Joy Matthews isn’t afraid of risks. She’s quit her Fortune 500 job and enrolled in culinary school, chasing her dream. Joy wants her own couture cake boutique. Pursuing her dream by day, Joy pays the bills working nights at The Hourglass—an exclusive gentlemen’s club catering to patrons who enjoy a little extra fine on a woman’s frame. Joy’s catching up to her dream when a chance encounter reconnects her with Quinton Daley, a childhood friend. Mutual attraction throws the proverbial wrench in Joy’s relationship-phobic, happily agnostic life. A goal-oriented woman who ‘doesn’t do men with Bible breath,’ Joy sees in Quinton a whole lot of what she likes but doesn’t need. Tall, chocolate-skinned, and born-again, Quinton’s Christianity poses a risk even the tenacious Joy isn’t willing to take. But, Quinton Daley isn’t fazed. He’s a man of faith who’ll willingly wait on Joy to come to God…and him. When love and lust heat up, Joy and Quinton face a predicament. Will they indulge? Or abstain? Join this wild mix of custom cakes, a saved, sanctified and sexy man, and an obsessed patron from The Hourglass who’s determined to make Joy’s life a sticky mess. It’s a recipe for a read that’s wickedly witty and delicious.
That thought did a quick fade when I reentered the lobby to see our party had increased with Ronnie and this manly mountain of luscious chocolate that made me want M&M’s, something, to melt in my mouth and my hands.
“I thought you fell in,” LaVelle complained.
“Hey, Cuz.” Ronnie gave me his long, lanky embrace. “Come meet my frat brother, Que.”
I would if I could. The moment that man turned those candy bar-colored eyes on me, I was stuck on stupid.
Unfolding his fine self from that pleather lobby seat, he was casually dressed and looking like something from a calendar of Black Kings. “I’m Que.” He had a rich, velvety baritone that reached down deep, massaging me. “And you are?”
A woman with an egg in her ovary waiting on you.
“I’m Joy.” Accepting the hand he extended, I felt that zip-zap like when we were kids and intentionally rubbed our feet on the carpet then touched each other, hollering, “Zing!” Yeah, that. Static electricity. Wasn’t nothing static about it. That warmth seized my hand and was busy creeping. “I’m LaVelle’s cousin.”
“Beauty runs in the family.”
“So does diabetes, but I don’t want any.” Velle enjoyed her own foolery.
Que merely smiled, exposing a single dimple deep in his left cheek.
I wanted to lick it. Bet it tasted like Ghiradelli chocolate.
Thankfully, that little buzzer thing restaurants hand out decided to vibrate and kept me from jumping ridiculous.
“Table’s ready,” Yazmeen announced, like couldn’t nobody but her hear or see the buzzer flashing atop her lap. Hopping up, she chimed, “Joy…you coming?”
I wanted to punch Yaz in her throat for calling attention to the fact that I was right where I was moments ago, holding the manly mountain’s hand. I released a grip that wasn’t too eager to release me.
Ignoring Yazmeen’s grinning with all thirty-two teeth, I popped Candace on the arm. “Girl, wake up.”
The nut actually snorted. “I’m resting my eyes. I’m not sleep.”
“Tell that to the drool dripping down your lip.” I was shocked by the instant warmth washing down my spine when Chocolate Mountain laughed. I pulled Candace to her feet, needing something, anything to distract me. I was too old to feel flutters like a sweet sixteen.
As life would have it, I wound up across from Ronnie’s frat brother, which was worse than if we’d sat side-by-side. Now, he was in my line of vision, overloading it with his gorgeousness.
Woowee, somebody! That brother was everything. Not pretty-boy fine, but a bone-deep, manly-man kind of beautiful that made my uterus dip. Hair was low and lined. A neatly trimmed goatee and moustache caressed that chocolate skin. With high cheekbones, he was tall and built like he actually worked out, instead of letting his gym fees pay the light bill (like mine). When he excused himself to the restroom, I copped a good look at a muscled back and strong thighs I wouldn’t mind wrapping with mine. The jeans weren’t tight, but oh so right, handling that luscious behind. And that walk. Honey Bunny was slightly bowlegged, y’all! Downright swagalicious, he looked delicious and nutritious.
Suzette D. Harrison, a native Californian and the middle of three daughters, grew up in a home where reading was required, not requested. Her literary “career” began in junior high school with the publishing of her poetry. While Mrs. Harrison pays homage to Alex Haley, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, and Toni Morrison as legends who inspired her creativity, it was Dr. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that unleashed her writing. The award-winning author of Taffy is a wife and mother who holds a culinary degree in Pastry & Baking. Mrs. Harrison is currently cooking up her next novel…in between batches of cupcakes.
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