Love is in the air when the Strong brothers come home and re-visit their roots with the sexy story of how it all began. . .
Lisha Rockmon just wants a good man who respects her family values. But most of the men of Holtsville, S.C., want to get physical a lot faster than she does--except Kael Strong. Their attraction is hard to ignore. Yet the one man Lisha can imagine a future with doesn't seem ready to get involved at all. . .
Wounded by his last relationship, Kael is hesitant to open his heart again, even to a woman as irresistible as Lisha. But despite his misgivings--and some outside interference--love just may find a way, setting the stage for future generations. . .
"Has all of Bryant's trademarks: hot men, spicy women and a sexually captivating story." --RT Book Reviews on Hot Like Fire
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By Niobia Bryant
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2013 Niobia Bryant
All rights reserved.
Way back in the day
"This one will be different. This one will be different. This one will be different."
Alisha Rockmon leaned in closer to her reflection in the mirror as she used her pinky finger to remove any of the red lipstick outside of her full lips. She then used her hands to pull the soft ends of her shoulder-length jet black hair forward, liking how the new soft waves framed her round face, emphasized her high cheekbones and the pug little nose she'd inherited from her grandmother. After one last look she turned in the chair and slid on the black wedge heels that matched the wide-leg pants and blouse with sheer sleeves that she wore.
She looked—and most importantly felt—beautiful. She was in good spirits. She'd had a light snack so that she didn't eat like a starving man. Her breath was fresh. Her skin smelled of her floral soap. Her manners were in place. She even said a little prayer for God to send her the man meant just for her. She was absolutely date ready and optimistic about the night.
Just like every other time.
Lisha released a heavy sigh as she sprayed her pulse points with her Charlie perfume. The last year had been made up of a long line of men coming in and out of her life. Some for a few months or a few weeks. Some for just one night. Regardless, they all had made the choice to move on or gave her no choice but to ask them to be gone.
Leaving the bedroom of her one-bedroom apartment in Walterboro, South Carolina, Lisha was just sliding her wallet and keys into her clutch when the doorbell rang. The familiar nerves and anxiety of a first date hit her stomach. She forced herself to take a deep breath as she made her way to the front door.
"This one will be different," she mouthed before forcing a smile and opening the door.
"Damn, you look different out of those uniforms, Lisha," Byron Long said, his eyes taking her in from head to toe before he bent down just a bit to press a kiss to her cheek.
Lisha closed her eyes and paused with her face still close to his as she enjoyed the crisp scent of his cologne and the nice wave of awareness she felt for him.
Byron was a surgical resident at the Medical University of South Carolina where she worked as a physical therapist assistant in the outpatient clinic. Their flirtations over the last few weeks had led to him finally asking her out—something Lisha would never have the inclination to do. She didn't think she could ever be that forward with a man.
"You clean up nicely too, Dr. Long," she said, stepping back from him to retrieve her wool overcoat.
He gently took it from her to help her into it. His hands remained on her shoulders and squeezed them gently. She looked over her shoulder at him and smiled softly. "Thanks."
His eyes dipped down to her mouth and moments later he pressed his lips against hers before turning her body to face him and then going in for another kiss.
Lisha froze at the first feel of his tongue pressing against her closed lips. She fought the urge to frown as she backed out of his grasp. A small smack of the lips that took her by surprise? Fine. A deep tonguing down on the first date ... before the first date even truly began? Never.
Byron looked apologetic. "I'm sorry. I couldn't resist. You look so damn fine, Lisha. Shit," he stressed, purposefully looking down at his crotch and then looking back up at her.
Lisha's mouth fell open at the sight of his penis hard against the zipper of his pants. Lawd ...
"Maybe we could skip dinner, deliver in some food and chill right here," he offered, his black eyes darting over to her floral-covered sofa.
And with that Lisha's face became incredulous. "Maybe not," she stressed, rolling her eyes as she removed her coat and let the waves of disappointment settle on her.
Byron shrugged. "Okay, we can go eat first," he said, reaching for her coat.
"First?" she asked, moving the coat out of his reach to toss over the back of her sofa.
Byron's eyes shifted to take in the coat and then shifted back to take in her face. He looked confused. "So are we going out for dinner or not?" he asked, stepping forward to rub and then squeeze her rounded shoulders again. "I don't mind skipping right to dessert."
Lisha brushed her hair behind her ears as she licked her full lips and looked up at the man. "I'm a virgin," she said bluntly, loving the myriad of emotions that flitted across his face.
Everything from appearing shocked to looking wary.
"Not a do-again virgin or a play-play virgin," she said, actually enjoying when his hands fell from her shoulders. "My eyes have not seen the glory of the coming of a penis."
It was crass and she knew it. She wanted to shake him up in his shoes.
Byron opened his mouth and then closed it.
"I have made the choice to not have sex until I am married," she said, placing her hands on her ample hips. "I am more than ready to put on my coat and accompany you to a nice dinner where we can talk and get to know each other better ... but that is all I have to offer you tonight or any other night."
Byron frowned. "So I misdiagnosed the vibe you was putting out?" he asked, sliding his hands into the front pocket of his slacks.
Lisha smiled at him. "Yes, if you thought the vibe was sexual."
He grunted and then turned his head to look out her window.
Lisha forced herself not to count the seconds that passed as she watched his inner debate. "Are you having a dilemma right in front of me?" she asked dryly in disbelief, already stepping past him to open the front door.
"Are you sure?" he asked, looking down at her.
Lisha nodded vigorously as she pressed her hands to his lower back to guide him out onto her doorstep. "Check you later, Byron," she said with saccharine sweetness before stepping back to swing the door closed in his face.
"So not different at all," she said, kicking off her heels and letting them tumble across the rust-colored carpet.
Lisha wondered why she even hoped for more. Be it one night or several months, she had yet to date a man who was okay with her holding on to her virginity until she was married. In fact, the real perverts wanted to bed her even more to stake claim on bedding a virgin or because they proclaimed their dick was made to "pop a cherry"—to pop her cherry.
Lisha made a face as she walked into her kitchen and picked up the headset of her bright yellow phone. She used her pinky to dial the phone number before turning to press her back against the wall as she waited for the line to be answered.
"Hi, this is Junie. I'm out living life. Leave me a message and I'll call you back ... if I get home."
Lisha smiled at the animated tone of her cousin's voice and just hung up the phone, not bothering to leave a message. Being first cousins and next-door neighbors all their lives, Lisha thought of her more as a sister than as a cousin. Junie was the pop of color in a world sometimes filled with shades of gray, and Lisha could use some of her wildness to distract her thoughts.
She hung up the phone and walked over to the fridge to pour a glass of white wine. "The Lonely Virgin rides again," she muttered into the goblet before taking a deep sip.
She arched a brow just as her front door opened and closed. Lisha felt a very quick moment of apprehension because the apartments lacked an interior hall and the front door was accessible to anyone who climbed the stairs to the second floor. But then she relaxed. It could only be one person—no one else had a key to her apartment. "Junie?" she called out, setting the goblet on the counter.
"The one and only," she called back, before strolling into the kitchen wearing nothing but an oversized tie-dye T-shirt that barely hit midthigh of her petite but curvy frame. Her shoulder-length hair was a tangled bird's nest around her head and her lipstick was smeared across her mouth.
"Screening your calls, huh?" Lisha asked, waving her hand at the bottle of wine as an offer for a glass.
"No thanks, cuz," Junie said, stretching her arms high above her head and causing the hem of the T-shirt to rise ... exposing that she was sans underwear and quite bushy below.
Lisha closed her eyes and held up a hand. "Hey, put the lid back on the cookie jar," she snapped.
Junie laughed. "I left quite a few hard inches back in my apartment to come check on you."
Lisha opened her eyes and took another sip of her wine. "My date was over before it even began," she said, her grip on the goblet tight as she made her way past Junie and into the living room to plop down on the sofa.
Junie started to sit down beside her. She paused with her uncovered ass poised above the cushion as Lisha's eyes widened in horror. She rolled her eyes and remained standing. "Look, I just wanted you to know that if I didn't have company I would be over drinking wine and making sure you had company to your pity party."
Lisha sighed. "I just want to meet someone who feels like I'm worth the wait. As soon as sex is off the table they are out the door."
Junie pouted. "Then to hell with 'em because you are worth it," she said.
Lisha eyed her over the rim of her glass before she laughed into it. "You're really trying to get back to those inches tonight, huh? You're not trying to convince me to take the lid off the jar anymore?" Junie shrugged a little. "Listen, I know that you want to remain pure until you're married. I don't agree with it for me, but I understand it's your choice. But that's the thing. It's up to you to give it up freely because you are ready to finally enjoy the wonders of a dick ... but not just to get or keep a man."
Lisha handed Junie the rest of her wine to swallow down quickly. She rose to her feet. "Go on back to the wonders awaiting you and call me in the morning when you kick him out," she said, gently guiding yet another individual to her front door.
"Trust me, I'm getting enough for the both of us," she joked before turning in the open doorway to hand the goblet back to Lisha before giving her a soft smile and a wink.
Lisha leaned her head out the door to watch Junie's petite frame until she disappeared into her own studio apartment down. She shook her head at a brief vision of Junie whipping that T-shirt over her head and then climbing her naked body onto her futon to join her waiting lover.
Lisha was a virgin but far from a prude. She understood just what happened between a man and a woman when they were between the sheets. She was ready for it all. The heat. The chemistry. The kisses. The licks. The strokes. The fast and deep strokes. The climaxing. Over and over again.
Lisha made a little noise in the back of her throat as she crossed her legs and fanned herself.
Oh, she wanted it. She was just saving it all up for her husband.
What's wrong with that?
Plenty according to Julian, Marc, Keenan, Josh, Harris ...
I've been called everything from a tease to a blue ball specialist, she thought, snorting in derision and shedding her clothes as she made her way back to her bedroom.
She was in nothing but her red lace bra, matching high-waist panties, garters and thigh-high fishnet stockings when she stepped over the threshold. She moved over to the mirror above the eight-drawer dresser and tilted her head to the side as she eyed her reflection. With her high and full breasts pressing against the lace of her bra, the deep curves of her waist and the wide breadth of her hips and thighs, Lisha knew she shattered the myth of the docile, asexual virgin afraid of her own shadow and her own sexuality.
She twisted and turned her pin-up girl body a bit in the mirror as she traced her finger along the edge of her bra and gently tickled the full swell of her breasts. Her nipples hardened against the lace and her mouth opened a bit as she licked her bottom lip.
Celibacy wasn't always easy. The flesh could be very weak. Temptation was strong.
But her will was stronger.
The end of relationships was a hard enough blow to a woman's heart and Lisha refused the added heartache of adding another notch to her belt. Her last relationship ended four months ago and lasted just three months. Lisha shook her head remembering how she'd gotten lulled into thinking Jase could be the man she would love, marry and bed ... until his true fiancée walked up to their table where they were having dinner and introduced herself.
That embarrassing-ass moment would have only been topped by having her body-as well as her trust and her heart-used up by him and his deceit. Her choice was more about her own set of beliefs than her strict Christian background. And it had been strict in rules but abundant in love and family. No doubt about it. Her father was every bit the clichéd fire and brimstone preacher, but he left all of that in the pulpit when it came time for his family. Although she loved her parents, Lisha hadn't found her first bit of freedom until she left home for college to obtain her associate's degree in physical therapy.
But her feelings were less about the purity ring she received at thirteen when she swore to remain a virgin until marriage and more about her own choice to save herself for the man who felt they were worthy of each other to wed.
But how will I ever get married if I can't even find a boyfriend willing to abstain?
The catch-22 was frustrating as hell.
Closing her eyes, Lisha released a long stream of breath through pursed lips as she let her hand ease down her body to the warm seat of her panties. She pressed her fingers against her intimacy and purred like the kitty she stroked.
She bit deeper into her full bottom lip as she side-eyed the top drawer of her nightstand. Turning, she eased her panties over her hips and let them fall to the floor to step out of before moving over toward her queen-sized bed. Her heart beat a little faster in anticipation as she opened the drawer and pulled out her vibrator.
She climbed under the covers onto her back and spread her legs wide. "Hell, I'm a virgin, but I ain't dead," she muttered dryly, before reaching to pull the covers above her head.
Soon the bzzzzzz of the vibrator and the hmmmmm of her moans floated up through the covers and blended in the air.
"Home sweet home."
Kael Duncan Strong briefly looked over at his Realtor, Frieda Young, before casting his deep-set brown eyes back on the property before him. The six-bedroom, three-bathroom two-story plantation-style home was being sold "as-is," and with boarded windows, dilapidated stairs and peeling paint it was clear that it was badly in need of renovations to bring it back to its former beauty.
"Let's walk through it. Trust me, Mr. Strong," Frieda said, stepping a little closer to him to comfortably grasp his wrist with a friendly smile. "Come on."
His eye looked down at her shortbread-colored hand before shifting back up to her slender and pretty face surrounded by a short pixie cut that emphasized her large green and hazel eyes. Eyes that softened as her smile deepened and took on a new flirtatious intent.
Kael waved his hand toward the steps, accepting her offer to look inside the home and ignoring her subtle offer for things that had nothing to do with purchasing of the property. "After you," he said.
She moved ahead of him to climb the stairs. Kael did allow his eyes to dip down and take in her buttocks in the close-fitting flare-leg pants of her suit. He smiled a bit at the extra sway of her hips as she crossed the wide expanse of the porch and unlocked the front door.
Kael shifted his eyes and instead focused on the home as she led him from room to room on both levels. Although the home needed work, he liked the hardwood floor, oak mantels of the fireplaces and the large light fixtures. There were plenty of windows to draw in the sunlight and allow a 360-degree view of the surrounding lands.
He saw past the things needing repair and instead focused on the potential. The home could be restored to its former beauty with lots of elbow grease, paint, polishing and a few major construction repairs that he figured he could do himself.
"It's a lot of home for a ... single man," Frieda said as they came down the stairs, careful to avoid clutching the weakened and loose banister.
Excerpted from Strong Heat by Niobia Bryant. Copyright © 2013 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have been a fan of this series from the first book. Mrs. Bryant OUTDID herself. She ended the series, saving the best for last. The characters were relatable. The love was tangible. The jokes had you holding your side. Kudos. High five. I respect an author who knows when to end a series. This series was absolutely perfect from the1st page of Heated to the last page of Strong Heat. I fell in love with this family. Each story different from the last. All leading up to the culmination with of the series with Lisha and Kael. There's something so poetic about ending the series with the begging of the series. I cant say it enough. I love love love this series, this family and most definitely this author. The only bad thing about the book is that it ended. Ms. Bryant had been one of my top 2 fav authors for the last 7 years and i dont see that changing anytime soon.
Absolutey amazing. I really think the auyhor outdid herself. If you have read any of the other books in this series, this finale is a must, and it is also great as a stand alone book. This has been my favorite book I have read all year. I like how it is so relatable and a true love story. Of course their are some twists and turns but what great love story doesn't have one. I love how it was a blast from the past taking us into the 70s with Kael and Lisha. Their were some really hilarious moments that really had me laughing out loud. A good friend lent me this book, but it was just so good I think I might have to buy it to read in the future. Love this book! Hats off and a standing ovation to Mfs. Bryant.
This was such a good book...... things family will do they can be your worst enemy but I really will need another family novel for Kats wedding get follow up on Kaden and jade can we please get a a cousin Junie book