#FlashFriday: Unravel Me

stronger-than-pride-m

Sometimes people need to go back when it all started…

Mariana Harlow knows she needs to work on rebuilding the trust within her boyfriend, after a steamy photo shoot with his nemesis. She knows just the thing that would help him trust her, but she wonders if a fantasy she has might cause irreversible damage to them both.

Scott Reed is considered to be one of the best Doms in the world, often referred to as the Gentleman Dom. Upon reconciling with his girlfriend, they put a stop on all BDSM play until they could sort out their relationship. When Mariana brings up a peculiar fantasy of hers, Scott wonders if her previous hard limit is the sign of something else brewing between them.

Every relationship has its limits. What is theirs?

Unravel Me is a short erotic novella that deals with trust, BDSM, and if love can truly conquer all.


 

Unedited Snippet:

“Everything was fine between us until Mr. Kneeling came into the picture.” Scott tightened his lips. “After that, it’s been a struggle.”

“Mr. Kneeling?” Dr. Burton asked. “Caleb Kelly?”

“He’s the one that started that ridiculous bullshit so yes, him.” Scott’s voice was clipped.

“I thought you and Caleb had an understanding why he’s kneeling?” Dr. Burton scrolled through her notes.

“Just because I understand something, it doesn’t mean I agree with it.” He defended. “There are many other ways to protest police brutality without disrespecting the flag.”

“You admitted yourself, Scott, America had a lot of work to do when it came to acknowledging and recognizing the struggles of all. We still have a lot of work to do and many marginalized communities are still in peril. Wouldn’t protesting the flag, a symbol that everyone is free and treated equal, a symbol of that?”

“So, what’s the point of having elections to put people in office to represent our voices and interests? What’s the point of all of these groups working overtime so those marginalized can have a fighting chance?” Scott felt his anger quiver and he gripped the rock tighter. “What is the point of doing all of that if all I can do is just kneel in front of a flag?”

“Your anger isn’t about Caleb kneeling in front of the flag,” Dr. Burton met Scott’s tone, “your anger is about the ad Caleb did with Mariana. It bothers you she finds Caleb attractive.”

“Mariana finds a lot of men attractive. She constantly talks about how hot this actor and this singer are.” He glanced down at the rock he held. It read patience. “I don’t care. I never said I’m the only one she should be attracted to.”

“But it’s Caleb, specifically that bothers you?” Dr. Burton pressed. “If it was another actor or singer, you wouldn’t care because it wouldn’t be someone you interact a lot with.”

“I interact a lot with Dean Winchester and I don’t care that Mariana finds him attractive.” He defended. “She was jumping over joy in seeing Dean and his wife, Sydney, have sex in front of us.”

“But Dean Winchester is a white man who supports Caleb’s protest, though he hasn’t done it himself.” Dr. Burton replied. “Scott, be real with me…is the real reason you don’t like Caleb Kelly is because you wish you were him?”

Scott gave a contrite smile. “Couldn’t one say the same thing to him? I’m the antithesis and everything what’s wrong with this country according to him and those who think like him. Everyone wants to be a social justice warrior behind the computer screen, create memes, quote real leaders who did the work, but no one wants to do the same. I say it goes both ways. If anyone thinks I wish I were him, it can easily be said he wishes he could be me.” His eyes gleamed. “Hasn’t it been said that straight black men are the white people of black people?”


 

Unravel Me will be out sometime this month.

Caleb Kelly appears in the State of Affairs series.

For the article that inspired that scene, click here.

#FlashFriday: Unravel Me

Short blurb:

Sometimes people need to go back to where it all started…

Unedited snippet:

“I want to be kidnapped, tied up, and fucked. Is that too much to ask?”

He stared at her eyes and read the seriousness within them. She wasn’t joking. It wasn’t a fantasy she’d vocalized before, but it didn’t surprise him where her mind was. She was his classy and sophisticated woman in public. She was his nasty, dirty whore in private.

He was captivated by her beauty, and felt a small tightness in his chest thinking about how wonderful and patient she was with him. She knew his strengths and rose up to the challenge to keep up, to be on his level. Truth was, she was always on his level, even if she didn’t believe it.

She was emotionally raw and vulnerable, yet an insatiable need existed within her. Now she was asking him not to push her, but to break her. His body became restless while his heart and mind were filled with anxiousness.

For the first time in his life, he had reservations about meeting her requests.

“If you want me to do this, I need to go full throttle. I can’t back out because you feel it’s too much or you’re at your limit.” He met eyes with her. “Do you trust me with your life?”

She blinked once, then twice. Did she trust him? He’d proven many times why she shouldn’t. He’d also proven why she should. She knew he would never put her life in harm’s way, despite the dangerous and insane request.

If she didn’t trust him, she would need to leave him alone. “I do.”

“Okay,” he replied with a tone above a whisper. “I’ll see what can be done.”


 

I should note this will be a very short story and it’ll be on sale for $2.99 sometime within the next week.

The couple in question is them:

sm4


 

I hope you all enjoy!

xoxoxo

Flashback Friday: Happy Founder’s Day

The Ex-Factor Medium

 

“Let’s talk about leadership,” Scott wrote on the whiteboard behind him. He gave a workshop to packed crowd inside one of the conference rooms at the hotel. With Scott’s track record of being the head of the world’s premier PR and advertising agencies, it seemed everyone wanted to listen whatever he had to say.

Dressed in his standard Kappa attire of a bowtie, red blazer, and khakis, Scott looked immaculate in front of his fellow Brothers. “Leadership is not how you act. It is not what you say. It is, however, what you do. Or in some cases, what you attempt to do. In a few cases, what you do not do. People pay closer attention to your record of accomplishment than they do with how you act and other things.

“If you ever wonder how some people will still follow someone despite their reputation or questionable things they’ve said? It’s because of action. The person has a long history of standing behind how they feel and putting their words into action. Some talk the talk, some get out and do the work. You, as Kappas, are natural-born leaders.

“You were selected not because you followed the rules and did everything you were supposed to during pledge week. The Brotherhood as a collective chose you. It’s not a surprise most Kappas are executives, military leaders, and business owners. It’s not a surprise you hear about a Kappa who’s a singer, a professional athlete, or youth leader in his community. You represent one of the oldest and most respected fraternities in the world. There are Kappas, and then there are the others.” Scott said to a rousing applause, with some Brothers throwing up the yo in agreement.

“We all have something special within us. Some, it comes naturally like breathing. Others, it takes a bit of coaxing for it to come out. Either way, you cannot deny the God-given leadership within you. Every single Nupe I see in this room is a leader in some form. Be it your community, your household, or your place of work. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Being a Kappa is more than just the shimmy, bowties, and khakis. Our haters would love to say that’s all we do but even our haters have to give us props. After all, we’re their bosses.” Another round of applause and more yo’s were thrown up.


 

Scott Reed wishes you a Happy Founder’s Day.

http://amzn.to/2CWKs9p

#FlashFriday: Feeling Some Type of Way III #newadult #romance #contemporary

“And…ohhhh…” Ian’s mouth formed a small O. He slowly turned to Nick, who had raised eyebrows and shook his head.

Zerrin, however, was a bit more vocal. “Mari’s gonna kick Scott’s ass!”

“I’m sorry,” I’m confused as ever, “can someone enlighten me what’s going on?”

Before anyone could answer, Scott walked up to the woman, gave her a deep embrace, and kissed her. I was taken aback by the kiss because Mariana is his girlfriend and I get the feeling they don’t really share. That kiss with Mystery Lady With the Nice Titties wasn’t platonic or just two old friends saying hi.

If I didn’t know any better, I would assume they were probably fucking.

Scott motions Nice Titties to a chair that’s directly in front of Mariana’s sex. He simply snaps his fingers and immediately the woman starts licking Mariana’s slit. Mariana gasps and softly moans while Scott massages her breasts.

I’m leant over as far as possible I can be without falling down and breaking my nose. I have no interest in being with another woman, nor do I have any interest in participating in a threesome.

But what I’m seeing in front of me right now is just so damn hot, I’m on fire. I feel my sex softly contract and thump against my moist panties. My breathing has become restricted and a bit shallow. I’m squeezing the life out of Ian’s knee as he softly caresses my back.

I’m feeling everything at once – happiness, horniness, amazement, disbelief, greediness – in abundance. I want to see more. I want to experience more.

“Oh God, yes!” Mariana cries out and I think I just came with her.

“You like what you’re seeing, angel?” Ian’s deep voice breaks me out of my concentration and for the first time, I’m rather pissed at him. Weird.

“Um, yeah,” I manage to lay back in my seat and he wraps his arms around me, “I’m fine.” I softly point to the demonstration and watch Nice Titties caress Mariana’s legs, “I don’t understand what’s going on here, though? You and Saint Nick seem shocked at it, Master.”

“The woman currently pleasuring Mari is Scott’s ex-girlfriend, Dove,” Ian softly nodded, “Mari hates Dove, and Dove is rather nonchalant.”

“Why does Mari hate Dove?” I ask. “Because she dated Scott?”

“Part of it. Dove represents everything Mari wishes she could be. The funny thing is she is actually everything Scott wants, she just doesn’t realize it yet.” Ian studies my face and I feel the intention of his words in the pit of my stomach.

I’ll admit being jealous over Sydney was stupid and silly but I couldn’t help it. Sydney was spirited and carefree, thought about the consequences later, and I could see why Ian was attracted to her.

I’m determined a new Domi will mean very little jealousy in the future. I’ll still get jealous but at least I’ll be smarter about it. Ian loves me and has proven that day in and day out.

I have no reason not to trust my man.

“This, however,” Ian motions back to the demonstration where I watch Mariana’s legs shake as Dove holds them up in the air, while she’s furiously licking her, “this is just Scott being messy.”

“I’m here for it,” Nick chimes in.


 

The third installment in the Feeling Some Type of Way series will be out later this summer.

 

#SundaySnippet: Stronger than Pride #romance #contemporary

stronger-than-pride-m

The erection he ignored so they could have a serious talk, bounced with anticipation. He smelled the coconut and berries concoction of her naturally curly hair, felt the softness of her body against his, and had an insatiable yearning that couldn’t be controlled.

Scott turned Mariana around and hoisted her on top of the marble kitchen island as he stood between her soft thighs. He looked into the depths of her brown eyes and felt his detached manner melt away. She brought out the youthfulness within him, while he challenged her in many ways she didn’t know existed.

“Everything about you is so perfect,” he slowly pulled the boyshorts over her thighs and down her legs, “you get me so hard.”

Mariana gulped. Twice. The arousal Scott created within her made her feel like a sex-starved nympho who needed a fix. She reached down, stroked Scott’s hardened length, and smiled as it bounced in her hands. She helped him pull down his sweats and his shaft jutted out at her. It glistened with sweat and him, and Mariana felt her mouth water.

“Yummy,” she licked her lips.

“It has your name written all over it,” his lips found her neck and softly licked it, “and only your name on it.”


 

Have you picked up your copy? Stronger than Pride is available on Amazon and Smashwords. Release date TBA on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and select local libraries (check your local one).

Thank you for all of your support! I should also say THANK YOU for supporting the first non-erotic Scott & Mariana story. This will be how the remaining books will be written so I’m very glad to see there’s still a lot of love and interest. Very, very touched.

Please leave a review!

God bless! xoxoxo

#TeaserTuesday: Stronger than Pride

stronger-than-pride-m

The silent question floated in the air between them. Living together again. It was too soon for their relationship and they still had a lot of issues to sort out. The irony wasn’t lost on Mariana. When they had rushed things, things flowed better between them. Now they’ve slowed down and worked on their issues, it seemed things were slowly creeping to a standstill.

“I wanted to talk to you about what was said in therapy the other day,” Mariana cautiously began, “I wanted to know if I went too far with Dr. Burton?”

“Too far with what?”

“With me mentioning how we used to do BDSM together,” she replied, “I know we don’t really talk about it and I couldn’t tell if you were upset that I mentioned it to someone outside of us.”

“No, it’s fine,” Scott turned off the stove and pulled the chicken out of the oven. After setting it on the stove, he removed his gloves and joined his girlfriend at the counter. “It needed to be discussed.”

“Is that why you don’t want to live with me again?” She softly asked. Mariana enjoyed living on her own but even she could admit she spent more time at Scott’s home than her apartment. “Because we’re not doing BDSM anymore?”

“I never said that nor did I imply it,” he cupped her neck and she kissed the inside of his wrist where the tattoo was, “I know you’re tired of me saying I’m waiting for you to be ready but I mean that. We’ve only been together for a few months, baby.”

Mariana rolled her eyes. “We’ve been together for a few years, Scott.”

“With some extended breaks here and there,” he acknowledged, “but I want to make this right. I don’t want to mess up like I did before and lose you again. I can’t imagine my life without you, Mari. You’re everything to me.”

Mariana had such a love for Scott she felt it was about to burst out of her skin at any moment. “I love you so much.”

“I love you more,” he pulled her close and swept his lips over hers. The kiss grew deeper and he pulled Mariana into his lap. His lips attached to her skin and soft moans escaped Mariana’s lips. “You get me higher than any drug.”

Mariana’s head fell back as Scott’s hands steadily held her. His warm lips kissed all of her hot points and she already felt the dampness in her panties. She felt his erection poking against her and dinner became an afterthought. “Is dinner going to get cold?”

Scott stood up as Mariana wrapped her legs around his waist. He carried her to his chaise lounge and laid on top of her. “We can microwave it.” He kneeled back and smoothed his hands over Mariana’s thick thighs, reaching up to the vee of her sex. He felt his shaft harden when he discovered her surprise. “No panties?”

“There’s more,” she said in a breathy voice.

Scott pulled down her yoga pants and discovered his girlfriend with a fresh wax job and her pubic hair shaped into a S. “Shit…”

“I told you it had your name written all over it,” she bit a finger, “I wasn’t playing around.”


 

Stronger than Pride is available at Amazon and Smashwords. It’ll soon be available at iTunes, Kobo, and select local libraries.

 

#SundaySnippet: Stronger than Pride #romance #contemporary

stronger-than-pride-m

Blurb:

Excerpt:

 

 

Scott turned Mariana around and hoisted her on top of the marble kitchen island as he stood between her soft thighs. He looked into the depths of her brown eyes and felt his detached manner melt away. She brought out the youthfulness within him, while he challenged her in many ways she didn’t know existed.

“Everything about you is so perfect,” he slowly pulled the boyshorts over her thighs and down her legs, “you get me so hard.”

Mariana gulped. Twice. The arousal Scott created within her made her feel like a sex-starved nympho who needed a fix. She reached down, stroked Scott’s hardened length, and smiled as it bounced in her hands. She helped him pull down his sweats and his shaft jutted out at her. It glistened with sweat and him, and Mariana felt her mouth water.

“Yummy,” she licked her lips.

“It has your name written all over it,” his lips found her neck and softly licked it, “and only your name on it.”

Mariana gasped when she felt Scott insert a finger, then two inside her and slowly stroked her. She was already hot and ready for him. His lips crushed hers and Mariana immediately felt the tension and stress melt away. He tasted of ice cream, slightly salty and sweet, but mixed with a flavor that was all his.

As Scott’s fingers worked their magic on Mariana’s sex, his lips did overtime. He kissed all over her neck, down to her chest, and trailed his tongue along her chin before he met her lips again.

The feeling was overwhelming and Mariana didn’t know what to concentrate on more – the possessive yet gentle nature of his wonderful tongue or his magical fingers that knew how to stroke her just right.

She felt his thumb on her pearl and Mariana almost did a praise break in the name of Jesus. Any shred of dignity had long left her as she loudly moaned. It was too much, it was just right.

She felt his warm breath on her neck while his soft lips kissed every hot spot she had. She was wide open for him, physically and emotionally. He’d never pressured her to do anything and all he wanted to do was just love her.

He took a major step in trusting her, something he never did with any woman. Now she needed to trust him. It took them a long time to get to where they are and neither wanted to mess it up.


 

Stronger than Pride is available NOW.

To purchase and read the first three chapters, click here.

Stronger than Pride is NOW Available! #romance #contemporary #bwwm #diversebooks

stronger-than-pride-m

Blurb:

When it comes to All Lives Matter, the issue isn’t just black and white.

Mariana Harlow is given the project of a lifetime – managing the PR and social media accounts of controversial quarterback Caleb Kelly. When Caleb and Mariana become too close to each other, it presents an issue with Mariana’s boss/boyfriend.

Scott Reed doesn’t like to get involved with anything political for his sanity. His mentors want to employ Mariana for a special project of theirs, and Scott doesn’t object. When the project becomes bigger than everyone involved, Scott begins to question if he’s the only sane person he knows.

All is fair in love, sex, and politics.

Stronger than Pride is a crossover Scott and Mariana/State of Affairs standalone book. It deals with trust, race relations, political aspirations, and if love can trump hate.

Available NOW at Amazon

and Smashwords

Coming soon on iTunes, Kobo, and select local libraries.

To read the first three chapters, click here.

Thank you for all of your support! Please leave a review! xoxoxo

#ThrowbackThursday: The Ex-Factor #contemporary #romance #diversebooks

The Ex-Factor Medium

“There’s something else I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Oh?” Scott turned to her. “What is it, baby?”

“I want to submit to You again,” she admitted. “I miss being a submissive. I miss being Your submissive. I want to do a boot-blacking session. I want to learn how to do a chado tea ceremony. I miss you giving me assignments and disciplining me whenever I mess up. I want to be at your beck and call.” She kneeled in front of Scott. “I miss serving You, Sir.”

There was something so sweet, yet sexy hearing Mariana call Scott Sir. Her voice was full of love and need, with the desire to whatever He wanted, at His bidding and pleasure.

The timing was off. The universe had a funny way of putting them together for things to never quite pan out the way they should. He pushed her away due to his own issues, but once those were quickly resolved, another prominent one came in:

She needed to learn her worth without his influence.

He spoiled her endlessly and without care, treating her to the finest restaurants and lifestyle. He’d replaced her cubic zirconias with brilliantly cut diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. Her worn-out sneakers were thrown away as several pairs of Jordans claimed space. Her old car that gave her numerous problems was donated to charity when he purchased the stunning Mercedes.

What did she do in return? Simply love him. No, it was more than that. She practically worshipped the ground he walked on. Serving him was her life’s calling and she would do it forever. His pleasures were bigger than hers. His needs were stronger than hers. She took care of him before she even took care of herself sometimes. He would never find another like her.

And how he did he repay her? He treated her like that morning’s trash.

Guilt plagued him and he poured all of his energy into work, creating brilliant campaigns and being on top of his game. A recent contract with NHL wunderkind Dean Winchester would solidify Scott’s legendary status.

Everything was coming together for the two of them but Scott knew the timing was off. He wanted Mariana to submit to him but only when it was perfect. It was far from it.

“I can’t have you do that,” he shook his head, “not yet.”

Scott’s words shocked Mariana upright. Her brain went into various directions. Her body shook from sadness and hurt.

Her heart was incredibly and possibly irrevocably broken.

She couldn’t believe what was happening. After everything they’d experienced that week? After the promises he’d given her? “When?” She begged, her voice cracked with tears. “Why not now?”

“You’re not ready,” he stated and she shook her head in silent protest. Her eyes watered and her mouth quivered. Scott felt like shit but he needed to explain to her. “You’re not ready.” He repeated.

“Okay,” she sat down on the bed and buried her face in her hands. She sniffled at first before she could no longer contain the emotions and profusely sobbed. Her chest burned with anger and humiliation. Her emotions choked her and she felt it difficult to breathe. Hot tears streamed down her cheeks and her cries echoed throughout the hotel room.

All she wanted to do was to submit and please Him, Sir, and He denied her the privilege.

Was there something wrong with her? Was she no longer worthy? Why did He have to do that to her? Why?

“Mari,” Scott sat next to her and she turned away from him. He pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her. “Mari, I need to explain.” She violently shook her head. “No, I need to tell you why. It’s not that you’re not worthy of submission or I’m not into it anymore. We both know that’s not true. I want you to fully explore your sexuality and maybe, that means taking a backseat on the domination and submission aspect of our relationship for a while. The past three years of your life have been consumed with me and what I’m doing but very little about you and your needs. I’m doing this for you. I’m doing this for us.”

“All I want is to serve You,” she cried.

“And you will but not yet. This isn’t a punishment or some fuck you to get back at you.” He rubbed her back. “It’ll happen but not now. You have a major account you’re doing and I want your focus on that. I don’t want to impede in any way, shape, or form. After the campaign is done, then maybe, we’ll explore BDSM again. But for now, we need to keep this vanilla.” He rubbed her back as he felt her become limp against him. He hated seeing her so upset and really felt like a class-A asshole for making her feel horrible.

“I want you to explore you, you got that? I know you want to submit to me, but I need you to get everything out of your system before you can do that. You said there was a lot more you wanted to explore and I want to help you with that before you return as a submissive.” He pulled away from her and thumbed away her tear-stained cheeks. He pressed his forehead against hers. “It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be with you, baby. I love you with everything. But I want us to work up to the D/s relationship we had instead of jumping right into it like before. I want things to be different between us. I don’t want to give you a reason to leave nor do I want to push you away ever again.”

“I won’t ever leave you,” Mariana sniffled.

“And I won’t ever leave you,” Scott promised. “But I want us to take it slow this time.”

“Slow?” She looked up at him.

“Slow-ish,” he gave a soft chuckle and she smiled. “As slow as we can go knowing us.”

“I like that,” she spoke softly.


 

The Ex-Factor is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords. It’ll be available very soon on iTunes and your local library.

 

#ThrowbackThursday: I Need You

INYAR

“You know what’s heaven?” Mariana sat up on Scott’s lap and grabbed a small handful of grapes. She leaned against his knees and began feeding him.

Scott folded his arms behind his head as he admired a naked Mariana feeding him after a lengthy lovemaking session. “What’s heaven, baby?”

“This.” A slow smile spread across Mariana’s lips. “This is heaven.”

“Explain.” He replied.

“Is this a pop quiz?” She asked.

Scott’s hands caressed Mariana’s sweat-coated torso and traveled up to her breasts, where he gently twisted her nipples. Mariana squirmed in pleasure. “It just might be.”

“Everything. The romantic date at the park, the freedom of being myself, no holds barred with you. It’s not even the fancy jewelry, the car, and all of the other nice things, which I like, don’t get me wrong. It’s just… it’s just…”

“It’s just what, baby?”

Mariana leaned down and locked lips with her boyfriend. “You have made all of my dreams come true. And I can never thank you enough.”

“Baby girl, I’ll promise to give you everything and more.” His hands caressed her arms. “I never want you to feel unsafe with me.”

“I feel totally safe with you, honey.” Mariana smiles, her eyes beaming with joy. “I want to be with you forever.”

Scott briefly thought about the engagement ring stuck in his messenger bag. It would’ve been the perfect time to propose. It was the most romantic day in the year, with a romantic picnic in the park and topped off with an incredible lovemaking session.

He then thought about the current mood. They were both naked and entangled with each other. Was that a story he wanted Mariana to share with friends and family, hopefully omitting the BDSM session they just had? Mariana was such a hopeless romantic who believed in love; she was better than a naked and sweaty proposal. She deserved a proposal in Paris, a romantic journey in Italy, or a sightseeing tour in Spain.

Something other than both of them naked and their bodies still moistened from their last romp. Was she really going to share that with her mother? “How did Scott propose?” “Well, after he bound and gagged me and fucked me ten ways from Sunday, he got down on one knee and asked me to be his slave for life!”

“Honey?” Mariana studied his sharp green eyes, wondering where his mind went. “Is everything okay?”

Scott blinked quickly and smiled back at his girlfriend. Her long ebony hair was starting to frizz. Her skin was shiny and sticky, remnants of the sessions they just had. Her eyes, however, sparkled with love and trust. He’d never felt more sure that she was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

He just thought of the perfect day to propose to her—her birthday. He was going to take Jeff’s advice and whisk Mariana away somewhere romantic and unforgettable. If he can only wait another month… “Yeah, baby, I’m fine.” He adjusted his position and slid inside Mariana once again. “But for now, let’s pick up from where we left off.”

“Ooh…” Mariana slid her body down Scott’s shaft. “This is shaping up to be my favorite Valentine’s ever.”

“I can always tell when you’re somewhere else,” Elissa’s voice snapped Scott out of his daydreaming, “because you get that glassy-eyed look, like a mannequin. Am I really that boring?”

“I was thinking about tonight,” he finally answered her.

It was a day Scott Reed hated.

Loathed.

Detested.

There weren’t enough synonyms to describe how he truly felt about that particular day of the year.

Not his birthday. He loved celebrating his birthday. Getting drunk and getting head was always a great thing.

Not Christmas. He loved spending the holidays with his family back in Georgia.

It was a holiday that made no sense to him when he was younger and damn sure didn’t make any more sense when he was older.

Valentine’s Day.

Every year at McCormick, Reed, and Sheppard, Scott had to watch employees squeal in romantic delight over the flowers, chocolates, and other surprises their lovers had lined up. He had seen more than his fair share of proposals. He had witnessed one too many romantic gestures in the form of paid singers, unsigned rappers, and other hungry talent looking to make an impression with the recipient and McCormick executives.

So, it wasn’t all bad. Whatever leftover chocolate some employees had, they offered it to him. He had a smile on his face whenever an employee showed off her new engagement ring. When he overheard the ladies in the lunch room talking about their romantic evenings, he was proud that they found a great partner to share their lives with.

Still, the romantic day didn’t change Scott’s view that Valentine’s Day was a waste of time. Truth was he’d always had those feelings, with the only exception being the one he’d shared with his ex-girlfriend. The moment the relationship ended, however, those feelings resurrected in full force, along with a thick taste of bitterness and regret. “I was in deep thought,” he explained.

“You work too hard and you work too much,” Elissa replied.

Scott briefly glanced up at his assistant and cracked a small smile. “You always say that.”

“And lo and behold, I’m always right,” Elissa replied. “You have plans tonight?”

“Taking her to a nice dinner and maybe a drive up the coast,” Scott played with a pen, “nothing too special.”

Her. It was Scott’s new girlfriend, if he would call her that. She wasn’t his girlfriend and she knew it as well. They were in an arrangement, both sanctioned and approved by Sanora, only on the condition that Scott returned her in the same condition that Sanora loaned the woman to him.

Her name was Dove but Elissa had another nickname for her—Suicide Blonde, just like the song. There was something about her that seemed sweet yet sinister at the same time, as if she was trying to hide who and what she really was.

All Elissa knew was she didn’t particularly care for the young woman. She’d grown quite fond of Mariana and silently hoped the ex-couple would come to their senses and finally get back together. They acted like everything was normal and kosher, as they should at work.

But there was tension—yes, sexual tension that was thick and prominent between the pair, that neither could deny no matter how far apart they both sat in meetings. “You don’t sound overly excited about it,” Elissa picked up her boss’s tone, “that’s different.”

“Valentine’s Day is a made-up holiday so the chocolatiers, florists, and restaurateurs can profit off poor and stupid saps trying to impress their girls by telling her, on that one day out of the entire fucking year, how special she is when they should be telling her that every single day.” Scott finally tossed the pen on the desk.

“Yes, I know your warped view of Valentine’s Day,” Elissa smiled, “I just remember last year a certain somebody didn’t think it was a fake holiday… maybe because he was celebrating with another certain somebody.”

Scott’s heart warmed up as he remembered the elaborate Valentine’s celebration he made for Mariana. He made a call to a close New York friend, Nick, and made arrangements to have flowers delivered from the floral shop his family owned. He paid Elissa’s relatives to serenade Mariachi songs. The evening ended with the two making love in every conceivable position by the fireplace at their home.

What a difference a year made. Though Mariana returned to McCormick, Reed, and Sheppard, the dynamic between the pair had drastically changed. Mariana was no longer Scott’s would-be fiancée and intern; now she was a paid employee and ex-girlfriend. They used to sneak off into his office for afternoon quickies. Now they avoided each other whenever possible, only speaking when they absolutely had to.

It made Scott sick to his stomach. It made him even sicker knowing that he was the cause behind it. “That was last year.” He spat.

“You can always change the course of the future if the past bothers you,” Elissa suggested.

“I’m in the process of doing that now,” Scott replied. Becoming a co-owner in EMK was one of the best business and personal decisions he had ever made. He could keep tabs on Mariana’s new boyfriend while increasing his fortune. It was a win-win.

Elissa read the sudden gleam in her boss’s eyes. She had worked for Scott when he was nothing and watched him gradually become the man every guy at work wanted to be and some desperately emulated in some form and fashion. She remembered the beat-up Lexus he once drove; now he drove a money-green Maserati. She remembered the suits he had to get re-sown over and over because he didn’t have enough money to get better ones. Now his closet boasted of the biggest fashion houses and his cheapest suit still cost more than her monthly mortgage payment.

She admired his determination and persistence, starting as a wet behind the ears employee and working his way up to partner. In other words, whatever plans Scott had for getting Mariana back had everything to do with him and absolutely nothing to do with her boyfriend. If Elissa didn’t know any better, she would assume that the poor sap was just merely in the way of Hurricane Scott. “You’re up to something. I feel it.”

“I need a favor from you,” Scott began over dinner with his Mistress.

“Ask and you shall receive,” Sanora circled her wine glass with an index finger.

“I need to prove a point.” Scott’s green eyes flickered. “I need someone to help me emphasize that point.”

“Mariana?” Sanora asked and Scott nodded. “It depends on what reaction you want,” Sanora lightly shrugged. “Do you want her to hate you or hate her?”

“Her.”

“Dove,” Sanora said pointedly. “By the way, Mariana doesn’t hate you.”

“Okay.” He replied without emotion.

“She doesn’t. I know Mariana and I know how women are. She doesn’t hate you.” Sanora took a sip of wine. “She might, however, after this stunt you’re about to pull.”

Scott smiled as the dinner conversation faded into the background. He closed his Macbook and stood up. “I’m always up to no-good. You should know that.”


 

In case some of you need a reminder how it came to be that Dove was in the picture…

I Need You is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and some select libraries. Check your local library.

Stronger than Pride, the next installment in the S&M series will be out sometime this month.