The Velvet Ropeby Brenda L. Thomas
Life is a party.
When Tiffany Johnson, a street-smart publicist at Platinum Images, decides to launch Teaz Entertainment and open a club, she's setting out to be the queen of Philly nightlife. Keeping it in the family, she partners up with her fiancé, Malik, and her sister, Kamille, and counts on her friend DJ Essence to bring the noise. Investors/b>
Life is a party.
When Tiffany Johnson, a street-smart publicist at Platinum Images, decides to launch Teaz Entertainment and open a club, she's setting out to be the queen of Philly nightlife. Keeping it in the family, she partners up with her fiancé, Malik, and her sister, Kamille, and counts on her friend DJ Essence to bring the noise. Investors seem to be lining up and the buzz is gettin' loud.
Be careful who you invite.
When Tiffany finds out that Malik and Kamille had an affair and that it might not be the only secret they share she spirals downward and gets swept up in two unexpectedly erotic affairs of her own. Awakening to a new kind of sexual freedom and reeling from betrayal, Tiffany is raw and vulnerable. So vulnerable that she doesn't realize that her new lovers are involved in more than kinky sex, and that they might take her new club down with them...unless she takes them down first.
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Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: Hangover
It was almost noon when I found myself hanging off the living room couch. I wanted to sleep until Malik woke me and told me I'd had a nightmare. But when I looked around the ravaged room, I knew I hadn't been dreaming. The reality was that I'd found out my fiancé and my sister had had a child together.
I tried to sit up, but my entire body was too heavy to move. I squeezed my eyes shut, but my head hurt too bad to let me resume sleeping. With much effort I managed to drag myself upstairs. I screamed when I saw all my prized perfume bottles broken and empty on the bedroom floor.
I went into the bathroom and stepped into the shower stall, not even realizing until I turned on the water that I was fully dressed in my clothes from the previous night. I peeled off the ruined suede boots, stepped out of my stockings and my soggy suede dress, and tossed them toward the trash can. I turned the knob and ran the water as hot as I could and when my skin began to burn I turned it to warm. Sliding down into the tub, I cried until the icy water drove me out.
I found Bruiser panting at the bathroom door, begging to go outside. So I put on my robe and returned downstairs to the kitchen. Broken dishes lying among puddles of barbeque sauce and mayonnaise....Malik's cell phone floating in the dishpan....My God, I'd lost my mind! But didn't I have the right?
Why had Malik and Kamille done this to me? I tried to recall what they'd said, which only caused my head to start spinning. I held on to the kitchen sink to steady the pain that had started to dig a hole in my belly. I screamed out to the empty kitchen, "Please, tell me this isn't happening. Malik, why'd you do this?" My sobs racked my entire body. I looked around for somewhere to hurl the pain, but everything was already destroyed.
Gradually I realized someone was banging on the front door. I tried to ignore it, but the person was persistent, first pounding with the knocker and then ringing the bell. Surely Malik or Kamille didn't have the nerve to return. I kicked the overturned plants out my way and peered through the peephole. Essence. I pulled open the door and saw that her expression reflected what I was feeling. It hadn't been a nightmare. I sunk into her arms, sobbing.
"Baby, I'm so sorry."
"Essence, please tell me why this is happening."
She sat me on the couch and tried to soothe my cries. Her sympathy only made it hurt worse.
"It'll work out."
"How can you say that?" I asked, looking up at her, hoping that it could.
She searched for a tissue to wipe the tears and mucus that ran down my chin, all the while trying not to gawk at the ravaged house that had always been kept neat.
"I spoke to Kamille," she said softly, as if my sister's name might ignite a fury in me.
Falling back onto the couch, I told her, "I don't wanna hear nothing they have to say. You hear me?"
"Tiff, just listen, okay. Kamille called me last night, and she really feels bad about all this. You gotta realize this happened a long time ago."
"It doesn't matter when it happened. Don't you understand? Malik is my nephew's father. He slept with my damn sister, Essence."
"You can't be so sure of that. At least not yet. Malik told me they plan to get a DNA test."
"He called you, too?"
"No, he came to see me last night at El Vez."
"For what?" I asked, knowing that Malik didn't do the club scene unless he was accompanying me.
"Malik loves you, Tiffany. You know that. He's devastated that you found out this way."
"Are you crazy? I can't believe you're taking up for them. They betrayed me, Essence." I sat there shaking my head and crying while Essence rubbed my back.
"Listen, sweetheart. You know what? You're right, they did keep a terrible secret from you, but you can't let it destroy you and you damn well better remember that we have a club to open. You know you're gonna have to talk to them at some point."
"Look, Essence. This is too much for me to think about right now. The club, them, my nephew. Let's just talk about this later, okay? Now, go on and get out of here so I can try to get myself together."
"You sure you don't want me to help you clean up?" she asked, picking up an overturned lamp. "What about a cup of coffee?"
"No, I'll be fine," I lied, ignoring the debris and opening the front door for her.
But when she left all I could do was lie on the couch crying. I knew I was far from fine and seriously doubted if anything in my life would ever be right again.
After I'd wrung myself dry of the seemingly endless tears, I managed to get dressed. By habit I got in my truck and drove around the corner to the Coffee Room Café at Twenty-sixth and Pennsylvania Avenue. It was where Malik and I went every Saturday morning for breakfast.
I wasn't in the mood for chatting with the familiar waitress, and she got the message when I mumbled my order and refused to look at her. I needed to make sense of what had happened in the last twenty-four hours. I popped two Tylenol and chased them with coffee, scalding the roof of my mouth trying to drink the liquid too hastily.
I thought about my younger sister. We were best friends and probably as close as sisters could get. We confided everything in each other, yet she'd held back about her relationship with Malik. As I stared out the window onto East River Drive, I just couldn't fathom how Malik had become Kareem's father. Kamille had told my parents and me that the young man who'd fathered Kareem when my sister was seventeen had gone to jail right before Kareem was born. She'd only been seeing him for a few months before she became pregnant. And whenever I'd asked about Kareem's father, she said he was still incarcerated.
But who knew, maybe there never was another man. Maybe that had just been a story she and Malik had concocted so as not to ruin his budding career and now our relationship.
And Malik, as far as I knew, had never cheated on me. If he had, he'd been damn good at it. I used to believe he loved me, but maybe he didn't. Right now I didn't know the answer to anything.
My racing thoughts were making me crazy, as was my ringing cell phone. I looked at the number. It was Malik calling me from his car. There was no way I was answering it.
I was just about to leave when I noticed a black Lincoln Town Car bearing municipal tags conveniently parking in a no-parking zone. I prayed it wasn't anyone we knew. When the driver's door swung open I saw that it was G-dog. Damn it, he was a pain in my ass.
Gregory D. Haney III, also known as G-dog, was a patron of every club in the city, so needless to say our paths crossed on a regular basis. To make matters worse, he never missed the opportunity to flirt with me. To add to his self-importance, he boasted he was the biracial son of Philadelphia's powerful new district attorney. I'd seen his father on TV several times. A sharp dresser with striking features, he was known as a ladies' man, and his son liked to think he was, too.
I kept my eyes on G-dog as he strolled through the door. I tried to figure out a way to slip out of there without being seen. For the first time I noticed that he wasn't particularly tall, barely six feet and kind of squatty, but handsome nonetheless, with his high-yella complexion and short curly hair. At the clubs he always wore a baseball cap and jeans, but now that he was probably coming from his job at the Department of Recreation, he wore a button-down sweater, khakis, and a brown leather jacket.
After a few moments I realized there was no way I was going to get out of the café without him seeing me. While he stood talking with the cashier, I pushed my chair back and was about to get up when he smiled and made his way to my table.
"What's up, Tiff? You look like you had a rough night," he commented, pulling out a chair to sit down across from me.
Damn, I'd forgotten to bring my sunglasses to cover my swollen eyes. I lowered my head. I was sure I looked like hell.
Coughing to clear my throat, I said, "What's up, G-dog? I was just about to get outta here."
"You don't have to brush me off. I just wanted to say congratulations on the club," he said, reaching across the table to shake my hand.
"Oh, uh, thanks."
My hands were shaking and my eyes were welling up.
I used the back of my hand to wipe the tears away, hoping
G-dog hadn't noticed.
"Safe to assume that nigga Malik been treating you well?" he asked, looking down at the two-carat diamond ring I wore.
Malik was well known in Philadelphia as a rising star because of his fast-growing legal and political career. He'd been praised in the Legal Intelligencer for his battle with the DA's office when they'd wrongly accused one of Malik's clients of the Fenton Street murders. Malik had gotten the case overturned, so he was far from being a friend of the district attorney.
My mind drifted as I remembered how Malik had surprised me with dinner at McCormick and Schmick's to celebrate with him. Before I knew it, tears fell onto my cheeks.
"Yo, what's up? What's wrong?" G-dog asked, lifting up my chin with his hand.
I shook his hand off. "I'm fine."
"Well, a brother can see that's a touchy subject. Anyway, even though you didn't invite me to your groundbreaking, I'd still like to lend you my assistance with anything you need from me or my father's office." He placed his business card in my hand.
Didn't he realize yet that I wanted nothing to do with him?
My cell phone rang again, this time in unison with G-dog's cell phone. I refused to answer, but while he answered his call I scrolled through my list of missed calls: Kamille, twice; Essence, once; Malik, three times from his office at Covington, Myers & Levin, and twice from his car.
G-dog hung up and said, "Well?" He pointed at his business card laying in front of me.
"I don't think I'll be needing you or your father for anything," I answered, as my fingers rapidly tapped against my coffee mug.
"I wouldn't be too sure of that. Looks to me, by those swollen eyes, that you don't know what you need."
I didn't want the pain I was in to be that obvious. There had to be some way for me to get this under control. I didn't want to put my professional future in jeopardy.
I snatched my purse off the back of my chair and said, "Go to hell, G-dog," and walked out of the restaurant.
After driving back to the house, I went upstairs and lay across the bed trying to make sense out of how I'd lost control of my life. Up until now everything had gone as I'd planned it. How could I not have known about Malik and Kamille? There had to have been a sign, some passing affection. This was not the love I'd planned for. Love, at least my love with Malik, was not supposed to hurt. The relationships I'd had in the past had been meaningless and never affected me like this when they ended. Malik and I had been perfect, but now he was no better than all the other losers I'd dated before him.
Two hours later I woke up to Bruiser's barking outside my window. When I walked to the top of the stairs, I found Malik standing at the bottom.
"What do you want?" I asked, too exhausted to fight with him.
"Tiffany, we need to talk. Why haven't you returned my calls?"
I laughed. "You gotta be kidding."
I walked down the stairs to let Bruiser in the house, but rather than let me pass, Malik held on to my arm.
"Tiffany, your sister and I are getting a blood test to settle this thing."
"You and my sister deceived me from the time I met you. Even if you're not Kareem's father, do you think that I'd still want to be in a relationship with you?"
"Tiffany, I love you. I don't want your sister or anything that comes with her. The first time you introduced me to your sister I didn't even remember who the hell she was."
"You're saying you're not going to play daddy? Then I guess you are the piece of shit I thought you were."
"Woman, don't you understand? If I can't have you, then I don't want anything to do with your sister or your nephew."
His cruel words were painful and confusing. How could he talk so harshly about Kamille and the child he'd fathered? Tears began to roll down my cheeks before I could swallow them to speak.
"Tiffany, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that. You know I'd take care of any child that belongs to me. But I can't let you go. I love you. I swear I won't let you go."
He tried to hug me, but when I stood stiff in his arms he dropped them and lowered his head. He was hurting, too, but he deserved it. I could tell by his swollen and red eyes that he hadn't slept and that he'd probably been crying.
He looked up, hopeful.
"I want you out of my house and out of my life."
"You're going about this all wrong, Tiffany. You're not even giving me a chance to explain. This isn't like you, reacting like this. Please don't do this to us."
"Really? You have me so figured out. So damn methodical, am I? Well, that's over."
"I can't deal with you when you're not making sense," he said, then walked out the front door.
I wanted to run after him and scream and yell until the pain went away, but I didn't want my nosy neighbors to think I was crazy. Once his car was gone I tried to put the house back in some order, but my efforts seemed useless. After a few moments my cell phone rang. I saw my sister's number come up, so I hit DECLINE. She called again. On the third ring I snatched up the phone.
"Leave me alone, Kamille. I don't want shit to do with you! You're a dirty whore," I screamed into the mouthpiece.
"Tiffany, what is going on? Malik told me you tore up the house."
It was my mother.
"Mom, don't get in the middle of this. You have no idea what's going on."
"You're talking crazy. Are you on drugs? Your sister wants to talk to you."
"Tell my sister to kiss my ass!"
"Don't you use those words with me, Tiffany Johnson. I didn't "
Click. I hung up.
I'd had enough of everybody's input. It was Saturday night and I needed to get out of the house and go someplace where I wouldn't be noticed and wouldn't have to talk about business or my personal life. If I didn't get out of the house, I would explode.
I phoned Essence, and when she told me what club she was at I frantically drove down the expressway to South Philly to join her. She was easy to spot in one of her signature fedora hats, sitting at a table at the Pousse Café. As usual, Essence was surrounded by women, bopping her head to the sounds of Beyoncé belting out "Dangerously in Love." She reveled in being the center of attention, so deejaying was the perfect job for her. Essence was probably the only white female DJ with such a large black following. Just like male DJs who picked up women, Essence had the pleasure of picking up both men and women. When she was on the turntables, all eyes were on her and nobody saw color.
Her groupies dispersed when I walked up and slid into the booth.
"Damn, girl, you look bad," she stated, looking me over before hugging me.
"Malik came back to the house tonight."
"Good. Did you talk with him?"
"I asked him to move out. What are you drinking?" I asked, sipping from her glass.
"Tiff, you're moving too fast. Don't you want to wait till the tests come back?"
The waitress came over and took our drink orders.
"What is it with everybody? I'm not the one who was out fucking around."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. It's just that I don't want everything to be ruined."
"I'm not letting them ruin anything. I'll get through this. Hell, maybe I'll find me somebody to sleep with," I said, as I surveyed the room filled with gay women.
"That's bullshit. Not on my watch."
The waitress reappeared with our drinks. I held my glass up to hers and for the next hour we drank shots of tequila.
By 11:00 P.M. I'd managed to get wasted and was ready to join in the fun everyone else seemed to be having. For the first time I was aware of the variety of women available when you're in a club where it's always ladies' night. These women were sensual and totally uninhibited in the way they danced. I could clearly see why Essence boasted that she loved men, yet craved women. And right now I craved them, too.
Essence left me to go dance with a curvaceous woman I'd seen her with before. After I sat alone nursing my drink, a sister asked me to dance, so I sashayed my black and half-drunk ass onto the small dance floor. I was having such a good time that after three songs I'd actually forgotten about my broken heart. And that's when a woman who'd been eyeing me stepped in between me and the sister I'd been dancing with. I was so sweaty and drunk that I had to lean against her to stay on my feet.
"This your first time here, sexy?"
"Nope," I answered, as I turned around in search of Essence. I spotted her onstage with three women vying for her attention.
"You wanna get down?" she asked in my ear over the loud music.
"Sure, whatever." I'd always wondered what foreplay with a woman was like.
She grabbed my hand and I followed her into the ladies' room. She opened the door to one of the stalls and we squeezed inside.
"Damn, you're black, but you're fine as hell," she said, running her hands over my hips.
I couldn't count the many times I'd heard that line. I wanted to tell her she was the one who was sexy, with her pierced belly button and tank top that read LUCKY across the front.
I moved closer, gyrating my body against hers.
"I'd sure like to get in those panties tonight," she said, as if she were a man seducing me. Her throaty voice made it sound even more enticing.
With her hot breath against my ear, she asked, "What's your name, Black Angel?"
If she didn't already know who I was, I wasn't about to tell her. In order to stop her questions I pressed my lips against her open mouth, then pulled away, surprised at my own aggressiveness.
"Shit, I can see I got me a little hottie tonight, eh? We gonna have some fun."
I kissed her again, but this time she clasped her hands around the back of my neck and moved her tongue around my mouth until I didn't want to pull away.
"You here with anybody?" she asked.
"Just you and me. Isn't that enough?" I answered, before placing my hand over her breast and squeezing it.
"Not too rough, honey. Here, this will make it easier for you," she said, lifting her shirt and gently placing my hand on her naked breast.
"Go ahead, suck Mommy's titties," she said, pushing her breast toward me.
I hesitated at first, but then bent my head and flicked my tongue around her pink areola. It was so soft and spongy that I opened my mouth and took in as much as I could. I almost wanted to laugh because it felt like I was sucking on a marshmallow.
"Girl, you're good. Now, here, take a little of this."
I let her wet breast slide out of my mouth and held my head up to see what she was giving me. Under her fingernail was some white powder. She dabbed it onto my tongue, numbing it. I assumed it was cocaine.
With her hands in my hair, she lifted my face to hers and stuck her tongue deep in my mouth. The only thing different from kissing a man was that there was no mustache to tickle my lips or beard stubble to scratch my face. I wondered what other parts of her body might be soft where a man's were hard. She must've known what I was thinking, because she put her hand under my skirt in search of my thong. I followed her lead by putting my hands between her legs in that hot spot in the fold of her jeans.
I was so wrapped up with my own desire to get lost that I paid no attention to the noise from the club when the bathroom door opened. That is, until I heard Essence talking on the other side of the stall door.
"Just stay still. Won't nobody know you're in here," the woman said, her fingers reaching that tender spot right beneath the opening of my vagina.
"Tiffany, I saw you come in here. Now, I'm giving you one minute to get out here before I kick the frickin' door in."
"Fuck her, baby, you gotta do you."
I looked at the woman, who probably could've brought me to climax. She was clearly annoyed that we had been interrupted.
"Leave her alone," she shouted back to Essence.
But she had no idea what a crazy white girl Essence was, so rather than cause a fight I pulled away and unlocked the stall door.
"What do you want?" the woman asked from behind me.
"Bitch, are you crazy, messing with my people? If I see you near her again I will kick your ass," Essence warned, knocking the bag of coke from her hand.
The woman immediately backed down.
I tried to defend myself. "Essence, you can't tell me what to do. I'm a grown woman."
"Well, check this out. I'm taking your grown ass home. Now, let's go," she demanded, yanking me out of the stall.
Once we were in my truck I begged her not to take me back to my house in Brewery Town. She agreed, and instead drove me to her home in University City. When we got inside her apartment I went to the refrigerator to look for something to drink, then followed her to her bedroom.
"Tiffany, listen, I know you're hurting, but you can't go around acting like this, drinking and making out with dykes and shit. It's not going to change anything. I mean, it's just not your M.O. Pretty soon you're gonna have to talk to Malik and Kamille."
"Aww, shut up. Don't nobody know how I feel," I said, watching as she undressed, still wondering what it would feel like to have sex with a woman. "Make love to me, Essence."
"Bitch, you're drunk. You don't know what you're talking about. Take your ass in the other room and go to bed."
"I don't care what you say, somebody will make love to me tonight."
"Go to sleep," she said, and climbed into bed.
As soon as I lay across the bed in her guest room, thoughts of Malik and Kamille started racing through my head and killing my tequila high. Maybe he liked my sister better than me. Maybe her lovemaking was able to keep him awake at night. My sister was always bragging about how good she could work her body during sex, that she could make a man whimper. Had Malik been one of those men?
I knew then who I'd call. I searched through my purse for the card he'd given me.
"Yeah, it's Tiffany."
"Oh shit, how'd I get lucky to get this late-night booty call?" G-dog asked.
"Does it matter?"
"Not to me. Why don't you come up the way? You know where I'm at."
Before driving out to Nights Over Broadway, a raunchy strip club where most of the brothers hung out after 3:00 A.M., I drove past my house to see if there was any sign of Malik. The place was dark and I felt bad that I hadn't been home to let Bruiser out. I was about to get out of my truck when I saw Malik's Volvo come from around the opposite corner. I watched as he parked outside our house. He went in, then came back outside, taking an overexcited Bruiser for a walk. I watched as he answered his cell phone, smiling at whoever the caller was. Who would be calling him at three o'clock in the morning? I became infuriated when I thought that maybe it was my sister. Maybe they were making plans. I started my engine and raced off to meet G-dog.
Twenty minutes later, when I walked into the crowded and smoky after-hours spot, all eyes turned to me. It was a place that I didn't frequent, but being in this business you had to know them all. I spoke to those who spoke to me, and paid no attention to the envious women who rolled their eyes.
G-dog was standing at the far end of the bar engaged in conversation both on his cell phone and with a brother standing next to him. I wasn't even sure how he could hear with the loud rap music that crackled out of the speakers.
"Tell her what you drinking," he said, nodding toward the topless barmaid.
"Absolut and cranberry," I said, watching the overworked and naked strippers trying to earn tips. This strip club was far from a gentleman's club. It was one of those places where anything goes.
"Pretty strong drink. So what you been up to this time of morning?" he asked, after disconnecting his call.
"Hanging out with Essence."
Laughing, he said, "I didn't know you was into that."
"G-dog, it's a whole lot you don't know about Tiffany Johnson."
"Damn, girl, all this time I thought you was a straight-up businesswoman, but now you showing me some different shit."
He was right. I'd been totally out of character since Malik and Kamille's secret had been exposed. And for the first time I'd stopped caring what people thought about me and what I thought about myself. All I wanted was for the pain to disappear. Maybe G-dog could make that happen. I'd always prided myself on the fact that I hadn't been with another man since I'd met Malik. I'd never had a reason to seek love or sex elsewhere, but now maybe I did. Maybe that's just what I needed.
"Why are you always telling me you want a piece of Teaz?" I asked him as he downed a glass of Hypnotic.
"I want a piece alright," he mumbled, and then said louder, "Shit, I been trying to get in on anything you were a part of for a long time. Your uppity ass just been ignoring me. But I guess you finally realize that nothing goes down in Philly that I'm not part of."
"I'm supposed to believe you're that powerful?"
"Well, if I ain't, my daddy sure is."
I reached over, fingered the gold hoop in his right ear, and said, "So, what part of Tiffany do you want?"
He eyed me up and down, then kissed me on the lips. "All I can get," he answered.
The sun was coming up when we left the club and I staggered to G-dog's truck. I was sure I'd never been that drunk before in my life. When we arrived at my house I handed him my purse to find my keys. He unlocked the door but backed away when a growling Bruiser met us. I tried to tell him that Bruiser wouldn't bite, but he waited until I put the dog in the backyard before he would come in.
Heading toward the kitchen, I stammered, "You want a drink?"
"You've had enough of that shit," he answered, observing my living space.
I turned around and got up close enough to him to feel his hard dick against my thigh.
Holding on to the waist of his pants, I said, "Let's go upstairs, G."
"I don't think you wanna do this. What if your nigga comes home?" he asked, looking around as if Malik was going to pop out of the other room.
"My so-called nigga don't live here no more," I said, trying to kiss him while he talked.
"Girl, I ain't trying to get shot."
"Aww, c'mon, G-dog. You mean you don't want to make love to me with this?" I asked, grabbing a handful of his hardness.
He wasted no time responding to my touch. He kissed me hard, swallowing my tongue in his mouth while his hands unzipped the front of my sweater.
"Girl, I been waiting to get this," he exclaimed, bending over to trail kisses along my stomach.
The house phone began to ring, but I ignored it, figuring it was probably Essence checking to see if I was home. I stepped out of my skirt, then pulled G-dog's shirt over his head and returned to his arms. The phone rang again. Whoever it was must've been hitting redial, determined to reach me.
"You better answer that. Somebody trying to get at you."
I walked over to the phone and checked the caller ID. It was Malik. Fuck him. But it was too late. His interruption had changed the mood.
"That was him, wasn't it?"
"Maybe we should chill out. I can't afford to have no problems."
"G-dog, I don't care about him. I need this really bad."
"Tiffany, that man ain't crazy. How 'bout you go upstairs to bed?"
"Why the hell is everybody telling me to go to sleep? I been asleep for the last few years while people been fucking behind my back."
"Hey, check this out. I don't know what that's all about, but I'm putting your ass to bed." In one swift move he lifted me off my feet and carried me upstairs.
It was after twelve o'clock on Sunday when G-dog showed up in my bedroom doorway. I couldn't quite remember what had happened the night before, but if he was here bringing me coffee, then I was too embarrassed to find out.
When he sat on the end of my bed my head started spinning and my stomach began to churn, a feeling I hadn't had since college. I ran into the bathroom and kneeled in front of the toilet, where I stayed until G-dog cleaned me up and carried me back to bed.
"Damn, girl, you don't need to drink. Here, sip this shit," he said, handing me a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. He applied a wet towel to my face, which felt warm and soothing. "I had your truck brought down from the club this morning," he said.
"Thanks. I still can't believe I drank all that stuff. I hope I didn't do anything stupid," I said, before sipping the steaming black coffee.
"Not exactly, but if that nigga hadn't called, you would've gotten what you were asking for."
"You're kidding, right? I was asking you to..."
He nodded and chuckled.
"I am so sorry. I shouldn't have dragged you into this. I hope you can forgive me."
"Why don't you tell me what's up first?"
On a whim I did something I didn't usually do, and that was talk to people about my personal affairs. He'd already seen me at my worst, which made it a little easier to be vulnerable with him. I mean, he'd had the perfect opportunity to take advantage of me but had only acted like a real gentleman, which led me to believe that maybe G-dog wasn't so bad after all. So I told him the entire story about Malik and Kamille, that is, as much as I knew. Somehow I was able to get through it without crying.
"And last night was to get back at him?"
"G-dog, I don't know what it was. I was just trying to get through the pain. I'm sorry if you thought I was using you, and I'm sorry about the way I treated you at the café."
He took his time to think about his answer, kissed me on the forehead, and then said, "Hey, it's cool. For you, girl, I'll ride the bench. Plus, you don't have anything to be sorry about. I mean, that nigga did some foul shit. But enough of that. Check this out. I have to go down to the Keys this evening to handle some real estate business. You wanna go with me?"
"Sure. What else you got going?"
"I can't. I have to work through some stuff. But I appreciate the invitation."
He stood up to leave. "You sure you gonna be okay by yourself?"
"I don't have a choice."
Copyright © 2005 by Brenda L. Thomas
Meet the Author
Brenda L. Thomas, a Philadelphia-based marketing professional, is the Essence bestselling author of three previous novels, Threesome: Where Seduction, Power & Basketball Collide; Fourplay: The Dance of Sexuality; and The Velvet Rope. She has also contributed short stories to the anthologies Four Degrees of Heat and Kiss the Year Goodbye. Visit her website at phillywriter.com.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I liked this book it was great i loved all the drama that keep me in the book
READ IT FIVE TIMES AND STILL WANT TO READ IT.....ENOUGH SAID
Brenda Thomas returns with another erotic literary rendezvous. Tiffany Johnson has gone into business for herself with Teaz Entertainment. At what should be a joyous time, things come crashing down around her as she learns her fiancé and sister know each other a little too well. Still reeling from the shock, her personal life spills over into her new business venture and vice versa. She doesn't know if she's coming or going or which way is up or down as she delves deep into a sexual abyss.
While the sex scenes were hot, that alone couldn't make up for a just okay story. The Velvet Rope was by no means a bad book, but it doesn't begin to touch the momentum of Threesome or even Fourplay. Ms. Thomas seems to have veered off course, but I hope not for long.
Reviewed by: Toni
The Velvet Rope had a life like feel to it. It was hard for me to put this book down. It liked the fact that Tiffany wasn't just a woman but a woman with business. And the affairs seemed so real. I would recommend this to high school and up.
very good book i can read it over, over again
Brenda Thomas returns with another erotic literary rendezvous. Tiffany Johnson has gone into business for herself with Teaz Entertainment. At what should be a joyous time, things come crashing down around her as she learns her fiancé and sister know each other a little too well. Still reeling from the shock, her personal life spills over into her new business venture and vice versa. She doesn't know if she's coming or going or which way is up or down as she delves deep into a sexual abyss. While the sex scenes were hot, that alone couldn't make up for a just okay story. The Velvet Rope was by no means a bad book, but it doesn't begin to touch the momentum of Threesome or even Fourplay. Ms. Thomas seems to have veered off course, but I hope not for long.
As soon as you start reading this book you will not want to put it down until the very end. Tiffany is a piece of work. A smart, successful young woman, you will hardly believe the decisions she makes. Mixing business and 'pleasures' as you would hardly imagine with a twisted family of men who are into much more than tactless business practices and sexcapades. This is a must read. Brenda Thomas has never let me down and if The Velvet Rope is just her 2nd novel I can't wait to read all the ones to come!! I am sure Threesome is sure to be a treat.
i think that the book was really good. & what i liked about it the most was it had a lot of DRAMA, so if your someone who loves drama, i think this is one of many books you should read
This book was so good I went out the next day and bought Threesome. This book keeps you wanting to know what's going to happen next. This book really lets you know even the beautiful have problems.
You gotta read this book. if you haven't you don't know what your missing. its such a twist and turn in this story.
The drama starts right from the beginning and doesn't stop until the very end. Brenda L. Thomas, where have you been? Your characters are so defined and each event is detailed wonderfully. This book caught my attention just as a velvet rope would in a theater and the story flowed as smoothly as the touch of the same velvet rope.
Public relations expert Tiffany Johnson decides to go for her dream to become the ¿Philly queen of the night¿; she quits her successful career at Platinum Images and forms a partnership with her sister Kamille, her fiancé Malik Skinner, and her best friend Essence to open up in a few months a club, Teaz Entertainment. She also obtains backing from suburbia¿s Greg ¿D-Dog¿ and his father........................ As the club becomes the in-spot, Tiffany learns that her fiancé and her sister shared a one night stand in college that they hid from her; her nephew Kareem could be a result of that fling. The cops begin investigating the money trail of the club as drugs and mob ties surface with the link seemingly being D-Dog and dad. Tiffany¿s dream has taken a nightmarish spin with no one for her to depend on or trust except herself............................ This intriguing family drama smoothly switches from first person accounts to third person so that the audience obtains a deep character study. The ensemble cast is easy to delineate one from another, but Tiffany receives the most empathy though she is far from an innocent babe. The story line feels like an African-American 2005 Peyton Place as it seems everyone is doing in everyone else; thus readers will feel no empathy to any character. Still Brenda L. Thomas provides a strong look at the downside of hanging with the in-crowd, which proves to be more glitter than gold.................................. Harriet Klausner