and there's no intimacy in our relationship."
"What are you talking about? We were intimate a few days ago." A mischievous expression crossed his face. "As I recall, you came twice that night."
Her lips parted, but no words came out. He's joking, right? Surely her husband knew the difference between sex and intimacy. But when Simone saw the proud, I'm-the-man grin stretched boldly across his mouth, she sighed. Apparently not.
Marcus must have read the bewildered expression on her face, must have seen the genuine confusion in her eyes, because he shrugged nonchalantly and said, "Whatever. Play dumb. But we both know you have no complaints in the bedroom."
Simone paused. It was true. They had an amazing sex life, and Marcus's kisses left her breathless. But French kisses and multiple orgasms couldn't fill the void she was feeling inside. Neither did weekly shopping sprees or sessions at her favorite day spa. She longed for more, for a deeper, emotional connection with her husband.
Posted January 24, 2013
It took me 3 days to read, normally i finish in just a few hours . The story seemed kind of long and dragged on. The main character nagging about her husband working long hours and not paying her enough attention worked my last nerve (and that was throughout the book). Wasn't that good to me, but others may love it. I usually enjoy this authors work, but not this time.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 9, 2013
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