Shame on It All
The Heat Seekers
The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth
Gettin’ Buck Wild: Sex Chronicles II
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2002 by Zane
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Atria Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
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This book is dedicated to my Aunt Rose. Even though you are eighty-four, you understand that everyone needs to get their freak on from time to time. Thanks for your continuous support throughout the years. For all the sweet potato pies, the twenty-pound pound cakes, the living room furniture set when I needed it so badly, the black-eyed peas, the baked chicken, and the reminders to get my behind up and go to church. I could think of no one who deserves this book dedication more than you. I love you.
Each time it comes down to this, I always worry that I will leave someone important out. So let me say up front that everyone who has ever crossed my path in life is important to me. Whether it was lending me an ear to talk into, a shoulder to cry on, or a hand to hold in the down times, it has meant the world to me and you have my deepest gratitude.
First, as always, I have to thank God for His blessings, for giving me the opportunity to tune my visions and do what it is I love to do for a living. I must thank my parents for their undying support, for standing by me no matter what and for having the patience to guide me even when I didn’t want to be guided. To my children, you are my everything, my entire world, and every single day inspires me to make you proud of me.
To my husband, Wayne, what can I say except I love you more than I love life itself and I am grateful for your love, patience, and understanding. I appreciate the pampering, the romance, and yes, the hellified sex.
I would like to express thanks and appreciation to my immediate and extended family members: Charmaine, Carlita, David, Rick, Jazmin, Arianna, Ashley, Aunt Rose, Aunt Neet, Aunt Margaret, Percy, Ronita, Trey, Franklin, Renay, Bo, Alex, Alan, Brittany, Dee, Dana, Janet, Karen, Miss Maurice, Uncle Snook, Beverly, Fran, Aunt Cle, Aunt Jennie, Aunt Barbara, Carl, Jr., Phil, Mom Bettye, and everyone else in the extremely large family tree. That includes my honorary family members in Kannapolis, North Carolina.
Sara Camilli, thank you for being the greatest literary agent of all time. Every gesture that you make on my behalf, both professionally and personally, shows how thoughtful and caring you truly are. Pamela Crockett, Esq., thank you for being the greatest entertainment lawyer of all time. With both you and Sara in my camp, I could never go wrong. Tracy Crockett, thanks for holding down the fort in New York City for me.
Malaika Adero, thanks for being such a wonderful editor and for being so personable. Demond Jarrett, thanks for keeping me informed and updated on a regular basis. Judith Curr and Louise Burke, thanks for being such wonderful and supportive publishers. I look forward to a long future with ATRIA and Pocket Books. Tracy Sherrod, thanks for taking the initial risk on me and allowing me to prove myself. I would also like to thank my publicist, Staci Shands, for her relentless efforts on my behalf and for getting me tons of media exposure.
Thank you to all the distributors and bookstores that have supported my books and recommended them to readers. Especially the African-American distributors and bookstores like Culture Plus, A and B, and Seaburn.
Thank you to David Kirkpatrick of the
New York Times,
Carol Mackey from
Black Expressions, Black Issues Book Review, Quarterly Black Review, Publishers Weekly, Honey, Essence, Vibe,
AALBC.com, Mosaicbooks.com, Timbooktu.com, NetNoir.com, BET.com, RAWSISTAZ.com, Bookremarks.com, The Nubian Chronicles, and all the other Web sites, magazines, newspapers, and book clubs both on-and off-line that have supported my books.
To the Strebor authors, your journey has just begun but it will be a great one. Darrien Lee, V. Anthony Rivers, D.V. Bernard, Mark Crockett, Laurel Hanfield, Destin Soul, Nane Quartay, JDaniels, Shonell Bacon, Rique Johnson, Michelle Valentine, Mallery Basher and Indigo Moon, you are all forces to be reckoned with. To the other authors who have supported me, the list is far too long to mention but know that you are all loved dearly.
A big shout out goes to all of my sisterfriends: Lisa Fox, Sharon Johnson, Gail Kendrick, Destiny Wood, Aliyah Bashir, Vicki Tolbert, and all the rest of you chicas.
I could sit here for three days and still come up with people I need to thank but I have a deadline. Thus, I just want to say thank you once again to everyone who supports me. I love you and may God bless you and yours always.
“You have an eight-thirty meeting with the board of directors about the five-percent projected increase in the fiscal budget, a ten o’clock meeting with the legal team about the impending lawsuit from the Grayson Corporation, a lunch meeting with Ronald Jackson about his transfer to the Hong Kong office, and a three o’clock conference call with the regional managers from Los Angeles, Dallas, and Atlanta.”
I could hear my secretary, Shelly, running off my daily schedule, but I was looking past her out of the floor-to-ceiling window. She had greeted me at the door, mug of steaming coffee in her hand, two creams, one sugar, just like she did every morning. She was a pretty sistah—tall, graceful, beautiful skin, perfect smile—but she always seemed so stressed out. I often wondered why she let her executive assistant job get to her so much. Granted, I was stressed out all the time as well, but I had more to lose. Unlike me, Shelly earned no more than $889.95 after taxes, every two weeks, no matter what her work performance.
I glanced up at her, standing rigidly like she was preparing for a military drill. “Shelly, can I ask you a personal question?”
A nervous expression shadowed her face, causing me to wonder if she was afraid of me. We were the exact same age but had never bonded. I was the vice president of corporate development, pulling down 250K a year plus bonuses. She had barely finished high school.
“Sure. Go ahead,” she finally responded.
“Do you ever just go out and have a good time?”I redirected my eyes to the window. There was not a cloud in the powder blue sky. “I mean, just let it all go, hang out with friends, party hearty?”
She giggled. She was gleaming at the mere thought of it. “My friends and I all go to this club over in Brooklyn every Friday night for happy hour, and sometimes we go to a reggae club on Saturdays.”
“Reggae, huh?” It was my turn to giggle. “I can’t even imagine you dancing to reggae music.”
Shelly sat down facing me in one of the leather wing chairs across from my desk. I couldn’t remember the last time she had actually taken a seat, other than to take dictation. I was pleased. It felt comfortable, like two sistahs shooting the breeze.
“What about you, Maylia? I mean, Ms. Kincaid.”
“Maylia is fine,” I responded. “You don’t have to be so formal all the time.”
I didn’t know whether to be flattered or offended by her thank you. Did she think I was so high-falutin’ she had to show appreciation for calling me by my first name?
“So, what about you, Maylia? Do you ever just hang out?”
I pondered her question. I wasn’t sure that attending business dinners with clients or boring social engagements at the country club with my parents constituted hanging out.
“Shelly, to be honest, I really don’t know,” I answered. “I go a lot of places, the finest restaurants and theaters in New York, but I can’t remember the last time I actually had fun.”
I gazed deep into her eyes and recognized something I hated: pity. I was pitiful. I needed to face facts. All the money, power, and security that I had in my life meant nothing unless I was enjoying the ride.
My parents had groomed me to take my place in high society, pure and simple. My father made his millions in international trade while my mother spent her days shopping in Macy’s, Saks, and various boutiques on Fifth Avenue. I went to school at Yale University, graduated with honors, and nabbed a job with McMillan and Associates before I could even move out of my dorm good.
There I was, in my corner office on Fifty-ninth Street overlooking Central Park South, wondering what the hell I was doing with my life. Shelly did not have much money, but she had freedom. She could leave the office at five o’clock and do whatever she wished. I had to play negotiator over soft-shell crabs or spend my nights going over stacks of reports. I truly envied her.
I jumped up from my desk, startling Shelly. She jumped up too and waited for my instructions, assuming her military position again.
“I’m going out,” I announced.
“Out? What about your meeting?”
“Cancel it!” I walked toward my private bath, grabbing my purse off my desk on the way. “In fact, cancel all of my appointments. I’m taking the day off!”
“But, but, but Ms. Kincaid, I mean Maylia,” she stuttered, “what am I supposed to tell everybody?”
“Tell them I’m sick or something.” I swung around to face her. “Isn’t that what people usually say when they play hooky from school or work?”
Shelly shrugged her shoulders. “I guess.”
I was about to close the bathroom door in her face when a lightbulb went off in my head. “Shelly, after you cancel all of my engagements, take the day off as well.”
“Are you serious?” She put her hands on her hips, striking a sistahgurl pose. I fell out laughing. She looked good like that.
I put my purse on the vanity counter and struck the same pose. “Yeah, gurl, I’m serious!” I exclaimed in my best ghettoized accent.
then.” She giggled, enjoying our little scene.
I walked back out of the bathroom and raised my left palm. “Give me five!”
She slapped me a high five and laughed so hard that she was practically crying. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, then?”
“Maybe. Maybe not,” I chided, knowing good and well taking two days off in a row would be pushing it. They’d probably send the police to my penthouse to make sure I was still breathing.
Shelly strutted out of my office with more pep in her step than I had ever seen and closed the door. I went back in the bathroom and gazed in the mirror. Now, I was glowing. I felt so, so, so invigorated. The mere thought of actually shucking my responsibilities for an entire day was thrilling.
I took a good look at myself and decided I appeared to be more like fifty than my actual thirty years. My hair and makeup, not to mention the stuffy, conservative suit, put age on me. I pulled the clip out of my ebony hair and let it fall down across my shoulders. It had been so long since I physically and symbolically let my hair down.
I took off the blazer of my Donna Karan suit, unbuttoned my sleeves, and rolled them up to just below my elbows. I looked younger already. I turned to the side so I could see the profile of my body. My breasts were as pert as ever, and my ass was just as firm and round as it was in college. Too bad I didn’t show off my assets more often.
I had no idea where I was going to go or what I was going to do today, but I was determined to savor and enjoy it. Then I thought about the park. Every day, I looked down from the twenty-fourth floor at the ant-size people Rollerblading, strolling, or riding bikes through Central Park. I didn’t know the first thing about Rollerblading, and I hadn’t been on a bike since my first year in high school, but I did know how to stroll.
The three-inch leather pumps I had on were not made for walking, though, so I dug through my closet behind the bathroom door and retrieved my gym bag. The same workout clothes had been in it for more than three years. I had every intention of hitting the corporate gym on the seventh floor—I really did—but time constraints just never allowed it.
I opted out of changing clothes completely, but I did take off my thigh-high stockings so I could put on my white crew socks and cross trainers. I had often laughed at the women walking down the street or catching the train in work clothes and tennis shoes. It looked so silly. But I was content to look silly for just one day.
When I emerged from my office less than five minutes later, Shelly was nowhere in sight. Her phone console had been forwarded to the night message, and all the papers I had seen strewn across her desk when I came in were neatly stacked in her in box. Girlfriend meant business about her day off. Now it was my turn to escape the madness.
I managed to get down to ground level in the elevator before someone began to question me. The security guard, Fred, wanted to know if I needed him to call a company car. I told him no thanks, that I would be taking a morning walk in the park. He looked at me in stunned disbelief. I left him sitting there at the security desk with his mouth wide open and swiveled through the revolving door into the brisk morning air.
I sucked air into my lungs, and it felt wonderful. I went to the corner and waited for the light to change before crossing the street and entering Central Park. People were laughing and enjoying themselves. They had lives, unlike me.
I walked down a path for a long time. The muscles in the back of my calves began aching, and I realized I needed to start working out. Not because of weight issues—I was only carrying about 133 pounds on my five-six frame—I was just out of shape,
I spotted an ice cream vendor and grew excited. I had not had an ice cream cone in years; just fancy desserts like biscotti, compote, and slices of cheesecake that cost more than having a pizza delivered. I half-ran over to the vendor and whipped out a five, asking for a double scoop of chocolate on a waffle cone. I licked my lips while he hand-packed the ice cream onto the cone. I paid him and then turned around just as a big-ass basketball appeared from nowhere and knocked the cone into me. Luckily, the ice cream was so hard that I only ended up with a brown circle over my left breast, but I was still pissed. My ice cream was on the ground.
What idiot would be so careless?
I glanced up and saw the idiot coming toward me. I wanted to spew out a bunch of ugly words at him, but I could not. I was reared up better than that, and people do make mistakes. He was average-looking and I envisioned what type of woman would date him. Certainly not me.
He frowned. “I’m sorry. Did you get hurt?”
“No, I’m fine.” I smiled at him and pointed to my shirt. “Just a little stain.”
“Well, let me buy you another cone. That’s the least I could do.” He picked up the cone from the ground and tossed it into the nearest receptacle. “You should let me pay to have your shirt cleaned also.”
“None of that is necessary. Really.”
He wasn’t paying attention. He was already digging into the pockets of his athletic shorts, searching for money. He paid the vendor for another cone.
“Thank you,” I said as he handed it to me.
“You’re welcome.” He glanced back over to the basketball court, where three other men were standing, looking mighty impatient. “I better get back to the game. Have a nice day.”
I decided that my best strategy was to find a bench and eat my cone. I did not want to risk someone bumping into me while I was walking and causing another mess. There was a bench on a hill about thirty feet from the basketball court, so I grabbed it seconds before a man in a suit with a bag lunch got to it.
I was sitting there, licking the hell out of my ice cream cone, when I started surveying the rest of the men on the court. One of them stood out from the rest. Not just because of his height, though he had to be at least six-five—he stood out because he was the finest man I had seen in ages. Sepia skin, ebony eyes, and some seriously lickable lips. None of them had on a shirt, but his muscles put the rest of theirs to shame.
“Damn!” I heard myself exclaim out of lust.
Before I finished my cone, I was in heat. The ice cream did nothing to cool me down. I was sitting there fantasizing about that man’s hands, tongue, and whatever else all over me. Once I finished my cone, I did not budge. I was mesmerized. How foolish, I finally said to myself. This is so unlike you, Maylia.
That may have been true. In fact, it was completely unlike me, but that did not keep me from following the brother when he threw his shirt back on and started walking away.
I had no idea what I hoped to accomplish by following him, but I kept my distance. I was sure he had absolutely no idea that I was trailing him until…
“Why don’t you just walk beside me?”
Was he talking to me? Unfortunately, he was. He had stopped dead in his tracks and turned around, staring down at me.
“Excuse me?” was the only response I could come up with.
“I said, why don’t you just walk beside me?”
“Why would I want to do that?” I asked, feigning innocence.
“It’s better than following me.” He grinned. “You are following me, right?”
“Don’t be absurd!” I could not believe his nerve. Even if he was right about me following him, he did not need to point it out. “What are you, some sort of narcissist or something?”
“I have no idea what that means.”
“A person who’s egotistical, full of themselves.”
“Now, I do know what that means, but I’m not that.” He pushed a loose hair away from my face and I felt faint. He was turning me on so much that it was scary. “I am flattered, though.”
“I can’t imagine why,” I replied, determined to keep some composure.
“I saw the way you were checking a brotha out on the court.”
“Oh, were you just playing basketball back there?” I asked the question with a straight face. “I wasn’t paying attention. I was too busy eating my ice cream cone.”
“The way you ate it was a treat in itself.” He licked his lips. I wanted to lick them for him. “It made me wonder if you devour everything else like that.”