I haven't posted here lately, because I've been feverishly working on Born To Be Wild. Here's another unedited excerpt from Chapter One, this time in Reese's point of view.
It wasn’t my growling stomach that persuaded me to ask Tangela if I could join her for lunch, even though I was really hungry. I’d walked into Aunt Charlene’s Bookstore expecting to be helped by a matronly woman with bifocals resting on the end of her nose. Instead I’d gotten a pretty, soft-spoken, intelligent sister with curves that spoke to the innermost part of me. It had been a while since I’d felt anything like that. And if I wasn’t mistaken, she seemed interested too…at least enough to have lunch with me. Now we were sitting in her favorite café being scrutinized by her friends.
She wanted to know about my work, so after I answered her questions, I posed the one I most wanted her to answer. During our short walk to the café, I discovered she owned the bookstore. I’d wrongly assumed she was a sales associate and Aunt Charlene was the owner. “How did you become owner of the bookstore?” She told me an amazing story about her aunt, her million dollar donation to the town library and how she’d come by the money to open the store. Two things I admired in a woman were drive and ingenuity, and Tangela seemed to have plenty of both. For a couple of minutes her face lit up as she described what her store offered beyond book sales, and the events and clubs that met there.
“Sounds like you enjoy your work.”
The cute purple-haired waitress brought our food and left without comment. Tangela bowed her head and said a silent prayer over her food, so I bowed my head too, even though I hadn’t said grace since I lived at home with my parents. It wasn’t that I had anything against it; I just never thought about it.
“I do. The receipts could be better, but I can only expect so much in a small town. To make ends meet, I do proofreading and editing for authors.”
“There are that many authors living here?”
I loved her low musical laugh. “No. I wish. I work with them online. Honestly, some months I make more from my editing work than I do in the store.” She ran her fingers through her short hair and glanced away from my face as though she was embarrassed.
“Everybody I know has some kind of side hustle going on, especially in Atlanta. It’s entrepreneur heaven. Have you ever been to the A?”
“A few years ago. I visited my cousins and really enjoyed myself.”
“Did you get to see much? There’s a lot to do in the city and the surrounding area.”
“Not really. They took me to Stone Mountain to see the laser show, but we mostly hung out at their house. I only stayed for a weekend. Atlanta seems like a beautiful place, though.”
“Most of it is, but not everywhere. So what do people do for fun in Eufaula?”
She gave a shy smile. “There isn’t much to do here. Most folks go to Dothan when they want to see a movie or go to a club or bar.”
“This is my first time riding down here. I’ve been to Miami, but I flew there. How far is Dothan?” I took a bite of my sandwich. “Your friend was right. This sandwich is good.”
“It’s a little over an hour away, depending on how you drive.”
“You have to drive an hour to see a movie?” The concept sounded ridiculous to me.
“Well, most people do Netflix these days. What do you have against Eufaula anyway?”
“I guess people Netflix and chill everywhere. I have nothing against your town. In Atlanta everything is easy to reach. So what do you like to do when you’re not running the store?” I wanted to keep her talking just so I could listen to the sound of her sweet accent, which was different from Atlanta accents. Plus, her low sultry voice caressed my senses like velvet. I bet she had a great singing voice.
“Reese? Did you hear what I said?”
Damn! I’d been so busy listening to the sound of her voice I’d missed her actual words. “I’m sorry. Has anyone ever told you what a beautiful voice you have?”
Her gaze dropped, and she shook her head. “Only Brother Wigham, the choir director at church.”
So she did sing. “He’s right.”
“I only sing in the choir. Not like Bree. She’s a real singer. Her dream is to become professional. That girl spends all her free time traveling to every club or restaurant that has karaoke night. She’s hoping somebody important will hear her.”
“That’s not the way to get noticed. Has she ever considered relocating to Atlanta? It’s the black music capital of the South. She might be able to really do something there. I have a couple of friends in the music business.”
“Actually, a few years ago she talked about moving to New York, but when she realized she couldn’t swing it financially, she gave up on the idea.”
“I can’t testify to her singing ability, but she sure has the gift of observation.” I inclined my head in her friend’s direction. Bree was leaning on the counter watching us as though we were the main exhibit at the zoo.
Tangela groaned and sent her an exaggerated eye roll. “Tact isn’t her strong suit.” Bree quickly turned away to say something to the owners leaving a rear view of her bush of violet curls.
“Are they not used to you coming here with a man?”
“Other than the man I’ve been seeing, no.”
Ahh. It only made sense that such a smart and attractive woman would already be booed up. “How long have you been together, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Going on two years.” The way she avoided looking me in the eye put questions in my mind.
“So it’s serious then.”
“I wouldn’t say that,” Her lips pressed together in a slight grimace, and then she shook her head. “We’ve been together a while, but there are no plans for the future on the table.”
The hint of annoyance in her voice made it clear that there were issues in their relationship. I don’t know why I wanted to smile at the thought, but I kept my pleasure hidden. “I guess that means you two aren’t exclusive.”
“I guess you’re right.” A shadow of a smile crossed her face.
All I’d been expecting from this week was an enjoyable ride, seeing some of my buddies and maybe hooking up with a couple of the available women who showed up at these bike rallies. They made no bones about the fact that they were attracted to bikers, and they didn’t want any more than a few days of fun. When the rally ended, you kissed and said goodbye with no expectations or demands. Since my last serious relationship ended, that kind of arrangement suited me just fine, so I didn’t comprehend my fascination with Tangela's subdued sexiness. I wanted to see her again, and I had good reason to do that.
COMING LATE SPRING 2017