P.O. Box 6505
Largo, MD 20792
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.
© 2008 by Stacy-Deanne
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means whatsoever. For information address Strebor Books, P.O. Box 6505, Largo, MD 20792.
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To my mother, Elva,
You were my mother, sister and best friend.
There is not a moment that goes by that I do not miss you.
You went through all of my journeys with me and creating
Melody was one of them.
is the most favorite story
I’ve ever written so it’s only fitting to dedicate it to you.
I love you endlessly. We will be together again some day.
I hope I continue to make you proud.
Elva N. Reed (RIP)
I would like to send out a special thanks to everyone at Strebor and Simon & Schuster. Thanks for making writers’ dreams come true. Special thanks to Zane, you are a phenomenal woman and you’ve used your expertise and knowledge to bring other writers to the forefront. It means a lot that you appreciate my work. It’s been a pleasure working with you.
To Charmaine Parker, thanks for being a shining light for us authors while we go through publication, editing and just plain waiting. I’ve had a lot of questions and you never hesitated to help me along. Thanks for always being cheerful, positive and for the time you spend helping authors’ books to reach their final stage. I know the job of helping us all can’t be easy, and it is not taken for granted.
Last, but not least, thanks to the readers for picking up this book. I hope you enjoy it. I wrote it for all of you.
elody Cruz hated to make assumptions. Yet what else could she think? She smelled his overpowering cologne, still she didn’t turn around. She could feel Keith’s presence as he entered her bedroom. Already this had been
“What are you doing in my room?” She cuddled her bare bosom. “Answer me, Keith!” He didn’t. “What’s your problem?” What
his problem? Here she stood half-naked while his eyes fondled every part of her body. “Just go away, please.” She shook. “Please go back into the living room.”
She had no idea what to make of this. He’d been one of the most attractive men she’d ever seen. His alluring green eyes rested within his creamy tanned skin. His magnificent dark hair completed the picture of perfection. Yet something about Keith Taylor seemed off. Even his good looks weren’t enough to keep Melody’s mind off his latest action.
She sensed that her being frightened turned him on. He took deep, hollowed breaths. She imagined him smirking. His handsome face flushed with demented delight. How could she feel this way about a man she’d just met? What did he want? Something about him brought out fear that she couldn’t explain. Already she felt his mind controlling her emotions.
She still refused to look at him. Even at twenty-three years old Melody felt uncomfortable about being naked in front of men. A familiar self-consciousness awoke inside of her. Her body shut down beyond her control.
Keith panted loudly through deep grunts. Melody’s knees knocked, her fingers sweat and her body ached from anxiety.
,” he whispered. She heard him crack his knuckles, while she envisioned cracking his
. Suddenly the breathing sound disappeared. His cologne drifted from the room. She took a deep breath, realizing he’d left. She retrieved her blouse and went to the hall. She wanted to glance down the stairs before locking her bedroom door. “Oh my God,” she sighed. Talk about a lasting first impression.
Her sister, Sarah, always managed to attract the oddest men on the planet. Melody wasn’t surprised that Keith Taylor made Sarah’s list of latest lovers. Melody picked up on Keith’s disturbed nature the first time she laid eyes on him. She wouldn’t dare leave her room until Sarah arrived. Luckily she didn’t have to wait. She heard Sarah rushing upstairs.
“Hey, Mel, you in there?” Sarah knocked.
“Uh, just a minute.” Did she sound nervous? She didn’t
to sound nervous. She ran to the door and the thought of their parents entered her mind. Melody never could understand why they forced their way into her head at the oddest times. Maybe it was a sign. She always had the feeling they looked over her and Sarah from heaven. She needed that comfort right now. If not now then when?
She barely remembered their parents. They’d died in a car crash when Melody was three and Sarah was six. They were the result of a biracial romance; a Latino mother and a white father. That may have explained Sarah’s undying interest in white lovers. Melody couldn’t remember Sarah ever dating a Latino guy. They were so different that Melody often had to convince herself that they were sisters.
Sarah had blonde hair and shimmering green eyes. She didn’t have a single Latino feature. Melody, on the other hand, couldn’t have looked white if you doused her in flour. She had dark skin, long dark hair, dark brown eyes and thick luscious lips to match. Melody had been graced with height. Her father had been very tall as well. Sarah took her height from their mother, who had to stand on boxes to grab cans from the kitchen cabinet.
Melody equated her parents’ differences with the differences between her and her older sister. They were equally beautiful in different ways. Melody kept their mother’s maiden name, Cruz. Sarah went by their father’s name, Johnson. Melody was the sensitive, self-conscious one. Sarah was the strong, confident, successful one. They both had big hearts but wanted different things out of life.
Melody just wanted to be happy. She didn’t care about materialistic things or money. She could live in a shoe if she had someone truly special to share it with. Sarah’s idea of love relied on a man’s looks, money and status. She was independent, make no mistake. But Sarah
for men. She based her entire existence on what men thought of her. She didn’t seem to feel complete without some man’s attention.
The sisters were separated after their parents died. Their uncle only wanted Sarah, claiming he couldn’t afford to take care of two small girls. Melody had long ago dismissed his excuse. How much more could it have cost to take care of a three-year-old, anyway? Melody got stuck being raised by Aunt Lucia who had never been able to take hold of her bills, let alone her devastating mental problems. If Lucia’s mental state ran in the family, Melody wondered if she’d snap, too, one day. Sometimes she felt insanity would be an improvement.
Sarah acquired the best of everything. She dated the best-looking men and wore the best-looking clothes. She got
the attention, always. A gorgeous blonde beauty? Melody couldn’t compete. She didn’t want to, and she didn’t try. She loved Sarah deeply, and they were extremely close. Sarah had always been there for her. Melody would have done anything for her. She just couldn’t understand Sarah’s obsession for pleasing the men in her life.
Melody opened the door and fell into Sarah’s arms. Sarah rocked her back and forth. Keith had given her the fright of her life. No need in wasting time. Melody would have to tell Sarah about Keith before Sarah fell in love with him.
“Sarah…uh…” Melody panted.
“Hey, baby sis, what’s wrong?” Sarah squinted. She playfully wrapped a chunk of Melody’s hair around her finger. “I love to be hugged but this doesn’t feel right, Mel.”
Melody struggled to force out the words. She couldn’t imagine how silly she would sound. “Sarah, Keith…he…”
“Oh yes! Let me tell you about Keith.” Sarah giggled. “He is the absolute greatest guy in the world!”
“No Sarah, listen to me…”
“Oh he’s made me the happiest woman in the world. Sit down Mel, and let me tell you what he did for me.”
Let me tell you what he did
me, Melody thought.
“Sarah, please listen, okay? Look, Keith…”
“He heard about me not being able to take those college courses and guess what?” Sarah rubbed Melody’s arm, which irritated her newfound goose bumps.
“What?” Melody moaned. She hoped her attitude would signal some hint to Sarah. She gave up interrupting her big sister. No one could stop Sarah when she gloated about yet another one of her “new men.”
“He’s paying for my courses, Mel. Isn’t that wonderful?”
“How?” Melody glanced around the room. “Those courses are running from fourteen thousand and up.”
“I know but he had money saved up from a trust fund. And he gave it to me.” Sarah leaned over in a flirtatious pose. “Wasn’t that just the sweetest most considerate thing you’ve ever heard? I love him, Mel.” Melody now had cause to worry. If Sarah had fallen in love with Keith she couldn’t burst her bubble by telling her what had just happened. But what could she do? Let Sarah believe that this obvious prick could be the man of her dreams?
Melody took a deep breath. Once again her obligation to Sarah’s feelings would win over common sense. She couldn’t hurt her. The only thing she could do would be to stay away from Keith. She wouldn’t give him the opportunity to be a jerk again.
“What were you going to tell me?” Sarah ran her fingers through her long, thick blonde crinkles. Melody looked at her own hair in the mirror. She’d have died for an ounce of the features Sarah had.
She found herself attractive, but Sarah had been blessed with the looks of a medieval goddess. She had always been the prettiest sister no matter what Melody did. Melody found it funny that she’d never been jealous of the attention Sarah got from men. Or maybe she had been and didn’t give into it. She thought of Keith. Had she temporarily given into his twisted perversion? She abruptly dismissed the thought.
Funny how Keith had Sarah yet he had come into Melody’s bedroom to get a glimpse of her naked. He knew she’d come up here to change. He probably had it in his mind to follow her the minute she walked in the door. Could this be the first time in their lives that a man preferred her to Sarah? If she hadn’t been so afraid of Keith, she would’ve tempted the situation.
Of course she couldn’t hurt Sarah by banging her new boyfriend. But it would have been interesting to see what a man saw in her and not in Sarah. She shook away the thoughts. Sarah rambled on about things Melody could not care less about. What had she been thinking? Sarah had always looked out for her. For that, she’d protect Sarah from knowing what Keith had done.
“Oh Mel, I’m so happy.” Sarah sashayed to the mirror. “You think I’m gaining weight?” She turned around to check out her figure. Sarah had such a beautiful shape that a little more weight wouldn’t hurt her. On the other hand, Melody looked like a stick with legs. She smiled. At least God blessed her with a full bosom. That had been something Sarah had always missed. “Okay, what were you going to tell me when you practically attacked me a while ago?” Sarah grinned.
“Uh, is Keith still downstairs?” Melody walked to the dresser.
Sarah held her hair in a pile on top of her head. “No, he left. So you never told me.”
Melody stared into the hallway. “Told you what?” she mumbled.
“Jesus, snap out of it, Mel!” Sarah shook her. “What do you think of Keith, dummy? He’s hot, isn’t he?” Sarah rubbed her breasts.
“Who has time to think? You have so many guys I can’t keep up.”
Sarah grimaced. “Funny, Miss Thang. But seriously, I need to know your opinion, Mel.”
“Believe me, you don’t want my true opinion, Sarah.”
She stared at her. “And what the hell does that mean? You got a problem with Keith?”
She wanted to tell her what a pervert he seemed to be. He reminded Melody of some horny yuppie, college-educated moron with a flashy bank account. She still couldn’t bring herself to hurt Sarah’s feelings. Sarah and Aunt Lucia had been the only family Melody truly had. She wished she could tell her the truth, though. She became nauseated seeing Sarah drool about Keith. Yep, she’d definitely stay away from him from now on.
She thought of those prime-time cop shows. Why bother mentioning what had happened if it didn’t mean anything? Keith hadn’t touched her. He hadn’t really done anything except spy. What man wouldn’t spy on a young woman? Maybe she had
he’d come up there for that. Maybe he thought her room had been the bathroom. She bit her tongue. She couldn’t even sell the idea to herself.
If it hadn’t been strange, how come she felt so violated? How come she got the feeling he’d followed her on purpose? Melody wasn’t used to feeling this helpless. She looked at her sister. She’d never seen Sarah glow when she spoke of any man like she did today. Keith could be in Sarah’s life forever. And Melody didn’t have the will to stop it.
She’d never been so confused. She wouldn’t dwell on what had happened any longer. It would be worthless to tell if he hadn’t really done anything. Besides, Sarah seemed to think Keith walked on water.
“Baby girl, you’re still shaking.” Sarah rubbed her shoulders.
“Yeah, yeah, I, uh…I just had a small fright. It’s nothing now.”
“You sure?” Sarah’s angelic eyes studied Melody’s face.
“Yeah, I’m sure.” Melody smiled. “So, tell me more about Keith.”
Melody had to talk to someone. She couldn’t get the Keith episode out of her head to save her life. Luckily, she had two best friends in the wings. Her homegirl Aileen had been the first choice. Since Aileen had her own problems to deal with right now, Melody decided not to burden her. She also got the feeling that a male friend would be the better choice. She secretly called Craig over after Sarah went to take a nap.
Craig could give her insight on why a guy would act the way Keith had. He’d help Melody decide if she
overreacted, or if Keith could be the biggest creep of the century. No matter what he would say, it couldn’t wait. She laid out a spread of donuts and coffee. He might have been a twenty-four-year-old artist but Craig Banks had the appetite of a fifty-year-old cop.
Craig and Melody were close as two friends of the opposite sex could be. So she knew she could trust his opinions. He arrived a few minutes after she set up the food. She opened the front door to Craig swatting flies from around the porch light. He wore that tan shirt she loved. The porch light sparkled against his blond hair. This had to be the strangest day in the world, she thought.
Melody checked to see if she saw a full moon as she opened the door. First, she’d endured Keith’s craziness. Now she found herself looking at Craig in a way she hadn’t in years. They’d dated a little in school, then agreed that being friends was better for the both of them. It had been times like these that made Melody rethink their decision. She just couldn’t stop staring at him.
He looked so inviting. Those baby-blue eyes silently seduced her. A small breeze floated between them. She enjoyed the calmness of the moment. She loved life in Albany, New York. May’s weather enhanced her appreciation for the laid-back city.