Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.
For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.
Isabelle Trotter is happily engaged to Carlton Trace, a successful hotel entrepreneur. They are to be married in a few days and plan to have a beautiful reception in Cozumel, but will have their official exchange of vows at a local courthouse two days before they leave. Isabelle (Izzy) is extremely proud of the fact that she is marrying the man of her dreams and will be giving him the most precious thing she can imagine-her virginity.
After their wedding, Izzy is anxious to consummate the marriage. She wants to leave the party and have a private bash upstairs in the hotel. However, Carlton wants to have his post-bachelor party with his friends before everyone leaves for Cozumel. Izzy immediately gets an attitude and does not even kiss her husband goodbye as he is leaving. It is the last time she sees him alive.
Carlton is shot at his bachelor party that evening by a young woman dressed as a stripper. The woman, identified as Shanice Franklin, has been Carlton's secret lover for four years. Once arrested, she confesses that she shot Carlton, but she used "blanks" that should not have killed him. The bullets found on the scene were wax, and immediately Shanice concludes that Adrian, Carlton's brother, must have switched the bullets in order to get rid of his brother, thereby gaining control of his hotel.
Izzy quickly realizes that she did not know the man she loved and married. Now that he is dead, she will have to put the pieces together alone. Will she be able to handle the secrets that are uncovered?
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.00(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Virgin Widow
By CAS SIGERS
Copyright © 2009
All right reserved.
Chapter One Blushing Bride
1 ounce peach schnapps 1 ounce grenadine syrup 4 ounces champagne
Pour the peach schnapps and the grenadine syrup into the bottom of a champagne flute. Fill with the champagne, stir, and serve.
In a perfectly square boutique painted in perfect pale pearl, I stood among a sea of satin, silk, and lace dresses, ranging from shades of luminous white to dirty beige. I was in a brilliant white, satin-silk combination with a fitted, strapless bodice and a full Cinderella bottom. It had tiny handmade silk roses along its edges. Inside each rose were three pearls, which matched the three pearl clusters on the matte satin bodice. Except for the four pounds of crinoline scratching my three-day-old shaven legs, this dress was absolutely perfect. I wore a diamond and pearl tiara, as opposed to a long veil, because I wanted to look like a princess, and princesses didn't wear veils; they wore crowns. I continued to stare in the three-sided mirror and practiced saying my vows.
"I, Isabelle Trotter, take thee, Carlton Trace, to be my lawfully wedded husband. I promise to honor and keep-"
Suddenly, my sister, Satchel, walked up behind me and interrupted my pledge with her ornery, raspy voice.
"Your boobs look full, and your waist looks tiny. You're the black Cinder-freakin'-rella. Now get your ass out of that dress and let's go."
I gave her a squinty-eyed look and glanced down at my dress and smiled. "I don't want to take it off."
"Well, you're going to look crazy serving drinks tonight in a big, fat wedding dress."
I whimpered the entire twelve minutes it took Satchel to unhook all twenty-eight hooks and eyes on the back of the bodice. But finally, I got the dress off, paid for it in full, and left the store.
Satchel and I grabbed lunch at Luckie and talked about the final plans for my big day that coming Saturday. I was so excited to become Mrs. Isabelle Trotter-Trace that I could hardly take it. The mere thought of me saying I do nearly made me faint with excitement. Satchel went over the list.
"Okay. You have something old?"
"Mom's diamond necklace."
"Something borrowed?" she asked.
"You said I could wear your shoes," I responded.
"Okay. Something blue?"
"My garter is blue," I answered.
"And something new?"
"My dress," I replied.
"And your cootchie," Satchel smirked.
My sister, though crass, was right. I would be walking down that aisle carrying something most brides didn't have, my virginity. I was a twenty-six-year-old virgin, a rare thing for a Sex and the City, modern woman. Not that I was judging, but it was amazing how quickly girls gave it up these days. One or two dates and they were already serving up the goodies. Me, I chose to wait. I had given great consideration to the law of no premarital sex, due to my devout Catholic upbringing and my current Southern Baptist Sundays. Yet this was not why I was still a virgin. During my teens, when all my friends were experimenting with sex, I was working with my mom as an office assistant. An ob-gyn, she constantly warned me about the dangers of frivolous sex. She'd come home with pictures of infected vaginas just to prove her point. It was very disgusting, and truthfully, it frightened me.
But once I became twenty-one, I was no longer scared, and I figured I would hold out, because I realized that I had something special. It was a distinctive thing I had, something that most people had lost. After college I knew I'd enter a serious relationship, and it would be wonderful to say that I was a virgin. I felt precious and pure. Honestly, I didn't know anyone who could say the same thing. Besides, after hearing all the details from my sister, Satchel, who had lost her virginity at the tender age of eighteen, I realized that living vicariously through her sexual escapades was good enough.
Of course, I considered doing it a few times; after all, I was made of flesh. The first time was with Theo James. My freshman year, I was his Sigma sweetheart, and, man, was he a cutie-pie. He stood only five feet six, but he had these huge dark brown eyes and lashes like those of a supermodel with a mascara contract. His eyes were mesmerizing, but after spending more time with him, I realized that he sometimes went days without bathing. Something, I later learned, many men did. But at that time it was highly disgusting to me, and I couldn't imagine his dirty skin rubbing against mine.
After Theo, there was Curious Lattimore. He almost got the booty on the name alone. He was tall, bald, and gorgeous, and put you in the mind of Chris Webber, the basketball player. He sported a beautiful smile and a light beard that never seemed to grow past its five o'clock shadow. Boy, he was sexy. But right before I decided to sleep with him, I found out that Satchel, who had met him the year before, had already ridden that horse. I couldn't let her sloppy seconds be my first, so he was definitely out. Finally, along came Carlton. Our situation was different. There wasn't an initial attraction like with the others. We started off as friends, and I never considered him to be the man I'd spend my forever with, partially because I never thought he'd consider me.
Carlton, or Carl as I called him, was the owner of the Shelby, the hotel that housed Ciel, where I bartended. He was eight years my senior and worth a load of money, and honestly, I thought he was out of my league. I was a worker bee, a cute one, but still on the payroll. Yet most evenings when Carl came into Ciel, the French word for "heaven," and ordered two vodka shots, he headed to my station. He said I was his favorite bartender. We did shots together while he would vent about the pressure of possessing the only black-owned hotel in Atlanta, the city where African Americans came to invest, own, and conquer. He would discuss the stress of making sure that his business didn't succumb to the stereotypical pitfalls like the businesses of many of his ethnic compadres.
The Shelby was more than a business, because Carl's father had purchased the land beneath it and died before ever breaking ground on the building. He was continuing his dad's legacy. I told him my sister practiced law because she was following in my dad's footsteps, but that I had always wanted to own a bar, and bartending was my way of stepping closer to my dream. I admired him for his tenacity and dedication to his career. When he built the Shelby, Carl was involved in everything from the architectural design to the paint colors in each of the themed suites. It was one of the nicest hotels in the city. A lot of actors stayed here while filming, and after Diddy went on record saying it was one of the best places to host a party, it became the hotel for any and everyone in the urban entertainment industry. From Patti LaBelle to Jay-Z, everyone had stayed at the Shelby.
Eventually, Carl's venting sessions about the hotel became pleasant conversations about movies, spirituality, and love. Carl and I had lots in common, and we continued this over-the-bar courtship for a year before he asked me on a date. First, we went to dinner, sat up all night talking, and had breakfast, and then we took a flight to Destin, Florida, and went fishing off the pier. Our rendezvous lasted forty-eight hours. When I returned to Atlanta, I was in love.
Now, I used to sport the big V like I was Virgin Girl, a superheroine fighting for women's rights all over the world. However, with Carl, I was afraid to mention it. I had never been with a man like him before, and I didn't know if he'd understand. More importantly, I didn't know if he'd still want to date me. He had his pick of many women. They would come into the bar and cross-examine the bartenders about his likes and dislikes. I figured once he knew I was a virgin, he'd probably dump me for one of the long-legged beauties that would give up any and everything on the first date. True, he acted like a gentleman with me, but you never knew with guys. Yet, when I told him, he was elated. He gave me a grin and a look of relief, a look that said, "I found her." I knew then what I'd been holding out for. It was Carlton, and when we were together, he made me feel like one of the most precious women on earth. Exactly one year after our first date, he proposed. Ebony's most eligible bachelor was officially off the market. I even got a call from Upscale magazine, asking for the details of the proposal, but I denied it. First of all, I was extremely private. Secondly, the special evening in Maui was as valuable as our relationship, and I didn't need to share that with the world to prove our bond was real. I was the calm in the midst of Carl's stormy life, and he was my knight. I continued to work at Ciel once we were engaged for two reasons. I didn't want to sit around and do nothing while my man made all the money, and secondly, I loved my job. Carl knew this, and he never asked me to stop serving. I found pleasure in meeting new people and counseling my regulars. Ciel was owned by a private investment group, but Carl promised to buy it and give it to me. It was going to me my wedding gift. He said I could continue bartending, manage the bar, or have someone else run it. It was going to be mine. Not only was I getting a dream husband, but he was also making my dreams come true. I figured I was kissed by God to be so lucky.
It was five days until the wedding ceremony, and I was at home, going over my checklist. The hotel had taken care of the caterer and decorations, the rooms were reserved, and the flight arrangements were good for our families. Our ceremony was taking place in Villa Dorez, off the coast of Cozumel. It was a gorgeous, tranquil spot, and I'd always wanted a wedding by an exotic beach, but the arrangements had literally given me migraines. If I had to do it all over again, I might have eloped. But then again, I was crazy about my beautiful white gown, so maybe not.
While I was fixing lunch that afternoon, I heard keys opening my front door. Knowing it was my future husband, I rushed to the entrance, jumped into his arms, and wrapped my long, thin legs around his waist. He kissed me with so much passion, I nearly got woozy. I wanted him; I wanted all of him. He walked through the house, with me hanging on like a baby marsupial.
"Let's do it!" I whispered in his ear while I nibbled on his lobe.
"All this time you made me wait, and now you want to do it?" he said. "We have to go to the lawyers."
"Just to do it?" I joked.
Carl placed me down and softly kissed my lips. "I am so glad you picked me to be your husband." I began kissing him, but he pulled away. "Seriously, we have to go."
"Okay. Let me get my purse."
We left the house and arrived at Klein, Klein, Jordan & Murdock around 2:00 p.m. As soon as we walked in, I was handed a large stack of papers.
"What's this?" I asked Carl.
"It's some paperwork I want you to go over."
I perused the stack of papers and quickly realized it was the deed to his house.
"I want you to know how much I consider us to be partners. What's mine is yours," said Carl.
I continued reading all the legal jargon, and it seemed simple enough, but I had to let Satchel look over it. She was a legal eagle and would kill me if I signed anything more than a receipt without her permission. "I have to let Satchel see this," I told him.
"I understand, but, baby, it's just a deed."
I agreed to get everything back to the lawyer this week. Carl had a business meeting to attend, and so he dropped me back off at my house and left. This was still a bit overwhelming. I knew I loved this man and wanted to spend my life with him, but the wedding was now in a few days, and for the first time, I questioned if I could spend my forever with him. Carl was a high-powered business mogul, and I was simple, possibly too simple for this lifestyle. He loved jet setting to Vegas for the weekend and high-profile parties. I loved quiet country getaways and hated getting dressed for parties filled with pretentious people. I called my sister, frantic.
"I don't like Vegas," I said before she could complete her greeting.
"And?" she responded.
"I don't know if I can marry him. I love him, but forever? That's forever ... as in for an eternity, until I die."
"Yes, it is, Izzy. So what happened?"
"He wants me to sign this paperwork."
"What paperwork?" she screamed. "Did you sign anything? It's not a prenup, is it?"
"No. He wants to put my name on the house. I have everything with me."
"Bring it over right now," she demanded.
An hour later, Satchel was going over the deed. "It all seems legitimate. Talk about a come up," she said, with a smile.
"I'm not marrying him for his money," I quickly replied.
"I know. I'm just saying, if you were, this would be a good come up." Satchel continued looking at the paperwork.
"But ..." I paused long enough for Satchel to look up and question me with her perfectly arched brows. "I'm going to have to be his other half. People will be looking at me like I'm sort of a big deal."
"You are my sister. You are a big deal," Satchel boasted as she pinched my cheek.
"You know what I mean. I don't know if I have enough allure and glamour."
Satchel pushed the paperwork over to me, leaned on the desk, and stared into my pupils. "If you don't want to marry him because you don't want him as your husband, okay. But if you are having doubts because you're scared that you are not glamorous enough, you're cuckoo."
I sat quietly and looked at the various degrees and profile articles on my sister's wooden office walls. She was smart, high profile, and had charisma popping from every pore. She seemed more his type, and yet he had fallen for me. He'd given me the ring, and he wanted to make me his partner. A smile crept across my lips. The smile turned into short spurts of laughter. "I'm going to be Mrs. Isabelle Trotter-Trace."
Satchel matched my grin and responded, "Yes, you are." She paused. "Is this house paid for?"
I shrugged my shoulders and glanced at the paperwork.
Since our ceremony was taking place out of the country, we were officially getting married Thursday afternoon at the courthouse. So technically the paperwork related to the deed wouldn't be official until then. Satchel kept saying I had three days to change my mind, but I was ready. It was just jitters. I went ahead and signed everything with my hyphenated name, and Satchel agreed to drop everything off at the law office after the ceremony. I left her, made two more stops, and then went home.
That evening Carl and I went to dinner at Wisteria, one of my favorite little eateries downtown. Of course, all I wanted to talk about was the wedding, but he seemed distracted. Naturally, I assumed it was work.
"You're going to enjoy our honeymoon, because you need a break. You work all the time," I said.
"I may have to fire Adrian," he blurted out.
Adrian was Carl's older, less responsible brother. He was the general manager at the Shelby. But in no way was he dedicated like Carl. I think Carl had only made him the general manager to keep an eye on him, which in turn would keep him out of trouble.
"He's stealing," Carl added.
"From you?" I asked.
"I think he's gambling again. I hired a detective last year to watch him, but he didn't come up with anything concrete."
"So maybe ..."
"No, my CFO and I have gone over the records, and money continually comes up short at the end of the month. Money Adrian has in his possession."
I knew Adrian, but we weren't that close. In truth, Carl and Adrian didn't act like brothers. Sure, they worked together, but they never visited each other and didn't spend much time outside of work together. My sister and I saw each other almost every day. In my eyes, that was normal, so I would surely not call Carl and Adrian's relationship normal.
"Have you talked to him?" I asked.
"I tried this morning, but I think he knew something was up, so he quickly dashed out of the office, saying he had a meeting to go to. He's been on me about selling the hotel as well."
"Why would you do that?"
"I wouldn't. I'm sure he's gambling again. Probably in over his head."
I reached across the table and caressed my man's hand. He reached down and gently kissed my fingers.
Excerpted from The Virgin Widow by CAS SIGERS Copyright © 2009 by Cas Sigers. Excerpted by permission.
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
This book was amazing! I loved the characters in book and the plot. It was very mysterious and kept me guessing! This is something that could really happen in real life. THis book also gives a drink mix for every chapter so get ready to make some drinks (it goes on with a part of who the character is). Every book that i have ever read from author, Cas Sigers has been pure entertainment! I still enjoyed her book "Pieces of A Man" more. Her poetry skills a heart touching!