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Authors: Shelly Ellis

Another Woman's Man (26 page)

BOOK: Another Woman's Man
3.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




Shelly Ellis




The suggested questions that follow are included to enhance your group's reading of this book.

  1. Do you think Dawn is right to be hesitant about agreeing to get to know her father better? Should she accept his explanation for why he stayed away from her for so long?
  2. Constance wants Xavier to do some research on Dawn. Is she right to be wary of her sister?
  3. Dawn doesn't want to tell her mother that she's started a relationship with her father. Do you believe her explanation for feeling this way?
  4. Should Xavier have had lunch with Dawn's ex-husband? Did he cross a line?
  5. Cynthia says that Dawn should have no allegiance to Constance or Herbert because they're not really her family. What is Cynthia's rationale for this, and do you agree?
  6. The more Xavier is around Dawn, the more he can feel his attraction toward her grow. In a similar situation, would you put more distance between you and a future in-law, or is that unrealistic?
  7. Did Herbert make the right decision in how he handled the situation with Byron Lattisaw? Should he have shown more support for the son of family friends?
  8. Yolanda says she isn't going to allow threats to keep her from marrying her man because she doesn't want to go back to the way things were before she met her fiancé, Reggie. Facing a similar dilemma between threats and livelihood, what decision would you make?
  9. Xavier's behavior during the funeral hurts Dawn badly. Do you think she's impractical in her expectations of how he should have behaved?
  10. Is Constance right when she says that Xavier is no better than Byron Lattisaw?
  11. Dawn decides to forgive Xavier for how he treated her. Would you do the same?

Don't miss the second book in the Gibbons
Gold Digger series

The Player & the Game

On sale now!

Chapter 1



(Unwritten) Rule No. 3 of the Gibbons Family
Never give a man your heart—and
definitely never give him your money.



usy, busy, busy,
Stephanie Gibbons thought as she hurried toward her silver BMW that was parallel parked in the reserved space near her office. Her stilettos clicked on the sidewalk as she walked. Her short, pleated skirt swayed around her hips and supple, brown legs with each stride.

She shouldn't have gone to the nail salon before lunch, but her French manicure had been badly in need of a touch-up. Unfortunately, that slight detour had thrown off the entire day's schedule and now she was running ten minutes late for the open house.

The spring day was unseasonably warm, but it was tempered by a light breeze that blew steadily, making the newly grown leaves flutter on the numerous maples lining Main Street in downtown Chesterton, her hometown. The breeze now lifted Stephanie's hair from her shoulders and raised her already dangerously short skirt even higher.

She adjusted the realtor name tag near her suit jacket lapel, casually ran her fingers through her long tresses, and reached into her purse. She pulled out her cell phone and quickly dialed her assistant's number. Thankfully, the young woman picked up on the second ring.

“Carrie, honey, I'm running late . . . Yes, I know . . . Are you already at the open house?” Stephanie asked distractedly as she dug for her keys in her purse's depths. “Are any buyers there yet? . . . OK, OK, don't freak out.... Yes, just take over for now. Put out a plate of cookies and set the music on low. I'll be there in fifteen minutes . . . I know . . . I have every confidence in you. See you soon.”

She hung up.

With car keys finally retrieved, Stephanie pressed the remote button to open her car doors. The car beeped. The headlights flashed. She jogged to the driver's-side door and opened it. As she started to climb inside the vehicle, she had the distinct feeling of being watched.

Stephanie paused to look up, only to find a man standing twenty feet away from her. He casually leaned against the brick front of one of the many shops on Main Street. He was partially hidden by the shadows of an overhead awning.

He looked like one of many jobless men you would find wandering the streets midday, hanging out in front of stores because they had little else to do and nowhere else to go. Except this bored vagrant was a lot more attractive than the ones she was used to seeing. He also was distinct from the other vagrants in town because she had seen him several times today and earlier this week.

Stephanie had spotted him when she walked into the nail salon and again as she left, absently waving her nails as they dried. He had been sitting in the driver's seat of a tired-looking Ford Explorer in the lot across the street from the salon. Though he hadn't said anything to her or even looked up at her as she walked back to her car, she had the feeling he had been waiting for her.

She had seen him also on Wednesday, strolling along the sidewalk while she had been on her date with her new boyfriend, Isaac. The man had walked past the restaurant's storefront window where she and Isaac had been sitting and enjoying their candlelit dinner. When Stephanie looked up from her menu and glanced out the window, her eyes locked with the stroller's. The mystery man abruptly broke their mutual gaze and kept walking. He disappeared at the end of the block.

The mystery man had a face that was hard to forget—sensual, hooded dark eyes, a full mouth, and a rock-hard chin. He stood at about six feet with a muscular build. Today, he was wearing a plain white T-shirt and wrinkled jeans. Though his short hair was neatly trimmed, he had thick beard stubble on his chin and dark-skinned cheeks.

“Are you following me?” Stephanie called to him, her open house now forgotten.

He blinked in surprise. “What?” He pointed at his chest. “You mean me?”

“Yes, I mean you!” She placed a hand on her hip. “Are you following me? Why do I keep seeing you around?”

He chuckled softly. “Why would I be following you? Lady, I'm just standing here.”

He wasn't just standing there. She sensed it.

“Well, this is a small town. Loitering is illegal in Chesterton. You could get arrested!”

“It's illegal to stand in front of a building?” Laughter was in his voice. He slowly shook his head. “We're still in America, right? Last time I checked, I was well within my rights to stand here, honey. Besides, I'm not panhandling. I'm just enjoying the warm sunshine.” His face broke into a charming, dimpled smile that would have made most women's knees weak. “Is that a crime?”

Stephanie narrowed her eyes at him warily.

She didn't like him or his condescending tone. He was attractive, but something emanated from him that made her . . . uncomfortable. It made her heartbeat quicken and her palms sweat. She wasn't used to reacting to men this way. Usually her emotions were firmly in control around them, but they weren't around this guy. She didn't like him one bit.

“If . . . if I catch you standing here when I get back, I'll . . . I'll call the cops,” she said weakly.

At that, he raised an eyebrow. “You do that,” he challenged, casually licking his lips and shoving his hands into his jean pockets. Defiantly, he slumped against the brick building again.

Stephanie took a deep breath, willing her heart to slow its rapid pace. She climbed into her car and shut the driver's-side door behind her with a slam. She shifted the car into drive and pulled off, watching him in her rearview mirror until she reached the end of the block. He was still standing in front of the building, still leaning under the shadows of the awning, still looking smug as she drove to the end of Main Street and made a right.

Finally, she lost sight of him.


“Shit,” Keith Hendricks muttered through clenched teeth as he pushed himself away from the brick building once he saw the taillights of Stephanie Gibbons's BMW disappear.

“Shit,” he uttered again as he strode across the street to his SUV, pausing to let a Volkswagen Beetle drive by.

Though he had played it cool in front of her, he had started to sweat the instant Stephanie's eyes had shifted toward him.

He was getting sloppy. He had decided to get out of his car and walk near her office to try to get a better vantage point, to see if her boyfriend, Isaac, was going to meet her here today. But Keith hadn't counted on her noticing him standing there. More importantly, she had noticed
recognized him from the other occasions that he thought he had been discreetly tailing her and Isaac. It had been a mistake, a rookie mistake that wasn't worthy of the four years he had spent as a private investigator.

“You messin' up, boy,” he said to himself as he opened his car door, climbed inside, and plopped on the leather seat. He shut the door behind him and inserted his key into the ignition.

But he had to admit he was out of practice. This was his first real case in months.

He had been eager to accept this one, to sink his teeth into something meaty. He had been tired of the busy work that had filled his days for the past few months. Stokowski and Hendricks Private Investigators had been going through a bit of a dry spell lately. With the exception of this con artist case, they had been doing nothing but process serving for months, delivering summonses and subpoenas. When Keith left the ATF to start the PI business with retired cop and family friend Mike Stokowski four years ago, process serving wasn't exactly the exciting work he had had in mind. He had hoped things would pick up soon. Now they finally were, but this case had been complicated.

He had finally located Reggie Butler, also known as Tony Walker,
known as Isaac Beardan. The con artist and Casanova had left a trail of heartbreak and several empty bank accounts along the Eastern Seaboard. Each time Isaac moved on to his next con, he changed his name, his look slightly, and his story. It made him a hard guy to find.

One of the most recent victims from whom Isaac had stolen thirty thousand dollars' worth of jewelry had hired Stokowski and Hendricks PI to track him down. Keith had traced the smooth-talking bastard here, to the small town of Chesterton. Keith still wasn't sure though if Isaac worked alone on his cons. He didn't know what role his girlfriend, Stephanie Gibbons, played in it—if any. Hell, maybe Isaac had selected her as his next victim.

“Don't worry about her,” a voice in Keith's head urged as he pulled onto the roadway. “You finished your part of the case. You found him. You've got photos . . . documentation. The police can track him down now and press charges. That's all that matters.”

But was that all that mattered? Should he warn the new girlfriend about Isaac?

An image of her suddenly came to mind: her pretty cinnamon-hued face; the limber legs like a seasoned dancer's that were on full display underneath her flowing, pleated skirt; and her full, red, glossy lips. He remembered the stubborn glare she had given him too, trying her best to intimidate him but failing miserably.

“If you tell her the truth, she'll tell Isaac,” a voice in his head warned. “It'll put him on the run again. The authorities will never be able to track him down.”

Keith frowned as he started the drive back to his hotel. It was true. Isaac would know he had been found and only move on to the next place and start a new con. No, Keith couldn't tell her the truth about Isaac. He had worked too hard on the case to throw it all away now.

“Maybe she'll figure out he's full of shit by herself,” Keith murmured as he gazed out the car's windshield.

But he knew that wasn't likely. Isaac was well practiced at this game. He was a champion player. Keith doubted Stephanie Gibbons would be any different than any of the other saps Isaac had swindled.

DAFINA BOOKS are published by


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


Copyright © 2014 by Shelly Ellis


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.


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

ISBN: 978-0-7582-9038-0


eISBN-13: 978-0-7582-9099-1
eISBN-10: 0-7582-9099-3
First Electronic Edition: May 2014


BOOK: Another Woman's Man
3.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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