Rituals for Love (9781476761893)

BOOK: Rituals for Love (9781476761893)
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Dear Reader:

Shamara Ray has created another contemporary romance novel with a culinary theme. The author, a culinary artist, treated readers with her debut novel,
Recipe for Love
, in which she shared her own delicious recipes.

Mixing their Long Island businesses with pleasure are Cain and Jade, lovers and friends, who are restaurateurs in competition. Follow the journey of the duo's relationship as they join forces to open Genesis in New York City. Get ready for the roller coaster of love and the food industry and find out if teaming up will lead to success or failure in both career and romance.

Check out Shamara's other romantic tales,
Close Quarters
and
You Might Just Get Burned.
And if you haven't tried any of her recipes, you'll find them in
Recipe for Love.

As always, thanks for supporting the authors of Strebor Books. We always try to bring you groundbreaking, innovative stories that will entertain and enlighten. I can be located at
www.facebook.com/AuthorZane
or reached via email at
[email protected]
.

Blessings,

Publisher

Strebor Books

www.simonandschuster.com

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.

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For Love

CHAPTER ONE
CAIN

T
he flight attendant approached with another scotch and soda. She leaned over and placed it on my tray, lingering a little too long. I looked at my watch for the third time in as many minutes. My flight out of Atlanta was delayed. No word on when we'd be leaving the gate. I fingered my cell phone, contemplating whether or not to call Jade. She'd be pissed. Her birthday party was starting in ninety minutes, and there I was stuck on a plane.

The pilot announced, yet again, that we would be taking off momentarily. His definition of momentarily did not sync with my own. An hour had passed since I boarded the plane; his promises of a swift takeoff, unfulfilled. Thankfully, I was sitting in first-class and not crammed into coach. My six-foot frame didn't fare well in the smaller seats. The gentleman next to me was quietly snoring, having fallen asleep within minutes of taking his seat. I unlocked my phone and prepared to call Jade to tell her the last thing she would want to hear. I scrolled through my address book for Jade's name and then something wonderful happened. The plane started to back away from the gate. My prayers had been answered. I exhaled audibly and powered off my phone. I'd be late, but I was finally on my way.

Jade had been my lady for the past year. We had known each
other for quite some time before we started dating. She was one of my biggest competitors when we met. In fact, she still held the distinction. We're restaurateurs. Our establishments are two of the most popular places to dine in Long Island. Jade owns Rituals and I'm the proud proprietor of Eden.

I hadn't done too bad for myself for a little black boy from Brooklyn. In addition to Eden, I owned a technology company, a few franchises, and had an extremely lucrative career in real estate. No, I hadn't done bad at all. Growing up, I had been taught that hard work pays off. I lived by those words and they hadn't failed me yet. My pops drilled it into me that if I worked hard enough, I could have whatever I desired in life. He was right. I had gratifying careers, homes in New York and Atlanta, and a woman I loved. What else could a man want or need?

The pilot assured us that we would be taking off in two minutes. I checked that my seatbelt was fastened and finally relaxed. I should have called Jade to tell her I was running late, but I didn't want to upset her on her special day. If we actually took off within the next couple of minutes, I'd only be an hour and fifteen minutes late. Only. Jade certainly would not consider being over an hour late for her birthday party as
only
an hour. Especially since she asked me to return to New York the day before in order to prevent this exact situation from happening. I shook my head. I should have listened to her.

I was hoping that she'd be preoccupied with last-minute arrangements, or having a celebratory drink with her girls, and not notice that I didn't get myself there on time. I'd have to head straight to Rituals for the party. No going home to shower and change. As soon as we landed, I'd jet through the airport and meet my car service at the curb at arrivals. Only then would I give Jade a call—once
I was in the car and on my way. That would be a much better time to do any explaining, rather than while I was sitting at the gate on a plane in Atlanta.

We were finally in the air and the flight attendant returned to deliver a fresh drink. She had taken my last untouched one before we took off. She touched my shoulder and smiled as she handed me the amber liquid. I politely thanked her and took a swig. I think she thought I was going to say something more. She stood over me, still smiling, with an expectant look in her eyes. I nodded and thanked her again. She turned and went back to the galley. I knew that smile well. It was an invitation. An invitation I had received many times over the years. Too many times to count, in fact. It was an invitation that would go unopened and returned to sender. Jade was the only woman to whose inviting smile I responded.

I loved that woman. Loved her in ways that surprised me, even after a year. Jade wasn't the first woman I had ever loved, but I could see her being the last. She was the type of woman that you'd give your last name. Smart. Savvy. Sexy. A good girl, but bad when it counted. Beautiful inside and out. She wasn't perfect, but she was perfect for me. When we first started dating, her knucklehead ex-boyfriend was hanging around, having a hard time understanding it was over. It took a major conflict on the island of Antigua for him to finally get it; but that's ancient history now and Jade is my woman.

I smiled to myself. I had been in Atlanta for a week interviewing chefs for my newest restaurant, and I missed my lady. I was looking forward to celebrating with my baby; however, I was more excited to get to our own private after-party. I glanced at my watch. Damn. I would've been on time if my flight hadn't been delayed. No, I knew better. I had no one to blame except myself. Airlines
were unpredictable. I'd been flying long enough to know that. I should've given myself more of a buffer instead of scheduling my departure with only a few hours to spare before the party.

I reclined back in my seat and stared at the one in front of me. No matter how fast the plane traveled, it wouldn't be fast enough. I closed my eyes and prayed for very little turbulence.

CHAPTER TWO
JADE

I
twirled in the mirror. The knee-length, ruched dress fit perfectly, but the color was off. I wasn't feeling it. When I bought the dress, I thought it would be a nice touch—Jade wearing jade. Staring at myself in the mirror, I realized that green was not my best color. That was the third time I had tried it on. For some reason, I kept hoping it would look better. I slipped out of the dress and tossed it back onto the growing pile on the chaise lounge in my bedroom. I had half an hour to pull it together before I was due to leave the house. I sat on the edge of the bed in my bra and panties and ran my fingers through my hair. I was going to be late. I had plenty of outfits that I could wear, but I needed something special. It was my birthday and there was no way that I'd show up to my own party looking less than spectacular.

I had assured both of my girls that I didn't require any assistance getting ready for the evening. I promised to arrive on time and that I'd let them do all of the work. I was instructed to simply enjoy myself. Any details involving the staff, food, music or guests, were to be left to them. They didn't have anything to worry about from me. I was ready to drink and party. Nothing more, nothing less. However, I could've used a bit of help getting ready. I checked the clock on my nightstand. It was too late to call in back-up. Bria and Milan were most definitely already at Rituals. I didn't know
where Cain could possibly be. He was supposed to call me when he landed and I had yet to hear from him. I wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing. Maybe he was late or maybe he was out buying me a gift. Who knew? Either way, I didn't have time to dwell on his whereabouts. I marched myself back into my walk-in closet, determined to find my look for the night. I pushed hangers to the left and right, tugged outfits off the rack, and held them up to get a better view. I scoured every inch of each rack and then I saw it. I had almost forgotten about that dress. I had only worn it once. Short. Ivory. Tight. Sleeveless. Straps that crisscrossed over the chest. It was sensual. Just the look I wanted to achieve.

I emerged victorious from the closet and took a seat at my vanity to assess my hair. I was planning to wear it down in loose curls, but letting it hang over my shoulders would take away from the revealing crisscrossing of the dress. I grabbed my brush, quickly pulled my hair up and styled a top knot. A spritz of finishing spray, a final smooth with the brush and not a hair out of place. I expertly applied a smoky eye and matte red lipstick. I rifled through my jewelry box and extracted a pair of long dangle earrings with plenty of bling. I held them next to my ears and smiled. I liked—no, loved—what I saw.

The past year had brought many changes to my life. The restaurant that I owned with my best friend was thriving. We made the decision to expand and it was the best thing we could have ever done. It was filled day and night just as we had always dreamed it would be. And then there was Cain. A man I almost counted out because of inaccurate preconceived notions about who I thought he was. Cain came into my life and changed my outlook on love. He helped me to entrust my heart to someone after it had been so poorly taken care of in the past. He was smart, patient, caring, generous and so damn sexy. Cain was contentment.

Cain and I dove head first into our relationship. We absolutely did not take it slow. I chuckled to myself at the memory of our courtship, if you could call it that. We had known each other for over two years, and he wasn't on my radar. I had been in a relationship with someone else and newly single when Cain and I went on our first date. By our second date, I was in his hot tub in my underwear. He had that effect on me. Fast forward a year later, the thought of him still warmed me from the inside out. I loved him and what he represented in my life. Cain was all man. He knew how to be a man and the way to treat a woman. Not just me but all women. His respect for women was evident by his interactions with them—old, young and everything in between. He'd open doors, delight you with a compliment, and make you aware of your femininity. With Cain, chivalry was alive and well. He once told me that his mother was looking down on him from heaven and he wanted her to see the man he had become. I was proud to be able to call him my man. He was a good one and I wasn't letting him go.

BOOK: Rituals for Love (9781476761893)
3.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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