Dee and Michael Reese have been married for two years. They have a loving, passionate marriage, are raising a beautiful toddler, and successfully managing two businesses. The Reeses are actively involved in their church, but their perfect life is unraveling at the seams.
Can Dee’s marriage survive the ultimate betrayal? And will Michael pay for this betrayal with his life?
Michael straddled one of the kitchen stools. “Didn’t you go to that mother’s club thing today? How was it?”
“The meeting wasn’t bad, but some of those women didn’t thrill me. As a matter of fact, when I mentioned your name I got an unsolicited commentary on your sex appeal from a woman named Michelle Diamond.”
His eyes widened. “Mine? What are you talking about?”
“She wanted to know how I hooked you and how I dealt with all of the women that want you?”
He licked his bottom lip and grinned at her. “And you handled it non-violently, I hope.”
“I’ll put it this way; if I decide to go back, I don’t expect her to talk to me again.”
“Does it really bother you when people say things like that to you?”
“Yes, sometimes it does. No woman wants to be told by another woman that her husband is a chick magnet.”
“Baby, I don’t encourage them or anything. These women are different from most of the people we know. They’re bold, aggressive and used to getting their own way. I’m learning how to get across to them in a pleasant and inoffensive way that I’m not interested. There’s a delicate balance to maintain.”
“Honey, you know I’ve never been the jealous type. From the first night we met at Shondell’s housewarming party, it was clear I wasn’t the only woman in the room that was interested in you. You don’t even have to try to attract their attention. It’s your ‘aura’, as they say. Women are naturally drawn to a self-confident man, especially when he’s as fit and as fine as you are.” She winked at him. “Once we started dating, I realized either I’d have to get used to it or stay upset all the time. This is different though, because I’m not around to witness when it happens.”
An uneasy feeling settled in her stomach when his mood suddenly turned serious. He lifted her chin and looked her in the eye. “Just because they’re attracted to me doesn’t mean the feelings are mutual. I don’t want them. I want you. My offer for you to be a partner in the club with me still stands. Put your business on hold for a while and come in with me. Then you can keep an eye on those barracudas yourself.”
“Come on. You know my being there wouldn’t stop them for a minute. In fact, knowing a man is married turns on a lot of them. Besides my business has taken off. If I put it on hold now I might never get that momentum back again. I’ll adjust eventually.” The last thing she wanted to do was sound as if she was complaining. His new business was so much better than his former job. She recalled that nightmare all too well.
When they first started dating, Michael had worked as a private bodyguard. He never revealed the identity of his employer until Dee questioned his erratic working hours and the mysterious phone calls that often took him away from their evenings together. Dee would never forget the night he revealed the true nature of his employment.
“Why are you so secretive about your job?” she asked one night after they had finished watching a movie at her apartment.
Michael exhaled a long whoosh of air. “I shouldn’t tell you any of this, but you deserve an explanation.” He hesitated as though searching for the right words, which gave her pause. “I work for Sweet Osborne.”
Dee gasped. “The record producer?”
“Yeah,” Michael said, studying the astonishment on her face. “I met one of his associates at the gym where I used to box, and we got to know each other. He knew I was looking for a job and offered to approach Sweet about considering me for a bodyguard position. Now do you understand why I didn’t mention it?”
Rumor on the gossip sites claimed that Osborne, the founder of a major record label ordered the shooting of a top rapper signed to a rival label. Shrewd and cunning, Osborne had somehow avoided charges. Media accounts of his alleged strong-arm tactics even included him dangling a supposedly difficult artist over a twentieth floor hotel balcony.
“Why in God’s name would you take a job working for him?” Dee asked, horrified that he would have close connections with the gangster producer. “You don’t need the money.” In spite of the fact that Michael had come into a substantial inheritance left to him by his grandfather at the age of eighteen, he’d been determined to make his own living and not touch the windfall.
“It’s not what you think, Dee. I’m not one of henchmen. I’m his
“And that’s supposed to make me feel better?”
From that night on, a lump of apprehension lodged in Dee’s throat every time he left for work. His schedule varied, and he shared the responsibility with two other bodyguards, so he’d spent a lot of time at home when he wasn’t traveling with Sweet’s entourage. Michael’s time out of town rarely extended past a couple of days at a time. And he enjoyed accompanying his boss to music awards shows in Los Angeles, Las Vegas or Miami, exclusive restaurants and invitation-only bashes hosted by other industry shot callers. The six-figure salary Sweet paid him was an added bonus. Even though he was the only Caucasian member of the multi-millionaire’s staff, Michael became one of Osborne’s most trusted employees.
Michael’s harrowing job situation wasn’t the only issue they’d had to deal with since taking their vows two years earlier. There had been those people who’d believed their interracial marriage was doomed to inevitable failure – saying they wouldn’t last three months. Even his mother, Vivian, who had been their most vocal critic early in the relationship, finally had to admit their marriage was working.
Coming to Kindle and Nook January 2, 2012!