"A truly riveting read from cover to cover, "A Butler Christmas" is a carefully crafted novel by a master of the genre."--Midwest Book Reviews
"Brooks s clunky first Naim Butler contemporary romantic thriller has strong characters...The well-developed relationships among the characters propel the story until the addition of suspense very late in the book..."--Publishers Weekly
"A Butler Christmas delivered. Mission accomplished. It took me away to the city and enjoying the view from Naim’s multi-million dollar home. I never found the story predictable, and had to keep turning the pages to see where we would go from that first jog along Central Park. Brooks’ writing style is not over wordy and kept a good pace."--UrbanFiction.Org
Naim Butler, a rainmaker, has perfected the art of sentencing mitigation, as a partner with Manhattan power-firm, Baker and Keefe. He's the kind of captivating and accomplished man that therapists vent too. His bachelorhood is turned upside down when an old flame, Sinia Love, drops a seventeen-year-old son into his lap forcing him to balance this revelation and his budding romance with Brandy Scott.
Professionally, Naim's assigned to prove a man's innocence of murder is filthy work itself, but catastrophic when an envious lover of Sinia Love's sets out to kill him while hiding amongst the glitterati of Manhattan's upper crust.
About the Author
Brooks grew up in Philadelphia be- fore trekking to Los Angeles to study film/TV at UCLA. Finding it difficult to break into Hollywood, he adapted his screen play into his first novel and later pursued an Eng- lish degree at Harvard University and making writing a full-time job. He lives in Philadelphia with a Manx.
Read an Excerpt
It was the New York Giants' flag atop the beat-up pick-up truck that immediately caught Naim's attention as he jogged in place at a light. He had been running for two miles and headed for the last few blocks of his three-mile jog along Central Park, when he saw a truck speeding up in a failing attempt to catch the light. At the speed the truck was going it was in danger of flipping over if the driver suddenly stopped, or worse hitting a car coming down Fifth Avenue.
Naim glanced at the other pedestrians at the light and it seemed that they were aware of the aggressive New York driver. Everyone except the woman whose back faced the street as she peered into the park; allured by the Christmas holiday decor set up by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She was captivated and had no idea that the pick-up was destined to take her out despite the engine roaring at full throttle.
Tires screeched as the idiot behind the wheel of the truck swerved around a taxi, and jumped over the curb right where Naim and the woman had been waiting for the light to change. He gripped up the woman's upper arm and pulled her away just as the front bumper missed her. The truck penetrated the park and slammed into a tree.
When Naim's eyes zeroed in on the accident, he saw a maniacal looking man with a long beard and disheveled hair matted to his pale scalp. The man had a closed right eye that forced him to look sinister when the door violently swung open.
Naim's adrenaline pumped and he choreographed moves in his head to respond to any sort of physical gesture from the man. Calm fury enveloped him as he prepared for the worse scenario. The man kicked the door and stepped out. He was burly with arms bulging through an oil stained sweatshirt, forcing Naim's heart rate to quicken and his own muscles tightened, ready to fight.
Just as the man walked towards Naim, flashing lights and the cry of a siren from an unmarked cop car, which was technically a New York taxi stopped at Fifth Avenue and Seventy-Ninth Street. After the NineEleven terrorist attack, policemen posed as many ordinary professionals to blend in with the public to quickly solve crimes or stop potential ones. The man stopped in his tracks, and thought about fighting or running, when an undercover NYPD officer came out of the shadows. "Freeze."
Naim's world refocused. The tension rushed out of his muscles, and he became calm. He loosened his grip on the woman's arm, but didn't let her go. Turning his attention from the man being arrested he found the woman staring at him. Her eyes were a luscious shade of brown. She appeared un-bothered by the driver, glancing down at his large hands that saved her, and tried to figure out why his hand remained on her.
She looked up at him further commanding his attention.
"My apologies," he said, letting go of her arm. "I imagined you about to be run over by Santa." He smiled lightheartedly, looking at the driver whose beard was long, white, and a lengthy mess.
She replied with silence.
His chivalrous attempt to make her smile failed. Her demeanor indicated that she had no desire to joke. Perhaps, he had grabbed her harshly. He did have a firm grip on her and knew his strength, but saving her was significant.
Naim cleared his throat, and then smiled in an attempt to shift the mood. A mood that was interrupted by a police officer.
"Are you two all right?" the cop asked approaching them, his voice being carried through heavy breathing. "You weren't clipped by that imbecile were you?"
"No," Naim said. "I'm fine."
"And thanks to him, I am as well," the woman said. Both men analyzed her curves from top to bottom, all covered in high fashion and a mink jacket. Her luxuriant, reddish-brown hair-obviously dyed-rested on the collar of the jacket.
"OK, may I collect your names and contact information. Apparently, the man's been drinking and has not had a valid license in over four years. He'll be sobering up at the Tombs this morning."
"Sure, I'm Naim Butler ..." Naim said and rattled off his telephone number and home address.
"And, I'm Brandy Scott." She dug into an expensive purse and took out her business card holder. It was gold with her name engraved on it.
Naim noticed the New York Times logo on the business card and wondered what her role was at the newspaper empire.
"I'm sure detectives and an insurance adjuster will be in touch. If you two are OK, you're free to continue your morning."
"Thanks, officer," Naim said. "What a Monday morning."
"Brandy Scott, can I buy you a hot chocolate to make up for this episode? It could warm you up."
"Perhaps, or it couldn't."
Feisty. Unreadable. He couldn't guess her position, and was unsure of how to reply.
Was she attempting to be lighthearted as he had? She was looking at him. Scrutinizing him. Sizing him up. He had the kind of perfect white commercial-quality teeth, deep waves in his hair, and double chocolate complexion that usually got him to first base. His charm, wit, and funny-bone carried him around the bases to home plate. Brandy's standoffishness didn't want him up to bat. His heart rate was pounding all over again. His fear of rejection surfaced.
"I assure you that I know a woman as attractive as you deal with men constantly trying clever lines to get you. I was, and still am, being a gentleman by treating you to cocoa considering our awkward meeting."
Finally, she smiled. Not a big grin or any sign of gallantry, but a simple curve of her lips to acknowledge the approval of his line.
He smiled back.
"Really." She looked at him and tucked hair behind her ear.
"Yes, I live nearby and was out for a jog with plans on stopping at Starbucks anyway."
"Is that right?" She looked dubious.
"I'm not kidding," he said and chuckled. "There are a few black folks that live on the Upper East Side, and I happen to be one. I jog twice a week, swim three, and weight train the other two. On any given day, I could have saved you." He smiled and lit up the corner.
"Nervy, confident and disciplined. That's original," she said and winked. "Thanks, by the way, for that."
"No problemmo," he said, and then asked, "so ..."
She pulled out her cell phone. "I'm late for a meeting, but I'd like to have cocoa with you another day."
"Oh, so now, you're asking me out on a date? I guess you want my number?"
"Your sense of humor is attractive. Actually smart. For technical purposes, you asked me out, I declined, and now I am offering you a rain check."
He admired her manicured hand that held a cell phone taking notice that her ring finger was one solid bronzed complexion. He gave her his number and then offered to hail her a taxi for the remainder of her journey, which she accepted. When she left, he watched the taxi for three blocks, and thoughts of his next encounter with her were heavy on his mind.
Naim Butler and Derrick Adams were at a Brazilian steak house for lunch and drinks. They stared at the menu before they were joined by Hector.
"How nice of you to join us. Perhaps, since you own this joint, you can suggest something to eat," Naim said, and then waved his hand in the air, "in this fine establishment."
"You're such a wise ass." Hector laughed. "Let's try this again. Welcome to Hector's Brazilian Bistro; this grand ol' steak joint."
"Slow down, playboy," Derrick said, "we knew you before winning Top Chef. That's the only reason this place is hot, and don't forget that."
"Spoken like a true federal prosecutor," Hector said. "You find the bad in everything."
The three men chuckled. It had been a while since the three of them had the opportunity to laugh and joke like they had in college.
"Listen, Bon Appetite Magazine is here, so I have to get into the kitchen and actually cook today. I'm going to send over our recently added lump crab. It's the Tuesday special, and pure perfection."
"Now, you're talking," Naim said, "don't burn down the kitchen, you have company."
A fancy kitchen that was encased in glass in the middle of the restaurant and slowly spun three-hundred-sixty degrees, affording every customer a gaze at their food being prepared. There was an elevator in the middle of the kitchen that led to the basement where food was stored and dishes washed; certainly those acts were done off screen. The ambiance drew in hordes of wealthy clients and was the anchor restaurant of the grand St. Helena Hotel in Manhattan's Upper East Side at Eighty-fourth and Madison Avenues.
"We should order a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, too," Naim said.
"Yeah, we can do that," Derrick replied.
They sat quiet for a moment, Naim sipping on straight vodka, Derrick sipping his jack and coke.
"When does Stefon get home for the holidays?" Naim asked. Stefon was Derrick's teenager son that attended a private prep school in Alexandria, Virginia.
"He arrives on an Amtrak train at eleven a.m. tomorrow," Derrick replied. "I can't wait for my boy to get home. After Chanel's death the house feels eerily empty without either of them there all of the time."
"I can dig it. Nothing like the noise of family. How about dinner with him tomorrow night?"
Derrick furrowed his eyebrows. "I suppose we can, if he doesn't have plans. You know he thinks that he's grown. What's this all about?"
"It's about Sinia concluding that she'd finally like me to meet Marco, my son. What a Christmas gift?"
"You didn't tell me this. Does Hector know?"
"He does. I didn't know until we confirmed paternity. We've actually been chatting more."
"Oh, boy. Rekindling an old flame?"
"Hell no. Not my intent at all. Especially, the way that she left me, and all. They're due in tomorrow afternoon." Naim pulled out his cell phone, called up his Instagram app, and found Marco's profile: Marcotheprodigalson. He showed it to Derrick.
Derrick scrolled through the page. "Your twin." Both men chortled. "Dark complexion, bushy eyebrows, waves and tall just like ya. His posts and style seem awfully mature. How old is he?"
"Seventeen in the twelfth grade."
"Does he know that he's coming to meet you, his father?"
"Yes, I've talked to him and we've chatted via Facetime. Apparently, Sinia and Kyle Love had an argument about paternity when he was about thirteen. Unbeknownst to them, Marco had heard the whole argument but never said anything. When he turned fifteen, he asked them about it and they confessed that Kyle wasn't his father. Kyle divorced her a month later."
"Must've been tough for Kyle to look you in the face every day. He's light skin and has that good Puerto Rican hair, and you're black as midnight with nappy hair posing as waves."
Both men laughed.
"I'm sure, but he contributed to her leaving me for dead so to hell with him. I've never gotten over the way that she left me. Because I was arrested wasn't a good enough reason with all that we had shared. She had never even given me a real shot, although she pretended that she had."
"Academy Award acting, huh?"
"Man, she was done as soon as agents handcuffed me at the airport." Naim's shoulders sagged. "And to think I had a ring in my luggage to propose to her during our nine day trip."
"You never told me that. Were you really ready to marry her?"
"Hell, yeah. The Friday that we were set to leave for a swing through three cities she had to work, and our flight wasn't until seven p.m. I spent the day looking for a ring to propose at dinner on my birthday, which was day four of the trip."
"I knew she'd do something simple like dinner, because she was an aloof woman, dull on the creative side and very predictable."
"That damn warrant caught up to you and ruined it all. Too bad that case didn't come before you met her."
"Right. Who knew I'd change my life and then get busted years later," Naim said and frowned. He showed a sinister smile, and then said, "I was emotionally killed when I got the Dear Naim Letter via the prison Email system."
"Well you did leave her with a gas bill, too," Derrick said, and burst into laughter. "As a prosecutor, I know that spouses are left stuck with debt often and some people can deal with the pain and others can't. It's funny because the good guys in relationships most times get left to rot in jail alone. But I'll have surveillance of some nut cheating repeatedly and when that comes to light at trial they'll have a woman fighting for their release. It's sad. I mean he may be beating her ass, and I'll have proof of it, yet, she'll be crying to a judge to give him leniency during sentencing."
"Man, that's bullshit. I remain convinced that her friends contributed to her leaving me. If not directly, she just feared what they would say had she stuck around. She was mad that I didn't tell her my whole rap sheet."
"It's a fine line there, bro. One may never know what to tell and not tell while getting to know someone. I guess if she was a hood rat your rap sheet would have been something to brag about."
"Well, she wished me luck with her Dear Naim Letter. Some chutzpah. I needed her and not luck. I replied to the rejection letter with a simple 'OK, thanks,' as if nothing had happened, manned up, and dealt with it."
"She probably had Kyle by then."
"She had been flirting with him. Other dudes, too. I had caught her several times, but did I leave her? She always made these empty promises to do better."
"By the looks of your life now, bud, it looks like she should have made a much better decision."
A server slid lavish plates in front of them, and then Naim said, "Yup, let's eat, because my blood is percolating just thinking about it all over again, especially learning that she's kept a son from me for seventeen-damn-years." He smiled again. "It's time that I find a new love and stop rejecting most of the woman that I date or that pursue me. Success and non-committal sex has consumed me." Naim thought of Brandy Scott; could she change that?
"I'll eat and drink to that. This is going to be an interesting holiday. Boy, what I would pay to be a fly on the wall at your place this week."
"You're crazy," Naim said and jammed a bite of lump crab into his mouth.
"I'm not. See, perhaps she knows that she made a mistake all of those years ago. You're a New Yorker now, extremely successful and wealthy, and no criminal proceedings pending, so what stood in your way before is all gone."
"So." Naim wasn't persuaded.
"You're the perfect bachelor, and maybe all of the love that you two shared hasn't really died."
"It has. Now, how about you eat, Dr. Phil." Naim smirked. He knew that Derrick was off base, as he didn't take rejection with a grain of salt.
Wednesday morning, Sinia Ferguson-Love, awoke in her expansive manse in Raleigh, North Carolina and immediately smelled the odor of a man. It was pleasant, but quite different than when her bed was empty.
She slowly lifted her head from his chest, she didn't want to awake him yet. She brushed long black hair from her face and the soft curls extended past her shoulders. She was in her diaphanous white night gown, the lacy bodice barely covering her large breasts. Today, she had to give him the bad news, and she wanted to send rejection his way without giving him time to change her decision. Austin Mills was a divorced man accused of assaulting his ex-wife, very jealous, and over-bearing. She managed to deal with him because, after all, a woman had needs. He doubled as her oncologist. He was an elitist amongst North Carolina doctors and a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina in nearby Chapel Hill.
Discreetly, she crept out of the bed without disturbing him and walked across the hardwood floor to her large walk-in closet where her luggage was packed, and stored waiting for her departure. In the ensuite bathroom, she pulled the door shut to drown out the sound of the shower. She shivered when the first few drops hit her skin. She adjusted the temperature and then flung her head back, letting the water flow over her.
Austin's deep brown eyes swept across her from head to feet as he watched her from the bathroom door. Sinia was modelesque, perfectly proportioned, with high, supple breasts, a slim waist, narrow hips and smooth legs that never stopped. She was thirty-six with an old soul, and as a flawless lover — she fulfilled his wildest dreams, and then some.
The shower door opened and his six-feet-plus of pure masculine perfection towered over her. He was strikingly handsome with strong dark skin and big hands that pulled her into his arms forcing her back to rest against his broad chest. She elbowed him in the stomach and demanded that he get out of the shower pushing him into the frosted glass.
Excerpted from "A Butler Christmas"
Copyright © 2017 Rahiem Brooks.
Excerpted by permission of Prodigy Gold Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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