“Everything in this world is for sale to the people who can afford it…”
Joella Mason knows the difference between what she needs and what she wants. But when the line between the two becomes especially thin, she finds herself on a quest for something missing, not expecting that to come in the package of a sexy stranger with an even sexier proposition.
They share a night. Desires are fulfilled. But at what price?
Find out in, Love Unsolicited.
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The magic of Potter Lake strikes again when Evonne Girard— cosmetologist and obsessed podcast fan meets Taj Wright— Registered Nurse and musician following a nasty fall in the parking lot at the Curl & Dye. There are jokes, there is flirting, lingering stares abound… but neither thinks they’ll see the other again any time soon.
When Evonne takes a step toward adulting and moves out of her parent’s home, she discovers that the cute house she’s renting belongs to the handsome, sexy nurse with the eyes she can’t forget. But she’s not in Potter Lake to meet a man. She’s on a mission to prove to her parents that she isn’t the failure that showed up on their doorstep ten years ago.
Taj is delighted to rent his guest house to the pretty, snappy former patient he can’t stop thinking about. Potter Lake was a place to run when his dream died, a haven to start over and give back what was given to him. When the opportunity to live that dream again rolls around, Taj isn’t sure that he wants it to come true.
Evonne and Taj are forced to live in close quarters during a severe storm and quickly become more than landlord and tenant. When the same storm drives them from Potter Lake to a beachside retreat, worlds collide.
One shared secret could change the trajectory of something beautiful. On a rainy night in Georgia, two hearts meet. They’re never the same again.
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Ebony followed closely behind me in the rental truck
while I drove the rest of my belongings in my car. I pulled
into the driveway and she parked behind me, then hopped
right out with her mouth wide open. I could understand her
reaction— the house was a beautiful stone stucco with huge
windows facing the street.
“This is what we’re doing now, Vonnie? This is how we
livin’? Started in the basement, now we here?”
“The owner said he left the key in the mailbox. Let’s grab
them and I’ll give you a tour.”
“Oh, he’s a he, is he?” Ebony followed. “He’s probably
rich, too with this big ass house. Living here all by his lonesome.
Have you met him?”
“Not yet. He’s a doctor or something so I’ll probably
never see him.”
I reached into the mailbox and felt hard metal. I pulled
out a set of keys and shook them in Ebony’s face. She
frowned and swatted them away.
“A doctor? If you don’t
snatch him up, I will.”
“The lease said the house was owned by some holding
company, so I don’t know his name.”
“I hope he’s nice. You know, not one of those thinks he’s
“Me too, considering he lives so close. As long as he stays
on his side of the property, we’ll be good.”
“Unless he’s cute, then he can be on all of the property, if
you know what I’m saying.”
I took the path along the outside of the house, toward
the front door. It was standard white metal, but it felt like
the entrance to freedom to me. I inserted the key in the
deadbolt and then the knob lock and swung the door open.
A scent hit my nose, something light and clean. After
walking around for a few minutes, I found the source: air
freshener plug-ins, the Clean Linen scent. A small bouquet
of bright yellow and white daisies sat on the kitchen counter
along with a brief note: Welcome Home. We’ll meet
I loved the friendly gesture. My landlord and I were
going to get along fine.
I set the note down and turned a full revolution, taking it
all in. Ebony walked through the place, swooning at everything
from the picture windows to the view of the backyard.
“Ooh, Vonnie! You can do your videos here!” She dipped
into an alcove space off of the kitchen. It was almost a room,
the perfect amount of space.
“Yeah, I thought that would be a good spot. I’m going
to get something to dress up the back wall. I’ll do those
open bookcases for products and display stands for my
wigs. I can mount the ring light on this wall,” I tapped the
wall nearest me. “And I’ll set up a shelf for the camera to
sit. I can edit the videos anywhere, so I’ll probably do
A rich tenor that I hoped wasn’t attached to someone
standing inside my place called into the house. I glanced at
Ebony, eyes wide. She bounded out of the alcove.
“Eb! Wait—” I wanted to grab her, in case it was a serial
killer who haunted small towns and kidnapped cute black
“Hey. We’re back here.” Brilliant, Eb. Tell him exactly
where to find us, chop us up and bury us in the backyard. “Who’s
Footsteps sounded on the tile just inside the door. “Hi.
I’m here for Evonne.”
I followed her around the corner. “Way to tell a stranger
exactly where we are, Ebony. You know that’s how that girl
got murdered on last week’s episode of The Butler Did It.”
My eyes sought out anything I could use for a weapon, if
I needed it. But then I realized that I wouldn’t. Need a
weapon, that was.
Because I knew the man standing in my kitchen. I could
never forget his soulful eyes, gorgeous dark skin, full lips…
and the blue scrubs that seemed cut to fit him specifically,
the way they stretched across his chest and cradled his arms
in such a nice way.
“Nurse Dude,” I finally said, when I could find my voice.
He was such a pleasant sight, considering that he was probably
not a serial killer.
“Nurse Dude? Miss Girard?” Ebony repeated, swiveling
her head from me to him and back. “You know him?”
“I-I-I…how... what...” I stuttered, then shook my head to
arrange my thoughts and cajole my mouth into forming a
complete sentence. “This is my new place. Do you live
“Yes, I’d say I live close.” He laughed, showing all of his
teeth. “I own the place. I left you the flowers and the note…
I snapped my fingers and pointed. “TW! Taj Wright,
“The one and the same,” he said, with a modest nod. “I
intended to be here when you pulled up. I don’t normally
work day shift, but I switched so I could be here. We had a
last minute walk-in and—”
He waved a hand, then tugged at the hem of his scrubs.
“So, welcome. Let me know if you have any questions. And
you’ll want to pull the moving truck into the driveway. It
sticks out into the street and the neighbors...”
He hummed, wagging his head side to side while rolling
his eyes. “I’m not leaving again tonight, so use my space.”
“Ebony?” I hinted, since she had the key to the truck, but
she stood there, her hands propped on her hips and her
chest pushed up and out. “Ebony! Go move the truck!”
“Oh, right!” She pulled the key from her pocket and
teetered out on her stilettos. “Be right back!”
I moved into the kitchen and leaned against the counter
in front of the dishwasher. The scent of the air freshener hit
me again and I realized that he had been inside my home. It
didn’t feel like a violation, considering the house belonged
to him. It was weird though, knowing that he had set things
up for me, bought flowers, wrote a note.
“So...” He mimicked, moving around the outside of the
kitchen, leaning a set of meaty forearms onto the counter,
muscular without hulking out like an NFL fullback.
Whew. I was going to be living mere feet from him? Look
“So...” I repeated, wishing I had a bottle of water because
my survey of him had me parched. “You didn't think you
should let me know that you, in fact, are TWM, LLC, the
holding company referenced on the lease? And that you
own this house and would be renting to me? And that it was
the same you that treated me at the clinic?”
He shrugged strong shoulders and smirked. “I put the
house under my LLC for tax and privacy purposes. And
there’s no law that says a nurse can’t rent a house to a former
patient. Speaking of—”
He straightened, stretching out his arm. “Let me
examine that cut. You didn’t come back to the clinic and let
me check it out.”
“Oh…” I clutched my still-tender hand to my chest. “No
need. It’s fine.”
“Then let me see it.”
“It’s okay. You did a fine job.”
“Then let me see it. Did it not heal okay?”
“Is this what it’s going to be like? You coming down here
to randomly check me for a fever?”
He laughed, dropping his hand. “Not at all. I take that
very seriously. I only came in tonight because the door was
open and someone was here to tell me to come in.”
“In the future, don’t do anything Ebony tells you to do.
She has ulterior motives. She plans to kidnap you and make
you her sex slave or Sugar Daddy.”
“Wait until you find out I’m only halfway kidding.”
He laughed again, so hard this time that the corners of
his eyes crinkled up. “So… well, I’ll let you unpack and get
settled. I came down to tell you about the truck. Would be a
terrible way to meet the neighborhood busy bodies.” He
moved toward the door, talking as he walked. “Let me know
if you have any questions. My cell phone number is on the
lease, so call any time.”
But suddenly I wasn’t ready for him to leave. “Hey, if you
want to check this,” I offered, waiving my injured hand in
the air. “For checking’s sake. It does still hurt.”
His brow furrowed. He came around the counter toward
me and immediately cupped my hand in his. He was warm
and his skin was soft. He’d been wearing gloves when he
“Any sharp pain? Like a stabbing feeling or throbbing?”
“More tender, not constant throbbing pain. But if I press
on it—” I did so, then flinched, sucking in air through my
“Well, then don’t do that.”
He peeled back the bandage and inspected the progress.
“Hmmm. It shouldn’t be this red, but it could be irritated by
using the hand a lot. Try to give it a rest tonight and leave
the bandage off. Let it breathe. Let’s see how it looks tomorrow.
It seems to have closed up fine.”
“You think I’ll have a scar?”
He peered closer, tipping his head one way and then the
other. “Hard to tell. Why?”
“They’re often on camera, so—”
“Camera?” His eyes rolled up, meeting mine. “Will you
be shooting any low budget films?”
I laughed, yanking my hand back from his grasp. Then
regretted doing so, not from the twinge of pain but because
he was so warm. “I have a web channel. Hair by E. I do
beauty and hair reviews and stuff. Aside from that, I need to
be able to use both of my hands at the salon.”
“You should be fine, Miss Girard. But let me know if you
need a referral to a plastic surgeon.” A beautiful brown,
lushly lashed eye winked at me.
“See, there you go. Giving me shit.”
He laughed. “You make it so easy.”
“If y'all are done flirting,” Ebony interrupted, a large box
labeled WIGS, 1 of 4 in her arms. She didn’t seem amused at
how close Taj stood to me or how friendly we seemed to be
toward each other. “We need to unload that truck so I can
return it tonight. I’m not letting my car sit at the rental place
“I’ll let you get to it. Holler if you need anything.” Taj
sauntered out of the kitchen and out of the front door,
pulling it closed behind him.
I made a half turn, trying to decide where to start. “That
box is wigs, so let’s start a stack along that wall.” I pointed
toward the hallway leading to the alcove. Ebony smirked,
slowly sauntered past me and set the box down, then
pushed it against the wall.
Then she turned to me, a hand propped on one hip.
“Don’t start, Eb. I’m going to grab some boxes. Did
Daddy put his dolly in the truck?”
“Nuh uh, Vonnie.” Stubborn, she folded her arms across
her chest and planted her stance, her head tipped to the
side. “You weren’t going to tell me about the super cute
chocolate nurse with the face and the arms and the chest
and the eyes and shit? And how he lives next door?”
“He was my nurse at the clinic the night I fell, Ebony. He
bandaged my cut, that’s all.”
“Had to be more than that. Y’all got nicknames for each
other. Miss Girard.”
I rolled my eyes to the ceiling, noting the beautiful, hand
cut wooden fan for the first time. The design details in the
house were impressive. “I flipped him shit. He flipped it
back. He happens to own this house, which I told you I
didn’t know when I rented it. Can we unload this truck
“Fine. But expect me to be out here visiting a lot. I might
need a lot of personal health care from your landlord.”
"I've always trusted you with the ball in your hands. But can I do the same with my heart?"
As a professional basketball player, Selena "Sharpshooter" Samuels seemingly has everything going in her favor. Playing for her hometown, playoff-bound team, the Nashville Nymphs. Playing under a knowledgeable coach who she adores. Playing for a franchise that's well respected and family-owned. But the potential dynasty she's trying to build comes under threat when a new assistant coach is hired; an assistant coach who she may or may not have had a huge crush on growing up.
DeAndre "Dre" Leonard hasn't had it easy. After being banned from the league as a player for violating the drug policy, his world came crashing down. But now he's back and ready to rebuild his reputation, starting with a coaching opportunity with the sister team of his beloved Trojans that includes one of the best women's players in the game; and arguably the finest woman he's ever seen.
Selena and Dre both want the same thing; to have a successful season. But as they spend more time together chasing a championship, that shared goal slowly begins to change from a title... to each other.
Set in "The Athens of the South" Nashville, Tennessee, The "Nymphs & Trojans" series is a sports romance collaboration by Nicole Falls and Alexandra Warren that follows two fictional professional basketball franchises - the Nashville Nymphs Women's Team and the Tennessee Trojans Men's Team.
Book 1 - Shots Not Taken
Book 2 - One Last Shot
*Note: These are standalone books that can be read in any order.
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Between her job at the firm and her husband's suspicious infidelities, Rashawn decided to listen to the advice of her close friends and set up online account. Inside the private world of Ultimate Pleasure adult club, you can chat and then meet up at a secret location.
Peppermint Candi, as Rashawn soon calls herself decided it's time for them to meet in person, but in this twisted story, Dark Chocolate isn't whom she expected.
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As I began to walk down the hallway toward the conference room, someone grabbed me from behind by my arm, force me into a dim-lighted room and locked the door. I wanted to scream, but couldn't and didn't.
I couldn't see his face because he quickly turned me around and had me bento over with my hands on the desk.
"Relax, I'm here to satisfied you." He whispered into my ear.
"Dark Chocolate!" I was shock. "How did you know where I work?"
At first his touch startled me, but the more he rubbed me the more I began to enjoy the feel of his warm, strong muscular hand on my skin.
One scandal. Two broken hearts. A decade apart.
Lady Elise knows all too well the risks of falling in love. Her heart was broken by a rake. Instead of hunting for a husband, she helps other ladies escape the nefarious plans of unscrupulous gentlemen.
After a scandal costs Lord Thornston Elise’s hand and heart, he has lived on the fringes of the beau monde. But when his best friend, the Duke of Fairmont, requests his assistance, Thornston is torn. Helping Fairmont means facing the woman who holds his heart and soul.
Succumbing to temptation, Thornston re-enters Society to find Elise still unwed. But as he seeks to reignite her desire for him and earn back her trust, he becomes entwined in one of her investigations. When events take a dangerous turn, he might lose the woman he loves before he can win her back.
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I need another drink.
Harold Greenfield, the Earl of Thornston, tried to curtail his frustration. He had been enjoying a whiskey at his club when the Duke of Fairmont dared to disturb his peace.
Peering down his ducal nose, Fairmont declared, “It is time you returned to the fold.” Fairmont settled into the closest wingback chair and stretched out his long legs.
The fiery liquid that was about to go down Harold’s gullet spewed from his mouth. “Why would I do that?”
“I need your assistance.”
Squeezing the bridge of his nose, Harold considered the duke’s request. In the twenty years they had known each other, this was the first time Fairmont had come to him for help. It was an odd reversal of roles. This past decade, Fairmont had remained his only contact with polite society. Harold remained silent and consumed another drink or three. The man couldn’t be serious. Could he?
Fairmont rose to leave, and Harold uttered a sigh. The man was his best friend, after all. Following the duke out of the club, he stepped up into the lavish ducal coach.
Seated on the rear-facing bench, Harold glared at Fairmont. “There is no good reason for me to place myself at the mercy of marriage-minded mamas and the empty-headed young chits.”
“All you have to do is accompany me to a few engagements and assist me in choosing the next Duchess of Fairmont.” A smirk appeared on Fairmont’s features. “What do you know of Miss Glenda Heart?”
“Why do you subject me to this torture?” Harold stretched out a leg and kicked the duke in the ankle. “Why don’t you have one of your sisters help you?”
“Are you serious? Lily is lying in, and Elise is… well, she is Elise.”
Harold asked, “Wait, Lily got married? How was it you allowed her to marry before Elise?”
How long had he been away from the ton?
Initially, Harold had enjoyed his freedom on the outskirts of the beau monde. But recently he had grown bored. Perhaps it was time he too considered the idea of marriage. A shiver ran down his spine. No, he still had a while yet; he had only just turned thirty.
Fairmont looked out the carriage window. “Lily endured three Seasons before she threatened a scandal if I didn’t give my permission for Lord Crossworth to marry her. They were married two years past; you were invited.”
“But what about Elise? How is it she is not yet married?”
“She swears she is content.” Fairmont slapped his gloves against his thigh. “I’ve tripled her dowry, but no one worthy has offered for her.”
Unbelievable. Elise was a beauty. Maybe a little quiet, but she had inherited her mother’s kind and patient demeanor. How could it be that no one had offered for her?
“Elise must be… what… six and twenty now?” Harold, for one, didn’t believe it. “What do you mean, no one worthy?”
Fairmont turned to face him directly. Harold could feel the man’s eyes bore into him in the dimly lit carriage. “Oh, she has attracted every scoundrel, rake, and fortune hunter, but they all offered for her dowry. None of them knew one thing about Elise.”
Harold shook his head; he shouldn’t have had that last whiskey before venturing out with Fairmont. “What are you blithering on about? What would you have a blighter know before you deem him worthy of your sister?”
Fairmont cocked an eyebrow. “Lord Crossworth was able to answer all the questions on my test without any issue when he asked for Lily’s hand.”
“Test! What test?”
Fairmont shrugged. “It’s a list of questions I ask every suitor.”
Only Fairmont would come up with such an idiotic scheme. Harold had to ask, although he was certain he already knew the answer. “Do you have a test for the position of duchess?”
Blithely, Fairmont replied, “Of course.”
Harold blinked to clear his vision, who was the man sitting across from him and where were they headed? “What wretched event are you dragging me to this eve?”
“I was informed both the lovely Lady Beatrice and Miss Glenda Heart are to be at the Riverington Ball.”
“Are you mad?” The Riverington Ball. The exact location of his downfall a decade ago.
“I’m of sound mind.” Fairmont employed his ducal stare. “And you are going to assist me in obtaining the answers I seek.”
The coach finally rolled to a stop. What questions could Fairmont have on his blasted lists? How had none of the gentlemen come up to snuff, allowing Lady Elise to remain unwed? Had the years been kind to her? For the first time in ages, Harold found himself in front of one of the ton’s dwellings. Would Lady Elise recognize him?
Making his entrance with Fairmont would be a bad idea. His friend might be in the market for a wife, but Harold was not ready to give up his freedom or his mistress. Confirming his misgivings, every head in the room turned their way as they were announced. The ton appeared to have remained unchanged. Lords and ladies scrutinized his appearance and quickly dismissed him. Damn them all to hell. Harold no longer cared for their opinion, nor did he seek out their acceptance.
“Will Elise be in attendance tonight?”
Fairmont narrowed his gaze. “Why?”
Harold tempered his reply. “I haven’t seen her in years. I’d like to become reacquainted.”
Gone was the relaxed Duke of Fairmont. The man had turned into his childhood friend, Benedict Brownstone, the older protective brother. “Stay away from her. She doesn’t need your sort hanging about her. It will only encourage the other rakes of our set to take notice of her.”
Fairmont’s warning cut. What exactly did he mean by his sort? “What? Am I not good enough for your sister?”
Harold might not have exactly lived the life of a saint, but neither had Fairmont. He was honest, never cheated at cards. He was not a pauper. His estates generated a sufficient—others might say lucrative—income, and while he might not have the wealth of a duke, he could easily support a wife. He wasn’t a dullard, despite only completing one year at Oxford. If he hadn’t been seduced by a professor’s wife and expelled, perhaps he might have graduated. In his defense, he hadn’t any idea who the woman was until it was too late.
When Fairmont failed to reply, Harold put it to him again. “Are you saying I’m not worthy of Elise’s hand?”
“Thornston, you are my best friend, and I know you better than anyone. Stay away from my sister. Find some other lady to pant after tonight.”
The warning sounded more like a challenge. Harold stood ruminating as couples whirled past him. He scanned the ballroom, looking for Elise. His curiosity demanded to find out why she had remained unwed.
Fairmont gave him a look that suggested he considered the matter concluded. He then shifted his attention to a dark-haired beauty who came into view across the room. “I’m off to claim my dance with Lady Beatrice. Try not to cause a scandal while I’m away.”
Scandal. Harold had learned his lesson a decade ago. Never follow a lady anywhere. They were all conniving harlots at the ready to trap a man into marriage. He wasn’t interested in following any of the ladies this evening. All he wanted to do was to locate Elise. Was she aware of her brother’s requirements? How would Harold fare should he attempt the answers?
Hidden behind the pillar, he searched the dance floor for familiar faces—one in particular. Surely, Elise would make an appearance. She had always enjoyed dancing. When he and Fairmont were learning the steps to the various sets, Elise often assisted by partnering with them. She never once complained when he had trod upon her delicate toes.
Bored at having spent most of the night avoiding the gazes of debutantes and their mamas, Harold made his way to the card room. He spotted Lord Kilman, one of the few he would consider a friend, engaged in a game with a lady. Interesting. Lord Kilman was a skilled card player who was known to lose rarely. His lordship’s features were relaxed, but Harold caught the telltale tic in his jaw, which indicated only one thing: Lord Kilman was about to be defeated.
Who was the woman? Her hair shone like silk, a string of pearls expertly woven through her dark brown curls.
* * *
Thanks for reading.
Would you like to read more?
Available on Amazon for Pre-order now.
"I could feel her heart beat
even though we were miles away"
Rescued from the only life she had ever known, Alannah Jackson learns what it means to be loved and not controlled. Finally able to let go of her past she begins a new life with the man who has shown her what love is. Faced with the truth, Alannah finds she can never escape her past or who she is. She will never love, only serve.
Roman’s love for Alannah is tested when he finds that she has been slaved by a man just as ruthless as Winston Nelson. Against his better judgement, he accepts Martin Holland’s offer to help retrain Alannah and he begins to question the love they shared. After Martin Holland makes it clear of his intentions, Roman stops at nothing to get her back. There is no room for another man in her life.
Contains adult content 18
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"I don't need to know your name. I know your spirit. I'm more concerned with that."
Ryan and Will.
Two strangers with instant chemistry on an adventure fueled by a fiery connection neither can contain.
But not everything is as it seems.
Or is it?
Note: While this standalone book tells a complete story, it is novella-length meaning it is shorter by design. If you prefer your stories longer, I'd highly recommend checking out another Alexandra Warren project. :)
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Emerson “Em” Jordan always wanted a Valentine’s Day wedding. But after being dumped by her boyfriend, she spends the holiday at Seashell Cottage on the Gulf Coast of Florida with Devin Gerard, a family friend who has no interest in her or any other woman and is instead concentrating on his pediatric medical practice and continuing medical missions in Costa Rica.
Em, who’s always wanted a large family, doesn’t mind his disinterest. At thirty-two, she’s decided she doesn’t need a husband to have a child or to adopt one. First, she’s going to fulfill her dream of setting up her own landscape design business in upstate New York and has promised to continue to help run her grandmother’s flower shop.
It isn’t until Em and Devin become friends that Em realizes she might want more than friendship from him. But with his work in Miami and Costa Rica and her busy life in New York, it’s out of the question until something happens that changes everything, even a couple of hearts.
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The Complete, “A Tale of Two Cities” Holiday Novella Collection
When people think of a holiday for love, they automatically come up with Valentine's Day.
But who's to say that's the only one?
A trip to sin city for a Halloween-themed joint bachelor-bachelorette party is all it takes for Savannah and Lincoln to learn this the... not so hard way.
For actress Aspen Watson, all it takes is a trip back to her hometown for Thanksgiving for her to realize that sometimes home can be where the heart is in more ways than one.
Director, Dallas Bryant, isn’t looking for love this holiday season, but that all changes when Madison Walker and a mistletoe come in the picture.
Cheyenne Foster may be coming to visit with her heart set on bringing in the new year with one guy, but she quickly discovers the universe and the turn of the year may actually have someone else in mind for her…
And for Brooklyn and Austin, the day after Valentine’s is when the real fun begins thanks to a dare of a DM on Instagram that leads to the two of them spending a hot weekend in Miami together.
Note: This is a previously-published collection of FIVE short, holiday novellas, all with happy-for-now endings.
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"I gave you fifteen years, two kids, and my everything. You still chose to give a woman you barely knew the ring, the house, and my happily ever after." Bitter? Of course Dallas was bitter. She sacrificed her all for a man. How was she supposed to move on and appreciate the love of a real man after that? Trenton Smith is definitely a real man. However, she's making it hard for him not to pay for the mistakes of her ex and for some strange reason, he's determined more than ever to prove to her that all men aren't the same.
Sasha hasn’t wanted anything more in life than to have a baby with her fiancée, Hunt. However, after years of trying to reproduce, she’s finally coming to the conclusion that having a baby just may not be in the cards for her. Her infertility causes her to question her womanhood and sends her into a fit of depression. But, when she begins to find comfort in the arms of another man, it has her questioning her reality.
Candace is the proud owner of a very successful jazzercise class business. After dating the momma’s boy, the thug, and her favorite, the tired negro with good sex and no money, she finally finds her knight in shining armor. Things are going good… until she discovers the roommate he conveniently failed to mention. When Sasha's brother, Diego, decides to help mend her heart, she discovers that her soulmate may have been right under her nose the entire time.
Love All Over Me is a flirty, feel-good novel that takes you on a journey of love, heartbreak, and self-discovery. These ladies send you on an emotional high and hold you hostage until the very last page..
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“Listen, are you coming to get the kids or not, Messiah?” Dallas grumbled, rolling her eyes at the sound of his voice. The mere thought of him caused her to cringe these days.
“Didn’t I say I was? Why you got to have an attitude every time I call. Bitter ain’t cute on you.”
Bitter? Dallas had to repeat those words in her head. She couldn’t believe his audacity. “You know what? Not today Satan. I will not let you take me out of my element. Bye asshole.” She ended the call before he could respond. Bitter? Hell yes, she was bitter and she had every right to be.
Fifteen years was a long time to love a man. Dallas Avery had invested everything in him. She gave up her dreams and sacrificed her own happiness to make sure that their relationship would end with the fairytale she’d imagined. She gave him the whole got damned cow and he still chose to marry another woman.
A frown tipped the corners of her lips as she thought about Messiah, her sperm donor. Sorry ass nigga, she grumbled, snatching a bronze dress from the clothing rack, giving it a once over, then hanging it back in place. Of course, their relationship wasn’t perfect, but whose was? Instead of trying to fix it, he found some young hoe that probably still had milk behind her ears and called himself replacing her. Just the thought made Dallas' stomach turn.
She may have accepted their break-up a little better if he'd ended things and let her be. However, somehow, he still found his way back to her bed every chance he got, stirring up emotions that she was desperately trying to rid herself of. How could she get over him when the familiarity of his touch still sent a shiver up her spine and shot her spiraling on an euphoric high?
Messiah was her drug and she was addicted to him. But just like every other high, it eventually wore off, bringing forth the sobering truth. He left her bed to go home to his fiancée while she hugged a pillow, wishing it was him.
She let out a sigh, thumbing through another rack of expensive dresses at Swank A Posh clothing boutique. Messiah's wedding to his young hoe was quickly approaching and Dallas was toying with the idea of crashing the ceremony and opening Pandora's box. They didn’t get to have their happily ever after while she sat in her room crying herself to sleep every other night. She was tired of being the bigger person when it was obvious that no one gave a damn about her feelings.
Mary J. Blige's Not Gon Cry had been on repeat on Dallas' playlist for the past three months. When Mary said “I should have left yo' ass a thousand times,” Dallas felt that in her soul. She wished she had left him the very first time he broke her heart. Now, he had her questioning why she wasn’t woman enough to keep her man. She had to pretend that she had everything together and put on the facade of the perfect mother, when the truth was, she was salty. She resented Messiah just as much as she loved him.
Dallas tried her best to push him from her thoughts as she scanned the price tag connected to the sleeves of a gorgeous, peach mermaid-style gown. Her brows creased. "Eight hundred dollars?" she mumbled, analyzing the dress again, attempting to tell herself that it wasn’t all that. But, being honest with herself, she knew she’d kill the game in it. Her body had always been stacked in all the right places.
She studied the price tag again, calculating which bill she could skip to pay for the piece. Messiah Jr.'s basketball camp money was due, the light bill needed to be paid, and Mr. Thomas had already given her an extension on the car loan. Her lips formed a pout. “Here I am robbing Peter to pay Paul while your stankin' ass is out living your best life. And you got the nerve to call me bitter?” She sucked her teeth slamming the dress back into its rightful place.
“Dang, what did that dress do to you? I think it would look fly on you.” A deep baritone massaged Dallas’s eardrums. His warm breath and the feeling of his presence sent a chill up her spine. She jumped, before focusing on him. Damn, he was fine.
Dallas snorted. “Not for eight hundred dollars. It better turn me into Beyoncé for that price.”
“Beyoncé is overrated. You're not giving yourself enough credit,” he added charmingly.
Was he flirting? Dallas took a second to scan him. He was so smooth… and handsome. His chocolate six-foot-two-inch frame was muscular, broad shoulders held up his blazer, a fresh cut had his waves spinning and he had thick kiss-me lips. Then, he had the nerve to be dressed GQ in a three-piece suit and a pair of wing-tipped Ferragamos. She knew what they were because Messiah had those same shoes. They’d actually argued over them. However, she couldn’t remember Messiah looking that good in them.
“Thanks,” Dallas muttered, tucking a stray strand of her chestnut hair behind her ear. Her gaze landed on the watch on her wrist, causing her eyes to bulge. She only had seven minutes to get back over to the office. She’d spent more time than she’d intended at the boutique.
“Dallas, right?” He smiled, pointing at her name badge. “I saw you walk in and couldn’t let you go without telling you how pretty you are.”
Her cheeks stained red. She couldn’t remember the last time she received a simple compliment. She actually didn’t know how to take it. Her lips formed a pout. “Thank you, but I’m not interested.” Dallas responded, studying the dress again, then focusing back on the stranger.
“Not interested in what? I never made any offers.” He corrected her.
Dallas rolled her eyes. She didn’t know why she was giving the man such a hard time. She couldn’t help it. Messiah left a sour taste in her mouth, and the poor stranger was the easiest to take it out on. “Whatever, I have to go.” She spat, stepping around him and making her way toward the exit.
“You still beautiful. Mean and all.” Dallas heard him. The half smile that crept on her face showcased the dimple on her left cheek. She didn’t want to be angry anymore. She didn’t want to cry over Messiah another night. Why was she finding it so hard to move on? After dealing with Messiah's no-good, cheating ass, dating another man was last on her agenda. He had really done a number on her. They'd been officially broken up for ten months, him engaged three, and she still hadn't opened herself up to dating again.
"Damnit, Messiah Jr., what did I tell you about leaving this ball in the middle of my floor? And why are your clothes spread all over my living room?" Dallas squalled, bracing herself from falling onto her face. She exhaled, sucking in a deep breath, attempting to calm her nerves.
Dallas loved her kids, deeply, she really did. However, she needed a mental break; mommy time with margaritas and girl talk or a night filled with hot, dirty, and disrespectful sex accompanied by a tall, sexy, chocolate brother with a nice body and… No, she had to stop herself while she was ahead. Having random sex wasn’t exactly her style.
"Sorry, Ma. My dad coming to get us today and he wanted us to dress nice. I was going to ask you which one you wanted me to wear," Messiah Jr. explained, snatching his basketball up and shooting at an imaginary rim. "We're going to dinner with that girl's family. I don't want to meet them, but Dad said I have to." His peanut butter face formed a pout. Messiah Jr. was so handsome. He was the perfect mixture of both parents, from his charcoal-black curly hair inherited through Dallas, to his brown eyes and full nose taken from his father.
Dallas stifled a giggle. "Don't call her that girl. She has a name. And don't be like that, son. She's your family now." Damn, it was hard being the bigger person. It nearly killed Dallas, but she promised herself to never talk down on their situation no matter how much it hurt.
"That's not my family! You're my family, Mom. I'll make a mistake and knock all the drinks on her dress if you want me to." He snickered deviously, causing Dallas to chortle.
"Messiah!" Dallas covered her mouth, unable to hold in her laughter. "It's okay this time, baby. I'll let you know when I need your backup," she added, nudging him and ruffling his curls.
The doorbell chimed before Messiah Jr. could respond. He tossed his basketball in the corner and raced toward the stairs. "That's Dad. I'll go get Meghan so y'all can talk." He made googly eyes at Dallas as he passed her, causing her to shake her head. Her son was a complete character. He wanted them to get back together so badly. It was almost as if he didn't understand that it was over. Their happy family was torn apart because his father decided to marry his mistress, his whore, his homewrecker. Dallas could think of quite a few more names she could have called the girl but she was trying not to let those ill thoughts consume her.
Dallas let out a husky breath of air, watching her son disappear. Was she ready to come face-to-face with Messiah? No. He'd just broken the news of his engagement and instantaneous wedding, demanding that their children participate as the official flower girl and groomsman. He hadn't even given the wound time to heal, yet here he was showing up at her doorstep, forcing her to suck it up. She always had to just suck it up no matter what it was.
Releasing another husky breath, Dallas tried her best to relax her nerves. It was just Messiah, right? The same tired nigga that went out and proposed to some hoe that he’d only known for months, although she had given him nearly fifteen years.
Fifteen years? Reciting that number almost made her lose her breath. She had given him the whole cow, milked it for him, and his ungrateful ass still went out and got him another woman. She gave him the best years of her life, she gave him his children, sacrificing her freedom, and he simply said fuck her.
Dallas wanted to hate him but she couldn’t. She just wanted to know why. That question kept repeating in her head. Why would he shoot a bullet right through her heart like that?
Biting into her bottom lip, Dallas swung the door open and smoothed the wrinkles out of her top, an attempt to calm her nerves. Standing before her with his hands shoved in his black slacks, the top two buttons of his shirt unhooked, and his tie loosened, Messiah was perfect.
Dallas loved him, that was something she gave up trying to deny. She didn’t understand how she could love a man with every fiber in her being and hate him just as much. She had to use all the strength she could muster not to break down at the reality of her broken forever standing in her face.
“Hey, Dally. Are the kids ready?” He pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied his watch. “We have an hour to make it to the restaurant. Tatiana’s people gets to acting stupid and I’m not trying to hear it.”
Dallas’s face contorted into the sourest frown. “I don’t give a damn what her family do.” She spat, pointing her finger at his chest. “You know, you’re really an inconsiderate asshole, Messiah. Wait here, I’ll send the kids out shortly.” She rolled her eyes, fighting to hold back those tears that were on the verge of escaping without her permission. She had shed far too many tears over him. He didn’t deserve anymore of them.
Messiah frowned. “Damn, I can’t come in the house now? I paid for the motherfucka and I left it to you, might I add. If I was an asshole, I would have taken it back.”
If looks could kill, the mug on Dallas’s face would have sent Messiah to an early grave. She could only shake her head at him. He really didn’t have a clue. “No, you’re still an asshole. You don’t get points for not putting your kids on the street being that you’re the one who walked away to be with your mistress.”
“Come on, Dallas,” Messiah groaned, raking a hand across his freshly shaved face. “It’s been ten months, how long are you going to keep bringing Tatiana up? It’s getting old.”
“How dare you cheat on me and decide when I’m supposed to stop hurting? So, fifteen years meant nothing to you? Huh? I did everything you asked of me, Messiah. I gave you a part of me that no one else had, and this random broad comes along and gets the ring, the horse, and the carriage? Don’t you dare tell me how to feel about that!” Dallas’s lips were clenched so tightly that she was barely able to get the words out. Her heart began to thump hard and fast. The uneasy feeling that settled in her gut almost made her nauseous.
Dallas thought about the little girl that he was supposed to marry. That’s what she was to her, a kid. At twenty-three, she couldn’t possibly have anything going for herself except a wet ass. Dallas had debated many nights on what the girl had over her that made Messiah propose. She beat herself up trying to figure out what she was doing wrong and how she could fix it. Sadly, after everything he’d put her through, a part of her was hoping that he’d realize the mistake he was making, apologize for her pain, and they’d live happily ever after. That’s what made her sick… the fact that she was willing to take him back. She was weak and she prayed for the strength to get over his sorry ass.
“Listen, Dallas,” Messiah started, jarring her from her mental debate, as he cupped her elbow to make her pay attention to him. He ignored the grim look plastered across her face and continued with his words. “You know I’ll always have love for you and my children. Me marrying Tatiana will never change that.” He bit down on his bottom lip. “But in the future, demand what you want out of a man. Because I, or shall I say he, will only do what you allow him to do. I didn’t want a maid, I wanted a partner, Dallas.”
Before Dallas could process her actions, her hand landed across Messiah’s cheek. She slapped him so hard that the sound echoed through the house. “Get out!” Dallas screamed, pointing toward the door. “Get the hell out of my house and wait for your children in the car. Go, Messiah!” Her voice was shaky and a little too loud for her comfort, especially with the kids being in the house. But how could Messiah not see that he was breaking her? She felt like his personal prisoner and he’d given her a life sentence. She pretended to be strong for far too long. She couldn’t do it anymore. She just couldn’t.