National bestselling author Niobia Bryant detonates an explosive, relentlessly shocking tale of betrayal, desire, and revenge as a dish best never served . . .
She cheated with one of her best friends’ husbands—and turned scathing publicity into
cash-money celebrity. But Jessa Bell has reformed. She’s trying to make amends to those she did wrong, and she’s started a successful business catching rich unfaithful spouses. Her agents are beautiful lost girls who get a shot at the good life. And when Jessa’s sizzling affair with private detective Hammer turns into love and marriage, she’s sure she’s finally doing things right . . . Until she catches Hammer sleeping with one of her agents just months after their wedding. His betrayal, plus the return of someone from her past who is being used by her deadliest enemy, makes Jessa go back to her old ways with a vengeance . . .
Now Jessa’s leaving no secret buried as she pursues every forbidden passion—and shatters the lives of those who cross her. But it’s the enemies Jessa doesn't see coming who have her dead in their sights. And she’ll need to up her game past the limit to face a devastating truth—and survive.
Praise for the Mistress series
“Enthralls to the last twist.” —RT Book Reviews
“A fast-paced, sexy romp.” —APOOO Book Club
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Six months later 2015
"Don't go, baby."
Jessa Bell pushed her newly golden-streaked, chestnut locks back from her face as she looked down at the man she straddled in the middle of her king-sized bed. She raised her arms high above her head, lifting her full breasts higher as she stretched. "I have to," Jessa said regretfully. "The responsibilities of being the boss."
One of his large hands slid up her toned thigh and around her shapely hip to massage her buttocks. He slid the tip of his thick middle finger inside her pussy from behind. She shivered and arched her back, lifting her backside to give him better access. They both moaned as he gently stroked her throbbing clit with his index finger. She spread her knees wider and pressed her hands against his strong chest as she circled her hips.
None of the thrill he gave her had diminished since they'd become secret lovers. His touch was electrifying and almost addictive.
She leaned in to dangle her breasts just above his hungry mouth, allowing him a few precious moments to suck one deep brown nipple between his lips before she rose, leaving him hard and wanting on the bed. Naked, Jessa gave him one last seductive and flirty glance over her shoulder before picking up her red satin gown from the floor to pull on as she crossed the gleaming ebony hardwood floors to the door connecting the master suite to the nursery.
Her four-year-old daughter, Delaney, was a late sleeper. Jessa was surprised to find her bed was empty. Tying the belt of her robe, she quickly crossed the room decorated in cream with splashes of pink and walked out into the wide hall. She checked her mother Darla's bedroom at the opposite end of the hall but that room was empty as well, with nothing but the scent of the smoke from the cigarettes she snuck clinging to the air.
"Damn," she swore in annoyance, entering the room to push all the windows open wide.
Jessa was headed to the exit but paused at the nightstand to open the top drawer and remove her pill organizer. She replaced it after ensuring her mother had taken her daily dose of her antipsychotic medicine. She did a cursory check for alcohol or drugs while she was at it.
"Thank God," she muttered, when her search didn't turn up anything.
Her mother's bipolar condition without meds and with alcohol spelled disaster.
Pausing to check her reflection in the mirror over her dresser drawers, she ran the tips of her crimson red fingernails through her hair and smoothed her microbladed brows before she left the room.
The ends of her robe slightly lifted behind her, exposing her brown legs as she rushed down one side of the double wrought iron stairs of the grand foyer. She headed down the long, wide hall leading to the den and kitchen. The loud sounds of some kiddie cartoon on the television reached her.
Jessa felt relief to see both her mother and her daughter. Darla sat on one of the six high-back stools surrounding the island, and Delaney sat on the center of the granite top. She forced herself to relax.
"Hi, Mama," Delaney said, reaching out to offer Jessa one of the grapes she was eating from a pile on a paper towel between her open legs.
Jessa smiled and felt her heart swell with love for her daughter as she came over and pressed kisses to her plump cheeks and neck. That caused a fit of giggles.
"I got up and got her since you had company."
Jessa momentarily paused at the censure in her mother's voice. Deciding to ignore her, Jessa slid the paper towel out of her daughter's reach and picked her up to securely sit her in her monogrammed high chair at the end of the island. She grabbed a knife, cut all the grapes into halves, and slid them into one of her colorful bowls before sitting them before Delaney along with her no spill cup filled with apple juice.
I will do right by you. I won't fuck it.
Jessa bent down to a press a kiss to the soft ebony curls of her daughter's head. Her heart swelled with love that completely outmeasured the hate she harbored for her baby's father, Eric Hall. She was determined to be a lioness and protect her cub. The sins of the parents will not visit upon my child. His nor mine.
"How'd you sleep, Ma?" Jessa asked, acutely aware that her parents had made no such promises to her growing up.
Their relationship could easily be likened to the ups and down of a roller- coaster ride. Jessa had been raised by her grandmother since she was six, when her mother, a high-strung woman who loved men more than she loved herself or her daughter, had left her behind. The notoriety Jessa gained from her lover attempting to take her life after she ended their scandalous affair had brought Darla back into her life three years ago. Jessa's appearances on the local news and national talk shows had given Darla the motivation that she hadn't had in over twenty years to find the daughter she abandoned.
Jessa looked over her shoulder at Delaney's newest nanny, Winifrid, waving at them through one of the glass panes of the side door entrance. Thank God.
Jessa felt better with Delaney being closely supervised by her nanny while she was at work. She and her mother were in the middle of one of the lows of their relationship, and Jessa tried not to feel guilty about those heated moments when she wished she'd left her mother to live in her brownstone in Harlem that resembled the homes on Hoarders.
"Good morning, Ms. Bell," Winifrid said after Darla let her in.
Jessa gave the slender white woman a welcoming smile. "I'm running late, so I'm going to head back upstairs to get ready for work and then I'm right out the door, Winifrid. Just email your plans for you and Delaney today," she said over her shoulder as she padded across the tiled floor of the kitchen.
"And bye to you, too," Darla said sarcastically.
Jessa stopped and turned to eye her mother. She could tell from the tightness of her mouth that she was annoyed. With a lick of her lips, Jessa made her way around the island to come over and hug her mother with one arm as she pressed a kiss to her brow. "Good-bye, Ma," she said, pushing warmth into her tone.
Darla smiled, reaching out to playfully swat her daughter's behind.
"I have to go," Jessa said, moving to allow herself one more kiss to her daughter's cheek before heading out of the kitchen.
"I hope you find your panties."
Jessa did not break her stride at her mother's words as she retraced her steps back to her bedroom. The bed was empty, but as she neared her en suite bathroom she could hear the shower running. She glanced at his tall frame blurred by the steam and frosted glass. She made a point of ignoring the enticing sight.
"You gonna join me?"
And his inviting words.
"No," she told him, thankful for the heated floors as she crossed the room to fill the Jacuzzi tub. They had been among the main selling points when she purchased the beautiful four-bedroom, three-and-half-bathroom colonial in Carmel, a moderate-sized city in upstate New York. Well, that and the need to get away.
Taking a small breath that symbolized far more than its size, Jessa used both hands to brush her shoulder-length hair from her face as she studied her reflection. It had been five years since she left the upscale gated community of Richmond Hills, New Jersey, behind, but the indelible memories remained. Her eyes clouded over as she lightly stroked her throat with her fingers.
Five years ago, when she sent identical text messages to her three friends, Renee, Aria, and Jaime, taunting them that she was running away with one of their husbands, she'd never guessed where it would lead her life. Her intention with the message? To punish Renee and Aria with the lie for what she considered their faulty friendships and to give the coup de grâce to Jaime's marriage to Eric. Much more followed. Much more than even she anticipated.
Eric never left Jaime as he promised, and when she ended the marriage instead, Jessa ending their affair had been the straw shattering his sanity. He began stalking her with a ferocity that both scared and disgusted her. And then the man she once loved had tried to kill her. She flinched at the vision of her former lover's face filled with irrational rage as he attempted to choke the life from her. Their adulterous love had turned into his obsession that swung between hatred and a desperation to have her. Just madness.
The echo of the fatal gunshot he delivered to his own head in the moments before she slipped into unconsciousness seemed to still ring out around her.
Jessa released a terrified squeal at the feel of strong hands suddenly on her shoulders.
"You okay?" her lover asked.
She forced herself to relax as she nodded and gave him a smile in the mirror before she moved away from his strength and heat to climb into the large tub. "I'll see you later, okay?" she said to him, shifting her eyes away from the sight of his body naked, damp, and far too enticing.
With a chuckle, he strode to the door, his muscles flexing with each movement. "Maybe sooner," he said.
After allowing herself one quick peek at his strong buttocks, she turned off the flowing water before leaning back to rest her head against the rim, enjoying the feel of the steaming water against her smooth skin. She knew she had a busy day ahead of her and was already running behind on meetings, but she needed a few precious moments alone to regain her balance.
Nearly an hour had passed by the time Jessa came back down to the foyer with its grand ceiling and elaborate chandelier of scrolled ironwork that perfectly suited the neutral décor and rich wood trimmings. Tucking her clutch under her arm, she left the house through one of the towering glass and metal front doors.
Her lover was gone, and her circular stone-paved drive was free of his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. That suited her just fine. Playtime was over.
Jessa climbed behind the wheel of her new convertible Porsche — like her nails and her lipstick, it was cherry red and glossy. It was May and there was just enough bite in the air to keep her from putting down the top during her forty–five–minute commute to Manhattan. Like every other morning, she was anxious to get to work, and she tapped her nails against the steering wheel to release some of her energy as she drove.
The notoriety that came calling after the attempt on her life had pushed her into the reality TV–, Instagram-, and blog-post-driven world of fame. Even as she struggled with her own redemption in the wake of the damage she caused to so many lives, she had stepped into the spotlight. News interviews. Talk shows. A New York Times best-selling book, The Mistress Memoirs. Book tour. Endorsements. Infamy.
And enough money to eventually start her own business where she could combine her experience as a mistress with her need to redeem herself.
Jessa was thankful for the on-site parking at the thirty-story building in the Garment District of Manhattan. She pulled her car into her reserved spot next to the silver BMW of her partner and friend, Keegan Connor. She grabbed her crocodile Birkin and strode over to the elevator. Offering the man standing there a smile, she stepped on when the door opened and he stepped back to allow her to enter first.
"Do you work in the building?" he asked.
She held her bag with both hands and gave him a look. Tall, handsome enough in a blond hair, blue eye kind of way, and surely wealthy enough from the cut of his clothing, but not for her. "No," she lied. "Going to visit the hubby."
He gave her a nod of understanding before focusing on his phone.
When the lift stopped at the twelfth floor, he gave her one last appreciative look before walking away.
White boy looking like a treat. With a soft bite of her bottom lip, she enjoyed the view of him until the door closed.
Her thoughts refocused on work when she stepped off onto the twentieth floor and walked the short distance to the frosted glass door of her office suite. She opened it and paused. Her stylish waiting area was filled with beautiful women of all shapes, sizes, and nationalities.
For a second most of them diverted their attention away from the phones or magazines they were idly flipping through to glance at her. They all looked away, probably assuming she was there for the same purpose as them.
"Good morning, ladies," Jessa said, her voice soft but authoritative. "I will be with you all in just a moment."
She smiled when they all looked to her again. Sat up a little straighter. Tried to make eye contact. Respected the head bitch in charge.
Jessa strode across the wood plank flooring colored in bright red and felt invigorated.
"Good morning, Ms. Bell," said Felisha, their freckled and petite shortbread-colored receptionist, handing her a stack of mail.
Jessa eyed her. "Are we all set?" she asked.
"Give me five minutes and start showing them in," she instructed before walking down the short hall leading to their two offices and conference room. She stopped at the door of Keegan's office and cleared her throat.
Keegan looked up, pushing her turquoise spectacles atop her bright red hair. She smiled and sat back in her chair. "Well, look who the cat finally drug in," she teased, her Texas accent still in place.
"I couldn't get out of bed," Jessa said, sifting through the mail and stepping inside the small but stylish white office with bold splashes of color to set the incoming bills on her desk.
Keegan snorted in derision. "Who was in it?" she asked, with a playful but sly look.
Jessa just shrugged. "I'm ready to start the interviews if you are," she said, purposefully changing the subject.
"Good, these ladies have been waiting for more than an hour, darlin'," Keegan said, rising to come around the modern glass desk and hand her a list of names.
"Patience is key in this business," Jessa said as they walked to the conference room together.
Keegan had gone from being Jessa's interior decorator to her friend and now her business partner. She was a godsend in the days after Jessa sent that text and blew up her friendships. They were both in their mid-thirties and had a sense of humor. That was where the similarities ended.
Keegan was a white Southern belle with a brash tongue who was good in business.
Jessa was a black city girl with more than enough city slick to get what she wanted when she wanted it.
Together they ran Mistress, Inc., and business was booming.
"Send in the first applicant," Jessa said via the intercom once they settled in their seats behind the oval-shaped conference table.
"Remember beauty and brains, sugar," Keegan said to her just before the door opened and the first young lady entered the room.
Jessa eyed her and then dismissed her, drawing a line through her name on the sign-up sheet. She was pretty enough and had the right build, but her eyes revealed her lack of confidence. Not a good start to the day.
"And you're twenty-five, Lori?" Keegan asked, checking the head shot she handed her.
"I will be in two —"
"Thanks, Lori," Jessa said, dismissing her.
Lori looked surprised.
Keegan looked annoyed.
"Good luck with your acting career," Jessa said with a stiff smile before turning her attention to the next name on the list. She pressed the button on the intercom. "Next, Felisha."
"You are messier than cow dung, darling," Keegan drawled.
One by one, beautiful out-of-work actresses entered the conference room and took a seat before them. And one by one, Jessa was more and more disappointed. She knew exactly what she was looking for, and that hadn't walked into the room yet.
A tall brunette entered with more breasts than hips. Jessa dropped her pen and swiveled in the chair to look out the windows at the sun beating down on the skyscrapers. The city that never sleeps was filled with those who creeped, and the wives or husbands of cheating mates wanted help exposing them. It was beyond hiring private detectives or personally snooping through phones and social media accounts. Some wanted control.
That's where Mistress, Inc., filled the void.
Jessa reached for her iPad from her Birkin and logged into the security system software. The camera in the waiting room showed eight more applicants waiting. She eyed each one and then sighed. The door to the outer office opened and her eyes shifted to watch a woman walk in wearing a strapless black jumpsuit that suited her small breasts and wide hips. Jessa arched a brow. She was beautiful, poised, and magnetic. Every other woman in the room watched her, and their envy was clear.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Mistress For Hire"
Copyright © 2018 Niobia Bryant.
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.
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