Here is a snippet of the project I'm currently working on. I don't have a release date and it's nowhere near complete. This is unedited and highly subject to change. The words are all mine but I'm sharing 'cause I'm nice like that. Enjoy!
It was well past 11a.m. which is when Shanice’s colleagues decided to break for lunch but it was Wednesday and that meant she elected to wait until 2p.m. to leave the office for her midday meal so she was on a solo trip but that didn’t both her in the least. As the only child of two people who were only children themselves, Shanice was used to doing things alone and most of the time she preferred it that way. Although she loved Jeremy, she had yet to find someone whose company she craved more than her own. She couldn’t tell Jeremy that though. Fragile male feelings and all of that jazz.
Nonetheless, it was after two in the afternoon and she was finally able to have her late lunch because 2p.m. was when Capital Grill opened. As she entered the building the smells of smoke and spice engulfed her and a giddy smile appeared on her face as images from the new Spring menu ran through her mind. She approached the hostess stand and nodded at the two women who stood there.
They chimed back in unison. One of the women stepped around the wide podium with a menu clutched to her chest. Her fire engine red hair, which complemented her caramel skin tone surprisingly well, was gathered at the crown of her head in a top knot.
“Table for one?” She asked with a smile.
Shanice shook her head. “Not today, I’m just going to place a to go order and head back to my office.”
The woman’s smile turned sympathetic and her tone was the same as she said, “Oh, I’m sorry but we don’t offer take-out here at Capital Grill.”
Say what now? Shanice frowned. “Is that a new policy or something?”
“No ma’am. Not new at all. We’ve never offered take-out. A few customers have requested it over the years but the owner has stood firm with his decision to forgo it. I do apologize. If you are on a time constraint I can speak to your waiter and see about having your order bumped up in the queue so that it comes out sooner than usual. We just opened about twenty minutes ago so it shouldn’t be a problem in the kitchen.”
While Shanice appreciated the woman’s willingness to accommodate her, she was pretty confused. No take-out? How? Shanice had been ordering her lunch to go from Capital Grill every Wednesday for the past seven weeks so her confusion was warranted. In fact the same guy took her order every week and handed her a clamshell container inside of a paper bag with fabric handles with no question or objection. She didn’t want to be a problem customer but Shanice needed to get to the bottom of this. Just as she opened her mouth to ask the two women about the male hostess who usually worked every Wednesday, the man himself came jogging around the corner with his eyes on his wrist watch. All three women watched as he approached the podium and fixed his eyes on Shanice. His face lit up and Shanice felt an answering smile lift the corners of her lips. The thrum of her pulse alerted her that there was a very real other reason she came to Capital Grill every Wednesday and it just might be to see this gorgeous specimen of a man.
Every time she saw him his plump, pink lips were curved into a smile, revealing a lone dimple in his left cheek. His long, lean frame was always covered in a crisp white dress shirt that stretched across his broad shoulders and fitted black slacks as per the apparent uniform of Capital Grill employees and his sandy brown hair was cropped on the sides but long and curly on top in a way that was popular and everywhere but Shanice couldn’t deny she found the style attractive. She found him attractive.
“Hey,” he said as he came to stand a couple of feet in front of her, hands shoved in his pockets. “Is it that time already?”
With an eyebrow raised Shanice slowly nodded. He had to be a good 6 or 7 inches taller than her 5’4. His square jaw was swoon worthy and baby-bottom smooth. This guy was probably straight out of high school. If she leaned in close enough Shanice could probably still smell breast milk on his breath. His youth was why he was strictly for looking and not touching. But oh, boy did she wish she could touch. And kiss. And lick. And suck.
“Indeed. However I’ve just been informed that Capital Grill doesn’t offer take-out so I’m glad you’re here to offer some clarity.”
The guy glanced behind him and gave the two women a sheepish grin. If Shanice didn’t know better she would mistake the pink tinge on his cheeks as a blush.
“Ashley, Mia, I’ll take care of her.” He turned towards Shanice. “Follow me please.” She nodded and trailed behind him through the restaurant until they arrived at the bar.
He indicated for her to take a seat and waited for her to climb onto one of the bar stools before doing the same. He handed her a menu that she hadn’t notice him grab from the hostess stand.
“So what’ll it be today?”
Shanice placed the menu on the bar top and swiveled in her seat to face the handsome young man. His skin was the color of English toffee which just so happened to be her favorite candy. “First, can you tell me whether or not take-out is offered here? The hostess said it’s not but you and I know that I’ve obviously been doing just that for the past couple of months so what’s going on?”
He smiled and that dimple in his left cheek winked at her. “Technically…” He drew the word out and trailed off.
He laughed. “Okay, technically not or rather just plain old no.”
“Yeah, I’ve been hooking you up every week.”
“But why? I don’t need a hook up, you could have just told me no that first time.”
He smirked at her. “Have you seen yourself? It’s hard as hell to say no to that gorgeous face.”
Shanice laughed even as her face heated. She slapped his shoulder lightly. “Boy, stop.”
“Stop what? Telling the truth?”
She laughed again, shaking her head, and pulled her menu towards her. “Let me go ahead and order. Now that your secret’s out I’m not going to keep coming in here asking for a forbidden service.”
“Don’t ruin our thing over a technicality.”
“Yeah, I break the rules for you while we both pretend not to want each other.”
Her laugh carried across the room. “Pssh. You are corny as hell and delusional. Also if this is you pretending not to want me I can’t imagine what you being obvious would look like.”
He leaned in and draped an arm across the back of her bar stool. His breath tickled her neck and Shanice fought not to shiver at the sensation. “No need to imagine,” he whispered into her ear. “Say the word and I can show you just how obvious I can be.”
His words shot straight to her core which had been pulsing at rapid speed from the moment she laid eyes on him. She crossed her legs to relieve some of the pressure there and leaned away from him chuckling lightly. “Boy you are too much.”
He sat back on his stool and smirked at her once again. “Nah, I’m just enough.”
Refusing to take the bait by asking “enough for what?” Shanice focused on her menu. Taking the hint the guy was quiet while she selected her meal and handed him back the menu. Without a word he hopped off the stool, gave her a wink and disappeared through a set of double swinging doors around the corner of the bar. Before she could pull her eyes from that direction a bartender entered through those same doors. She watched as his eyes swept the entire bar then landed on her. He walked over and placed both hands on the bar, leaning toward her.“
Would you like a drink while you wait, ma’am?”
Shaking her head, Shanice smiled politely. “No thank you.”
“Are you sure? It’s on the house.”
“Oh really?” The man nodded with a knowing smile on his face. Shanice chuckled. That boy was going to loose his job trying to impress her. “Well in that case I’ll have a virgin strawberry daiquiri.”
“Coming right up.”
She’d consumed more than half of her beverage when the doors swung open and out walked her weekly Wednesday eye candy carrying her forbidden vittles. He placed the bag on the bar beside her then leaned against it.“Thanks…” She let the word trail off as she realized she didn’t know his name. “What’s your name?”
He grinned at her and stuck out his hand. “Byron Moran the third. And you are?”
She pumped his hand twice with her own before quickly pulling her hand back and putting it in her lap. Just looking at him gave her sparks but touching him electrified her. He glanced down at his hand then back at her, waiting for her response. Shanice thought briefly about giving him her really name. There was a possibility that he didn’t read the magazine and wouldn’t put two and two together. On the other hand there was also a possibility that she was wrong and although she wasn’t a celebrity and he was apparently already giving her special privileges she didn’t want to chance ruining what had become her favorite lunch spot. “Niecy, the only.”
He chuckled seemingly unbothered by her unwillingness to give her full name as he had. “The only. I like that.”
She nodded. “Yeah, I like it too.”
“So, do you work in this area?”
Swallowing the last of her drink, Shanice nodded. “Around the corner actually. I write for the Browntown Weekly.”
“Wow, that’s a pretty serious gig. The Browntown Weekly is national.”
Shanice smiled at the admiration she heard in his voice. “We’re not national yet, that’s the goal, only regional right now.”
He scoffed. “Still, that’s a big deal. The Browntown Weekly is the magazine that brought this restaurant much of it’s recent success. They ranked Capital Grill number one on their best restaurants list.” He sounded so proud of the establishment she’d have thought he had stock in it.
“Capital Grill deserves every bit of recognition. We didn’t do anything but highlight that.”
It was quiet for a moment and Shanice raised her eyes from her glass to see that he was watching her with slightly curved lips. She sucked in a breath and watched as his eyes fell to her chest and hovered there for 1, 2, 3 seconds before coming back to her eyes. Oh! She saw it, there. The desire in his eyes was like a siren call to her arousal. And maybe he could see that in her face, sense it because she could almost see the question forming in his head, feel him gearing up to ask her out and shit! That wasn’t what she wanted from him.
“So,” he started. “I’d really like to take you out sometime and get to know you better. Would you be okay with that?”
Shit! Shit! Shit!
Shanice sat back in her seat. Time for corrective action.“Sorry baby boy, I’m not available to get to know.”
Brows lifted in surprise, he leaned back. “Damn, it’s like that?”
“It’s like that.” It was always like that. Would continue to be like that for as long as she called Jeremy hers.
“So what are you available for?” He impressed her with that one but of course she couldn’t give him any slack. He was a baby after all.
“Nothing that you’re old enough to know about.” Because she was pretty sure he was nineteen years old and she could already imagine herself on top of him, beneath him and on her side in front of him and she felt a little perverted at how vivid the images were.
“What does that mean?”
She tilted her head. “How old are you?”
“Doesn’t seem like it matters. You’ve already formed an opinion about me and I get the feeling that nothing I have to say will work in my favor.”
He was right but his dejected tone made her feel only slightly guilty. There was nothing left to say and she’d already been gone from the office longer than she anticipated. She slid off the stool.“I’m gonna go. It was nice talking to you Byron.”
His smile was disappointed as he handed her the paper bag that contained her sole purpose for being at Capital Grill: her lunch.
“It’s couldn’t have been too nice if you’re running out of here.”
Shanice frowned. “I’m not running,” she lied.
“Okay Niecy. You have a good day and enjoy your food.” He looked down at her with a raised eyebrow that said he knew she was selling bullshit and he had no intentions of buying it.
“Thanks. You have a good day as well.” She stepped around him and crossed the room without looking back. When she got to the front of the restaurant she smiled at the two hostesses and bid them goodbye. As she climbed into her car she told herself to savor every bite of her food as if it was her last because she sure as hell intended it to be her last meal from Capital Grill.