Michael had become somewhat of a local celebrity among year-round residents of the Hamptons and summer inhabitants of the South Shore now that Lyrics was the number one club on the island. Entertainment Tonight had even mentioned the club as the hot spot for the beautiful people. For the first time since he’d come into his inheritance, he was actually living like a millionaire. Even though he wouldn’t admit it, he was completely enamored with his new life. Yet the time and personal attention it took to run the club was more than he or Dee had expected.
When Michael first approached Dee with his idea of opening a nightclub, she hadn’t been thrilled. As a new Christian who’d recently turned her back on the party scene, the idea of him getting involved in that life rubbed her the wrong way. Visions of her husband in the midst of a room full of intoxicated, crunk dancing revelers every night left a bitter taste in her mouth. But when he explained his concept of an upscale supper club featuring live jazz, the idea gradually grew on her.
At the beginning, Lyrics only opened on Friday through Sunday nights. Soon the requests started coming for private weeknight parties, and he couldn’t resist extending the schedule. The “rich and famous” didn’t distinguish between days of the week as working people did. Any night was right for partying. Now the club closed only on Monday and Tuesday.
Michael left home most days around four in the afternoon and didn’t get back home until the wee hours of the morning. By then he was so exhausted, he slept until ten or eleven. Before he left for work every day, he’d spend some quality time with Joe, knowing that by the time he returned home at night, the baby would have been sleeping for hours. Being a presence in his son’s life was almost an obsession. As far as Dee was concerned, he was an incredible father and husband. She couldn’t ask for more in a man.
Before they married, she had never counted herself among the millions of unmarried women who scratched and clawed for the handful of eligible single men She’d refused to buy into the media hype that because she was black and single, she had a better chance of a terrorist killing her than marrying. Dee believed with all her heart that God had someone unique and special for her. Comfortable and content with her single life and running her business, she’d made up her mind to wait for him, even if it meant waiting forever. Nurturing the business had knocked marriage out of the top slot on her priorities list.
Contrary to the advice of friends and relatives who’d accused her of being naïve, she’d waited for “Mr. Right” with stubborn determination, telling the doubters, “I don’t have to date half of the country to find him. He’s out there searching for me.” Then, when he came along and he turned out to be white, once again contrary to well-meaning advice, Dee went with her heart.
After they had dated for eight months, he proposed. She eagerly accepted and became Mrs. Michael Reese right after her thirty-second birthday. Dee considered every day worth the wait. Completely masculine, yet gentle, tender and generous to a fault, he was the kind of man she’d always wanted.
Their relationship wasn’t perfect, yet the past two years had been the best ones of her life. Both of them had strong personalities, which often fueled fiery arguments, but they always managed to settle matters before they got out of hand. She and Michael were committed to each other and often reminded themselves of one of their pastor’s favorite statements – “Divorce is not an option.”
Krista came back into Lyrics two days later, accompanied only by her bodyguard right before they opened for the night. Once she exiled her brawny overseer to a corner, she took a conspicuous seat at the end of the bar and waited for Michael to walk out of his office.
“Krista,” he said, stopping short in surprise. An early guest’s presence didn’t take him off guard, because even though it wasn’t common knowledge, he purposely left the doors unlocked for his pampered clientele who thought it an inconvenience to wait until a specified hour. Rather, he’d been sure that his disregard of Krista’s note had circumvented her interest.
“We’re not open yet for the night. Are you here for an early dinner?”
“Not exactly. Sit down and have a drink with me.”
He took the barstool next to her and told the bartender to give him a cranberry club soda. “I waited for your call, but it never came. Why not?”
“Because I’m a married man.”
“What’s the matter? All I said was that I wanted to see you,” she taunted.
He hadn’t yet dressed in his work clothes. Until it was time to open, he wore what he was most comfortable in – jeans and a t-shirt. Krista leaned toward him and ran a perfectly manicured fingernail up and down his exposed bicep.
“I’ll only be here for another week then I’m off to the winter shows in Europe. Paris and Milan are waiting for me.”
“I’m sure they are.” His eyes took in her legendary long legs, barely covered by a microscopic mini dress. He’d never seen anything so perfect in his life.
“I have a house here I hardly ever use because I’m always traveling. But when I am here, it’s always nice to have some visitors. It’ll be strictly business, Michael. I want to talk to you about scheduling another party when I come back to town. Are you available for that?”
What she really wanted was clear, and he was flattered. The flattery wasn’t what moved him though. Instead, it was a vision of running his hands up the legs that had graced so many runways and the thought of tasting the plump lips responsible for making women the world over buy the lipstick she advertised. His groin ached at thought of making love to the most beautiful woman in the world.
“I’m always available to discuss club business,” he said, trying to blink away the image. “When do you want to get together?”
“How’s Thursday afternoon for lunch?”
“I’ll put it on my calendar and call you,” he said, looking directly into her eyes and touching her hand gently. “Now I’ve gotta get back to work.”
She tossed her long hair back over one shoulder with an alluring smile then signaled her bodyguard that she was ready to leave.
Coming to Kindle and Nook January 2, 2012!