I have a couple… okay three or four projects rolling around my work space right now. A sequel to Ruby’s, which is still in the planning stages; a book in editing (Interracial Erotic Romance) that will hopefully be out mid summer; a couple of ideas brewing and a brand new story that I have been working on called The Never List (Contemporary African American Romance).
Today I want to share a little bit about this story and give my readers a little sample.
Note this project is still very much under construction and details may change as the story progresses!
There are a lot of things thirty three year old Esmee Whitaker has never done: Ridden a roller-coaster. Take a flight. Swim in the ocean. Ride in a hot air balloon. Oh… and have sex. While her well-meaning but overprotective parents are overseas, Esmee decides to break out of her shell and knock some items off of her Never List.
Anthony Pettigrew is next in line for the throne at Pettigrew Industries, but he’s not sure the CEO life is for him. He wants to spin out his own venture, but his father’s illness holds him back. With the future of Pettigrew in the balance, Anthony must decide if he should follow the path designed for him or pave his own way.
When he meets Esmee at a dinner meeting, It’s Like at First Sight for Anthony. She’s smart, sexy… and uptight. Esmee is less than impressed with tall, handsome… and cocky Anthony. Worlds collide when the two are forced to work at opposite ends of the same project, and when Anthony learns about Esmee’s Never List, he offers to help her cross off some items– one item in particular.
One list. Ten items. When they reach Number One, will it spell The End for Esmee and Anthony… or the beginning?
“Try online dating, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.”
I checked my watch for the fourth time in the last ten minutes, noting that my date was yet another minute late. I uncrossed my legs, crossed them the other way and returned my arms to their previous position– folded over my chest.
From my seat at a cozy table for two, I had a sweeping view of the parking lot. The light spring rain didn’t seem to keep the residents of quaint Vinings, Georgia from frequenting the neighborhood eateries and watering holes. I watched couple after couple, group after group hop over small puddles and make their way to the strip mall filled with burger joints, Thai restaurants and Bistro, a classy new wine shop serving small plates with accompanying wine flights. Steamed mussels, crab fondue and stuffed mushrooms served with crisp white wines; garlic chicken lettuce wraps, stuffed pasta shells and bruschetta with robust reds. I had wanted to try Bistro for a while and when my date suggested it, I overrode my initial misgivings for a chance to finally try it.
This was to be our first date, or meet and greet, as I preferred to call it. He was already losing points, since he was a half hour late to a date he had arranged, for a time he had insisted on.
“I’ll be working late,” he’d said on our chat last night. “It’d be great if we could meet around eight thirty or nine. I’ll be worth it.” Something told me to say no, but I chalked that nagging feeling up as fear and agreed. And now I was sitting at a dimly lit, romantic restaurant. All by myself.
“Excuse me, ma’am?”
I jumped at the sound of a deep voice. A man stood next to my table, bending slightly toward me. He was tall, with what looked like a fresh haircut and nicely edged goatee. His tailored jeans, long sleeved cotton shirt with a sweater vest over it screamed yuppie. Soft brown eyes, long lashes, full lips, smooth mahogany skin… he was tall, he was dark, he was handsome and he smelled… manly. Unfortunately though, he wasn’t my date.
“Do you mind if I take this?” He asked, gripping the chair set across from me. “We had an extra person show up and–”
“Yes, I mind!” I snapped, eyebrows knit together, head cocked in angry confusion. “There are twenty other tables here, so why would you take my chair? Cause I’m sitting here by myself? I’m not obviously waiting on someone, right?”
“Okay, so no?” He released the chair and let it loudly, rudely fall back to the floor. “You could have just said no. You didn’t have to get an attitude.”
“I don’t have an attitude. You’re the one being rude, grabbing chairs from other tables. Were you even going to wait for me to say yes? Where is my date supposed to sit?”
He snickered, then bent closer to and whispered, “What date? Looks like you got stood up, to me.” I fumed, watching him saunter away to another table.
My waitress stopped at my table, a bottle of white wine in hand. I nodded toward my half-empty wine glass and watched her top me off. Again. “Ten more minutes and I am out of here,” I promised myself.” I’m not missing Scandal for this fool.”
A Thursday night for me usually meant a long workday, a stop at a drive thru or a to go order and an evening of escapist television. I almost never missed my shows, but I’d been pushing myself lately to get up off of the couch and get out into the world. As my mother put it during one of our recent conversations– no doubt while lounging poolside Venice or mid spa treatment in Nice– the man of my dreams will never fall into my lap if I don’t take my lap somewhere besides my living room.
My roommate and cousin, Harper, piggybacked on the conversation with my mom, encouraging me to try some online dating sites. “It would be great for someone like you,” she encouraged. “You don’t do the bar scene and you’re too chicken to talk to a guy at the grocery store. That way you get to meet someone before you actually meet someone.”
After some arm twisting, eye rolling and internet searches for the sites with the best reputation and, let’s face it, success rates, I finally chose TrueMatch.com. Almost immediately upon joining, filling out my profile, uploading a photo and pimping myself out to the world at large, or at least Atlanta, I’d begun receiving winks, nudges and messages.
“Hey, sistah. Call me- 404-555-8997.” Call you for what? Straight from the internet? I don’t even know you!
“I will like for you to be my wife. Please contact me immediately. I must know you, my Queen!” Yawn. Probably a scam, anyway. Next.
“Hey sexy. Welcome to the site. I like what I see and I know you’ll like my nine inches of long, hard-” NEXT.
After a series of misspelled and misguided messages, my mouse was hovering over the ‘delete this profile’ link when a chat request came through. “Hi. Name’s Chris. How are you this evening?”
Quickly, I clicked the link to check out his profile. A slow smile crept across my lips when a photo of a broad shouldered, suave and debonair bona fide cutie in a designer tux opened up. The caption read, ‘My cousin’s wedding. I clean up well, right?’ Yes sir, you do.
His smile was wide and pearly white, his skin a perfect toasted caramel, his hair a luxurious mane of locs that went past his shoulders and his eyes… deep, soulful brown eyes. I skipped down the list of attributes: 6’2”, works in finance, lives in Atlanta metro, single, no children.
Yes, yes, yes. Let’s chat.
“Hi Chris,” I replied, after accepting his chat request. “I’m Esmee, but my friends call me Es. Not as in the letter S but as in E-Z But… not easy.” I chuckled to myself at my long standing joke about my nickname.
“Well,” he replied a few seconds later, “I hope I can be so forward as to consider myself a friend and call you Es as well. How’s your Wednesday coming along?”
An hour later, I was beginning to be impressed with Chris, who preferred to go by Christopher. Like me, he worked with numbers, so I could assume he was analytical, but he was also funny, getting in a quip or two during our spirited back and forth conversation. I felt comfortable with him, comfortable enough to share details about my life, my job, my family. Christopher was less forthcoming with details but I figured I would learn the rest as we got to know each other.
“I hope I don’t seem too forward in asking this…” The words hung on the screen for nearly ten seconds before he followed up with, “But I was wondering if I could buy you a drink tomorrow? No pressure… I just like to meet ladies face to face, you know?”
And that was how I came to be sitting at Bistro waiting for–I checked my watch–thirty-five minutes for my date to show.
I grabbed my wine glass and sucked down a healthy gulp of Chardonnay, scowling at the view outside my window. I glanced at my phone, the TrueMatch app open to my inbox. No messages. No ‘hey running late, I’ll be there in ten minutes’. No, ‘sorry I got caught up, can I get a raincheck?’ Nothing. In fact, Christopher hadn’t been online all day. My patience had run out about ten minutes ago. Now I was pissed.
I waved down my waitress and requested the check. I had spent $25 to drink wine and watch the rain. I could have bought a bottle of wine and been warm and comfortable on my couch for half the cost.
Slipping my card into my wallet and then my wallet into my bag, I gathered my jacket from the back of my chair and stalked out of the restaurant. I hadn’t even gotten Christopher’s phone number so I could call and tell him what I thought of men who stood up women. We had decided to meet first and if we wanted to continue talking, we would exchange numbers.
Very fat chance of that happening.
I crossed the parking lot to my car, accompanied only by the staccato rhythm of my heels on the pavement. That is, until I heard the rush of sneakered feet and felt the impact of a body crushing mine from behind. By instinct, my hands shot out in front of me to break my fall. My assailant grabbed my purse, attempting to yank it from my hands.
“Let go!” He hissed.
“No!” I screamed, holding onto the straps of my purse by both hands. He pulled; I pulled harder. He yanked; I yanked harder. Items flung from inside the bag and scattered across the parking lot–makeup case, eyeglass case, pens.
He gave a hard pull at the straps and grunted, “Let go, bitch!”
“No, motherfu–” A closed fist came into contact with the side of my head. My vision dimmed and the parking lot began to spin. I didn’t want to let go, but I felt my grip on the straps loosening.
I heard, through the ringing in my ears, the restaurant door open and the footsteps of several people running toward us. Then a scuffle, some yelling, some grunting and then a loud, meaty punch that could only be a fist meeting a mouth. And then a thud as my assailant hit the ground.
Stunned, I lifted my head. A hand entered my field of vision. Then an arm. Then a figure hulking over me.
“Ma’am? Do you need an ambulance? Somebody call the police!”
“No.” I smacked the hand away from me and maneuvered myself around so I could push myself up. On shaky legs, I busied myself collecting the items that had fallen out of my purse. “I don’t… need an ambulance… I’m fine… I just…want to go home…”
I stuffed my things into my purse and pulled out my keys. I wanted nothing more than to be at home, on my couch, eating popcorn and watching Kerry Washington act her behind off. That’s all I wanted. And I wanted that right now.
“Ma’am?” The voice called after me. “You should wait for the police.”
I limp-stumbled toward my car, a silver Jetta parked a few spaces away. A pain in my ankle stabbed with every step and the entire right side of my face was beginning to throb. Once I reached my car, I unlocked it and fell into the driver’s seat. I was a little dizzy, but coming to.
I reached forward to insert my key into the ignition but was startled again by a knock at my window. I looked up and groaned. It was the guy from the restaurant, the one that had tried to take my chair. He must have been the one to take down the guy that attacked me.
I started the car and pressed the button to roll the window down. “Hey. Thanks for your help back there.”
He leaned against my car, his arm resting on the hood. “Yeah, no big thing,” he said, grinning down at me. “But uh… are you sure you should be driving, ma’am? He got you pretty hard.”
“First of all,” I huffed with a roll of my eyes. “Stop calling me ma’am. Second, I’m fine. I just want to go home.”
“The police are on their way. You should wait–”
“I’ll stop by the precinct tomorrow. I… I think I know who he is. Now move, before I run you over.”
He sighed, shook his head and stepped back. I pulled out of my space and directed my car away from the lump of man still lying in the middle of the parking lot and the small crowd that had gathered around him. The sky was already lit up with the red and blue flashing orbs of police cars approaching.
I pressed my foot to the gas pedal and sped out of the parking lot and onto the street.
Copyright 2015 Author DL White