I leaned against the wall in the back, motionless, intuition whispering that I was the inspiration for the piece. Incense wafted through the air, the fragrant haze massaging the room, stimulating receptors and heightening senses. Notes of jasmine and vanilla mingled with the melodic cadence coming from the stage. I was concealed in the shadows, but the words shined on me, radiating a message that I was meant to hear. A smirk settled on my lips and I clapped along with the rest of the crowd as the final words were spoken.
Miko waded through the tables, smiling and touching the hands of her followers. She joined her friends, peering over her shoulder as she sat, eyes scanning the room.
The emcee stepped to the microphone and introduced me. The applause commenced before he finished saying my name. I pushed away from the wall and headed toward the front of the club. I took to the stage, the glare from the lights blinding me. I signaled to the engineer to switch it up. The white lights dimmed and a red glow enveloped me. Some of the ladies started to whoop it up. I stood at the mic, head bowed, hands clasped in front of me, until the calls subsided and the room went silent.
“Your ebony skin reminds me of home.
Sacred. Abundant. Lush.
Land waiting to be explored.
Sun in the sky golden like honey waiting to be poured.
Niles that overflow with the waters of life waiting to be tasted.
Exotic and rare species waiting to be wild.
Breezeless deserts as hot as fire waiting to be quenched.
Your ebony skin I’m ready to explore,
with warm honey I’m going to pour,
your flowing waters I’m willing to taste,
rare and exotic I want to see you wild,
your hot fire I promise to quench.
Wait no more.
Take me home to lush lands, golden sun, overflowing Niles,
exotic species and breezeless deserts and I’ll take your sacred ebony to abundant paradise.”
The audience was held captive, chained to the verses, their experiences linked to mine. I took a step back from the microphone. The crowd erupted in cheers.
I cracked a smile and moved back to the mic. “At the last minute, I decided to freestyle a little something tonight. I guess you liked it. Thanks for the love.”
I turned and walked from the stage. I returned to my spot in the shadows while the next spoken word artist performed.
“I loved it,” Miko said, sidling over to me.
I looked down at her. “My muse . . .”
Her ebony skin glowed in the darkness. Natural curls framed her face in a disheveled mass. A tiny stud glistened in her left nostril.
“I was hoping you were talking about me.”
“Who else would I be talking about?”
“Any woman in here.”
I brushed a lock of hair from her eyes. “No one but a Nubian queen could move me to create on the spot.”
“Did you catch my performance?”
“Yeah. I didn’t know you had such a weakness for jewels.”
“I wasn’t talking about j-e-w-e-l-s. I was talking about J-u-l-e-s . . .as in Julian.”
“So I’m the chocolate diamond that glitters in your mind?”
“You knew it was for you, Julian.”
“I did and I was flattered. So I responded with an impromptu ode to you.”
“Which made all of my girls jealous, especially Romel. She can’t stop looking back here now.”
I looked toward her friends’ table. Romel was indeed staring. I leaned over and whispered into Miko’s ear. “Let’s go.”
“Where are we going?”
“Weren’t you paying attention? I want you to take me home, so I can explore every inch of your body.” I grabbed her hand and began leading her to the exit.
“Wait.” She pulled back on my arm. “Let me tell my friends that I’m leaving.”
“Romel will let them know. Look. She’s watching our every move.”
Miko waved to her friend as I led her out of the club.
You Might Just Get Burned
Meet Marcel, Camden, and Julian. They’re all experts at the same game, but each in his own way: Marcel has perfected the art of first impressions and can charm a woman out of her clothes with his hypnotic gaze and dazzling smile; Camden is master of the million-dollar image, donning designer labels and driving exotic cars; and Julian is the king of romance— he’ll pen poetic verses, send a woman flowers, and bathe her by candlelight until she’s drowning in notions of love. Any woman would dream of having one of these men in her life. But what happens when that perfect man turns out to be someone else—a perpetrator named Avery Woodson? Things aren’t always as they seem…
Posing as Marcel, Camden and Julian, Avery has been playing games with women for years. To him they’re entertainment and nothing more. Predictable. Interchangeable. Expendable. Avery enjoys the challenge of collecting hearts, and after each acquisition he pursues an even greater conquest—until he meets Indiya Spencer. He soon finds it hard to toy with Indiya the way he does other women and discovers that he’s not immune to falling for someone. As Avery slips deeper emotionally and falls prey to Indiya’s wiles, it becomes apparent that she’s hiding her own dark secrets. The perpetrator has finally met his match and stands to lose more than just his heart—he might just get consumed by the flames.