Authors: Danielle Sibarium
First printing, 2013
Copyright © 2013 by Danielle Sibarium
Cover art copyright © by Dani Morales
Cover photograph copyright © by Danielle Sibarium
Book design by Danielle Sibarium
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher.
The persons and events portrayed in this work of fiction are the creations of the author, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Published by: Platinum Crest Solutions, LLC
Publisher’s Note: The author and publisher have taken care in preparation of this book but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for incidental or consequential damages in connection with or arising out of the use of the information contained herein.
Printed in the United States of America
Danielle Morales and Heather King two amazing ladies I’ve had the pleasure of meeting on this incredible journey!
I’d like thank Lisa Tubbs for her help and support, as well as Maria
Montiero for keeping me focused and on task. I’d like to once again thank my husband for being my wall of strength, and you my fan, who gave me the opportunity to enter your life.
Trying to do the
impossible, I transformed myself into a female version of Speed Racer. The pursuit: finding a place to park. I fought through the heavy traffic, cutting off before being cut off. Head first I ducked my car into a spot a block away from the all-night grocery store.
I began my short walk with a deep breath. The rank smell of dead fish brought to mind all the things I missed most about Brooklyn. Aside from the obvious convenience and constant motion, I couldn't understand why bouts of home sickness had me longing to blanket myself in the haze of exhaust fumes and the deafening noise of the city.
I enjoyed coming home. Especially since graduation. It was lonely in my apartment. Just me, myself and I. I didn’t make the long lasting friendships in college some of my friends back home made. I chose a different route. Sometimes I gave serious consideration to living with a roommate. Unless I wanted to move, there was nothing I could do about it now. Instead I made a point of visiting my parents at least once every two weeks.
Loud, thumping music I could feel in my throat blared out of passing car windows. A red light turned green, which brought with it the sound of screeching tires; that, I didn't miss: the immature guys cruising down the avenue trying to impress girls with their way-too-loud-base-heavy-music.
Last night had been the first time in months that I stayed overnight. I hadn't partied like that in ages. Tired and hung over from a night of club hopping with my high school friends, I hoped to get home and in bed early. I certainly didn’t plan on reminiscing with my family. But tonight nostalgia took over.
Once my mother pulled out the old photo albums I knew I wasn't going anywhere. And the truth is
, I didn't want to. Even my sister put her social life on hold for the evening. The four of us poured over old photographs of life before our digital cameras. I wanted to stay and laugh with my family as each memory captured in the snapshots was brought back to life.
Only now, I wasn't sure I could make it back to the apartment. Trying to keep my burning eyes open, I decided to stop and grab a snack packed with enough sugar and caffeine to keep me awake for the drive. You'd think just being around the noise and bright lights of Brooklyn would be enough
to wake me, but I kept yawning.
I looked around at the stores and shops, most of them were closed, with metal grates covering the windows. That was something you didn't see much of in Jersey, at least not where I lived. That and the attached stores packed so close together, one on top of the other. The stores and restaurants on the main streets tended to be close, but only for a few blocks. All of Brooklyn h
ad this tight squeezed-in feel.
I'd gotten my fill. I found myself looking to get away from the noise of the cars beeping, buses screeching and music blaring. I wanted to go home. Yearning to feel my cool, crisp sheets cradle my bare
skin, I walked faster, looked down at my watch, and yawned.
“Son of a bitch!” a male voice barked as I felt myself bounce of
f what felt like a brick wall.
I shook it off realizing there are no walls in the middle of the sidewalk. The hard o
bject I bumped into was a man.
“Sorry,” I sa
id, before even looking at him.
The striking young man shook his head annoyed. He looked down at his chest to assess the damage. I followed his gaze, and gasped as I made out the egg carton against his chest oozing with gook.
Without thinking, I reached into my pocket, pulled out a tissue and dabbed at the eggy spot on his suit jacket. I hesitated, embarrassed at the liberty I had taken. With heat filling my face I looked up, and met his eyes for the first time. My stomach tumbled. I stood frozen, mesmerized by his steely grey eyes. In an attempt to hide my awkwardness I pulled my hand away from him.
“Forget it,” the handsome stranger said.
“The yolks on you,” I recovered.
“Very funny,” he snapped.
“I didn’t mean . . .” I looked away, disappointed he didn’t get my humor. Why should he be any different than the rest of the guys I've come across? Especially since I left my mark on him.
“Yes, you did,” he said soberly. After a moment he continued. “Good thing I like my eggs scrambled,” the corners of his lips turned up ever so slightly.
I felt as if time stopped. Captivated by the gleam in his bright eyes, I tried to speak. No sound left my mouth. I pulled my eyes from his, once again self-conscious.
It took an instant for me to realize how close we stood. Only a few inches separated me from a very handsome man I had never before laid eyes on. With the return of my senses I realized we were much too close for strangers on a Brooklyn street corner.
I retreated. I thought if I could create a bit of space between us I could catch my breath and regain my composure. The distance helped. But he still unnerved me. Just a quick glance at him through the corner of my eye had me hovering six feet off the ground.
I opened my purse and reached inside, “The least I can do is pay for the dry cleaning.”
With a light touch he placed his hand on my wrist. My whole arm tingled. I never felt anything like that before. I'd read about it in romance novels that suck you in and keep you up at night, but I didn't know anything like that was real. I looked up and met his eyes.
“I don’t want your money.
How about a cup of coffee?”
“You want me to buy you coffee?”
He smiled, showing off his deep dimples, “I want you to join me for a cup of coffee in the café across the street.”
I looked away and shook my head, “I shouldn't. I have a long drive.”
“You do owe me,” he reminded me with a raised brow.
I pressed my lips into a thin line contemplating the offer. A nervous rumbling in my belly made it clear to me that I wanted to go, really wanted to go with him. But he had me off balance. My heart fluttered like mad. It was late. And I was tired. Or was I?
My nerve endings leaped and swirled since we touched. Not only my nerve endings, my entire body. What better than a cup of Joe to wear off some of the surging adrenaline?
Seeming to understand my hesitation he tried to coax me.
“Just a cup of coffee.”
I found myself unable to resist. I broke down. What harm could come of one cup of coffee? I needed caffeine. Caffeine was my friend. That was why I bumped into him in the first place.
“Sure,” I said with a smile, “I’d love to.”
I didn’t say much during the quick walk across the street to the café. The night just kept getting worse. Instead of dinner with a potential investor, the man’s daughter showed up and informed me we’d been set up on a blind date. Blind date! A guy would need to be more than blind to be with her.
OK. I'll admit it, she was pretty. While at first I was annoyed, I thought maybe something good could come out of it. Win her over and the funding would come. Until the most hideous sound came out of her mouth. She laughed and I almost fell out of my chair. Her laugh resonated throughout the restaurant like a truck horn during Sunday mass.
I couldn't wait for dinner to end. If she'd been just a random girl I took to dinner, I would've gone to the men's room and never come back. I couldn't do that. Instead I suffered her intolerable laugh, doing my best to stay away from anything even remotely funny. It was the most depressing dinner date I'd ever had, focused on poverty, violence and the threat of nuclear war.
Ready to call it a night, I wanted to retreat to the quiet of my house. I needed silence after this dinner. It was then I remembered I needed eggs for my morning protein shake.
I saw the light at the end of the tunnel as I reached for my change from the cashier. Just another hour and I'd be home in my nice comfortable bed. When I bought the eggs I never imagined I’d be wearing them. With a sideward glance in the girl's direction I tossed the carton in the metal trash basket at the corner. It was an accident and she apologized. Why couldn’t I leave it at that? But one look into those golden brown eyes and I wanted to delve deeper.
“Do you have a name?” I asked.
“Of course,” she answered allowing a nervous giggle to escape.
A giggle that intrigued me even more.
“Do you want to tell me what it is? Or am I supposed to guess?” I hoped I sounded playful
instead of snarky as I feared.
Like the queen. She could be my queen. I pushed that thought from my mind as I tried to ascertain her age. Probably still in college
Although, if she put her hair up in pig-tails, she could easily pass for high school. If I played my cards right, maybe we'd get to play the role of a naughty school girl sent to the principal's office.
I closed my eyes for a second, not intending to see the image of her nipples peeking through a too-tight, white, button-down shirt, and a much-too-short, plaid skirt rolled to a scandalous height. But what a heavenly delight it was. I let out a sigh, trying to push that vision from my mind, along with thoughts of reaching under the skirt, moving her thong over and . . .
Nuns playing baseball. Old nuns in long, black habits on the baseball field. I repeated to myself trying to clear the enticing image of Elizabeth leaning over a desk in her uniform. I could see her sucking on a lollipop, causing the side of her cheek to bulge, legs spread just past her hips, the skirt rising up, revealing the very tops of her thighs and curve of her very firm bottom, ready to be paddled for a minor infraction.
“Hey Liz, Carter Brooks. Do you drink coffee?”
“Liz?” she asked with raised eyebrows.
“I like Liz. It’s sexy. Like you,” I brushed the hair from her face behind her shoulder. Not only did she let me touch her, she seemed receptive to it.
A good sign. Only now I wanted to touch much more than her hair.
“I did agree to a cup, didn’t I?”
“And here I thought you came because you were mesmerized by my good looks.” I struggled to keep on the offensive. Since touching her I had an overwhelming urge to pull her head to mine and kiss her.
“You’re awfully full of yourself.”
“I just call it the way I see it,” I teased, before turning my attention to the girl at the counter.
"Two caramel cappuccinos, please."
“Why did you order for me?” Elizabeth asked as we walked to a table at the back of the shop.
“You don’t like caramel cappuccino?” I a
sked as I settled into a chair.
“That’s not the point. You don’t know what I like,” she challenged following close behind.
“You agreed to coffee. I ordered you coffee.”
“I never mentioned cappuccino.”
“You can’t like coffee and not like cappuccino. It goes against the rules.”
“I wasn’t aware there were coffee rules. Where can you find them?
In the coffee diary or Chicken Soup for the Coffee Lover's Soul?”
A sense of humor.
Refreshing. Too many girls today were so wrapped up in being narcissistic carbon copies of super-models and Hollywood divas. She broke the mold. Sacrificing a suit seemed a small price to pay in exchange for meeting this breathtaking creature. I hadn't felt such a strong attraction to anyone in a long time. I almost forgot how exhilarating lust at first sight could be.
An awkward silence broke the banter. I had to get her talking again. “Tell me, what’s the success rate?”