Read All Up In My Business Online

Authors: Lutishia Lovely

All Up In My Business

Also by Lutishia Lovely

Sex in the Sanctuary
Love Like Hallelujah
A Preacher’s Passion
Heaven Right Here
Reverend Feelgood
Heaven Forbid

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

DAFINA BOOKS are published by

Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018

Copyright © 2011 by Lutishia Lovely

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

All Kensington titles, imprints, and distributed lines are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotion, premiums, fund-raising, educational, or institutional use.

Special book excerpts or customized printings can also be created to fit specific needs. For details, write or phone the office of the Kensington Special Sales Manager: Kensington Publishing Corp., 119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018.Attn. Special Sales Department. Phone: 1-800-221-2647.

Dafina and the Dafina logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

eISBN-13: 978-0-7582-6820-4
eISBN-10: 0-7582-6820-3

First Kensington Trade Paperback Printing: March 2011
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed in the United States of America

To the memory of my grandmother, Amanda Jane Harding,
whose country breakfast fare of fried eggs, salt pork bacon,
and fresh-baked homemade biscuits would assail my
senses before 6 a.m. and force me out of bed!

Contents

Also by Lutishia Lovely

Acknowledgments

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Chapter Forty-Five

Chapter Forty-Six

Chapter Forty-Seven

Chapter Forty-Eight

Chapter Forty-Nine

Chapter Fifty

Chapter Fifty-One

Chapter Fifty-Two

Chapter Fifty-Three

Chapter Fifty-Four

Chapter Fifty-Five

Chapter Fifty-Six

Chapter Fifty-Seven

Chapter Fifty-Eight

Chapter Fifty-Nine

Chapter Sixty

Chapter Sixty-One

Chapter Sixty-Two

Chapter Sixty-Three

Chapter Sixty-Four

Chapter Sixty-Five

Chapter Sixty-Six

Chapter Sixty-Seven

Chapter Sixty-Eight

Chapter Sixty-Nine

Chapter Seventy

Chapter Seventy-One

Chapter Seventy-Two

Discussion Questions

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I appreciate you!!! Yes, you, holding this book, reading these words—you are the wind beneath my wings and the sun that warms my life. It is with a lot of excitement and even more gratitude that I present the first work in my brand-new series. Trust me, I can’t wait until you get all up in my business and experience my new baby! And just as it takes a village to raise a child, I didn’t birth this literary work alone. There were people helping me out and cheering me on every step of the way.

Like Selena James, for instance: editor, midwife, friend. Better than any Lamaze coach, she held my hand through labor pains, told me to breathe, and helped me push. Love you tons, sistah! Natasha Kern … you’re a blessing. Not just my agent, but also a trusted navigator on my literary journey. A trifold cord is not easily broken, and I visualize this team together for a very long time and having lots and lots of young’uns! Kensington is a first-class publishing house, and the Dafina line lives up to its name: my unexpected gift. From the art department to sales, and from PR to management: a huge hug for helping keep me on the shelves and making sure I shine! My “baby” is cute because your hands have held her.

I independently published my first novel in 2004 and came out traditionally in 2007. The publishing industry can be daunting for a newbie and can be tricky to navigate. Those early years were tough, and lonely, which is why I love to life the circle of writers and supporters I now call friends. You all know who you are, but I’d like to holla at a few: Carl Weber, you are a creative mastermind who is gracious enough to share your expertise with those coming up behind you. You understand that there is room enough for all of us. Thank you for everything. Carol Mackey, you could have a big head (you know you’ve got it going on!), but instead you are one of the
kindest, most humble, yet talented women in the game. You’ve supported writers for years … and now you’re one of us! May all of your giving now come back as gifts. I’m talking sales, girl. Cha-ching! Pamela Samuels-Young … finally, an author to hang with on the West Coast! Authors Monda Webb, Tamika Newhouse, Teresa Gonzalves, Marcus Miller: thanks for your support at my
Heaven Forbid
release party! Page 59 Book Club, you know how to represent! Everyone who came helped make this night special. Najuma, thanks for the suggestion and all of the help. Debra Owsley, you too! Stuart McClean … your gallery is fabulous! Bruce Marigny, it’s nice knowing a brothah with connections. Thanks for taking care of me. Curtis Bunn, the National Book Club Conference was as amazing as I’d heard. Ella Curry, see you at the next Chocolate Social. And yes, Trice Hickman, what happens in Atlanta …

Loved catching up in LA with the “street lit clique”: K’Wan, J. M. Benjamin, Nicola Mitchell, and newcomer Terry Wroten. Glad the New Yorkers survived the east vs. west contest! Pat “Cover Girl” Tucker, Cydney Rax, up-and-comings Michele Grant, Jessica A. Robinson, Jacqueline E. Luckett, and Kimberly Kaye at Foxy 105 FM … you ladies put the “s” in
sistahhood
. Much love …

Y’all know I love a book club and, as always, have to hug a few: Elite Mindseekers (next time, it’s a bonfire on the beach!), Romance Slam Jam (hey, Miss Emma and Dee!), Seven Virtues, Natural Sistaz, Ladies of Legacy, Prominent Women of Color (big hug, Toni!), Royce and the Sweet Soul Sisters, Priscilla, Yasmin, and APOOO, Adrienne Dortsche and Black Women Who Read, Maria Akins and Urban Divas, Debbie Shaifire and Urban Fire, Charisse Cook and Women Enlightened by Books, Sharon E. Luckett and S.I.S.T.E.R.S., Toshika Jones and Babes on Books, and last but not least, LA’s own … Janice Aaron and Odyssey’s Book Club Network. You guys are some of the most loyal, voracious, and vivacious readers I know! Oh, and congratulations to LaShaunda Hoffman (SORMAG)
and Tee C. Royal (Rawsistaz) for ten great years of author support. I’m sure I’ve missed somebody … that just means I have to write another book!

To
all
of the Lovely ladies and gent readers, friends, family, and especially Spirit … hugs and smooches.

Prologue

O
h my God!
“Is that … No, it can’t be!” Chardonnay Johnson slammed on the brakes, frantically looking up and down the street, and then over to the business complex that housed the Livingston Corporation. She cautiously rolled down her window, her breathing heavy as she continued to look around. Except for the faint noise that came from the boulevard she’d just exited, all was quiet. She didn’t see any movement, no other cars except the few in the company parking lot of the headquarters for the restaurant where she worked—the parking lot where she had no business being this time of night.

“Zoe told me to mind my own business,” Chardonnay whispered, her eyes once again fixed on the large something or other lying on the ground next to an open car door. “But, no, you just had to be nosy.” Mere seconds had passed since Chardonnay turned toward the parking lot entrance and her headlights had picked up a massive lump on the ground. But these seconds felt like an eternity as she sat frozen, wondering what to do, while at the same time trying to convince herself that she wasn’t seeing what she was looking at. The parking lot was large, and it was dark, so she almost convinced herself that
she’d watched too many crime movies and was simply imagining things, that all she needed to do was turn around and go home. She’d go to bed, wake up, and arrive at her workplace, Taste of Soul, and find out she’d been tripping all along. “Girl, you need to get out of here.” Chardonnay pulled to the side, preparing to make a U-turn in the street and get the hell out of Dodge. Her eyes darted between the road, the building, and the lump.
It’s probably just some garbage bags
, she thought. She turned her car around but turned to take one last peek at the eerie-looking scene. In that moment, two things happened: It dawned on her who the car with its door open belonged to, and the “garbage bags” moved.

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