Amara's Calling Billionaire's Club Series Book 1 by C.L. Donley Genre: Contemporary Romance
Looking for your next billionaire book boyfriend? Meet Grayson Davis.
He's a brilliant, bullied computer nerd turned handsome playboy, with a penchant for blondes. She's the assistant to the assistant, who works on the third floor and is... not blonde. And secretly obsessed with him. Complete with all the classic "plain Jane" tropes you thought were hopelessly overdone, read the smart, sexy, binge worthy debut exceeding "billionaire romance" expectations!
Amara's Calling is the first book in the Billionaire's Club series of sinfully sexy romances. If you like unexpected love, lucrative deals, and billionaires with as much prowess in the bedroom as the boardroom, then you’ll love C.L. Donley’s steamy office affair.
By the time Grayson arrived in Malibu, the party was in full swing. Even though the sun had barely commenced setting, streaking the sky with purple. He was clean-shaven and wearing an oatmeal-colored linen suit that was light and airy and draped him beautifully.
Not even five minutes in he was looking at his watch. He hadn’t heard a thing from Dale yet, which was unusual. He was a billionaire, but he relied on his wingman, pathetic as it seemed to him to admit that.
He went to the bar that was on a deck overlooking the beach. The decor was sleek to match the profile level of all the attendees. Clean and modern with a black and white scheme, the strings of outdoor lights and other rustic touches there to add a degree of casual intimacy to the atmosphere. The level of celebrity there was excessive enough to shrink the entertainment world down to its actual size. Peppered among that crowd were beautiful plastic blonde nobodies, looking to snag a somebody. No one was bothering him.
Today though he was off his game and he could feel it.
Was he even in the mood? He was most definitely overdue, but he couldn’t place the source of the frustration. Surely this isn’t her doing, he said to himself.
But then, when he thought of Amara, he felt the sudden flow of blood beyond his belt, and he knew he had a serious, serious problem.
After their online chat, he’d decided to try and truly scrap this Amara thing.
He couldn’t sit around messaging her like a pedo. Besides, what would he say, what could he say that wouldn’t cause her to leap to conclusions?
Once it seemed like she was beating him to the punch and typing him something, but she must’ve changed her mind because nothing was ever sent.
Probably for the best.
Then the knowledge that she was now an ex-employee and free to be openly pursued had only caused anxiety to bubble up in him, one that he instinctively knew to heed. It would be exchanging one kind of freedom to lose another. He thought about asking her where she was going, trying to help her in some way. He didn’t know why he felt responsible for her at all, but he did.
Then he thought surely she must be a Rules girl because last night he discovered that she’d up and blocked him.
Had she meant to send his hunting instincts into overdrive? Because he nearly made it his life’s ambition to make her beg for it.
And that was scary. Because any woman that could make him consider putting aside his rationale was dangerous indeed.
Yet part of him was in denial because he was pretty confident that Amara was incapable of sexcapades-level mind games.
He knew for a fact that Amara was painfully innocent and loyal, and deep down he was a stubborn, cantankerous smartass, impossible to live with.
She deserved a relationship, but he certainly wouldn’t be the one to foist a trauma like that on her. He would make a terrible boyfriend. A terrible husband. Terrible dad. So why bother? It was the basis for his 80/20 compromise.
Grayson never considered having children. Working for the NSA had made him cynical about the world he ultimately couldn’t help trying to improve.
Why bring kids into this world and give them tons of money until they’re useless, ultimately adding to the misery? He made a great fearless leader, but romance-wise he could never unleash himself on a girl like Amara Riley. His conscience wouldn’t allow it. Better to leave her to her overblown perceptions than to--
“There he is,” Dale’s familiar drawl interrupted his thoughts.
“It’s about time,” Grayson began. “I was starting to—”
Grayson turned from the bar, and his heart nearly jumped out of his chest.
There standing before him was Amara, fucking, Riley.
Her locs were unleashed from their demure updo she maintained in the office and were now cascading down her bare shoulders as they did in her Webster profile pictures. She was wearing a simple black halter top dress and, sweet mother of mercy her cleavage… he nervously forced his eyes to meet hers. Was she even wearing makeup? He hoped he was managing a smile. A slender bronze arm was tightly coiled around Dale’s dress shirt sleeve, and he could tell she was nervous because she was holding on to Dale for dear life…
She was holding on to Dale…
Amara suddenly turned her head to one side, behind Dale’s shoulder, revealing that beautiful ligament in her neck that was more pronounced in certain women when they turned. Grayson’s pulse quickened as he studied the two of them.
What the fuck was going on?
“Grayson… how’s the party buddy?” Dale started as if trying to pretend something wasn’t happening when it was. He gently shrugged the shoulder Amara was hiding behind and she faced forward, smiling shyly and looking around.
“You remember Amara,” Dale began again since Grayson seemed to be speechless.
“How could I forget,” Grayson managed smoothly. “Are you…did you guys—”
“I flew her in this afternoon. Turns out we have quite a few things in common,” Dale continued, looking into Amara’s eyes. Amara took her free hand and moved it to her mouth. She made a jerking movement forward with her head, as though summoning her locs to cover the side of her face, and they complied, shielding her expression from Grayson like a beaded curtain.
“You’re not… you’re cool with it right?” Dale said almost daring him to find fault with it.
Grayson was lost in a battle fending off despair but didn’t let it show. He began to say “of course,” but he could only manage a laugh and a slow shaking of his head as he eyed the two of them.
Dale wasn’t quite sure if he was taking the bait, so he went on to make sure.
“I just figured, you know after our conversation and all and…. Now she’s not technically an employee so—”
“It’s fine, Dale. Just, leave it. You’re making Amara uncomfortable.”
Dale stared back at him blankly for a long while.
Grayson looked over at Amara who was also staring at him with two giant, endlessly dark orbs. She looked a bit apologetic.
Was he missing something else? Was something else coming??
Dale’s poker face dissolved into an ever-increasing satisfied smile, and he began that sickening silent chuckle of his, which had often caused physical confrontations between them in adolescence.
“Oh my gosh… that was horrible, Dale,” Amara broke in sweetly in Dale’s direction.
They’d clearly already had a rapport. Hot jealousy slinked around Grayson’s middle and choked his lungs.
“No, that was… worth seven years of Christmas bonuses.” Dale laughed outwardly this time, wrapping an arm around Grayson’s shoulders, his laughter increasing with every humorless second Grayson was eyeing him. Grayson looked as though he could easily punch him, and for some reason it only made Dale crack up even more.
Amara could clearly see the years between them now, and it was a priceless moment. Suddenly they were not two of the wealthiest men in the world, just two bros at a party engaged in the numbskull things bros did.
Dale turned to Amara, grabbed her wrist with one hand and reached into his jacket pocket with the other. A wad of cash emerged, and he put it in her open hand.
“I can’t take this blood money,” Amara whined.
“Take it,” Dale laughingly groaned. “Best money I’ve ever spent.” He put his hand on each of their backs, standing between them and shoved. “Go be young, you two.”
They bumped into each other slightly when Dale did that, shattering the awkward workplace tension between them. A new kind of tension formed to take its place.
As they lazily drew apart again, Amara grabbed his arm and drew herself close to it. He could feel the warm tenderness of her breast through his suit jacket, painfully aware of the bra she was not wearing. One mere layer of clothing away from being completely naked— was she wearing underwear? He was theorizing what kind when she spoke.
“You have to know that this was entirely his idea. I only agreed because Dale assured me you would think it was hilarious.”
“He just said that so you’d do it,” Grayson answered flatly.
“I feel so used!” Amara laughed.
Her laughter softened him. He changed the subject. “Your hair looks—”
“Looks like worms?” Amara volunteered.
“What? No. I was gonna say you look different when it’s down.”
“Oh,” she said, somewhat surprised. “Different good?”
He nodded sweetly, and her wobbling legs were no closer to recovering.
“But also it looks like worms.” she assumed.
“Hear that a lot, do you?” he inquired.
“Once a week, at least.”
“Even in the city?” he wondered. “Where do you live?”
“Ah,” he said as if that explained things. “I’m paying you well enough to live there?” he quipped.
“Not even, no offense,” she said. He took none, and she continued as they walked.
“Mya’s aunt owns the house. She’s had it for like, thirty years. Mya’s my roommate. We wanted to be in Oakland, but we basically moved here with nothing, so it would’ve been stupid not to take her aunt’s offer. It’s much cheaper, even with the hellish commute.”
“Well, I think it’s beautiful,” he said, returning the subject to her hair.
“Thanks,” she said, as her eyes went skyward.
He smiled. “So…what do you think?”
“…Meh,” Amara simply said sarcastically.
“Not impressed?” He grinned.
“Five of my adolescent obsessions are here,” she replied.
“At least five, yes.”
He looked down at her as they walked arm in arm and frankly, was overwhelmed.
She smelled floral but he couldn’t quite place it. Lavender? Vanilla? He was close enough to her bare shoulders to kiss them. She was wearing hoop earrings and a modest gold necklace with a cross. So she did wear jewelry.
The top half of her back was exposed and either that was her ass, or she was smuggling something. The drape of her dress accentuated the drama of her figure and her graceful movements that were almost feline. The sight of so much of her glowing brown skin nearly hypnotized him. She literally made his mouth water.
“You look gorgeous,” he finally said. This. is. happening, she thought.
She was wearing her roommate’s dress, the fanciest thing between them, arm in arm with him, and he was saying all the right things.
“I feel underdressed,” she confessed.
“You probably spent a fraction of what these women spent on their outfits, but I can’t take my eyes off you.”
Holy hell! This guy is trying to get laid, she thought.
Not that her body knew the difference, because she could feel it reacting to his every word and movement with all kinds of zings and spontaneous bursts.
Mya and Kim had tried to coach her as much as they could in 2 hours.
“He’s going to say whatever he needs to say to sleep with you,” Kim predicted.
“He literally doesn’t need to say anything,” Amara protested.
“DO NOT give it up to him on the first night, Amara! Unless you never want to see him again,” Mya said.
Kim was a little more pragmatic.
“Girl, GET IT. And try to get pregnant.”
Amara snapped herself back to the present.
“Well, since this dress is borrowed, I’d say you’re right, Mr. Davis,” she answered.
“Amara… you can call me Grayson, you know that.”
“People are looking at me, Grayson.”
The sound of his name coming out of her wide feminine mouth triggered a pang of hunger he’d never known before, to hear his name out of her again at least one million more times, and in all its infinite combinations.
“They’re trying to figure out who you are and why you’re with me,” he finally said.
“And who am I?” she smoothly countered.
“Who do you want to be?” he answered back, not to be outdone.
“Hmmm…” she replied. Your next meal, she thought in her head. She was so achingly close to him, and only after a few minutes she was beginning to get used to it.
She smiled and looked away at something, anything to keep her soul inside her body. She surveyed the plum-colored sunset, marveling. “God, it’s beautiful here.”
Grayson watched her watching the sunset and studied her expression.
She was taking it in. This was not her life, and he knew she was counting the hours when she would have to return to it.
He had done the same thing at her age. It had driven him to live among this world, but he got the distinct feeling Amara had no intention of counting herself a part of it.
“Do you want to meet them?” he suddenly said.
“Your adolescent obsessions.”
Amara lit up, slightly apprehensive, and then a heart-melting smile. “Yes, I think I would.”
Grayson didn’t do a lot of mingling, and he’d built up quite a mystique from the practice. He enjoyed little anonymity and relished it when he could get the chance to blend into a crowd. Even if someone was ignorant enough not to know they were in a room with the man responsible for their life’s greatest modern distraction, he was often mistaken for some handsome leading man or another, and many times had the unfortunate task of being grilled by strangers to tell them who he was.
But to observe Amara’s doe-eyed excitement, Grayson could make an exception.
Grayson and Amara made the rounds, and everyone she met was warm and spoke cordially to her. Amara was her unassumingly delightful self, a pitch-perfect blend of reverent and respectful. A few times she was indeed asked what or where they knew her from, and each time she had replied, “I’m nobody,” quickly turning the conversation back to them with some intriguing, genuine question about their work or their process. Her fascination was fascinating, and she pulled some great industry stories out of them while they were loose with liquor and the abandon that came with a safe place of peers.
The party buzzed as Amara reminded her heroes of their prior greatness. Everyone loved it, especially the DJ who called her on the platform to play a request. She, of course, picked the perfect 90’s throwback song that sent the party into the stratosphere where it stayed for the rest of the night.
As the evening wore on, Grayson’s touch had moved from friendly to flirty to possessive. Amara was aware of each transition. That and the overall surreal nature of the night kept her body on high alert. She was a potent cocktail of anxious, turned on, and completely alive. Grayson handed her a flute of champagne, and they found a gorgeous, white satin draped cabana near the beach. It was one of three others facing a large infinity pool where there were a few swimmers, but mostly everyone was congregated along the edge sipping drinks, which struck Amara as a bit dangerous.
“I can’t believe I just met Clarisse Brooke and Noah Taylor.”
“Pretty amazing,” Grayson admitted.
“They are totally hot together and beautiful. I want them to adopt me.”
A random group of people was eyeing them, and Grayson raised his glass to acknowledge them. They did the same.
“So, it seems you were right. Perhaps I have missed my calling,” Amara began.
“What’s that?” Grayson asked, looking as though he would kiss her.
“I’m not sure how to get paid for it, but it involves going to celebrity parties and generally being awesome,” she answered, not looking at him.
“You’re good at schmoozing; I’ll give you that.”
“The secret is just to pretend like you’re dreaming,” she revealed. “There’s a lot of interesting people here.”
Amara ignored his comment as she took a sip.
“So where is this Palm Hotel I’m supposed to be staying at?”
“Look behind you.”
Amara’s mouth gaped open “…Holy shit.”
“What, did you think Dale would put you up at the Beaver Lodge Truck Stop?”
“Sort of, I mean he already gave me a thousand dollars.”
Grayson laughed. “You’re drinking a thousand dollars.”
She took another sip. “Funny, it doesn’t taste like my first car,” Amara replied.
“You haven’t spent that much time around the affluent have you?”
“The truly affluent are only those who do not want more than they have,” Amara quoted.
“Erich Fromm,” he cited, inching a single slender digit down her bare shoulder.
Amara shuddered. She took in a sharp breath as she looked past him, hiding a trembling smile.
As she tried and failed to hide her reaction to him, he got even more of the sense that she was horribly inexperienced. That perhaps her mind had been sharpened to within an inch of its life, and in all that schooling she’d left her body behind.
“It’s a quote from one of your SPEC conferences,” Amara finally said when she was composed enough.
Grayson stood and held out his hand for her to take.
“Where are we going?”
“Just for a walk. It’s a beautiful night.”
They walked arm in arm wordlessly on the beach in the direction of the high rise hotel. The ocean was barely lit by moonlight and distant tiki lamps. The crashing waves were unusually loud.
“I’ve been here a few years now, and I never go to the beach.”
“Well…more than once, less than thrice.”
“You’re a virgin aren’t you, Amara,” Grayson suddenly said.
Amara gave him an eye roll and looked out at the water as though it were endlessly fascinating. “Is it that obvious?”
“Only if you’re paying attention,” he said. “But I would expect nothing less from you,” he continued, smiling. “Saving yourself for the man of your dreams, somewhere out there in the world, the only man that would ever make you feel like a woman.”
He was saying it not only in jest but also with the clear indication that he was not nor would ever strive to be that man.
The illusion of the night shattered around her with great force, and her heart was pierced with one of the shards. Even with all her fail-safes in place, hope had slipped through her armor, and she was bleeding between its plates.
She smiled through it.
“You’re actually incorrect, Grayson Davis, but please, keep trying and failing to read me, it’s starting to become amusing.”
He stared at her and smiled, the two continued walking.
“It seems I’ve hit a nerve,” he said.
“Not at all,” Amara lied. “I just find it funny when guys assume that my lack of experience is a conscious choice. Like I have a gentleman caller waiting list.”
“Surely, I can’t be your first gentleman caller,” he replied.
“No, not the first. But by far the best.”
“Don’t talk like that,” he insisted as they walked.
“Like… I’m a catch,” he said sounding mystified.
“Umm… you are,” she replied, mimicking his mystified tone.
“No, I’m not. I don’t do relationships because I’m no good with them.”
“Why, what happened?” Amara queried.
“Nothing. And it never will,” he said.
“Well if you’ve never had one, how do you know?”
“Isn’t there something in your life you don’t need to try to know that you’d be terrible at it?”
“Pretty sure I’ll be terrible at sex, but like anything else, I’ll get better with practice.”
Was she baiting him? Flirty little Amara.
“The thought of you being terrible at sex is endearing. Failing at love is not.”
Amara was silent, and he continued.
“I’m enthralled with women,” he said, “but I can only give them what they want, not what they need.”
“That sounds… kind of sad.” Amara replied.
“Well that’s where you and I differ because it works for me,” he asserted, convinced. “If Dale hadn’t brought you here I’d probably be elbow deep in a random blonde right now.”
“Gross,” Amara deadpanned.
“Well, it’s true. I should be shattering your illusion of me, not encouraging it.”
“I’m under no illusions,” she informed him, the breeze subtly blowing her hair.
“You’re a playboy, I get that. Most people know that.”
Grayson never thought of himself as such. Sex was a need to be fulfilled. And a habit was formed typically after 21 days. So he had to change them out every few weeks, naturally. With periods of solitude in between to, you know, recharge. Women were generally very tiring to him. Like kryptonite he couldn’t resist.
But he had very few one night stands. One night certainly wouldn’t be enough with Amara, whom he was starting to realize he would never have.
“Not a playboy, just a pragmatist,” he corrected.
“Don’t you want love?” Amara probed.
Grayson merely shrugged. He tried to remember the last time anyone had asked him that. Dale had asked in a roundabout way. It was the only thing he’d ever wanted, but he’d learned to stop letting that desire rule his life. It was what drove him to fits of blackout rage in his youth, drove him to spiraling depressions that didn’t seem to plague other children, what kept him choking down antipsychotic pills for years, and what made him hide them under his tongue years later. The desire for love practically killed him.
“I imagine if I were in your shoes, I’d give up on the idea of anyone loving me for me too,” she continued.
Grayson’s heart skipped a beat and couldn’t seem to recover.
Had she known about his past?
What did she and Dale talk about on the way there?
Did he tell her about the relentless bullying and isolation and the crippling hopelessness it caused? Did he tell her about that macabre Christmas, when his cries for help culminated in what was to be his final grand gesture?
He waited for her elaborate.
When she didn’t, he prompted her.
“Why do you say that?”
“Because… you’re a billionaire?” Amara said as though she assumed it was obvious.
Oh right, the money.
He smiled, “I’ve long given up on the idea of permanent companionship, before the money, but yes, it certainly doesn’t help.”
Amara looked at him then, square in the eyes as though she’d had an epiphany.
She wasn’t shy anymore, and she had that same look she’d had in the conference room, and it made him feel the same way.
“I have a very wicked, very naughty idea, Grayson Davis.”
“Those are my favorite,” he smiled.
“Let me be your gold digger.”
Billionaire's Club Series Book 2
Mya McIntosh is attending the wedding of the year as the maid of honor to her best friend Amara Davis, the former employee and wife of billionaire social media mogul Grayson Davis. A dazzling destination wedding in Spain seems like the perfect setting for Mya to finally lose this pesky virginity of hers, but her prospects don't look promising. Amara has high hopes that Mya could land one of Grayson's billionaire best friends but Mya isn't so sure, especially when it comes to Grayson's obnoxious business partner Dale Abernathy. After a few awkward moments, bad first impressions, a ton of assumptions and a sexy interlude on top of a hill, Mya's search for Mr. Right Now lands her somewhere she least expected: in love.
Amara serves us dinner in the kitchen around the massive island rather than the grand dining room table. Two giant pendant lamps on each side of it light the kitchen like candlelight. I can see the starless night in the skylight above that’s about the size of the island itself and lined by gorgeous mahogany box beams. I can’t believe my friend lives in a house with a kitchen like this. It’s even more gorgeous during the day, when the skylight alone lights the entire kitchen. Amara just walks around like it’s all normal.
She insisted on cooking and made salmon, my favorite dish of hers. Grayson’s here, of course, being completely sexy with the baby on his lap. Rosetta, the nanny, is supposed to be taking a much-needed break but is instead cleaning, which isn’t her job.
Dale, his best friend and the new CEO of Webster, arrived home with Grayson. I’ve only met him twice before: once when Amara had her engagement party and once when Sam was born.
Dale is the whitest white guy I’ve seen up close in a long time. The fact that he’s filthy rich makes him almost bioluminescent. He has a bit of swag to him, that I suppose comes with being a billionaire and simply existing in the presence of Grayson Davis, who’s also pretty white. He seems like an underdeveloped character in a story, who’s talked about a little and shows up even less. He’s wearing a light blue dress shirt with white cuffs, navy slacks, and an expensive gold watch. His dandruff commercial hair has grown out rather long since I last saw him, and it’s kind of amazing. Full and sort of gravity-defying. He probably owned the 90’s.
He’s a big deal now that he’s the CEO of Webster. It’s weird to see him gussied up on the cover of magazines as I’m in line at the grocery store. I watched a baby throw up on him, I think to myself. He’s a busy guy, always having to run. So it’s even weirder to see him sitting down, not wearing his coat and enjoying a meal.
He’s kind of scattered and immature, a contrast to Grayson’s aloof and measured air, but I’m slowly finding out that he and Grayson are self-made for a reason. They’re both about a little older than we are and it shows. I have no idea what they’re talking about at dinner, but they more than know, and even though they’re a bit too old to just be pretending like we’re not there, I have to admit the exchange is fascinating. Dale is matching Grayson idea for idea without the slightest hiccup. They’re in a mind-meld.
“Anyone ever tell you that you talk waaay too much, Mya?” Dale addresses me suddenly, throwing me a bone. He and Grayson talked business virtually the entire time while Amara and I sat quietly.
He’s doing that thing again. That weird uncle routine. I expect any moment he’ll pull a quarter out from behind my ear.
I slowly shake my head. The corners of my mouth droop.
“Nope,” I reply, trying to be ironic, but it falls flat. Not even Amara has my back. She’s busy with the baby.
“You know, Mya,” Dale begins through sips of wine, “I took ballet when I was a kid.”
“You don’t say,” I feign wonder. Grayson and Amara look at each other, roll their eyes and scoff.
On the now three occasions we’ve met, Dale has brought up this fact every time, as though he’s never brought it up before. At first, I— an actual ballet dancer— was polite in pretending that he’s never mentioned it, but at some point, it became obvious that it was a running gag.
“Yes, my mother was a ballet teacher, and all three of my sisters were ballerinas,” he continues.
“And eventually, I got tired of just sitting there watching them, and I started learning the stuff myself.”
“Get the fuck outta here,” I say wide-eyed, sounding stunned. That gets a laugh from Grayson. My heart flutters.
“Yes,” he says as if trying to convince me, “and I was the only boy in the class,” he goes on.
“It happens,” I reply.
“Grayson was there, he can attest,” he continues, getting Grayson in on the gag.
“Only because Leslie never wore a skirt,” Grayson smirks as if reminiscing.
“Did your mom ever dance professionally?” I ask.
“She did, but she met my dad in her 20’s, so she never went further.”
“As in, she quit.”
Dale thinks for a moment then slowly nods his head.
“And did your sisters ever get their pointe shoes?”
“No,” Dale scoffs as if the notion was impossible some reason that only he knew about. “They didn’t stick with it that long.”
“So your sisters were never, in any capacity, ballerinas then,” I say.
I look Dale squarely in the eyes as I speak. My air is cool, my eyes devoid of malice, demanding merely an admission of the truth. Dale is just about to surrender when Amara breaks in.
“Mya’s hardcore about her profession,” she fills in for context.
“Nope, not ‘hardcore.’ I’m just being ‘regular core’ right now,” I insist.
“Do you ever think about what you’ll do once it’s over?” Grayson asks.
Amara gives him a sharp look.
“Grayson…” she reprimands.
“No, it’s okay,” I assure her, bringing up one leg in my chair so that I’m hugging it. “My two goals in life were to be either a principal or the lead in Swan Lake and the Nutcracker Suite, and after this fall I’ll have done it. And I’ll probably hang it up after that.”
Amara frowns, “You never told me that.”
I slowly nod.
“So that’s it?” she laments.
“It has to be it,” I say, taking a drink of wine, “I’ve done more than I ever thought I would. And I love performing, I love pushing my body to the limit, but now I’m 27 and I know I can’t do this much longer.” I leave traces of lipstick on my goblet, the color of the wine.
“So what will you do after that? Teach?” Grayson asks.
“Maybe. Open up a little ballet school for black girls or something.”
“Just for black girls?” Dale inquires.
Oh, here we motherfuckin’ go.
I give him the benefit of the doubt and explain myself. “Um… maybe other minorities too, but I know first hand how underrepresented black girls are.”
“You wouldn’t be open to teaching—”
“No,” I cut him off. I silently pick at my plate until I settle on a bite and bring it to my mouth. The subject isn’t closed. But if Dale wants to go, I’m ready.
I’m grateful to come from a proud black college-educated family, doing well enough to afford to support my passion for ballet from the time I was five years old.
In return for their investment, I worked hard, never missed a lesson, even if I was sick, and made a habit of learning others’ parts in the event I had to step in. These habits and more opened the door for my unique opportunities as a black ballet dancer.
It was no easy feat because I’ve been told over and over by very blunt, very Russian teachers that I would never be able to make it a career. That I was too dark, too shapely, too short, too muscular, too whatever else to see my dream realized.
Meanwhile, my white counterparts only adequately trained, barely had finish in their technique if at all, and never suffered the challenge of having to prove wrong the very people that were supposed to be supporting them. No wonder they never got better.
Yes, there were plenty of places for little white girls to line up and learn to be mediocre for the rest of their lives and cry because they had to stand in line next to the one black girl in the class. I have no intention of adding to their numbers.
“Fair enough,” Dale says after a slightly awkward silence.
“Don’t say it if you don’t believe it,” I challenge.
“No, I believe it’s fair. I’m just sad that my son or daughter may not have the benefit of having you for a teacher,” he offers, subtly making his point.
“Get Kim pregnant this weekend and you just might,” I can’t help sneering.
Amara snickers and lowers her head to the table.
“I’m lost,” Dale says.
“Kim says she wants to get pregnant by one of you,” Amara clarifies.
“Oh,” Dale simply says. “The one who was suing you, right?”
“That’s the one,” Grayson says.
“What does she look like again?”
Amara gets up from her chair to swat Dale.
“What?” he innocently protests, not bothering to shield himself from her harmless taps.
“She’s tall, light-skinned, and completely gorgeous,” I fill in for him.
“Really?” Dale sounds intrigued, and I kind of want to rip out his throat.
“Her mom’s a crackhead prostitute though, so. Buyer beware,” I add caustically. Amara looks at me.
“What, did I tell a lie?” I ask innocently.
“You’ve been like, majorly cranky today,” Amara glares.
Majorly cranky. I guess that’s one way to sum up my complete and utter discomfort with this entire situation since the day I got that call in the middle of the night. Talkin’ ‘bout “he wants me to be his mistress and so do I.” While everyone smiles and laughs about it.
“You know, I think I’m just way out of my routine,” I say instead. “I can’t remember the last time I didn’t practice for two days in a row.”
“You’re on hiatus for the summer, aren’t you?” Grayson remembers.
“Yeah but I still go to lessons in between. My yoga class starts when I get back.”
“You do yoga too?” Dale politely asks.
“I teach it, yeah. In the summer.”
“My goodness,” Dale marvels.
“She’s a hustler,” Amara adds about me. “And she does hair.”
“You’re like wonder woman.” Dale compliments me.
I’m annoyed with this white man and I don’t know why. I don’t know what I want from him— if anything— but his gratuitous compliments are not it.
“On that note, I think I’m gonna turn in early,” I say.
“Yeah, since I’m cranky and all, I think I’m going to fit some exercise in before bed.”
“Okey-doke!” Amara says, trying to ignore my shifting mood, which sounds much worse than it actually is.
But I hate that she’s acting like she doesn’t know that about me already. Is that for their benefit?
“Can I come wake you up?”
“Yeah, girl,” I say on my way up the stairs, trying to sound buoyant.
“Okay goodnight,” Amara projects up the stairs.
There’s silence at the table until we’re convinced Mya’s out of earshot.
“Yikes,” I say once she’s gone.
Amara gives me a glaring look.
“Why are you grilling her about black ballet studios?”
“I wasn’t grilling her.”
“Do you know how much shit she got her entire life, even from her own family, for wanting to dance like a ‘white girl,’ for going to Julliard instead of Alvin Ailey?”
“I wasn’t grilling her!”
“Nina Simone went to Julliard,” Grayson interjects.
“Babe, don’t be sexy right now, I can’t,” she says, sounding genuinely irritated.
“Sorry,” says Grayson.
“Honestly, I think no matter what we talked about tonight she would’ve bit my head off,” I say.
“She did not ‘bite your head off,’ Dale, get a grip,” Amara snipes. “Just because she’s not on her knees in front of you after your stupid joke….”
“I could’ve been catching up at work, I really don’t need this,” I close my eyes and sigh.
“Why is everyone melting down three days before my wedding?” Amara whines, panicky.
“Because no one here is having sex.” Grayson points out.
“Damn,” I shake my head.
“Omigod, you’re right,” Amara realizes. “How come everyone’s melting down now except you?” she asks Grayson.
“Excessive masturbation,” Grayson deadpans. He makes sure I’m taking a drink when he says it. I nearly make it, but then I look up to see Grayson looking directly at me and I choke.
Amara is faintly amused when she says, “I’m going to go feed the baby, so if you two nerds will excuse me…”
“Good night Amara,” I send her way as she heads up the stairs with Sam.
“Excessive masturbation?” I smirk.
“Excessive,” Grayson repeats and I snicker against my will. Now that Amara’s gone, Grayson and I talk even more freely.
“Speaking of which… is Mya still a virgin?” I ask.
“How should I know?”
I tilt my head and give him a look.
“In your expert opinion,” I humor him.
“Oh. Yeah, pretty sure she is. What, you couldn’t tell?”
“No. She kind of seems like she had a bad one and now hates all men.”
“I think she’s just afraid that at any moment, a random penis is just going to come out of nowhere and fuck her, and then she’ll have waited this entire time for nothing,” Grayson flatly states. My head drops with guilt as I try to keep my laughter quiet, shoulders quaking.
“It’s a valid fear,” I say when I finally recover. Grayson smiles.
“And now she’s going on a trip to Spain with the likes of us,” Grayson muses. His meaning is not lost on me.
I never considered myself a playboy, but add Grayson and Bel to the mix and my game becomes lethal, especially considering we’re worth almost a 150 billion collectively. We’re like a Voltron super robot of sex.
Or at least, we were. I’m sure Bel and I could do fine on our own.
“And Bryan,” I quip. Grayson laughs. We often joke that Bryan is quite possibly the latest model android passing himself off as human.
“Obviously you’ll have to take me out of the running,” he says.
I grimace. Again, his meaning is not lost on me.
“Dude, there is no ‘running,’ because I’m not touching that with a ten-foot pole.”
Grayson shrugs, grinning. “We’ll see,” he says.
“Uh, no we won’t,” I insist with a knitted brow, slightly offended at his suggestion. That somehow he knows me better than I know me. I only like cranky bitches when Bel and I are wasted, and also while I’m 20 years old. So seeing as how I’m 34, and there’s probably going to be a gaggle of pre-approved paparazzi there, I’ll probably be on my best behavior at this wedding.
Still, my pulse quickens as the blood pumps through my body anyway. The mental trigger has become all too routine. Anytime the three of us were together, without fail it meant that someone was about to get fucked. I didn’t know if Grayson the family man would change the dynamic, but Grayson was apparently of the opinion that it wouldn’t.
“Guarantee you she’s already thinking about it,” Grayson goads me. I pretend not to notice. “You’re really gonna let Bel sleep with her?” he asks.
“She would punch Bel in the face,” I say.
“Bel has the least amount of shame out of all of us.”
“This conversation has turned very disturbing,” I squirm. I’m fighting off a smattering of naughty images as it is, after Mya talking about pushing her fucking body to the limit. I don’t want to envision the inevitable fallout of Bel emotionally scarring one of Amara’s best friends.
“Hey, you brought it up. I’m just being practical.”
Damn, he’s right. I did bring it up.
“Well,” I sigh after a sip of wine. “Let’s just say I’m having enough trouble losing my own virginity to worry about someone else’s.”
“It’s been that long, huh,” Grayson says.
“It’s grown all the way back, bro.”
Grayson huffs a laugh. “Fuckin’ dry spells. Literally the worst thing about being single, I can’t believe I ever thought that life was better.”
Suddenly I’m feeling exhausted, and Grayson’s “hashtag blessed” musings are not helping.
I only ever had one romantic objective in my life, and that was to find a woman to adore.
I’m romantically obsessive-compulsive. Sure, I run through a lot of duds, but I have a hard time leaving stones unturned.
And when your best friends are playboy billionaires, well. There are a lot of stones.
I raise my wine glass to make a toast.
“To getting laid in Spain.”
Grayson raises his beer bottle.
“I will most definitely drink to that,” Grayson says as our chuckling mingles with the clink of meeting glass.
The next two days I’m alone at the house while the happy couple works, and in the evenings it’s just me and Amara— occasionally the baby too, but Grayson generally lets us be.
Their spacious living room is large enough to practice when I move the furniture, the same thin plank wood floors in their house as in the studio.
I didn’t want to break in my only pair of pointe shoes so soon, but it’s worth it. Typically I don’t like being watched while I practice, but with the live-in nanny Rosetta there, it’s unavoidable. Strictly speaking, it’s just a way for me to center myself before the trip.
Maybe I don’t know how to connect with Amara in the company of strangers. I’m certainly not used to Amara having to share the connection wealth with other people, that much I realized. Before the dinner, I was unusually optimistic that by the wedding we’d all be like old pals. Maybe I’d even have the courage to ask Grayson his opinion about Bryan. Amara’s probably right about him, but in case she isn’t, the prospect gives me hope.
But post-dinner I’m feeling…. outnumbered. Out of sorts. No doubt everyone felt my hostile vibes. I didn’t seem to be able to control it. They tried to make me feel comfortable, but I couldn’t hide my disdain for the whole black ballet school debate. Grayson can buy my best friend’s pussy, but I can’t have a black ballet studio? I expected some post-racial America nonsense this weekend, but I should’ve packed a bag to barf in.
That whole conversation about Dale’s kids not having me for a ballet teacher is still leaking acid into my veins like the time-release venom in a poisoned dart. And then when he showed an interest in our best friend Kim, I nearly came out of my skin. Did I really call her mom a crackhead prostitute? Granted it was the truth, one that Kim volunteers herself but… I can’t stop replaying the sound of my own voice, throwing Kim under the bus at dinner.
What the hell’s going on with me? Should I make it more of a deal and apologize? Or should I just pretend like it never happened and risk looking like an unpredictable schizo for the extent of the trip?
Forget it. I refuse to kick myself about it anymore. I’m resolved to be the best damn maid of honor I can be, unless Grayson otherwise shows himself to be the abusive megalomaniac I fear in the next 72 hours. Then all bets are off.
At least Bel’s a minority. Bel’s gorgeous, but Amara makes him sound like he’s kind of a dirtbag when it comes to women. I’ll have to decide whether or not it’s worth the potential trauma to hook up with him. Even if the billionaires are out, there’ll still be a lot of eligible bachelors in attendance— some of them celebrities, so I’ve been told. Dale obviously plans on marrying white and having me teach ballet to his white daughter— or son— so screw him anyways. Or rather, don’t screw him. Wouldn’t want to ruin his future Aryan race plans by having him go black once and never go back. God, why is Amara so buddy-buddy with him again?
I just have to find a freakin’ guy that wants it, and with very little of my “target market” at this wedding, my chances don’t seem to bode well. The only guys that ever approach me are black, and I don’t get approached so much as I get looked at, stared at, whistled at, followed, and generally harassed. I don’t think I’ve ever had a man approach me for any other reason beyond a sexual one. But I guess, that’s the only reason a man approaches a woman. A few had the decency to bow out when they found out I was a virgin. At least, I assume it was decency.
At the time, I was grateful. I was focused on my career and didn’t want the distraction, however enchanting. Even in New York, where I was sure to find a soul mate. A creative counterpart, a gorgeous black thinker to validate me— the urban bridge to my militant-yet-middle-class sensibilities. But nothing happened, even when I willed it.
I had a bad habit of getting crushes on other male dancers who were either hopelessly gay or flat out not into me. I was addicted to this pattern of behavior. They were all different shapes, sizes and colors. Nice, sometimes gorgeous, strong, knew how to dance, could be trusted to lift me up and, being otherwise uninterested in me, were completely 100% safe. And in the event they were the lead opposite me, we spent hours and hours in the same space, touching each other, failing together, learning together.
I fell in love with each and every one of them, and I learned over time to keep it virtually undetectable, should they ever decide to declare reciprocal love for me. It was a scenario I couldn’t help wanting. Two dancers, passionate about the same things and each other, it just seemed so perfect. So hot.
But it’s an embarrassingly unsuccessful strategy. So now it’s time for plan B: to bang someone hot, somewhere that requires a passport.
This weekend I will let my smile go to full wattage and welcome whatever attention it brings me, unsolicited or not. Maybe I’ll even flirt.
It’s going to require some killer timing, but with my girls here to lift my spirits and make me feel like Beyonce— or at least Kelly Rowland— there’s no reason Operation Proper Virginity Sendoff (OPVS) can’t be 100% successful.
Kim's Courage Billionaire's Club Series Book 3
The final book in the Billionaire's Club Trilogy!
A year after her best friend Amara's wedding united them, Kim Pritchard finds herself in the hospital with the baby she conceived with billionaire internet mogul Bel Hafiz. Not only has Kim neglected to tell Bel about his son, now she will have to tell him he's fighting for his life in the NICU. Since the handsome middle eastern playboy "ghosted" her, she wonders if he even cares enough about either of them to reach out. Little does she know that Bel Hafiz has plenty to hide, including the fact that he hasn't been able to get the gorgeous, one-of-a-kind Kimberly Pritchard out of his head, or his heart.
Kimberly Pritchard moved her stiff, sore limbs, atrophied from being stuffed into a poorly cushioned chair in the corner of her son’s hospital room. The cold, clinical beeps and whirring of the breathing machines tore through her scant dreams, assuring her in that sickening way that the nightmare of the last three days was indeed still a reality.
She tried not to focus on how much she wanted to be home in her warm bed, her son lively and kicking at her side. Tried not to focus on how she was one poor decision, one ignored intuition away from that reality.
A distinction the size of a breath had landed her here. In this hell. Her baby invaded with tubes and coaxed to peaceful slumber only by tears and fatigue, not his mother’s touch and voice and breast.
She looked at the clock. 4:53 am. She’d managed roughly three hours of sleep. More than yesterday, but still not enough to feel refreshed. Perhaps she never would, and maybe she deserved that.
She got up to use her breastfeeding pump. Jabari ate through a feeding tube and had trouble swallowing, but they used as much of her milk as they could. Plus, it soothed her to pump. It was one part of her routine that she could keep.
When she asked herself if there was anything she should focus on there was only one pressing concern: get her baby a new liver.
Once that could be achieved, she would move on to whatever else may need to be done, feel whatever she needed to feel, sue whoever needed to be sued, bury whoever needed to be buried underneath the jail. Anything not immediately related to that would have to wait.
Amara and Mya would likely be here this morning, she thought. Probably with…them. His friends.
Would he even bother? To help, to call, to actually show up?
It didn’t matter to her. She was praying that he didn’t, that he would prove to be the loser he’d shown himself to be when he said he’d call every day, spend weekends together, and all manner of other plans wistfully made in the moonlight with warm lingering kisses and heavy lids. All kinds of lofty speeches, speeches that she had returned and it made her cringe with embarrassment to remember them.
When Amara entered the high stakes poker game with Grayson, Kim instantly knew she wanted to be on that guest list. Because she was a fuckin’ dime, and she needed a real challenge. The six-figure level was nice but… eleven??
She had to get one of those motherfuckers eating out of her hand before she went to her grave. And for a blissful moment, it seemed like she’d succeeded and in record time, even by her standards.
And then he just vanished. On the wings of promises. It took her a full ten days to come to terms with it afterward, after she’d waited a week before she felt justified to start trippin’.
Her Al-Anon group got an earful for a solid two weeks before someone had to tell her the harsh reality lovingly: if her junkie parents never failed to get a hold of her, then he was more than capable.
It wasn’t a mixup, wasn’t a misunderstanding. He wasn’t dead in a ditch somewhere or in jail, or in a coma. He was alive and well, and that was it. He wasn’t coming back.
If any man could slip through her defenses, however, it was Bel Hafiz. Or should she say, Prince Belkacem al Malwali of Ghassan, a name which anyone with an internet connection and the inclination could discover? And she’d had both of those.
He was a rich, handsome, pampered royal. Prince of one of those mid-east puzzle pieces that sat on a big bubbling wellspring of oil and therefore didn’t need to follow the rules. No wonder he had no conscience, using women as playthings. Toying with their minds because he was bored enough with just using their bodies.
She supposed she should feel accomplished to make it onto such a man’s radar. It had never been about the money for her, not directly. It was about power, about having access to the most untouchable men in the world— and making them beg for it. It hadn’t quite happened that way, and unfortunately, she had to learn the hard way how the 1% get down.
At 8 am Dr. Journegan came in to speak to her about finding a live donor.
It was a relatively new alternative to the traditional transplant which would allow her son to bypass the waiting list. Her hopes rose to nearly normal levels for the first time in 24 hours. She wasn’t used to such a quick turnaround, but she took the lifeline, trusted it. She was at one of the best children’s hospitals in the country. All Jabari would need is someone who shared his blood type to give him a piece of their liver and let it regenerate.
“My blood type is different, but my friends will be here today, and I know they’ll all be willing to try.”
“What about Jabari’s dad?”
“I honestly don’t know.”
“Don’t know…” prompted Dr. Journegan.
“Don’t know where he is, if he’s planning to be here, what his blood type is, how to reach him…nothing.”
“Gotcha,” answered the doctor. She didn’t bother telling Dr. Journegan the father’s identity. She likely wouldn’t believe it if she did. Let him come and confirm it himself.
She suspected that Bel probably knew it all by now— not only that there was a baby but that he was sick. Kim was ready to see fully what kind of man he was. She’d long ago confronted the harsh reality that despite being a gorgeous, wealthy, successful businessman, he was full of nothing but worms. Psychopathic ones.
“But… we have mutual friends so I can find out.”
“The sooner we have a match, the sooner we can begin,” said the doctor.
“How long will it take?”
“About four to six weeks to schedule the surgery.”
Kim thought she would faint. They were telling her that she would have to wait. Which meant that she would inevitably have to do something else other than be in this room, while her baby stayed in this room. She would have to eat, sleep, laugh, go outside, live life while this thing, this one thing that mattered, busied itself with the process of getting done. Dr. Journegan saw the same ashen complexion she’d seen many times.
“There’s a chance we could expedite your son’s case, but it would still be three to four weeks of him here.”
“What can I do?”
“In the meantime? Feed him, hold him, talk to him, go home and get some sleep when you’re ready. Write in the journal we provided, trust me. Give Jabari a piece of his life to look back on. It doesn’t seem like it right now, but you’re going to forget how all of this felt.”
Kim nodded, fighting back emotion.
“This is gonna be his home for the next month or so. As soon as you know of a match contact Mindy anytime, day or night. We’ll be looking for matches as well, but we prefer family or friends.”
With Nurse Mindy’s help, Kim got Jabari fed and clothed for the day. She forced herself to do her habitual counting blessings ritual as she held Jabari as close as she could while he was hooked up to machines. Jabari was alive, instead of dead as he should have been. And instead of being dead as she should have been, she not only had a college degree but a law degree, a swanky apartment in the city less than a mile from the hospital downtown, an assistant, a six-figure income, and a beautiful boy that was technically a prince. She laughed.
“Prince Jabari,” she lilted. He had a thin tube taped to the side of his cheek that led to his nose, and a pacifier in his mouth. His eyes and skin were still the dark yellow they had turned the night before last. But his eyes were as lively as ever, and she’d barely heard him cry since last night, almost as if he was suffering but remembering to spare her. It, in turn, made her want to cry but she wanted to spare him too.
She did have to credit Bel with accomplishing what no man before him had been able to: successfully penetrate her. And then impregnate her.
It had been a painful, sometimes tedious, sometimes embarrassing ordeal. But she’d been so tired of being defective, so tired of defeat that it had been worth it. And he’d somehow made it romantic, something intimate that they could always share without having to say a word.
He was the first man whom she’d ever let take care of her, and she was ruined. It had been a moment in her tumultuous life as gorgeous as the man himself.
He’d strung her along the full way, just like when she was five, and her stepdad told her that if she followed the end of the rainbow, she was sure to see a leprechaun. And like she had done at five years old— when an hour and fifteen minutes later she was utterly lost and unsuccessful— she’d blamed herself.
She felt a bit embarrassed to be as surprised as she was, in hindsight. The moment she laid eyes on Bel, she knew she was in the room with the alpha to end all alphas. Even with his laid-back facade, he exuded authority so palpable it was almost fatherly. For him, she was likely small potatoes.
It certainly made for an interesting story. She had to keep reminding herself that she accomplished what she’d naively set out to, which was get pregnant by a gorgeous billionaire. Not to mention that a weekend was technically deemed an acceptable ghosting period. But it had been so so intense, and the promise of love had blinded her, dulled every sense she had. When it was over it was like a death, a searing pain just as blinding.
And then came Jabari. And it was as though none of it mattered.
The luxury, the security, the love that she sought wasn’t real love at all. Love was giving and giving up. And for the first time in her life, she finally had the true kind.
She was beyond grateful. Even to be where she was, in the worst pit of boiling regret and helplessness, she was on some level thankful to have something to care about this much, something tangible. If there was anything her tumultuous unbelievable life had taught her, it was gratitude.
She would have to do everything she could in her power to make sure that nothing or no one could take Jabari away from her.
It was still only about 9 am. Her assistant Chandra was probably already at the office. Right when she had that thought, a text came in from her: FMLA papers leave on your desk or send to the hospital?
Chandra was an angel sent from heaven, and when this ordeal was over, she was going to steal her back from whoever would inevitably poach her while she was gone, because she would not be returning to work, just as Chandra had anticipated.
About an hour or two later she got a call from Mya.
“Hey, we just landed are you still at the hospital?”
“Girl, yes I haven’t left.”
“Okay, give us about 20-30 minutes.”
“Is Bel with y’all?”
“No, but I thought you didn’t want him to know??”
Kim was too embarrassed to ever admit to the girls that he’d up and vanished.
It was a good thing they’d all been too busy in life to catch up with her much after that weekend. Otherwise, they would’ve gotten an earful of all her future plans with Bel.
Then she’d have had to admit that he’d never communicated with her again, even after she left him a gaggle of voicemails. It was easier to just frame it as the baby transaction she’d initially made it out to be.
They didn’t suspect that any news that they had about Bel was the only news about him she could get her hands on.
“I don’t want him to know, but did anybody listen?”
“Well…sort of. I don’t know. Amara had the guys promise to at least wait ‘til we landed to talk to him but… we’re on the ground now and the only person on their phone right now is me,” Mya suspiciously concluded.
“Right!” urged Kim, accusatory.
Dale grabbed Mya’s hand and kissed it before placing it in his lap, his admission of guilt.
“I talked to him a few hours ago.”
“Dale just said he talked to him a few hours ago.”
Kim’s guts churned.
While she slept, Bel was getting the news from his friend that he had a baby, and that her negligence had landed him in the hospital.
“What’d he say?” Kim tried to sound uninterested.
“Dale says he was in his home country at the time, so even if he hopped on a plane that very second, the soonest he could be here is what… like 8 pm?”
“He hopped on a plane?” Kim asked suspiciously, disbelief in her voice. Mya repeated her question.
“Um, yeah,” Kim heard Dale’s response faintly as if it were obvious.
“Did you hear that?” asked Mya.
“Yeah,” Kim responded, sounding tired.
So Bel was actually on his way. To the hospital. Deep breath, girl, she told herself.
Once Jabari was born, Kim had to face the fact that she would be laying eyes on Bel again eventually at some point. She just planned to be wearing a Diane von Furstenberg jumpsuit with six-inch heels, and her hair blown out when it happened.
He was undoubtedly going to be looking like sex and wealth no matter how he showed up, so she had to get her mind right. A children’s hospital was no place to be engaging in fisticuffs, certainly not the time to be having hot uncensored flashbacks like the ones that had already begun in her head.
Shit. He’d been her first and only. She was too mentally turned around to even think about sleeping with someone else afterward. Then she found out she was pregnant; then she found out she wasn’t anymore, then the next thing she knew she was having a baby.
Her son caused her to tear when coming out, and she thought she’d never want to look at another dick after that. Jabari was the man in her life for only a few short months before disaster hit.
Suddenly now she was thinking of Bel and thus became aware of her body again. Her vagina again, once her bodily protectee, her obsession.
She thought back to the gravitational pull of their first meeting, and that was before the sex. If he showed up all smiles, all sociopathic smoothness, would she even be able to resist? Hell, did she even want to?
Shocks went through her body. Oh no. Would she really betray herself with something so low? She’d seen women do lower things for lesser reasons. She thought back to her mom the prostitute, in the alley. She couldn’t relinquish that kind of power.
But then, if she truly wanted him out of her life, she knew well enough that becoming clingy and desperate would be the way to do it. Either he would flee the scene, or he would show himself to be so despicable, that what’s left of her desire would be completely snuffed out.
Nah, that wasn’t even her style.
She’d have to find the courage to resist him. Sexy beast or not, he didn’t deserve her.
“Call me when you get close. The hospital’s like a maze, I can meet you out front,” Kim said.
“Okay. Any good news?”
“Possibly. The doctor says if I can find somebody with Jabari’s blood type, they can do a live donor transplant just using a piece of someone’s liver. That way I can bypass the waiting list, but that still takes like, four to six weeks, and that’s if I found someone today.”
“It can be anyone?”
“Yeah, just as long as they’re his blood type. The liver regenerates so the piece will grow into a full liver.”
“Oh my God!”
“I know right? Amazing.”
“What’s his blood type?”
“I’m B positive.”
“Girl, don’t even say it. Let’s do it.”
Kim let herself weep with joy a bit. Her boy was going to be okay. The future was back in view. She held the phone, speechless.
“I’ll call you when we get there,” Mya concluded.
“Okay,” Kim sniffed, “I love you so much, girl.”
“We love you. We’re on our way.”
C.L. Donley is a future New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of multicultural and interracial romance, who believes romance novels that are impossible to put down are the only kind that should exist! Armed with a B.A. in English and M.A. in Writing, she is new to the romance game, having written her first novel, Amara's Calling, after discovering the romance genre in September 2017. Donley writes in a style she calls "romantic realism" that is sophisticated yet simple, grounded yet unapologetically escapist, and character-driven rather than plot-driven. This style creates a unique, modern reading experience ideal for book club discussions, personal epiphanies, satisfying re-reads, and the occasional spiraling reviewer! Love it or hate it, fans and critics alike can't deny her talent, and always find themselves coming back for more!
She loves hearing from readers and discussing her favorite parts of her own books, so feel free to indulge her.
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author? I’m a 30-something stay at home mom and have been writing romance for about two years now. I’ve always been a writer, but I always thought writing novels was too daunting. And then one day I realized that I was passionate about romance and it all clicked! I write contemporary romance with heroines of color, since I’m a heroine of color, haha. But they typically take place in small-town or suburban settings like the ones I grew up in.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in the Billionaire’s Club Series?
So, Grayson Davis, the hero of book 1 is this classic alpha billionaire character, but sort of with a twist, because he has a lot of insecurities and flaws which get revealed more and more as you read. Amara is a hybrid heroine that borrows a lot from the “plain jane” trope, and sort of the “naive virgin” trope. But being a heroine of color, she has a lot of unique qualities that also make her a strong, intelligent female character.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I try to strike a balance. I started with a series, because I felt like it was the smart thing to do based on everything I’d read about romance writing. But I’m doing a lot of standalones right now. I’ve done about five already and have only standalones planned for the foreseeable future. I have a few sequels in the early stages, but those won’t be ready for awhile. Obviously, I know that would be a smart business move, but if I’m not feeling it, it just will not come out. And I’d hate to push through and just write something subpar. So I can’t say I’ll never do something. And I hate feeling like I’m ignoring the feedback of my readers, who love the thought of these stories continuing. But I have to remember it was my instincts that made those books successful in the first place. And ultimately I have to trust those instincts first.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must-read.
This is still probably my favorite book of mine, because it was just this burst of creativity that was based on everything that I loved reading at that time, and so it’s pretty true to the billionaire/plain Jane/50 Shades type read, while still being uniquely my style. It’s really great for people who start billionaire romances and reallywantto like them, but just end up DNF’ing them because you just can’t take the nonsense, haha. If you’ve never read me before, I think this is a pretty good book to get your feet wet and see if it’s your jam or not. It’s unconventional, character-driven, subtle, smart and, of course, steamy!
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