Scandals

( 4 )

Overview

"Sex, lies, and betrayal.  .  ." —Urban Reviews

"Hot and steamy.  .  ." —APOOO BookClub

Single mom Monica Houston needs to find a job. When her best friend suggests she answer an ad seeking exotic dancers, they both laugh. But with no work in sight, it's no joke. Soon, Monica is dancing at Scandalous, and the money is flowing. But to hold on to her children, and her heart, she'll have to keep it a secret from both her ex and her new man.  .  .

The ...

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Overview

"Sex, lies, and betrayal.  .  ." —Urban Reviews

"Hot and steamy.  .  ." —APOOO BookClub

Single mom Monica Houston needs to find a job. When her best friend suggests she answer an ad seeking exotic dancers, they both laugh. But with no work in sight, it's no joke. Soon, Monica is dancing at Scandalous, and the money is flowing. But to hold on to her children, and her heart, she'll have to keep it a secret from both her ex and her new man.  .  .

The baddest dancer at Scandalous, Robin Douglas a.k.a. Treasure, lives for herself and trusts no one. The last thing she wants is to take in her estranged sister Deena's little boy. But with Deena arrested for murder, she has no choice. There's just one condition: Kyle's hot, "big brother" Trey has to babysit. With a man and a child in her life, Treasure's heart opens. Now, she's determined to prove Deena's innocence, even if it jeopardizes her new life.  .  .

"Keep your eyes on Sasha Campbell!" —Brenda Hampton, author of the Naughty series

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Campbell’s gritty tale of tough strippers succeeds as storytelling, but can’t decide whether it means to titillate or moralize. Monica Houston, a divorcée with young daughters and no resources, reluctantly starts dancing at Scandalous, but any enjoyment of the work is ruined by her ex-husband’s business partner blackmailing her and her need to keep her job secret from her sweet new boyfriend. When top dancer Robin ends up responsible for her sister’s four-year-old grandson and involved with her nephew’s charming mentor, Trey, Robin and Monica bond over kids’ outings. Romance and suspense plots collide when Robin alienates Trey by pursuing her stalker ex-boyfriend, hoping to find evidence that he is framing Robin’s estranged sister for murder. While challenging the reader to think of strippers as people, Campbell (Suspicions) shows no sympathy for sex work being anything but a dead end choice, emphasizing mainstream jobs and monogamy as the only routes to happiness. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758294098
  • Publisher: Kensington
  • Publication date: 1/6/2015
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 785,286
  • Product dimensions: 4.00 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

SASHA CAMPBELL is shaking up the literary scene as an author who’s keeping it real. Fasten your seatbelt for a roller-coaster ride! She’s a free spirit who isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind or even better, write about it. There’s nothing desperate about this vivacious housewife with her wild imagination and flair for capturing her audience’s attention with every page-turning detail. Visit Sasha online at www.sasha-campbell.com or drop her a line at sasha@sasha-campbell.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Scandals


By Sasha Campbell

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2012 Sasha Campbell
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7582-9410-4


CHAPTER 1

Monica


Six months earlier


"You want me to do what!"

I was practically shouting and had every reason. I was even seriously considering popping somebody upside their head. The only thing stopping me was I suddenly remembered where the hell we were.

I glanced around CJ's Café just to make sure no one was eavesdropping on our conversation, and to my relief, the only people looking at me all cockeyed was the couple at the next table. Hell, I didn't mean to be loud and even tossed an apology in their direction before I focused my rage on the chunky chick sitting across the table from me. There's no way in hell Reyna had just said what I thought she said.

"I'm serious, Monica. Look at this," she insisted and had the nerve to stab the newspaper with her index finger.

I shifted my eyes. "Reyna, I'm not looking at that! I can't believe you set your lips to suggest something like that to me." My best friend had lost her mind. "Are you fucking crazy?"

Reyna blinked and then had the audacity to act like it was no big deal. "It's not that bad. I even considered it once in college. I know you could do it."

I sighed silently to myself. "I'm not even about to have this conversation with you."

She blew out a heavy breath, then rolled her eyes at me. "Damn, Monica, you act like I asked you to rob a bank ... like we about to set it off up in here."

"Shiiiit, what's the difference?" I hissed and leaned back against the seat. I should have known when Reyna asked me to meet her for lunch, she had something up her sleeve. And to think I'd been having one hell of a day.

Fridays were the only mornings I didn't have class, and with the girls in school, I decided to finally do something I'd been considering for months—I got a haircut. I let Sonya, a stylist at Forever You, chop off the hair that once hung to the center of my back. For two hours I was practically in tears, certain I had made a big mistake until she swung my chair around so I faced the mirror. Sonya was heaven sent. She had given me a short layered style that took off almost ten years from my face. You're probably thinking, what's the big deal? Well, listen when I tell you, cutting my hair was a hard decision for me. For years my hair was my strength. I was like Samson. I thought I was weak without it. But I realized the only thing that made me weak was my ex-husband Anthony. Too bad it took his sorry ass leaving for me to finally figure it out.

As soon as I left the salon, I went to meet Reyna for lunch and strolled into CJ's Café with my hips swaying. I couldn't help but notice several men checking me out. I guess the black wraparound dress I was rocking looked good hugging every curve on my body just as I had hoped it would. The attention definitely made it worth the money I spent on the outfit. Some dude even had the nerve to try to get my attention, but I blew him off. Not that he was ugly or anything. It's just that the last thing in the world I needed was a man. All I wanted was to know that even though I was a thirty-year-old mother of two, I still looked damn good. The attention was definitely my stamp of approval. When I finally reached the booth at the far back corner, I was feeling sexy, then Reyna had the nerve to fuck everything up for me.

Our waiter returned with our salads and iced teas. Reyna waited until he had moved on to the next table before she tried to rationalize. "Listen, Monica, all I'm tryna do is help you find a job. You're the one who said you weren't asking Anthony for shit else."

Damn right I wasn't. I'd rather clean the floor of the café with a toothbrush than ask that bastard for a dime. I was willing to even get a job standing on the corner holding up one of those stupid Everything Must Go signs. I would do just about anything except beg my ex-husband for money ... and the shit Reyna was suggesting. "You're right. I meant it when I said I'm not asking him for shit, but just 'cause I said that doesn't mean I'm ready to sell my body just to earn a dollar."

Reyna laughed like what I said was funny when in actuality I was dead serious. "Monica, it's stripping, not prostituting," she said a little too gleefully.

"Hell, they're the same damn thing," I snarled at my friend, then stabbed my garden salad with a fork.

"No, they are not," she said nonchalantly, then shrugged. "In fact, Scandalous is a pretty nice club. I've been there a few times."

"A few times?" Lord have mercy. That girl never ceases to amaze me. I shook my head and gave her a pitiful look. "What were you doing ... auditioning?"

"Noooo," she said like something was wrong with the idea. What's up with that? Apparently it was okay for me to strip, but heaven forbid I assume she had. "It's nothing like that." Reyna gave me a wicked grin and took a bite of her salad before she continued, "This dude I used to mess with had this thing about taking his date to a strip club. Something about it turned him on to have his woman watching the dancers along with him." Reyna had this faraway look in her eyes. Damn! I couldn't believe she was taking me with her ass on a ride down memory lane.

Reyna then leaned in close. I guess she didn't want anyone else to hear what she was about to say. Hell, I wasn't sure if I wanted to hear it either. "They even have a swingers section upstairs, and we went up there and got our groove on. Monica, girrrrl, having sex in the balcony while staring down at the strippers on the stage ... oh my goodness ... it was better than a porno tape. I don't think I ever came that hard in my life."

I leaned back in the seat, trying to put as much distance between the two of us as I could manage. "Nasty ass." I shook my head because I should have known better. My girl gets off on all that crazy shit.

"Monica, you act like you've never done anything freaky in your life," she said with a disapproving look on her face.

"I have ... at home ... with my husband." Reyna would never believe the things my husband used to make me do. Hell, I still had a hard time believing it myself.

"Seriously ... I wasn't trying to piss you off. It was just a suggestion ... a quick way to make some money ... that's all." Reyna tried to act like her feelings were hurt, but I wasn't buying it.

I reached for my iced tea and stared at her cocoa-brown face over the rim of the glass as I spoke. "Well I'm not interested in auditioning at Scandalous. I've got two little girls. What would they think if they knew their mother was taking her clothes off in front of a room full of horny men?"

"They won't know. The only two people who'd know are you and me." She shook her head like I was being ridiculous when it was Reyna who had lost her damn mind. "Some weave, false eyelashes, and colored contacts ... nobody would know it was you."

"Absolutely not." I scowled. She tried to reason with me, but I stood my ground. "Dammit, I said no!"

"Okay ... fine." Reyna threw her hands in the air in defeat. "Then what are you gonna do about money?"

If anyone had told me a year ago I would be sitting in a café with my best friend trying to figure out how I was going to keep a roof over my head, I would have laughed at them. Back then I was Mrs. Monica Houston, the wife of Anthony Houston, the hedge fund king and one of Richmond's wealthiest black men. I'd been living in a big-ass house in Chesterfield with a maid and a gardener. Back then couldn't nobody tell me my husband was messing around on me. I loved that man with everything I had and was confident he felt the same. So when he announced he wanted a divorce, I swear to you, I didn't see that shit coming, especially since we had just spent a week in Jamaica, screwing like two teenagers on spring break. That bastard waited until our plane landed in Richmond before he broke the news.

After that my life spiraled out of control, and here I was a year later, a black woman with a limited education and almost no work experience trying to figure out how to make everything right in my life for the sake of my two beautiful little girls, Liese and Arissa. The money the courts awarded me was barely enough to maintain the lifestyle we were accustomed to. In fact, if I didn't figure out a plan soon, I was going to find my ass on the street.

"There has to be another way."

Reaching across the table, Reyna touched my arm. "There is. We just have to figure out what it is." I looked at her and nodded even though I was starting to lose faith. "What I don't understand is how Anthony can be so damn stingy. Those are his daughters. As much money as that bastard makes, he should be glad to help you out at least until you finish nursing school."

I love Reyna for always having my back, but she should know it was always his way or no way, and now that we were divorced nothing had changed. I couldn't blame anyone but myself, because I had allowed him to control me all those years.

I remember when Anthony and I first met. I was a freshman and he was a junior at the University of Michigan. We fell in love overnight, and when he graduated and asked me to return with him to Virginia, I gladly dropped out of school. I had every intention of continuing my education, but Anthony proposed and promised to take care of me forever. Shortly after we arrived in Richmond, Anthony landed a position with a large hedge fund corporation, then Arissa was born and Liese a year later. I was happy just raising the girls and taking care of my husband. For eight years that was all I knew. Like I said, I never saw it coming.

I snatched the Richmond Post Dispatch up from the table and stared down at the help wanted ad. Exotic dancing? Hell no. I cut my eyes at Reyna, then focused on the ad below it. "Look! Mason's needs a waitress to work the evening shit."

"On Crater Road?" Reyna gave a rude bark of laughter. "I guess so. Some dude was shot and killed in their parking lot last week."

Ms. Know-It-All. "Okay, what about cashiering?"

"Puh-leeze, you can't live off minimum wage."

Whatever. "Ooh! JCPenney's is hiring sales associates." My head popped up and I stared across the table and grinned. Reyna knew I loved shopping at that store.

She frowned. "They're hiring for the morning shift, and last I checked, you were in school. That is ... unless you're planning on dropping out."

Reyna knew better than that. Just like the new haircut, enrolling in school was my way of proclaiming my independence. Nursing had always been a dream of mine. After the divorce was final, I enrolled in a twelve-month accelerated LPN program. It was intense and hard work. I had classes in the morning and barely had enough time to study before picking up the girls from their after-school program. But in less than seven months it would all be over.

While I finished my salad, I scanned the ads and saw a few possibilities but ended up feeling increasingly frustrated. "To be honest, Reyna ... I really don't know how I'm going to juggle school, the girls, and a job."

"Where there's a will, there's a way," Reyna said, trying to reassure me. "How about working twelve-hour shifts on the weekends at the hospital?"

I shook my head at the idea. "No. That's the only time the girls and I have to really spend any time together."

"There is always the evenings after they go to bed," she suggested.

I took a moment to think about it. "I would be too tired for class in the morning."

Reyna leaned back on the seat with a sigh. "Okay, then what about Friday, Saturday, and Sunday? You don't have classes on Fridays." She must have seen my frown because she added, "Seriously, Monica, the only option you have is to find something you can do in the evenings or weekends. You know I have no problem watching the girls."

"Mmm-hmm, but how many jobs are out there like that?"

"I already suggested one and you weren't interested," she mumbled under her breath, then had the nerve to stare at her hands like she was looking for chipped nail polish.

That chick better be glad I loved her, which was the only reason why I hadn't reached across the table and snatched those kinky twists outta her head. She was, after all, my best friend.

We met at First Baptist Church of Virginia on Decatur Street my first year in Richmond, and had been tight ever since. She had gotten a degree in business at Virginia Common wealth University and three years ago opened her own boutique. Reyna was doing everything she had set her mind to, and unlike me, she hadn't let a man stand in her way.

"How about working at UPS tossing packages late in the evening or the early morning assembly line at Kraft?" she suggested.

"Maybe." Neither sounded like something I really wanted to do, but I guess beggars can't be choosers, and with limited skills I definitely didn't have many options. The only job I ever had in high school was McDonald's. Trust me ... flipping burgers was not even an option. My eyes traveled over to the ad again. Exotic Dancers needed. Goodness, was that what my life had come to?

"If I was your size, I would do it in a heartbeat."

As freaky as Reyna was, she was probably right. See, the problem is Reyna's a big girl. When we first met she was probably wearing a sixteen, but over the years, especially during the stress of opening her own boutique, she started packing on the pounds and was wearing at least a twenty-two. Not that it stopped Reyna. She was a strong believer of you're as beautiful as you feel. Well, as far as Reyna was concerned, she was the hottest chick within a hundred-mile radius. Even now she was sitting with her legs crossed, swinging her foot in the aisle. As usual she was dressing her ass off, wearing a blue jean miniskirt complemented by a fire engine red corset, a jean bolero jacket, and matching five-inch pumps. She didn't let her weight stand in the way of looking good. I'll give it to her, style was one thing she knew a lot about, and she wore it well. I guess that's why she owned Reyna's Couture, the hottest boutique in all of Petersburg.

"Monica, you got one helluva body. Men would go crazy over your ass."

I appreciated the compliment, but friends were supposed to say that. "Yeah, right," I said with a laugh. "You know I don't have the guts for that shit." I still couldn't believe that heifer had suggested such a thing. She was the freaky one, not me.

"Hey, it's good money. My cousin Dawn used to strip, and she made a thousand dollars a week."

My brow rose. "A thousand? Just to take off her clothes and shake her ass?"

"Yep," she confirmed with a nod.

Her words went straight to my head, and I took a moment and tried to see myself on stage, doing exactly what she was suggesting, then realized how ridiculous it sounded. I gave her a dismissive wave. "Reyna, puhleeze. I don't even know why I brought it up again. You know I'm not about to take my clothes off for anyone but my man."

"Yes, but you don't have one of those," she teased.

"Thanks for reminding me," I said with attitude. Reaching up, I stroked my fresh new cut just to remember I had something to feel good about. Reyna had a lot of nerve. Hell, she couldn't keep a man.

"Seriously, all jokes aside, you could do it. We can come up with a stage name for you like Juicy or Dimples." Her eyes sparkled with excitement.

"Juicy and Dimples? Mmm-hmm, that would definitely describe my ass."

Reyna chuckled. "Hey, that's what men love. A black woman with a big ghetto booty! And you definitely have enough for the two of us." I couldn't help but laugh because she was right about that. I had plenty of junk in my trunk. "But who in the world wants to watch a woman with little titties trying to dance?" I was flat-chested just like my mama. Reyna had a pair of triple Ds that she played up in corsets and low-cut blouses. It was the one thing I was most self-conscious about. If I could afford it, I would get a boob job in a heartbeat.

"You got enough. What Anthony used to tell you ... that more than a mouthful is a waste?" she reminded me with a wink.

"That asshole said a lot of things. He also said he'd love me forever, but you see where that got me." I closed my eyes and rubbed my forehead. A migraine was coming, I could feel it. It was all the stress of wondering if I was going to be able to pay my light bill next month. That's when I felt someone standing over me.

"Excuse me, sexy. I couldn't help but notice you when you first walked in. You have the most amazing legs." My eyelids rose and I almost jumped from the seat when I found a dude at our table with bread crumbs clinging to his matted salt-and-pepper beard. "Can I buy you a cup of coffee?" he asked politely.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Scandals by Sasha Campbell. Copyright © 2012 Sasha Campbell. 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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 12, 2012

    Very sexy and gritty! Welcome to the scandalous lives of two wo

    Very sexy and gritty!

    Welcome to the scandalous lives of two women. These ladies will do what needs to be done to take care of everything they hold dear. Be it their lives, family or the all mighty dollar. Grab a seat and enjoy the show, because Deja and Treasure are in the house and they are ready to rock your world.

    All Monica ever wanted was to be happily married and to take care of her family. She had that until her husband wanted a new life and his wife and children were standing in his way. Now Monica is having trouble making ends meet and has no skills other than wife and mother to fall back on. After months of job searching she must do what needs to be done to take care of her girls. She is going to take a position at Scandalous Gentlemen’s Club. Now she needs to keep her deep dark secret separate from her normal life. Monica is the new dancer Deja.

    Tall men, short men, fat men, skinny men, and men of avery color – all are good men as long as they bring their billfolds. The only thing Robin, a.k.a. Treasure, wants is their money. She will work all that she was blessed with, because the only one she can count on is herself. Now she must revisit a time in her life she would rather forget. See the problem is, now it’s not only Robin. She has been made guardian of her young nephew. As the mystery of why her sister is in jail unfolds, Robin begins to understand that she may have to use her body one more time to fix what is broken.

    Ms. Campbell did a wonderful job intertwining these two totally different women. She kept their voices completely separated and the nuances of their lives perfectly written and balanced. These ladies may have begun on entirely different planes, but in the end they are almost as one. I can see their relationship being around for a very long time.

    The mystery behind their two lives is brilliantly portrayed and nothing was given away. I was cheering for their victories and shocked at the ending. I really enjoyed the book once I got into the groove of it. I will say that it did take me a bit of time to gel with some of the characters. It wasn’t the characters per say, but their vernacular. I can see the reasoning behind the cultural language; it just took some time to get used to. It played well with the plot, the locale and even the rough and hard characters. It’s something that I’m not used to in mainstream fiction. Once I was absorbed into the world, it flowed off the pages and played vividly in my mind.

    Scandals is a tantalizing look into the lives of strippers. You are able to experience both sides of the coin. The woman who needs to strip because it’s the only thing she can do and the other who does it because she enjoys the work and way of life. Ms. Campbell drew me in and had me vested in these two woman’s lives. She also threw in a deep plot full of mystery and murder.

    Too many lives are involved and there are too many secrets. It’s only a matter of time before the secrets of their lives are revealed and nobody knows who will be left standing. Pick up Scandals if you want something a bit different, very tantalizing and sexy hot!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2013

    Great

    Loved the story.. will definitely read more Sasha Campbell

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2013

    Great Read

    Really good book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2012

    VERY GOOD READ

    Wow! I highly recommend this book and Sasha Campbell's other two books. This book was full of twists anf turns but I absolutely loved the ending. The last three chapters had me crying tears of joy. Would love to read a sequel!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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