Read Vulnerable Online

Authors: Bonita Thompson

Vulnerable

BOOK: Vulnerable
7.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Thank you for downloading this Strebor Books eBook.

Join our mailing list and get updates on new releases, deals, bonus content and other great books from Strebor Books and Simon & Schuster.

or visit us online to sign up at
eBookNews.SimonandSchuster.com

Dear Reader:

Bonita Thompson treats readers with a journey of love and obsession in her second novel,
Vulnerable
.

She spins the tale with an in-depth cast of characters who are entangled in a web of lust, deception and ultimately murder. The author delivers in poetic fashion and descriptive writing against the Seattle backdrop in the coffee capital where cafés and bookstores are a major setting. Rawn, a schoolteacher at an elite private school, teams up with a model, D'Becca, and once the sparks start to fly, there is no stopping the intense romance. Sicily, his friend and colleague, and Tamara, a stunning boutique owner and mistress to NBA star Henderson Payne, soon become entrapped in their world and relationships prove that anyone is capable of being vulnerable.

This page-turner will keep one speculating on the next chain of events to unfold in the scenic Pacific Northwest. The pace is quick and readers will hang on to every word in this romantic suspense novel.

If you haven't read
The New Middle
, check out Bonita's debut novel centered on those in the middle age spectrum who experience the ups and downs in the aging process.

As always, thanks for supporting myself and the Strebor Books family. We strive to bring you the most cutting-edge, out-of-the-box material on the market. You can find me on
Facebook
@AuthorZane or you can email me at
[email protected]
.

Blessings,

Publisher

Strebor Books

www.simonandschuster.com

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The New Middle

I love bookstores. So in a time when traditional bookstores have become progressively dinosaur, I am especially grateful to the independent bookstores in the U.S., Canada, and England for carrying
The New Middle.
Including the American Book Center (
@wwwabcnl
) the Hague, Netherlands, Shakespeare & Co. (
@Shakespeare_Co
), Paris, France, Chevalier Books (
@ChevaliersBooks
) Larchmont Village, Los Angeles, and Elliott Bay Book Company (
@ElliottBayBooks
) Capitol Hill, Seattle.

A very, very special thank you to Skylight Books (
@skylightbooks
), Los Feliz, Los Angeles. The opportunity to launch
The New Middle
at their outrageously amazing bookstore was such an honor!

It is a compliment when a book club chooses to read your book. Shout-outs to book clubs for supporting
The New Middle.

The year, 2015, was a madly, deeply, crazy year. My family and friends had my back when I faced every anticipated and every unimaginable obstacle. Much love and huge hugs!

Vulnerable

Vulnerable
is a novel that has taken numerous forms. In reaching the version that Strebor accepted in 2013, several readers offered kind-hearted feedback to help me shape it to its natural fruition. I want to acknowledge their time and gifts: Karen Roth, Ahmad Wright (the screenplay version), Tanisha Jackson, and Omar Caleb. Their collective thoughts were the ultimate game-changer.

PROLOGUE

I
n a deep sleep Rawn kept hearing this faraway voice—
It's between you and me—
and the tone was eerily familiar. His eyes popped open. The syncopation of his day hinged almost entirely on how much sleep he had. If he could manage a good night's sleep, all the minutiae, which defined his day, would not be so exasperating. But like a sequence of mornings lately, he woke up having experienced another fatiguing night and he was bone-tired. Rawn adjusted his deep cognac-colored eyes to the essence of premature autumn sunlight. He wished like hell he could stay in bed and let the day that was about to unfold do whatever it was going to do without him contributing to the collective consciousness. Annoyed, he tossed the bedding to the empty side of the queen-sized mattress. Finally, he was getting used to sleeping alone.

Absent-mindedly, he came to his feet. The room felt cool against his naked skin. Soft signs of early dawn trickled in from exposed roof windows which defined the neatly squared room. Rubbing sleep from his eyes, he became conscious of the fact that he was not sweating, nor had he been disturbed by a dream he could never quite remember. Immediately this struck Rawn cold; he had come to depend on trying to make sense of his dreams. Still not fully awake, he strolled to the bathroom.

He always let the shower run until the room was so steamy he could barely see a foot in front of him. Rawn observed his tired face in the bathroom mirror. Not long ago a young woman he knew only by sight approached him at his table. He was sitting at
a neighborhood bookstore-café, and she said something about liking his “new look,” followed by a wink. By chance was she referring to stubble that shadowed his cheeks and jawline? Rubbing his face with his hands, he wondered was she throwing off an innocent flirtation or was she in effect hitting on him. Rawn could not recall exactly when he last noticed that a woman was flirting. He himself stopped flirting some time ago.

He was in and out of the shower in less than ten minutes. He was wrapping a towel around his lean waist when he heard the telephone ringing in the background, but he chose to ignore it. These days Rawn screened every single call; he made no exception. He was fed up with producers from popular television talk shows calling him every other day. Even though the preoccupation with him had tamed to a degree over the past several months, he chose to buy a cellular because, despite it being unlisted, his landline was now public knowledge. In less than thirty minutes he was dressed in a casual Perry Ellis suit that hung tastefully on his tall and lean physique. He stood at the front door, his worn-leather satchel slung across his chest. He bowed slightly as if he were saying a silent prayer. On his front porch he bent over and reached for
The New York Times.

Fifteen minutes later Rawn entered Café Neuf and it was typically crowded. The bakery-café was rich with the smell of strongly brewed coffee and scrumptious French baked pastry. He stood at the entrance and studied the room. Straightaway he caught the local dot-com millionaires, Rowena and Sean, at their regular table wearing their trademark all-black. The café became their temporary office while their rambling waterfront home was being renovated. Cellulars rang incessantly, and top-of-the-line laptops congested the birch and poplar wood table. Jean-Pierre, the owner of the well-liked Café Neuf, always accommodated his regulars and knew
each one by name. Of course he was well-acquainted with Rawn because he was a frequent customer, not to mention he spoke French. Likewise, Jean-Pierre, like so many on Crescent Island, knew all the good, the bad, and the ugly details of Rawn's once private life. For months he was relentless Crescent Island gossip. What had happened last year forever changed the young man who dropped by Café Neuf most mornings for an espresso and rich buttery croissant. Jean-Pierre had a soft spot for Rawn. He gestured for the young man.

“Hey, good morning, Jean-Pierre,” he greeted the Frenchman.

“I open terrace. Let you sit in back. It be not so stressful,
peutêtre?”
Jean-Pierre shrugged.

Rawn looked over his shoulder at the animated room. “I can wait until a table's free. It's cool, Jean-Pierre.” He tried to pull off a nonchalant tone.

In his thick French accent, Jean-Pierre said,
“D'accord!
Take the table when it come,
oui-oui?”

“Merci,”
Rawn said. His intonation was virtually flawless.

He stood by a couple waiting for a table. It was impossible to not take notice that they were in the middle of a rather intense conversation. Politely Rawn nodded to a young woman seated alone nearby, primarily because he felt her eyes trace his every move from the moment he entered Café Neuf. She slid a laptop inside a high-end brand-named backpack, and as she headed for the door, folded an issue of the
Weekly
under her armpit. She offered Rawn a subtle nod when she passed. Rawn's eyes traveled to her excellently shaped legs concealed by a pair of black opaque nylons.

Taking a deep breath, he flipped the newspaper to below-the-fold. More and more, he lost interest in what he read about in the newspaper or heard on the news. What was happening out in the world had no direct influence on him personally, not right now. It
was rather apparent there was a moral crisis in America. Still, Rawn could not seem to focus on teens with handguns, the political and intellectual climate, foreign crisis, the Middle East, the president and his conflicting approval ratings as a result of a scandal, and the
soi-disant
thriving economy. Although he was naturally curious and typically engaged, the way the new worldview was rapidly transforming humanity—eco-friendly, technology, globalization—did not pique his interest.

When he turned to the sports page, Jean-Pierre approached him and said in a low voice, “A table, it come. Take it,
rapidement, mon ami.”

Rawn looked to the couple a few feet away. They were caught up in a heated exchange and couldn't care less that a table had become available. Because seating was first come, first serve, customers generally dashed for a free table. The couple's conversation began to get increasingly passionate and Rawn caught “You have colossal nerve!” and “Go to hell!” through clenched teeth. The woman gave the man a finger and stormed out of Café Neuf. Rawn thanked Jean-Pierre and walked to the empty table. When he sat at the table-for-two, he could see beyond the French doors that the once tender blue sky had turned heavy, low, and gray.

“Ça va!”
The familiar waitress greeted Rawn in good spirits. Her sultry mouth accentuated her strikingly attractive face.

He thought she might have quit or he missed her whenever he came into Café Neuf, because Rawn had not seen the waitress in—certainly before everything went down last year.

“Ça va!”
he replied.

“What would you like this morning?”

Rawn was not up to meeting her warm, kind eyes; instead he looked beyond her slender shoulder, concentrating on copper-colored photographs of Paris
arrondissements
which classily lined
the mauve-painted wall. “A café au lait and chocolate croissant.”

“Would you prefer non-fat, low fat, soy…?”

“Good old-fashioned milk,” he spoke in a tone verging on sarcastic.

“Oh
-kay! French or American roast?” She knew his preference. Yet she was making every effort to engage him; throwing some loving-kindness his way which did not accompany an ulterior motive.

BOOK: Vulnerable
7.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Nyarlathotep by H. P. Lovecraft
Three Women by March Hastings
Dark Country by Bronwyn Parry
Back to Moscow by Guillermo Erades
Kethani by Eric Brown
If I Die by Rachel Vincent
Mothers Affliction by Carl East
Gazelle by Bello, Gloria