I am so excited about this series, inspired by an online book club chat in which the readers were asked what they wanted in romance novels that they didn’t currently see. A few members said, “Regular guys.” Instantly, my mind went to the wonderful men I know who may live ordinary (whatever that is) lives, but who have extraordinary character, faith, integrity, skill, and personalities. From Papa Nash, the farmer, who as a childless single man in his forties married my grandmother, who came with five grown kids, and who was kind and funny and hardworking, and the best grandfather ever! To my dad, Rev. Willie Hinton, Jr., who when not in the pulpit worked construction before starting his own lawn business; my brother, Johnny, and the many men all over this country who’ve provided such great examples to pull from in writing this series.
When thinking about occupations for the five Carter brothers, bus driver was the first one that came to mind. For no special reason, I thought, except that it sounded blue collar. Then a couple months into the writing I got the news that a twenty-five-year-long friend, who was more like a brother to me, had earned his angel wings. “Foot,” to whom this book is dedicated, was a father, son, brother, uncle, musician, singer, songwriter, radio announcer, and life of the party wherever he was. It was another month or so before it hit me. His first job? The one he had when I met him? Bus driver for the Kansas City metro. Felt rather like a full-circle moment that made me smile. Interesting how life works out.
A huge thank you to my sister, Dee, the certified peer specialist whose information and insight helped Cynthia’s character come alive, and also prevented her from breaking American Counseling Association rules.
Love you, sis! As always, to Team Zuri including Selena, Natasha, and Janice for the spot-on cover, smooches. To the Lovely Day VIPs, members of A Lovely Day Experience, supporters, and friends who sent love, light, and prayers to assist this book’s completion, amen! To all ordinary brothers who are extraordinary men . . . thank you.
“Byron . . . this feels so good.”
A cocksure smile appeared on his face as Byron Carter enjoyed one of his favorite pastimes, pleasing his woman. He led this timeless dance of love with precision, establishing a rhythmic beat with his hips, and melody with his lips. Without warning, he stopped. She opened her eyes to find him staring at her.
“You’re beautiful.” Raining kisses on her face—eyes, nose, cheeks—he began to grind again. Slowly. Reverently. As if she were priceless china, or handblown glass.
“I love you.” He kissed her then, so tenderly and lovingly that the act almost brought tears to her eyes.
This is what my BFFs don’t understand about why I’m with you. This is the feeling of being loved that Dynah and Gayle can’t grasp because, sadly, it’s a depth I’m sure they’ve never experienced. If they had, they’d accept you without question, and be happy for me.
“Is this enough for you, huh?” No answer, just eyes back, mouth slack. His hips stopped mid-motion. “I didn’t hear you.”
“Yes,” she eked out between pants. She moved her hips feverishly, the spot he’d branded missing its iron. “Please . . .”
He chuckled, happy to be in bed with this woman, the love of his life.
For long minutes this continued, until her panting became more labored. Though not a singer, as this first orgasm began in her core and spiraled to her cranial, her voice went from a guttural low tenor moan to a respectable High C squeak. Some men would consider themselves finished after such a performance. But for Byron Carter, if there weren’t multiple moments of ecstasy for his woman, then he felt he wasn’t doing his job.
Listening to her breathy mewling as her body twitched and muscles gripped his still-hard rod, he felt his own imminent climax begin to build. Using discipline honed in the sixteen years he’d been sexually active, he stopped, held himself against her as she relaxed beneath him. They’d just begun. On such a special morning, it wouldn’t do for him to come too soon.
When he felt her lips touch his neck in the lightest of kisses, he began to stir again. This woman was everything, and not just because of the body beneath him that so turned him on. Cynthia, the one some had thought was above his pay grade, and others believed he could never have. Whether it could happen or not had never been a question in his mind. He was a Carter, and can’t wasn’t in his family’s vocabulary. Now whether or not it
happen had been a point up for grabs.
Suddenly and without warning, before she could catch her breath, Byron adjusted his body so he could say good morning to the berry-colored nipple now aligned with his lips. He flicked his tongue. Goose bumps appeared, a seeming contradiction to the hot breath coming from his mouth, or the way Cynthia’s body arched when he laved his tongue across the now-pebbled protrusion before gently sucking it into his oral entrance. Her body was his breakfast and he ate his fill, turned her over, and filled her up. Moans, grunts, and heavy breaths replaced the bird’s good morning. Sweet release was the dew that moistened their skin. Again she began to tremble, her voice repeating its earlier song, eyes shut, toes curled. This time Byron joined her, ground himself into her velvety softness as liquid love flowed from his soul to hers. But instead of allowing the moment to slowly subside into a cozy cuddle, he encouraged her to lie on her back, pressed his lips against hers, and rolled out of bed.
“Hey, where are you going?”
“To take a shower.”
“What if I’m not ready for it to be over?”
Byron stopped, turned around. “That’s how I always want to leave you, baby . . . wanting more.”
She huffed with annoyance but joined him in the shower. He understood her hunger. For these single parents these were treasured moments alone, when his daughter spent the weekend with her mother and her son enjoyed a play date with friends. Still, after refusing to give in to her greedy demands for yet another round with his six-inch supersexer—his word—Byron slipped on a pair of boxers and headed for the bright and airy kitchen of Cynthia’s bi-level condo.
“Are you fixing breakfast?”
Byron laughed. “It’s either that or starve, since you’re not cooking.”
He walked to the refrigerator, opened the door, and felt a sting as Cynthia popped his butt with a dish towel. Slowly turning around, his eyes narrowed. Cynthia’s grew large. “You shouldn’t have done that, girl.” His look was purposely predatory as he took a step toward her.
“I’m sorry!” Spoken through laughter, the apology hardly sounded sincere. She took two steps back. After a couple more steps he made a quick move around the island and reached out to grab her.
Cynthia yelped, ran into the living room, and quickly put the couch between them. “Really, Byron, cut it out. Let’s make breakfast together. I’m hungry.”
“No, girl. You started something. I’m going to finish it.”
He captured her and soon they were tousling on the couch. Cynthia hated to be tickled, so, of course, that’s what he did. Wearing just a spaghetti top and panties, her entire body was fair game.
“Stop! Byron! Stop it!”
She begged. He laughed. The teasing turned into a tantalizing kiss. His tongue began a journey from her stomach to her freshly showered treasure. Cynthia shifted to give access. Both froze when the doorbell rang.
Byron spoke first. “Who’s that?”
“I don’t know!” was Cynthia’s panicked whisper. “Jayden isn’t due back until tomorrow!” They both looked toward the door for answers. “Let’s just stay quiet so whoever it is will go away.”
The doorbell rang twice more before an incessant knocking started. “Cynthia, we know you’re in there. Open the door!”
Byron arched a brow. “Whoever that is sounds determined to see you.”
“Shit!” She pushed Byron off of her and scurried off the couch. “It’s Gayle, a friend from Chicago.” The whisper had lessened to near pantomime. “What’s she doing here?”
Byron thought of their situation, the big secret, and shrugged.
This is going to be good.
“Um, just a minute.”
She ushered him up the stairs and was right on his heels. After grabbing and throwing on a robe, she scurried back downstairs. She hoped her look wasn’t one of just-been-screwed and WTH
but felt that chance was most unlikely.
She opened the door. “Gayle!” Seeing another woman, she added, “And you, too?”
“What took you so long to answer?” This from Dynah, another BFF, who was straining her neck to see what lie behind the door numbered 215.
“I’m the one who should be asking the questions.” Cynthia crossed her arms, still blocking their entry. “What on earth are you two doing here?”
“Being your best friends,” Gayle replied, pushing her way into Cynthia’s home without being invited. “We’re here to talk some sense into you.”
“Before you make the biggest mistake of your life!” Dynah’s eyes never stopped moving, visually inspecting the room like she was CSI.
Thank God he’s in the bedroom.
Cynthia hoped Ms. Snoop couldn’t smell sex in the air.
Jesus be an air freshener!
Inside she was cringing, but relaxed her stance. “And what mistake would that be?”
“Probably me.” Three pairs of eyes watched a jeans and tee-clad Byron walk calmly down the stairs. He came up next to Cynthia, put a casual arm around her waist, and split a challenging yet slightly amused look between her two unexpected guests. “Ladies . . . am I right?”