Authors: K.M. Jackson
Threads of Desire
Published by River Hills Press
Copyright ©2014 by Kwana Jackson
Cover by Mae Phillips at
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-941097-10-6
ISBN (print): 978-1-941097-11-3
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. To obtain permission to excerpt portions of the text, please contact the author at [email protected]
All characters in this book are fiction and figments of the author’s imagination.
Other titles by K.M. Jackson
The Creative Hearts Series
Book 1: Through The Lens
Book 2: Seduction’s Canvas
Book 3:Threads of Desire
Who is just my style.
First and always, I’d like to thank God for all the amazing blessings in my life. A big thank you to my family for all the support and love with this series and with my writing journey. To my twins, thank you for understanding when mom’s in another world with her computer on her lap and that glazed look in her eye. Also, thanks for your love of take-out and hot dogs. It’s truly appreciated.
To my super friends and go-to writerly peeps, Jen, Jeanine, and Megan—you sure know just how to talk a girl down. To RWA/NYC, your never-ending support will always be cherished in my heart. To Farrah, Phyllis, Lauren, Deanna, and Synithia, thanks for all your right-on-time words at just that perfect moment. And to all my extraordinary friends on Twitter and Facebook who always give that kind word or nudge just when I need it, there are too many to list you all, but I’m ever so grateful for every one of you.
To Julie and the team at Formatting Fairies and to Mae at Coverfresh, you are my fairy godmothers, making me look good behind the scenes!
And lastly, to my husband, Will, for his never-ending encouragement and belief in me—even when it would wane in my own mind. You are my rock. Love you always.
Note to self: Don’t shimmy your ass, pulling out your best
Waiting to Exhale
walk-away in front of your boss’s loser son just because he happens to be the first guy to pop a woody and pay you a compliment in … hell, you don’t know how long. It will only end in regret. And do not, just because you’re hungry from your beet diet and have recently become aware of a slight iron deficiency because of said diet, start immediately salivating when your boss’s son invites you out for a steak dinner. Because of his well-inflated ego, he will no doubt take your salivation as a sexual nod his way, not the Pavlovian reaction to the steak that it is. This, too, will end in regret.
“Now, there go three hours and the better part of my dignity that I’ll never get back,” Gabrielle Russell said by way of greeting as she walked into her apartment.
“So an ‘I told you so’ is a waste of time?” Her roommate, Steve, asked through a mouth full of pizza as he downed a swig of beer from where he was perched on their couch. It was one of his rare nights off from work.
“Don’t start,” Gabby warned. She kicked off her heels in the foyer of their upper Upper West Side—okay, who the hell was she or any full-of-crap real-estate person fooling? Harlem—apartment, and hobbled into the living room. Her feet were killing her since the elevator was once again on the fritz, and they lived on the fourth floor of their pre-war building. “How about you let me change and get comfortable before you start in on the ‘I told you so’s,’ okay?”
Steve shrugged. “Okay, have at it.” He let out a small belch, but at least had the decency to look sheepish over it and gave her an apologetic shrug. Gabby shook her head at her old childhood friend, marveling at how comfortable he was on the old overstuffed granny style couch, a leftover from when his aunt had the place. The apartment featured a hodge-podge of styles, blending French Country antiques, her bohemian love of color, an eclectic mix of fabrics, and some of Steve’s modern bachelor touches. Gabby started toward her bedroom but Steve, long ago having designated himself her surrogate big brother, couldn’t just let it lie with the burp and a smile. “Not that I didn’t know that was going to be the outcome for you going in,” he yelled.
Gabby paused as she felt her lips pull together and her spine go rigid.
“I told you he was an asshole from the jump,” Steve continued. “Neck too big. Tan too dark. Probably on that P90.”
She let out a sigh, fighting to hold her tongue. No use taking her bad mood out on Steve. Still it pissed her off to no end that he was right. Dono was all those things. Tight lipped, but without comment she entered her bedroom, remembering Steve’s warning—well, warnings—since she’d taken the deadbeat job at Zenia Fashions coming straight off her last deadbeat gig designing print maternity tops with not-so-cute sayings about “womb-mates” and “buns in the oven.” She let the day wash over her as she shimmied out of her skirt and then peeled herself out of her Spanx. Gabby frowned, remembering the feeling of Donovan, her boss’s son, pressing her up against the back wall of the sample closet. The stifling feeling of him at her front and too many flammable materials at her back. The solid heat of Dono’s muscular body—not feeling half bad in the moment—dredging up the not-distant-enough memories of another closet and another man.
. At least she’d pushed Dono away before things went too far, though he’d been none too happy about it. Still, she’d felt like she’d been doing the walk of shame, nonetheless, as she’d slipped past the sample hands in the sewing room with heated cheeks. Gabby felt their eyes and heard the stilted pause in the machines’ usually constant running. She’d known they were pointedly pretending not to see her leaving the closet just three minutes after Dono’s departure. And all she’d had to show from her closet grope fest were cheap sequins on her ass and in her cleavage—a sparkly scarlet letter to let all know how far she had sunk.
Her stomach gave a dangerous rumble then did a flip reminding her she should have maybe gone a little easy on the carbs and the wine after living on nothing but beets for as long as she had. But really the carbs were just too tasty, and the wine was a necessity once Donovan went in with what, in his mind, she was sure was a compliment. He’d taken in her looks, her light brown skin, her naturally unruly curly hair and asked if she had some Italian blood mixed in with her African-American. As if she wanted to jump though genealogy hoops for ol’ Dono.
To top things off he’d had the nerve to compare her to his mother, taking pre-pillow talk to an all-new low. But really she should have known the lay of the land. She’d only agreed to dinner because he’d dangled the carrot of supporting her ideas about finally bringing in some higher-quality fabrics and getting Zenia into the twenty-first century. She’d even hoped to get him on board with her thoughts on expanding the company’s size range, though she knew it was an uphill battle. She sincerely hoped he’d paid attention and heard her over his munching and playing grabby hands.
Gabby let out a curse as she pulled her shorts up over her behind and her tank top over her breasts. It was all because of that damned beet diet going one day too long that she was in this boat. Because of those beets, she’d gone down from her usual size zaftig down to a sassy size curvy and wedged her ass into that too-small-for-curvy skirt as if she were Beyoncé on a tour. The damned skirt that had Dono forgoing the whole boss/subordinate situation they had going on, any rules-of-first-date niceties, and the basic laws of booth etiquette by sitting on her side and playing “What can we find up Gabby’s skirt?” all night.
She walked back out to the living room and let out a groan as she flopped on the couch next to Steve, hoping her evening’s humiliation wasn’t showing too brightly on her face. “I thought you were going in to bartend tonight.”
“Nah, someone else was covering. I think it would have been a slow night anyway.”
Gabby gave him a smile. Despite his tendency to be a little overbearing at times, it was good to have him home tonight. Steve was an actor who’d so far only gotten the occasional walk-by on New York cop shows, so his primary income came from being a bartender-slash-waiter. Thanks to his good looks, he did great at New York’s hottest clubs. But lately it seemed his star was on the rise. The walk-bys had become walk-ons after he’d landed a spot in a holiday boxer-shorts ad jingling his balls. Steve was in demand and Gabby had been missing her friend.
He gave her a pat on the leg. As usual, it was as if he could sense her feelings. “This is better. I’m glad I could be here when you got home.”
She frowned, though she was grateful for the familiar reassurance. “You are not my keeper, you know.”
“I know. And I can also see you were up to no good. You have it written all over your face.”
Gabby blushed. “I think need a new job.”
Steve pulled back, scrunching up his face and snorting as he reached for another slice of pizza then paused momentarily, as if contemplating the extra sit-ups it would cost him to indulge. The pizza won out as he took a big bite. “How’s about you come to me when you’ve got breaking news? You’ve needed that for a long time,” he said, his voice garbled as he chewed.
Gabby started to let out a long sigh, but looked at Steve’s serious expression and cut it short. She knew he didn’t approve of the Dono thing. Hell, she didn’t even approve.
She was contemplating what to say to him when the downstairs buzzer saved her the effort.
Steve got up to answer.
“Jeez. Give us a minute. What, are you laying on the bell?” Steve went to the hall and yelled into the intercom. “What the hell do you want?”
A slurred voice on the other end seeped through the speaker. “It’s Nech, man. Lemme up.”
“Who?” Steve yelled back. “I can’t understand you.”
“Nickulish. Um, Nick, aw, come on, man, I really gotta pee.”
Otherwise known as Mr. Mistake. Gabby ignored the knot that instantly formed in the pit of her stomach and wiped her mysteriously sweaty palms on her thighs.
“Yeah, man, that’s what I said. Now ring the friggin’ bell, before I gotta go right out here.” Steve and Gabby looked at each other, confusing bouncing between the two of them. Nick,
? Steve shrugged and pressed the buzzer, letting his brother up while Gabby frowned and once again regretted her choice of attire. She sure as hell needed more than shorts and a tank top to arm herself for the unstoppable force that was Nicholas Ross.
The last time Nick had been over to their place was months ago when Steve and Gabby had had a dinner party to celebrate the brothers’ Aunt Lula’s most recent visit. Nick had come with his latest girlfriend, Claire, another one of his interchangeable fembots of perfection, draped elegantly on his arm. They’d spent the evening barely choking down the cheap wine that Gabby and Steve had put out while liberally looking down their noses at everyone. Nick had seemed to take particular pride in showing off the fact that this particular fembot happened to be his boss’s daughter—a fembot with a pedigree. It hadn’t fazed Gabby—well, not all that much. She’d received this treatment from Nick most of her life.
Aside from that one little closet episode.
As he made his way upstairs Gabby wondered what could bring Nick to their place at this hour of the night and in such a state. More than anything she hoped Cruella de Claire wasn’t once again by his side.
Moments later, there was a
bang, bang, bang, bang, bang
at the door.
he must really have to go to have sprinted up the stairs that fast
Steve opened the door and Gabby swallowed the comment about drunken sprints that was on the tip of her tongue because there he was—tall, dark, suited, handsome … and, to her shock, a disheveled mess.
This was not Nick. Nick didn’t do disheveled. Gabby’s mind immediately went to the only other time she’d seen him looking so messy and out of control. Another time, another closet. The first and the last time Nick Ross had knocked her out with a punch to her heart.