Oh yea! It’s finally here and I just couldn’t wait to share it with everyone. Lillian MacKenzie Rhine’s Wronged Desires is now available from Amira Press!
Oh, yea baby! So I wanted to share the excerpt, and every one don’t forget to buy your copy here.
I pulled into my driveway, running late from an overextended meeting that occurred at the end of the day. Sandra would arrive soon for some much needed wine, brie, and the continuation of our juicy gossip from earlier. She was so distracted that morning that it concerned me, but I was determined to get to the bottom of the issue. I sighed audibly for no one in particular to notice, then entered the foyer of my gargantuan estate. Oh how I wish a powerful sultan would break in and steal this horrible rendition of a home for one of his seven daughters. The monstrosity, located in the affluent town of Southlake, Texas, was an eyesore that made the homes surrounding it look like matchboxes in comparison.
My ex-husband made out like a fat rat in the divorce settlement, gaining the beachfront property, the yacht, the jet, and the Bentley. I received the big-ass house and all the hired help with an added bonus of their salaries to pay. I was exhausted thinking of my daily mental rant. Barely nine months has passed since the divorce, and I have no idea what my plans are for the home. We put so much into having the house built from the ground up, and the employees that maintain the estate are like family. I can’t see myself terminating them just because I hate living in a large, dark, and lonely house.
I flicked off the shoes that had caused my feet to ache by lunch, tossed them into the living room, peeled off my blazer to unlatch my bra underneath my silk camisole, and pitched everything in the doorway of the kitchen.
After placing the cheese, grapes, crackers, and berries on a tray for my “girls’ night,” I looked over my shoulder for any invisible spies as I pressed my lips to the mouth of the Pinot bottle. During midswig, a light chuckle startled me into a choking fit. Sandra stood in the doorway with my heels, blazer, and bra in hand. The releasing of my tongue in the hole of the bottle created a popping sound that made Sandra laugh even more. She shook her head, deposited my discarded items on a nearby counter, and retrieved a cloth napkin. “I see old habits will never be broken,” she taunted, handing me the napkin.
Playfully clutching the napkin to wipe my mouth, I asked, “What old habits? I don’t see anything wrong with enjoying a nice bottle of wine in my own home.”
“That’s the problem. You’re living in this gorgeous estate that you got from that cheating-ass husband of yours and you’re literally drinking straight from the bottle. Victoria, I’m sure there are enough wine glasses in your kitchen to serve most of Fort Worth and Dallas combined.” Her constant, gross over-estimation was becoming a new pet peeve.
“With that being said, this is my house that I have to pay for, so I should be able to do what I want in here. Now let’s sit, wine, and dine my friend.” I grabbed the tray of hors d’oeuvres and headed into the living room, which was another part of the house that made my skin crawl. “You know, I had a rough day, especially breaking in those damn shoes you talked me into buying. Sitting on non-plush Italian leather just doesn’t speak to me right now, so let’s relax in my room. You know, like a good, old-fashioned slumber party.”
We walked a short distance down the hallway to the master suite, my haven. I crawled onto my high-standing queen-size bed, which was covered in taupe bedding and as many pillows as were able to sit against the iron rod headboard without falling off the mattress. I sat the tray off to the side, patting the bed for Sandra to sit. She laid my things inside of my closet, carefully removing her shoes and setting them next to the bed. When she sat down I saw her blushed cheeks and the puffiness around her eyes.
“Have you been crying, Sandra?” Her eyes slowly met mine as she painfully shifted her face into as pitiful a portrayal of a smile that I’d ever seen. “Sandra?” Watching her try to hold up a firm front was weakening my heartstrings.
“Don’t worry about it, Victoria. All is well, so pour me some wine.” Her glance turned away from me and I reached out, placing my hand on her shoulder, inviting her to reveal her emotions. “Carlos was supposed to be back today, but like always he extended his load. I’m so fed up with this bullshit,” she said atop the flood of tears that escaped her eyes. Scooping her into my arms, brushing my hands against her mass of waves and curls, I gave as much physical support as I could.
In all the years that I had known Sandra, she would get pissed or heated, but she had never broken-down. I was ruined seeing her like that, but in the true show of Sandra’s strength, the finish came as fast as the start. We were the same age, but I cradled her in my arms, laying my cheek to her brow, rocking her like a newborn babe. I wanted to do something to vanquish her hurt and pain. My silence was all I could do at that moment. Then a sudden sound made us both look up at the door in surprise. I heard the familiar drop of car keys on the counter.
I froze. “What the hell was that?” Then he appeared in my bedroom doorway taking in the scene of Sandra shoeless, hair a fright, situated almost in my lap.
“Well, well, well. Didn’t take you long to hop that fence I see,” he blurted in an arrogant manner, turning tail.
Sandra backed away from me, her face beet red with shame. Waiting to decipher her feelings, I inched off the bed and followed him.
“Kem, what the hell are you doing in my home?”
He snickered, heading to the refrigerator and removing two bottles of spring water.
“Kemington Sutter.” I was fuming mad. “Answer me!” I stamped my foot on the kitchen tile like a child throwing a fit. He popped the cap off one bottle and placed it on the counter in front of me, then opened his own bottle and took a gulp while keeping his visual focus locked in on me. The clacking of heels came down the hallway. Before jetting to catch her, I asked him through gritted teeth, “Kemington Sutter? Again, I demand to know why you are here. And how in the hell did you get through the gate?”
“Vic, sweetheart, you look absolutely peaked, like you’ve seen a ghost. Drink your water before you collapse. Oh, and you two didn’t need to stop the office sexual harassment on my account. I’ll go to my room and give you both some privacy.” He chortled and walked out of the kitchen.
My anger was beginning to overtake me but the opening of the front door entrance turned my focus as I caught her before she could shut the door. “Sandra, are you okay? I didn’t know Kem was coming over. I promise I didn’t know.” I placed my hand on her shoulder and whispered in hushed tones, “Sandra, let’s talk about—”
“No,” she interrupted. “I’m fine, Victoria. I’ll see you at the office tomorrow, okay?” She clutched her things tighter to her side. “Sandra, please wait. Let me get rid of Kem,” I pleaded.
“No, Victoria. I have to go. I’m sorry for the moment of weakness. Don’t worry about me, everything will work itself out. I’m positive of it.” With that, she stepped out the front door skirting out the gates. What is really happening? I’ve never seen Sandra in that shape before. Kemington! That asshole will answer to me, that I’m sure of. I was so furious that I stormed through every room in the main house, finding Kem sprawled out in one of the guest suites. The visual of his luggage sitting in the corner made me gag.
“Kemington Sutter, if you don’t start explaining yourself, I’m calling security.”
“Grounds security?” He leaned up on his elbows looking at me. “Who do you think let me in?” He lay back, laughing.
“You are not allowed in this house. My house. The guard will be dealt with in the morning, but you need to leave this instant.”
“I’m not going anywhere. And what were you doing with your assistant in the master bedroom, Vic? You both looked very cozy.” My level of rage skyrocketed just listening to him questioning my motives.
I stalked to the bedside, towering over him. “You’ve got your nerve questioning me. Get the hell out of my house!” Kem slitted one eye at me while the other remained closed.
“Yell at me again, and I’ll be calling security on you.” He grinned, making my body betray me on the spot. His smile was my kryptonite. I crumbled inside, and the protective gates around my heart rose a little, allowing him to grasp my hand. I sat on the bed next to him. “Vic, if you must know, the condo is being fumigated for black mold and all the five stars are booked solid, so I came home to visit my Babygirl.”
I clenched my jaw. Babygirl. Kem could win any argument by calling me that pet name, the same nickname my grandmother bestowed upon me when I came into her care as an infant. Even though he and I started dating during our undergrad years at Texas A&M, he was able to form an unbreakable bond with my grandmother, who he affectionately referred to as Nan. He loved her as if she was his own blood until she passed away shortly after we received our master’s degrees in Business, and I loved him for that. As for the weekend business trips, thoughts of other women, and frivolous spending, those were all the things that made me loathe him to the core.
“Fumigation? Black mold? What about four-star hotels, Kem?” Damn why did I say that? I grimaced, knowing an onslaught was coming.
“Four star? Me, in a four star? Come on, be reasonable, Vic. I have never and will never walk into a four star, let alone sleep in one. I’m not discussing this any further. I will be here for the next month and that’s the end of that.”
“End of what? Oh, hell no. We’re going to figure this out. And what the hell do you mean a month? No, that’s not going to work.”
Kem rolled his eyes and kicked his legs out next to me on the side of the bed. He stood, raising his shirt over his head and revealing the six-pack hiding under a six-pack. I had to avert my vision once I caught sight of the “Babygirl” tattoo on his ribs. Without a peep and with defeat looming I rose, leaving Kem to disrobe.
I sauntered barefoot through the halls to the master suite while memories of Kem and I clouded my mind. We met in a freshman economics class on the first day of class. The professor decided it was a wonderful idea to match the quiet, invisible black girl with the popular, athletic white boy. At the time I was an academic scholar from meager beginnings, raised by my grandmother, who was the only mother I knew. Since I was the valedictorian of my high school graduating class in Houston, I was awarded my pick of top business schools in and out of the country, but I chose to be an Aggie and stayed close to home. Kemington Sutter, wealthy trust-fund heir, was the green-eyed, sandy-brown-haired, drop-dead gorgeous tennis captain all the women—eligible or not—swooned over, especially when he took the court in his white shorts and auburn shirt.
With cockiness bleeding from his pores, he approached me on the first day of class, the green-eyed devil with only a few tattoos on his arms at that time. I resisted his charm for months, but by the second semester we were dating and making passionate love every evening like we were shooting for high marks on a statewide sex exam.
I remember the first time I took him home to meet my grandmother. He was dressed in a suit and tie like he was meeting the Queen of England. She reamed him good the first few visits, but it was an awe-inspiring experience to see him in the kitchen with her, cutting and battering tomatoes while the two chatted, unaware that I was viewing the tender moment. Next thing I knew, she took ill and Kem started footing the bill for her medical care, not settling for anything less than the best medicines and specialists Texas could provide. Every Sunday we would take the hour’s drive to have church service with her and dinner until she passed away.
The day he proposed was something I would have never imagined. Kem knew I had insecurities about us dating, mainly due to his parents being very vocal about me not being a proper suitor for their son, a Sutter heir. I constantly received awful scowls from my peers and hurtful, backhanded comments from his family. Kem had been grown to be an eligible, elite bachelor for any of the prosperous Texas-bred debutantes. His choice of a lower-middle-class black girl with no familial background outside of her grandmother was unacceptable by all. Those things alone were enough to give anyone doubts, but then the last tennis tournament of the season in our senior year occurred. Of course I was present in the front row of the bleachers, cheering Kem on. That season the team was undefeated, so it was no surprise that they slaughtered the visitors in the final game.
As Kem approached the net to shake his opponent’s hand, the stadium lights were glaring on his sweat-soaked shirt. Suddenly he was taking his cap off, shaking out his wet cinnamon hair, and lifting his jersey off to reveal his muscular chest and bulging abs. Screams erupted from all of the scandalous women who wanted to steal him away. As they were celebrating the free show he was giving, tears started to form when I caught sight of his purpose of putting himself on display. All the shouting started to die down when the onlookers knew what I knew. In big, bold lettering, Kem had “Babygirl” inked permanently over his left-side ribs. He shouted to the masses, “Victoria, you are now and will always be my rib until my last breath. Will you do me the honor of being Mrs. Kemington Sutter? Please marry me, Babygirl!”