Authors: Angie Daniels
“I want to finish where we left off.”
Kelly licked her lips nervously. “But we’re not the same people anymore.”
“Maybe not, but we’re both still attracted to each other, and that’s not about to go away.” Diamere pulled her closer. “Agree to have dinner with me.”
Kelly had to tilt her head to meet his eyes. Before she could protest, Diamere brought his lips down against hers, his tongue effortlessly opening her mouth to his, and then she felt it. Passion.
And when his tongue slid across hers, she heard a moan. It took her a second before she realized it had come from her. She brought her arms around his neck and locked her fingers and leaned in closer. The blood surged through her veins, lowering her resistance, making her forget all the reasons kissing him again was wrong.
None of that mattered right now. His lips were hot and urgent and so damn irresistible. This was what she had been longing for for so many years. His taste. His smell. The feel of his body next to hers.
As the kiss deepened, all Kelly could think about were her wants and desires, and right now she wanted him desperately. The feel of his mouth on hers, his tongue dancing with hers, his body pressing against hers was all too much. She wanted him so badly her body was humming with a need she had never felt before.
The Second Time Around
The Playboy’s Proposition
The Player’s Proposal
For You I Do
Before I Let You Go
is an award-winning author of romance and fiction. A chronic daydreamer, she knew early in life that someday she wanted to create page-turning stories of love and adventure. Born in Chicago, Angie has spent the past twenty years residing in and around Missouri and considers the state her home. Angie holds a master’s degree in human resource management. For more information you can visit her Web site at www.angiedaniels.com.
Welcome back to Sheraton Beach!
I truly miss living in Delaware, with its beautiful oceanfront views and the warm sand between my toes. It’s the reason I have invited you back so often to spend time visiting the lovely state with the Beaumonts.
A number of readers have asked, and I hate to break it to you, but Sheraton Beach is a fictional town I created. However, there are several places just as beautiful along the coast of Delaware if you’re looking for a sunny getaway.
I truly enjoyed writing the stories of Jabarie, Jace, Jaden and Bianca. Each of them realized—just by opening their eyes and hearts—that love had been standing right in front of them all along. Now it’s Diamere’s turn to find true love.
To all the fans of the Beaumonts, I hope this last book in the series is everything you’ve been waiting for. So kick back and enjoy the sun!
usic bumping. Heads bobbing. Kellis Saunders couldn’t help but feel the rush of excitement as she stepped into the hottest new nightclub in central Philadelphia—Ja’net.
She showed the doorman her driver’s license and paid the cover charge, then hovered near the double doors while she waited for her sister-in-law.
“All right, let’s go, Kelly,” Essence said, with excitement bubbling in her voice as she moved up beside her.
Kelly took a look at the hundreds of people inside, and said, “Wow! You were right, Essence. This place is jumping.”
The caramel beauty’s sienna-brown eyes danced knowingly. “I told you,” she answered over the thump of the music. “Mark brought me here last month and we had a great time.” Once inside, Essence looked around,
then signaled for Kelly to follow her up a small spiral staircase that took them to a long balcony.
Kelly had to do a double take when she spotted the lush, red velvet couches, round mahogany tables and private bar at the far left of the room. Essence flashed two VIP passes and they moved over to an empty couch close to a banister. Kelly took a seat and rubbed her hands across the fabric, loving the feel of velvet against her skin.
“Dang, this place is nice! Whoever owns it knows exactly what he’s doing.”
“I told you so.”
Looking around, Kelly nodded in agreement. “Yes, you did, but you still haven’t told me how you got us VIP passes.”
Essence lowered her eyes to the crowded dance floor below and shrugged. “Your brother knows the owner.”
Before Kelly could ask another question, a waitress came over and they each ordered a cosmopolitan.
Crossing her bare legs, Kelly glanced down at the white Deréon designer stilettos on her feet. She had complemented the daring shoes with a short, white spandex skirt and a fire-engine-red halter top that left her flat midriff bare and exposed. But looking around at the other women dressed in slamming outfits that had to have cost way more than she could ever afford on a teacher’s salary, Kelly felt insecure about her choice.
“You look fabulous,” Essence said.
Kelly grinned. Her sister-in-law always had a way of reading her mind. “Thanks. Although I must say, for someone with three children, you’re the one that looks amazing.”
“Thanks, girl.” Essence was wearing a daring pink
strapless dress that plunged low in the back and hugged every curve imaginable. One could only hope to look that good after having children.
“Speaking of kids…” Essence began as she glanced down at the slender gold watch on her wrist. “I think I need to call your mom and see how Summer is doing.” Before she could reach inside her small Coach purse for her phone, Kelly touched her arm, halting her.
“Girl, relax. They’re fine. You know Mama has everything under control.”
Essence hesitated for a moment before she finally relaxed her shoulders and nodded. “Yes, you’re right.”
Smiling, Kelly looked down at the three-carat diamond ring that glittered on her sister-in-law’s finger, and felt a twinge of envy. Essence and Mark, Kelly’s big brother, were the proud parents of three wonderful children. Tyler was eight, Chelsea was four, and Summer had just turned six months old. Kelly adored her nieces and nephew. Other than teaching her second-grade class, she enjoyed nothing as much as being an aunt.
While they waited for their drinks, she took a deep breath and told herself to relax.
I deserve a night out
. It had been a long week, getting ready for the upcoming school year, and she realized she needed some fun. Despite her initial opposition to being a third wheel, now she thought that hanging out with her brother and his wife could turn out to be fun.
Snapping her fingers, she sang along with Keyshia Cole and allowed her eyes to travel around the club. Everybody from executives to gold diggers had come out to party, and they were all dressed to impress. Below, to the far right of the main level, Kelly spotted someone
that made her gasp. “Isn’t that Donovan McNabb, of the Philadelphia Eagles?”
Essence followed the direction of her gaze and nodded. “Oh my goodness, it is! He is so good-looking.”
Nodding, Kelly watched the NFL player, noting that he looked smaller in person. He was standing near the main bar talking to someone who looked vaguely familiar. Kelly furrowed her brow as she searched her mind, trying to recall where she had seen him before.
If only I could see his eyes
. To her disappointment, he never turned her way. Still, even from watching his profile, she felt a dizzying current race up her arms. The football star had since moved across the room, but he was of no interest to her. Instead, Kelly allowed her eyes to follow the handsome stranger around the club.
This is crazy
, she thought. The man had grabbed her attention and she couldn’t stop looking at him. Her heart began to pound rapidly within her chest and Kelly started to wonder what in the world was wrong with her. She couldn’t blame it on alcohol because she hadn’t had a drink yet. And it wasn’t like it had been a while since she’d noticed a gorgeous man—she’d seen two earlier while shopping in the mall. Both had stopped to ask for her phone number, and been politely turned down. After a terrible breakup, Kellis wasn’t interested in dating, and rarely gave a man a second thought. Yet as she continued to stare at the floor below, she couldn’t recall the last time she had felt this drawn to a man. There was something about him because, even from a distance, his mere presence carried a strong sense of masculine power.
Tilting her head, she studied the chiseled lines of his profile, admiring his prominent nose and high
cheekbones. Maybe it was his deep coffee complexion—she always had a thing for dark men. No, it was something else. Maybe it was his massive chest or that he was well over six feet tall. Kellis loved tilting her head back to gaze up into a man’s eyes.
The longer she stared at the handsome stranger, the more puzzled she became. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but was certain the two of them had crossed paths at some point in her life. The big questions were when and where?
The waitress returned with their drinks, and Kelly brushed her curiosity aside. She accepted the cosmopolitan and insisted on paying for the first round of drinks. Kelly reached into her purse and gave the waitress enough to include a tip. She thanked them, and as soon as she moved to the next table, Kelly brought the drink to her lips and nodded. “Mmm, there’s nothing better than a nice club with good music and wonderful drinks!”
“Mark’s thoughts exactly,” Essence said, then glanced down at her watch again, frowning slightly. “I wonder what’s taking him so long?”
They had left him standing out in the parking lot talking to a guy he hadn’t seen in years. “I’m sure he’s around somewhere. You know my brother. He always seems to know everybody.” Pausing with the martini glass halfway to her lips, Kelly looked down at the floor again and felt a sting of disappointment upon discovering her mystery man was no longer there. It was probably for the best, because given the way he had made her skin tingle, there was no telling what she might be willing to do if he had asked for her number. One thing was for sure, she definitely wouldn’t have turned him down.
The music changed to a funky new Beyoncé tune. Kelly lowered her drink to the coffee table, then hopped out of her seat. While holding on to the rail, she moved to the beat. “Hey! That’s my jam.”
Essence also jumped to her feet and the two of them rocked to the thump of the music. Down below, the dance floor was packed, and others were climbing out of their seats, trying to push their way through the crowd. The two women waved their hands in the air and then started doing the bump. Kelly was dancing and laughing so hard she couldn’t remember the last time she’d had this much fun.
“Damn, girl! Where’s your man at?”
The two women swung around and Kelly playfully rolled her eyes at her brother. “Don’t have one. Don’t want one.”
Mark gave her a dismissive wave. “I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to that sexy female standing beside you.”
Essence sucked her teeth and played along. “My man will be here shortly, and he’s really jealous, so you better get to stepping before he arrives.”
“Well, in that case, let’s give him something to be pissed off about.” Mark moved up beside his wife and snaked a possessive arm around her waist. Leaning forward, he pressed his lips against hers in a long, sensual kiss. Kelly smiled with envy as she watched the two. The couple had been married almost seven years after the former United States Air Force captain returned home on leave to discover the one night he’d spent with Essence had produced a son. With relentless determination, he’d pursued the fourth-grade schoolteacher until Essence accepted his offer to spend their lives together. After
a boating accident caused limited mobility in his left hand, Mark had retired from the military, and he and his family had returned to Wilmington, Delaware.
After one final kiss, Mark released his wife, then focused his attention on his little sister. “I see you’re having a good time.”
Kelly nodded. “Yes, coming out tonight was just what I needed. I love this place. It’s classy and vibrant. Thanks, big brother, this is great.”
She gave him a big squeeze, then lowered herself back into her seat again. “And thank you for the VIP passes. Essence said the owner’s a friend of yours.”
A mischievous smile touched Mark’s lips. “Yes, as a matter of fact he is, and here he comes now.”
Kelly followed the direction of his gaze toward the spiral staircase, and her breath caught in her throat when she noticed it was the handsome stranger she had been watching earlier. He started in their direction. Just as before, her heart began to pound heavily as her eyes scanned him from his wingtip shoes to his smooth dark face. When she reached his large chocolate eyes, her stomach clenched with recognition.
She knew him. She knew him well.
As Kelly took a deep breath, she looked over at her brother and at Essence, who were both staring down at the dance floor, avoiding eye contact. The knowing looks on their faces told her tonight had been a setup.
Her birth name coming from his full sensual lips was
a whisper so soft it felt like a caress, and almost made her whimper. Tilting her head, Kelly stared up at the man she had fallen in love with when she was barely a teenager.
Her pulse raced as he looped an arm around her waist and hugged her close. With his hard body against her, she felt her head begin to spin, and her own body came wildly alive. And all from a simple hug. Only, there was nothing simple about it, or the man holding her.
Diamere finally released her and for several seconds Kelly was speechless, too in shock to form any kind of coherent response. Instead, she gazed up into the chocolate depths of his eyes until she found her breath. “Hi,” she began, stopping to clear the frog from her throat. “I didn’t know you were back on the East Coast.”
“Been back almost a year now,” he replied, grinning broadly.
A whole year and no one told me
, she thought. She glanced out of the corner of her eyes at Mark and pursed her lips with disapproval.
She looked back once again and met the intense gaze of Diamere, who was standing so close Kelly could smell the succulent woody scent of his cologne. It was a familiar smell that made her sway toward him, longing to rest her cheek on his chest and simply inhale. It was as if they were the only two people standing there as she became lost admiring him. A few lines had developed in the corners of his eyes, which were deep, dark and mysterious, reminding her of a dark winter night. The firmness of his jaw made his face more angular than she remembered. His coffee-colored features were still
disturbingly handsome. The shape of his luscious mouth was and always would be a turn-on, and he still had those sexy dimples he used to flash at her so often. Gone were his thick curls, replaced by a short, even haircut.
“I thought you were teaching in Texas.” Diamere’s deep voice broke into her trip down memory lane.
“I was. But I missed Wilmington,” she said, barely audible above the beat of the music. For so long she had imagined seeing him again. She’d thought she would be prepared, but everything she had practiced, everything she had planned to say, was gone. Her mind had drawn a blank. Instead, all she could do was stare.
I must be dreaming
Kelly blinked once, then twice, but Diamere was still there standing right before her, looking better than any man had a right to look. And for that reason she couldn’t tear her eyes away from him no matter how hard she tried. All she could do was stand there as she remembered that this was the man she had once loved to distraction. The same man she dreamed would be the father of her children. The man to whom she’d vowed to give her virginity.
“You okay?” she heard him ask.
Kelly blinked twice more, then cleared her throat. Damn, she was pathetic.
You’re making a fool of yourself
. The last thing she wanted was for Diamere to think she had been pining over him all these years. Swallowing sharply, she pulled herself together. “I’m fine. Just a little surprised to see you.” A smile curled her lips as she met his grin. “I hear you own this club?”
He shifted his weight to his other foot as he spoke. “Not that I’m trying to brag, but I actually own
A big smile crinkled her eyes. “Three? Dang! You’re doing big things.”
Diamere held her gaze as he replied, “Just trying to get paid.”
She dragged her gaze away from him long enough to glance around the room in admiration. But Diamere had such beautiful eyes they were like a magnet, so looking away wasn’t easy. “Well, I’d say you’re definitely doing that.”
Taking another deep breath, Kelly groaned inwardly as her head suddenly cleared long enough for her to remember. Diamere was wearing Armani cologne. He’d had it on the last time they were together, seven years ago. She’d know that fragrance anywhere. Only on Diamere it blended with his natural scent and smelled as if the designer had created it specifically for him.