Authors: Candice Dow
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Writing is my first love and it has always been true to me. I couldn’t ask for a greater gift. The ability to pour my heart
and soul out through the written word is truly a blessing. It is my voice and it allows me to affect and influence others.
That means more to me than words can describe. To my readers, thank you for allowing me into your lives and for reaching out
to let me know you’re anxiously awaiting my next work. Your support and encouragement are priceless. Thanks to all the book
clubs that support me. To the ladies of OOSA, you are the best and I truly appreciate your love and support. Quana Frost,
your continued support means the world to me. Thanks to Carleen Dickerson for taking notes during her exotic vacations so
I have something to write about.
Thanks to my family for your love, guidance, and support. As always, thanks to my friends, my good-good girlfriends…this book
is dedicated to you. Every girl needs at least one good girlfriend! It is key to survival. Having good friends requires being
a good friend, but the investment has great rewards.
Follow me on Twitter: @candicedow
or early April the weather was warm, the sun beaming through my windshield forcing me to run my AC as if it were midsummer.
I pulled up to a condominium development in Buckhead, not far from Lenox Square Mall. Using my hand as a sun visor, I checked
the address on the building. My producer Quentin had referred me to his celebrity real estate agent friend, whom I was meeting
for the first time. I’d done some online home browsing but this was the first place I was seeing in person. Quentin had told
me this guy sold million-dollar homes, but his slogan was “Nothing too big or too small.” He was Cameron Small, of Small Realty
Group. His slogan was catchy enough for me to give him a try.
A silver Audi A6 pulled up a few parking spaces away at exactly two thirty. I assumed it was Cameron’s. After the driver got
out of the car, I stepped out and headed in his direction.
He shook my hand. “Hi, Ms. Blue. Pleasure to meet you.”
“Cameron, the pleasure is all mine. Call me Ayana, please.”
“And you can call me Cam. Everyone else does,” he said, smiling. I smiled back, mesmerized by his charisma. My entire body
overheated. Could it just be the temperature?
He blushed almost as if he were reading my mind. It seemed like an eternity before he continued: “So the spot is in the building
Quentin hadn’t given me any details about Cam aside from his being the best Realtor in Atlanta, but at that moment I wanted
to know everything. Was he married? Did he have kids? Was he heterosexual?
Cam was wearing jeans and a black fitted T-shirt with black Prada sneakers. He carried a leather backpack. I estimated that
he was about five foot eleven; he wasn’t short, but I had the feeling that he wasn’t quite six feet. He walked ahead of me
as we climbed the stairs to a second-floor garden condo. I was not feeling the place, but I was definitely feeling the swagger
of the guy in front of me. I watched his strong mocha arms as he rolled the code on the lockbox. The key fell out of the box
and he unlocked the door. When we entered the condo, he said, “First order of business, I’ll need you to sign these forms.”
He handed the forms to me as we stood next to the countertop in the empty unit. He hovered over me as he told me where to
sign and why I was signing. His face was clean-shaven with a nice dark mustache. His hair was cut low in a temple taper. He
looked and smelled crisp: a light cologne mixed with Irish Spring soap. I inhaled the scent of him; his vibe was smooth and
jovial, almost familiar.
“A’ight. Cool. Now that the business is taken care of, we can get to the fun part. We’re going to visit every condominium
complex in Buckhead. Cool?”
I said, “I’m really not the type that needs to see everything. I want to see the three best condos in my price range, preferably
two-bedrooms with a den, and I can make a decision.”
He stopped in the middle of the living room and laughed. “So Ayana Blue is not picky.”
“Is there something about me that makes you think that I am?”
He shrugged. “I shouldn’t say this, but most women are picky. Usually when men come to me, they see one or two places and
they are ready to put a contract down. Women, on the other hand, can spend two, three, sometimes even six months looking at
everything on the multiple listing because they have something in their mind that they’re looking for and they don’t stop
until they get it. Nature of the business though.”
“So are you as patient and friendly with these women after month three?”
He laughed. “Of course. I earn a living from referrals. I’m as eager to show the sixtieth place as I am to show the first
place. If I’m showing, I’m still in the game, and that’s all that matters to me. As long as I put food on the table and clothes
on my son’s back, you know?”
Why did my heart sink? Just because there was a son didn’t mean there was a wife. He didn’t have on a ring, but that didn’t
mean anything either.
“How old is your son?”
I had been so wrapped up in work that my flirtation was rusty. I entered the master bedroom and looked at the bathroom before
I decided to pry further.
“What’s your son’s name?”
“He lives with you?”
He took a deep breath. “We have joint custody.”
“So what’s that like? Do you do week by week or do you have certain days and she has certain days?”
“Our schedule is not so formal. I guess, if anything, it’s more like I get certain days and she has others, but not always
the same days. You know?”
Would I be real pressed to ask which days he’s most likely to get his son? I needed to know how his parental schedule would
interfere with dating and he wasn’t giving me enough information. We had toured the condominium and were scheduled to see
another. Though it was clear that he wasn’t in a relationship with his son’s mother, it still wasn’t clear whether there was
a wife or a girlfriend in the picture. For fear of pressing too hard, I figured I should back off. Maybe I should have just
come out and asked if he was single and ready to date. Instead I said, “Not sold on this place. We can go to the next one.”
“Cool, you wanna just hop in the car with me?”
I shrugged and we headed to his car. He opened the door for me.
That was quite gentlemanly.
I smiled and thanked him. As we drove to the next place, he opened up a little more.
“I’m glad you’re decisive, Ayana.”
“Why is that?”
“I usually schedule showings like these in late evening or early in the day.”
“What do you mean, ‘like these’?” I asked, using my fingers for quote marks.
“I just mean residential real estate. That’s all.”
“Oh, I thought that was some type of snobbish way of saying your pro bono properties.”
He smiled. “No, Ayana. Selling properties like this is how I got where I am. I never disrespect the game.”
“That’s good to know,” I said flirtatiously.
“And during the week I pick my son up every day so I like to schedule around that.”
“Wow. Every day?” I asked with my dating hope fading.
“Yeah, I usually have him from four to six or seven.”
“She’s a hairstylist and doesn’t usually get out of the salon until that time.”
“His mom? Your wife? Your girlfriend?” I jabbed that question in quickly so I could get the info I needed to either stop or
He laughed and looked at me. I couldn’t help laughing too. That was tacky, but I wanted to know.
“No girlfriend,” he said, still shaking his head in disbelief before he continued. “His mom. My soon-to-be-ex-wife. We’re
in the middle of a divorce.”
“Ooh,” I said, with screeching brakes.
“It’s a nasty one.”
That was a double
. We pulled up to a high-rise building. As we hopped out I shifted into counselor mode. “Divorces are never fun. I think that
two adults who realize they are going in opposite directions should agree to disagree and come to an understanding as to how
they are going to handle the family business apart. But unfortunately, emotions get the best of us and it becomes a battle.”
We caught the elevator to the top floor. This unit was a penthouse condo with a loft and den. As soon as we entered, it felt
like home. He looked at me and knew that we had struck gold.
He said, “Don’t get too excited. We have others to see.”
This place had a concierge, a twenty-four-hour doorman, a fitness center, and a meeting room. It offered everything I needed
and more. The floors were mahogany. The kitchen shone with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Both of the
bedrooms were large and called master suites. The loft overlooked the family room. There was a bump-out eat-in kitchen and
a formal dining room, as well as a wraparound patio off the family room and kitchen. I imagined having my girlfriends over
for our Friday night chats. It was as if the architect knew me personally and had designed the floor plan just for me.
“I told you that I was simple. Didn’t I?”
“Now simple is one thing, but it’s my job to make sure you’ve seen at least three to five options before you put a contract
“If that means I get to hang out with you for a little while longer, that’s cool.”
We both burst out laughing.
Why did I even let those words come out of my mouth?
I really wasn’t interested in dealing with a man in the middle of a nasty divorce.
“Ayana, you are cooler than Quentin made you out to be.”
“What did he say about me?”
“Yeah, honestly. Even if it does hurt my feelings.”
He looked directly in my eyes. “He said that he’s never met a woman quite like you. He said he didn’t even know God created
women like you.”
Cam nearly brought tears to my eyes. I had known Quentin respected me but to hear it from someone else was flattering.
“Aw. He really said that?”
“He said you’re amazing and the man that snags you would be a lucky son of a bitch.”
I felt almost bashful hearing these things about myself.
“But you’re not settling down anytime soon. Things are going too good,” he said.
“Cam, no one should ever be too busy for love.”
He smiled. “On that note, when can I take you to dinner?”
I appreciated his direct approach. While I had baited him, I was shocked that he had bitten almost immediately. I certainly
wasn’t going to turn him down.
“I love to eat.”
“And I love a woman that likes to eat. Is this evening too soon for you?”
It was, but I wasn’t going to let him know. Some men only ask once and I didn’t want to make him think I wasn’t interested.
It had been nearly a year since my last date and this was all so sudden. I felt that I needed to get my mind right. Reluctantly
I shrugged. “Of course not.”
“Is seven a good time for you?”
Cam took me back to my car and we agreed to meet at Copeland’s on Piedmont.
Cam had sleepy eyes and they were so sexy under the dim lights. Over dinner I discovered that he had simply married the wrong
woman for the right reason. They were young and fresh out of college. He believed he was in love and she was passionate and
exciting, but he grew professionally while she stayed the same or even regressed over the years. Before long they were worlds
apart. Surprisingly, that wouldn’t deter him from remarrying. He wanted to do it again with the right person. He said that
he believed in marriage, that when he looked at all the men he respected, they were married and he wanted the same thing.
He loved to cook and travel. He gave me a rundown of his family structure. He respected his mother and more important he loved
his late father. His parents had been in their mid-forties when he was born, but he claimed their maturity had made him the
man he was.
A part of me wanted to wait until I got the full report from Quentin in the morning to fall for him, but I
liked him. I was imagining that I could be with this man. This is the one thing I tell people not to do, but sometimes advice
without emotion is unrealistic. I adored his zest for life, how much he wanted to know about me, and how straightforward he
was about what he was looking for in a relationship. His taxi light was on and he was practically jumping up and down saying,
“I’m available.” From what Quentin had told me, this man was pretty wealthy, but there wasn’t a pretentious bone in his body.
For me pretentiousness was the biggest turnoff of all and the one thing I had found to be common to all the men I met in Atlanta.
Not him though. He was real. He was open. He was different.
Good conversation made the hours pass rapidly. The staff began to clean the restaurant around us as we sat absorbed in each
other. Ten o’clock arrived too soon and I didn’t want the night to end, but it was time to go.
After we left the restaurant and headed to the parking garage I was tempted to ask him to come back to my place, but I felt
that it was too late. My car was a little distance from his, so he offered to drive me to it.
When I sat in the passenger seat, he looked at me. “Ayana, it’s been a really long time since I was out on a date.”
“So you’re telling me that a man like you isn’t swarming with women?”
“Nah, not at all. I’m picky for one. Number two, I’m all about drama-free living.”
“Yeah, but this is different. I like what I see.” He laughed. “I like it a lot.”
“Me too, Cam,” I said before I could catch myself.
He leaned over and kissed me. His masculine hand touched the side of my face. His tongue twirled slowly in my mouth and my
vagina began to throb. It seemed like we were connected. Our lips were locked and neither of us pulled back. He wanted more
of me and I wanted more of him. Could this be right? In a dark parking garage on our first date? Or would we ruin the possibilities
if we were to succumb to our nature?
I knew better, but my body told me that I was lying to myself. I wanted to be wise, but I needed to feel him right there,
right then. His hand slipped under my shirt and he began to rub up and down my back. He put his finger on the hook of my bra.