White Mocha Michele Grant
Jayla has always played it safe, personally and professionally. Finding the perfect cup of coffee is about the most exciting thing in her life. But one look at free-spirited café owner Jason, and she's suddenly inspired to venture out of her comfort zone...
Wanted: You Lutishia Lovely
Chaz Covington is the guy every man wants to be and every woman wants to have. So when a series of anonymous erotic letters begin arriving at his office, he is only mildly surprised. His prudish assistant, Lois, is shocked. But before it's all over, she won't be the only one...
From One Lover to Another Cydney Rax
Lorraine Eafford is done with bad boys. She's ready for someone nice and reliable--someone just like her new co-worker, Wendell. But her ex won't take no for an answer, and Lorraine is about to show him just how bad this good girl can be...
|Product dimensions:||4.14(w) x 6.73(h) x 0.97(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Lutishia Lovely burst onto the literary scene with Sex In the Sanctuary and now, more than a dozen books later, hasn’t even thought about slowing down. When not writing contemporary fiction, she lends her muse to her alter-ego, Zuri Day, and writes steamy romances. But all work and no play makes Tish a dull girl, so she knows how to put down the pen and pick up a good time—which isn’t hard to do in southern California’s wine country, where she resides. Lutishia loves to hear from readers, so visit her online at LutishiaLovely.com, or on Facebook and Twitter @ lutishialovely.
Cydney Rax became obsessed with becoming a writer after reading Terry McMillan’s Disappearing Acts. Her author dreams were realized through her eyebrow-raising debut novel, My Daughter’s Boyfriend. Her novels include My Husband’s Girlfriend, Scandalous Betrayal, Brothers & Wives, and My Sister’s Ex (cited by Essence® as one of 2009’s best reads). She has also contributed to the anthologies Crush and Reckless. Born and raised in Detroit, Cydney graduated from Cass Technical High School and earned an undergraduate degree from Eastern Michigan University. She resides in Houston. Visit her online via Facebook, at www.cydneyrax.com, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read an Excerpt
By MICHELE GRANT, Lutishia Lovely, Cydney Rax
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2011 Kensington Publishing Corp.
All rights reserved.
It All Starts with a Sip
"You need to do something," my assistant, Kim, said from the doorway of my office, propping a hand up on her hip.
I glanced up from the report I wasn't really reading. "What do you mean?"
"Girl, you are dragging."
"It's eight o'clock at night." I tried to justify my sluggishness.
She pursed her lips. "Um-hmm, but you looked like this at eight o'clock this morning."
I reached back and lifted my hair off my neck, kneading the knotted muscles there. I sighed, knowing she was right. I'd been lethargic, restless, and listless for days. I hadn't been sleeping well either. "I don't know what's wrong with me; maybe I need some vitamins, a protein injection, some caffeine or something."
She laughed. "Oh, you need a protein injection, all right. How long since you and Say-It-Ain't-So Joe broke up?" The lovely nickname she had for my ex, Joseph.
"And since then?"
I sighed again. "No one."
"No one." She shook her head in disgust. "Not a peck on the cheek or a hand grazing your hind parts. Jayla, get some already!"
I laughed. "Kim, there's more to life than sex."
"How would you know? You have no sex nor life to speak of."
"That's harsh. I'm career focused, I am woman, hear me roar."
"Ya lonely and cranky. Fix it."
"So you want me to just jump on the next guy I see?"
She turned to leave on her crocodile stilettos and smiled at me over her shoulder. "There's an idea!"
"Yeah, right—that is SO me. ..."
"Seriously," she called out as she strode toward the elevator. "A little spontaneity wouldn't kill you."
"That's what people say to excuse rash behavior."
"Nothing wrong with cutting loose every once in a while. You don't have to make it a lifestyle choice. And don't stay here all night—you cannot snuggle up to income projections when you're old!" Her final words caused a few of the other late-night stragglers to stick their heads out of their cubes and offices to see whom she was addressing.
"Good NIGHT, Kim."
The thing of it was, she was right. Since Joseph and I had split (okay, since I had kicked his lying, cheating, wallet-"borrowing" ass out) I had funneled all of my energy into my career and little else. I stopped into the coffee shop every morning (specialty mocha and zucchini muffin), I visited my grandmother once a week, I went out with friends once a month. Everything else was work related.
I had been working at a nonstop pace for months. And I was well on my way to being the youngest chief financial officer this company had ever seen. Granted, BeniCareCo was a small, independent health insurance company, but I was making my mark. As the Assistant Vice President of Financial Operations, I was two steps away from my goal. But I was tired. Maybe the listless, restless thing was my body's way of telling me to slow it down.
Slow down for whom and for what? What was I in a rush to get home to? Most of my friends were either married or on the same crazy cutthroat corporate merry-go-round I was. I was too restless to curl up with a book. Maybe I'd watch a movie, soak in a long bath. Irritated with myself, I closed the folder that was in front of me and turned away.
As I swiveled my chair toward the window, I looked out on the late summer night. Chicago was on the tail end of a heat wave. Downtown Chicago was full of people enjoying the balmy, breezy weather. Across the street, I saw a couple coming out of the new coffee shop on the corner. The couple looked happy and carefree, clutching each other with one hand and their coffee with the other. The sign reading JAY'S COFFEE CAFÉ bathed them in an electric blue and green light.
Suddenly I wanted what they had—their togetherness, their apparent happiness, a shared jovial moment. I sighed. You have to give to get. You have to look to find. And I hadn't been doing much of either lately. Maybe I couldn't get that "happy couple" vibe right away but for now I'd settle for their coffee.
By the time I packed up my desk, got downstairs, crossed the street, and entered the coffee shop, there were no other customers. Actually, looking around, there didn't appear to be any workers there either.
"Hello?" I called out.
"We're closing up," a deep voice called out from the back.
I was inexplicably disappointed. As if the promise of that light-hearted moment could truly be found in a cup of coffee. "Story of my life," I said to no one in particular and pivoted back toward the door.
"Excuse me?" The voice sounded closer.
I swiveled back around and stopped dead in my tracks. A flash of pure heat passed through me, awakening nerve endings and receptors that had been long dormant. In front of me stood a specimen of maleness that could only be described one way: "hotness." The kind of hotness that burned right through common sense and rational thought.
In the times I had visited this coffee shop, I had never seen him. And believe me, I would have remembered. He was gorgeous in an "Oh-My-GOD, where-did-you-come-from" kind of way. The kind that takes your breath away and leaves you just slightly off-balance. He was a beautiful, exotic blend of European and African-American ancestry and had a Derek Jeter kind of vibe without all the unnecessary polish. Raw, earthy, and did I say brutally hot? Light green eyes framed with thick lashes, wavy brown hair closely cropped to his head, full lips set into a square jawline currently softened with a smile. He was a solid block of a man, at just six feet tall with the muscles of a gym regular. Flat front khakis and a navy polo with the shop's logo imprinted stretched easily across his frame. He had the look of what I'd call a man's man, even while wearing a bright pink apron and clutching a purple mug decorated with green hearts.
The longer I studied him, the more he studied me. I knew what he saw: a curvy woman, busty with hips that could politely be called "generous"—a true hourglass figure no matter how hard I fought against it. I was taller than average, with caramel-colored skin and thick wavy hair of the same color curling past my shoulders. A rounded face often referred to as "cute" with wide, light brown eyes and a pouty mouth with no gloss left on it from this morning. And there we both stood, somewhat intrigued by instant chemistry, that undeniable energy—after thirty-three years of living it was happening to me. That primal spark calling out from male to female and back again.
I stood staring at him as though he were the last shrimp on the buffet table and I hadn't had fresh seafood in a while. Clearly I was deprived of far more than sleep when the mere presence of a male made me jittery and breathless. Get a grip, Jayla, I told myself sternly, determined to raise my eyes above his waist and act like I had some good sense.
When I finally lifted my gaze back up to his face, his eyes had gone from casually friendly to heatedly curious. It wasn't until the drool was literally pooling at the corners of my mouth that I regained any semblance of composure. "Oh, I'm sorry, long day," I lamely explained. "I'll just get out of your way so you can close up." I smiled sadly, tentatively as I turned back toward the door. Was I so starved for male attention that I had manufactured chemistry with the coffee guy?
"Hey," he said softly, his voice deep, velvety, and smooth.
I looked back. "Hey?"
"I can always make just one more." He smiled with a flash of pearly white teeth that sent a tingle straight up my spine. "Do you mind if I make you my last customer?"
I don't mind if you make me your concubine. "No, no, that's fine. I appreciate it. I'm sure you're ready to get out of here."
His look was pensive. "Don't worry about it, you're a customer."
Right. Customer, here to buy coffee. "Well, thanks."
"Not a problem. Will it make you uncomfortable if I lock up?"
"Not at all, do what you need to do." I stood primly, clutching my case in front of me.
He brushed past me to lock the door and switch the OPEN sign to CLOSED. He slowly circled the store, pulling down shades and closing the drapes. It suddenly felt like a close and intimate space rather than a storefront. Walking back he paused beside me, close enough that the scent of him wafted to me. I took a deep breath. He smelled like coffee, cinnamon, chocolate, soap, and some sort of spicy musk. "So, what'll you have?"
You on a platter, please. ... I looked up at him and saw by the slight glint in his eyes that he had heard me loud and clear, even though I hadn't said it out loud. Okay, maybe the chemistry wasn't so manufactured after all. "What's your specialty?"
"White mocha." Two words, innocent words at that, but I instantly shivered and flushed. His nostrils flared and his jaw tightened as he watched me.
"I'll take it extra large, extra hot." After the words left my mouth, I realized how they sounded. I was a little bit out of control.
He swallowed and blinked as if he wasn't sure he'd heard me correctly. "I beg your pardon?"
I took a step back and grabbed the last remnants of my composure. "The white mocha extra large, extra hot. To go."
He stepped back as well. "Oh, okay. Will that be all?" He started to move away.
I paused. What if I did what Kim suggested? What if I decided to be a little spontaneous, proposition the first guy I saw ... this guy? Not ask his name, not care what his circumstances are, just ask for what I want in this moment, for right now. I trembled a little just in contemplation.
He saw the tremble, stopped walking, and looked me over from head to toe. Those ivy green eyes clearly missed nothing, noticing my tension, my fluttering pulse, and my parted lips. Green eyes heated to laser intensity before sending me a clearly appreciative look. He raised one brow, saying slowly, "Is there anything I can get you to go with that mocha?"
"Would you mind terribly if I had it here after all?" I said breathlessly, almost panting with anticipation and nervousness. I'd never propositioned a barista before; okay, or any stranger. What if he said no? Oh God, what if he said yes?
"The mocha?" He tilted his head and gave a look that said if you want it, ask for it.
"Yes, the mocha and ..." I set down my purse and my laptop case and stepped to him in my black, figure-hugging sheath dress and peep-toe heels. "Listen, you don't know anything about me or what I'm going through and I don't know anything about you—"
"I do know something about you," he interrupted, meeting me until we stood toe to toe. "I know you are sexy and beautiful and you like coffee. I know you don't hook up with strange men often."
"Ever. I don't hook up with strange men ever," I corrected him. "And how do you know?"
He reached down and touched the fluttering vein pulsing at the base of my neck, caressing the area in soft strokes. "Because you're nervous and unsure. It's cute, sexy."
Cute. Sexy. I nodded with no clue what to say next. Should I, shouldn't I? I had re-engaged my brain and it was getting in the way of what the rest of me wanted.
He grinned at me. "Let me get you that coffee."
Coffee. Yes. That is what I came in here for. I stood there and continued to argue with myself. Was I really going to make a move on some strange guy at the coffee house? I mean, really? I sighed. I was bold, but I wasn't that bold. Tonight, the only craving I was going to assuage was for flavored, expensive caffeine. I watched while he measured beans, steamed milk, and mixed syrups in a cup. I could watch him all day and feel it was twenty-four hours spent productively. I sighed again.
He looked over at me with a look that sizzled. "So ... just the coffee?" He was giving me every opportunity to make a move.
Wimpy Jayla beat Wanton Jayla down. I shrugged. "Just the coffee."
With a final stir, he capped the beverage and handed me the cup. "Tell me what you think."
I took a sip, my eyes slid shut, and I moaned. It was the best white mocha on the face of the planet: sweet, fragrant, hot, rich, and strong. The chocolate flavor didn't battle the coffee; it was a heavenly marriage of taste, texture, and spice. I took another sip and enjoyed the flavor of it exploding on my tongue and sliding down the back of my throat. "Oh my God." When I opened my eyes, his face had taken on a predatory gleam. "What?" I asked him.
"Your face when you drank the coffee ... that was a look I'd like to see again. And again."
I took a shaky breath and vowed to maintain some semblance of control.
"It's okay, you know."
"I'm not going to do anything you don't want."
Ha! If he only knew. ... "Thanks."
"Do you work around here?"
"Across the street. Are you new here? I haven't seen you before."
"I'm just helping to close tonight; I'm usually at one of the other stores."
I nodded. "This is the best white mocha I've ever had. There's something different about it. It's not like the others I've had here."
"I added a little something extra. It's my own private formula."
"Is that right?"
"What would a girl have to do to get the formula?"
"What would a girl be willing to do to get it?"
I let a slow smile spread across my face. This guy was trouble. In all caps and bolded. I liked it. I took a final sip of the brew and set the cup down. "What do I owe you?"
"It's on the house."
"I can't let you do that."
"Come back and see me. That's payment enough."
I flashed a grateful smile and gathered up my things. Nothing like stellar coffee and harmless flirting with a good-looking man to reinvigorate you. He came around the counter to unlock the door for me. As I walked past I said, "Thanks. For everything."
"You're welcome." He took a step toward me and leaned down to whisper in my ear. "Just so you know ... I would've given you anything you asked for."
I paused midstep and shifted toward him a little. "Anything?"
I lifted my eyes to his and we shared a smile as though we knew far more about each other than we really did. I nodded. "Good to know." I moved forward.
"Have a nice night."
"You do the same." I strolled out into the night wondering if I'd just dodged a bullet or missed out on something potentially great. Only time would tell.CHAPTER 2
Strolling the Park
"What do you mean you walked out? Are you crazy?" My best friend Celeste was never one to mince words. Today was no exception.
It was a week after meeting Cute Coffee Guy and I had just finished sharing the story over cocktails. We were at a trendy new bar and grill that was ridiculously packed for a Thursday night. "Celeste, I'm not one for the casual sharing of body fluids. ... You know this."
"No one is asking you to sleep your way down Michigan Avenue. I'm saying just once, do something outrageously fun and satisfying without thinking it to death."
Celeste was tall and willowy, and could've been a model if she hadn't been determined to save the world, one cause at a time. Currently, she was running a nonprofit to bring free fitness centers to areas of Chicago in need.
She was also a serial man-eater. She devoured them like potato chips and disposed of them like Kleenex. She was very much like the Samantha character in Sex and the City: a great friend but you would not want her to date your brother. Best friend or not, I would not be taking dating tips from her. Instead of sharing those thoughts, I diplomatically replied, "You aren't the first person to tell me that recently."
"How hot was he?"
"Blazing, smoking, evaporating-panty hot." I couldn't get the look of him out of my head.
"And yet yours stayed on."
"That they did." I finished my drink and pushed the glass away.
"Well, what held you back? He was giving all of the 'green means go' signals."
I had asked myself that question a time or two in the last seven days. "I don't know. Maybe that was the problem. Who knows how many women he's mixed a special mocha for? Maybe I'm just not that girl."
"Was he giving a smarmy 'notch on my headboard' vibe?"
"He really wasn't. Truthfully, I made the first semi-sort of move. And then I changed my mind."
"Or lost your nerve."
"Or both. But I can't stop thinking about him."
She arched a brow. "You've got a bad case of coulda, shoulda, woulda."
"Along with what-if-itis."
"Next time at least get the man's name, marital status, criminal history, something."
"Next time? I hardly think so. That was one of those now-or-never moments, I think."
Excerpted from Crush by MICHELE GRANT, Lutishia Lovely, Cydney Rax. Copyright © 2011 Kensington Publishing Corp.. 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.
Table of Contents
ContentsWhite Mocha Michele Grant, 1,
Wanted: You Lutishia Lovely, 97,
From One Lover to Another Cydney Rax, 233,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love this kid caleb. Everyone thinks i like kyle i mean kyles nice but caleb o caleb i love him i feel like im gonna die when i here his voice its so deep. None will let me talk about him they say im boy crazy but really i just love one guy caleb
I like this guy named Josiah... wer'e friends but we don't do dating so we have to wait until wer'e like 20 and 23
Runs in crying
Its ok. U never know. He may like you back. My best friend is a boy, and i kno he likes me. He just has a hard time hiding it. Just talk to him. Start by saying: "have you ever liked someone and are worried they wont like you back?" He will probably say yes, bc this happens to a lot of people. When he responds, just go from there. Talk about stuff u have in common. Itll b fine :)
Three vastly different romance stories bring a whole new meaning to the phrase, ¿I¿ve got a crush on you!¿ In White Mocha Jayla fights her fears of falling in love, with a mindset that something will always go wrong, to take a chance with Jason, the owner of a local coffee shop. In Wanted: You, Chaz Covington struggles to find the author behind some very sexy secret admirer letters. In From One Lover to Another, Lorraine has to get over her past to step into her future. I loved the fact that these three talented authors were paired together in a way that showed how unique each writer¿s style was. White Mocha was surprisingly erotic. In a short time Grant was able to master the art of intertwining sensuality in the storyline while making the reader care about the characters, taking a vested interest in the outcome. Wanted: You by Lovely was like a romantic mystery. The reader will spend each page trying to figure out who the identity of the secret admirer. With such an eligible bachelor, the options were plenty, but honestly this was one who-done-it that wasn¿t easy to uncover and is certain to have the reader falling out when they find out who it is. From One Lover to Another dares to ask if the grass is truly greener on the other side. Rax takes it a step further and dares the reader to investigate if a past lover is capable of changing. Can one truly move on if they are still hanging on to the past? This was a well written compilation that any romantic would enjoy. Reviewed by: Nikkea Smithers RWA Bookclub President
Kiss your hand post on three other books and look under your pillow
Hhe's name is sammy he is super HOT..
My crush is alec. I want him to like me, and i want to tell him but i cant. Any advice?
Someone. Sigh. But theyll never like me im an idiot and a fool........i was good friends with him once idk if i still am tho. Sigh.