Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Spicy Teaser: A PIECE OF THE PIE, the first three chapters

Introducing the Sweet and Spicy series, Book 1. 
Pumpkin is a supermodel with a mother like no other. What Evie wants, Evie gets, and Evie wants is A PIECE OF THE PIE.

Enjoy the delicious sample and get ready for one crazy read!

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1

Back then

Everybody on the block wanted a piece of Evie.
At the ripe age of fourteen, Evelyn “Evie” Burkette was well versed in pleasing men. She’d had her first experience when she was twelve, with an eighteen year-old, Lamont Bell.
As long as Evie lived, she’d never forget Lamont’s face or name. He had seem so nice when he’d invited her to hang with him at his house... But she wouldn’t think about that now.
Evie focused on the boy standing before her in her bedroom. She placed his hand under her shirt.
“Do you want to see them?” she whispered.
The boy’s hazel eyes widened and he nodded. Evie pursed her lips to keep from laughing at the youth. He looked like a puppy dog.
She granted his wish. The boy released a long groan, closed his eyes and shuddered.
Evie undid her bun so her hair would fall around her shoulders and then sat on her twin-sized bed. She stretched across the bed and posed seductively, ignoring the creaks and groans it made. Her bed had seen many other moments like this.
His eyes bulged and she smiled.
“What’s your name, again?” Evie asked. “I need to know your name before I give you some.”
“G...Garvin,” the boy sputtered. His face was beet red.
“Oh, yeah.” She had asked him his name earlier, but she’d forgotten.
Evie stood and slipped out of her clothes. Garvin’s eyes zeroed in on what she had on display. He released small, harried gasps.
Goodness, he’d better not have a heart attack.
Evie tilted her head and asked. “If I give you some of this, what will I get in return?” Garvin’s brows furrowed. “Huh?”

Evie felt blessed because of her generous proportions. While her friends were busy begging their parents for money and treats, Evie never had to ask her mother for a thing. Men gave her money, clothes and shoes. Anything she wanted. All she had to do was give them a taste of her honey juice in return.
Now Evie was no fool. She hid most of the stuff she got from her mother. Every morning, Evie left the house looking like an angel. She changed as soon as she got off the school bus. In less than five minutes, Evie transformed from frumpy church girl to the hottest chick in the eighth grade. Her mother got home after Evie every day, so Evie only needed her charade in the mornings.
Bertice “Bertie” Burkette was a single mother who worked as a cashier during the day and went to nursing school at night. When she wasn’t at school, Bertie was at church. Evie was left on her own a lot of time, which was just fine by her.
Evie sat up. “You think I’m not worth anything?”
“No!” Garvin shot out. He jammed his hands into his pants pockets to see what he could find.
Evie watched him patiently, but she knew what she wanted. It was dangling around Garvin’s neck. Evie had seen him walk by her house with the gold chain. She’d decided she wanted it.
Her mother had attended every church service since she became a Christian four years ago. Evie was not the least bit interested in God. As far as she saw, God couldn’t do anything for her she couldn’t do herself.
Since it was Tuesday night, Evie pretended she was sick. Once her mother had left for Bible study, Evie had lured Garvin into her house.
“I don’t have anything!” Garvin yelled.
Evie shook her head and reached for her plaid skirt.
“C’mon,” Garvin pleaded.
Like an Academy Award winning actress, Evie pinned her gaze on the chain.
Garvin looked down. His grasped the metal in his hand and shook his head. “My father gave me this.”
Evie held out her hands. She kept them outstretched until Garvin undid the clasp. His hand shook when he dropped the chain into her hand.
“Good. Now get undressed.” Evie placed the chain on the nightstand and opened the drawer. She retrieved a condom from the middle of her diary. “Put this on,” she commanded, handing it to him.
She rolled her eyes when Garvin struggled to get it on. This is why she didn’t deal with amateurs. Once he was ready, she patted the bed next to her. He sat down and she kissed him.
Garvin was eager with awkward hands. She bit back the bile rising in her throat and lay on the bed. If she hadn’t eyed the chain sparkling in the evening light, she would have kicked him out already.
Seconds later, he was done. Really?
“You retard.” Evie yelled. “Get your clothes on and get out!” She pointed at the clock. “My boyfriend’s coming and you’d better be gone or else he’ll kill you.”
“Boyfriend?” Garvin squeaked.
“Yeah!” Evie sneered. “Big Will’s a real man and if he comes over here and sees you, he’ll surely shoot you.”
Garvin needed no further encouragement. He knew who Big Will was. He dressed and almost fell running down the stairs to leave her house.
Once she heard the door slam, Evie moved into motion. She tore her sheets off the bed and put them in the wash. Then she took a speedy, wash-the-important-stuff kind of shower. Evie remade the bed with clean sheets and then the doorbell rang.
She raced down the stairs and opened the door.
Big Will entered her house and headed up to her room. He was almost six feet and had the physique of a bodybuilder. Evie hadn’t even bothered to get dressed. She knew why he was here. He came over every other Tuesday night.
Big Will eyed the piece of jewelry on her nightstand and without missing a beat, reached out and grabbed it.
“This for me?”
“Yes!”
He kissed her long and hard. Evie took all of what he had to offer. She hoped it happened this time. She wanted to have Big Will’s baby. Evie wanted that more than anything. Having a baby would be the sure way to keep Big Will in her life. Out of all the boys she’d been with, Big Will was the only one who meant anything to her. She felt protected, important. So many girls wanted him, yet he'd chosen her.
Evie decided she'd move in with him as soon as she turned sixteen. The only way he’d let her come any sooner was if she got pregnant.
When Big Will left, Evie fell asleep with stars in her eyes. She touched her stomach and sighed. She had a good feeling this time. By the end of the year, she’d have a baby and she'd have Big Will.

2

Evie puked for the third time that day. She was having a hard time keeping anything down. She went over to the basin and washed her mouth.
She had been right that night. She was now two months pregnant. That was where her accurate predictions came to a sorrowful end. She was living with Garvin and his parents, the Whitfield’s.
Big Will hadn’t done what she’d anticipated. He hadn’t rescued her from Bertie. Instead, he had called her out in front of everybody on the block then turned his back on her.
Evie clenched her fists at the memory.
The entire time Big Will had demeaned her, Evie kept her mouth closed. She refused to let him see how his words pierced her tender heart. Once Big Will turned on her, Evie had walked around the corner and up the block to where Garvin lived.
She rang his doorbell and informed him he was going to be a daddy. Garvin’s mouth popped open at the news. The next thing Evie knew, she was sitting in front of both Garvin’s parents and her mother. The three adults discussed what they should do.
Garvin’s parents wanted her to abort the baby. Bertie wanted her to keep it.
Evie was fine with whatever. Nothing they did or said mattered since Big Will’s rejection.
When they got home that night, Bertie pleaded with her. “Please don’t abort your child. This might be the only one you have. I’ll help you as best as I can. I’m almost done with nursing school. It’ll be tough, but we’ll manage.”
Evie rubbed her still flat tummy. “I’m too young to be a mother.”
“You should’ve thought about that before you brought that boy in my house,” Bertie said, shaking her head. “I don’t know how you even ended up in this position. You should be graduating middle school, not having a baby.”
Evie knew. Lamont Bell.
“Do you want to play Super Mario Brothers on my brand new Nintendo?” Lamont had asked her one hot summer day.
Evie had gotten tired of staying inside the house and had gone outside when the ice cream truck swung by. He’d purchased her the treat and then made the offer.
Evie licked her ice cream cone and nodded, even though she’d never heard of that game before.
“Wait till I tell my friends,” she said, following Lamont inside his house. “They’re not going to believe this.”
Evie had been having fun until Lamont touched her. She’d said no, but he had taken her anyway.
When Evie left that Lamont’s house that evening, she’d been so ashamed. She wished she’d listen to Bertie when she had warned Evie to stay in the house.
Evie wiped her tears. Lamont had told her it was her fault for looking so grown. She’d developed quicker than her friends.
But the next day Lamont sweetened her up with a Care Bear. Her friends had been so jealous that she had one of the popular toys. Evie liked the attention. All she had to do was let Lamont do his thing.
Then Lamont introduced her to one of his friends. She’d asked for a Cabbage Patch Doll. And, he’d given it to her.
From then on, it had become easy. Evie had given her body but never her heart. Until Big Will.
Evie shook the memories away. Bertie stood waiting for her to say something but Evie knew she would never answer. She never did no matter how many times or how many different ways Bertie asked, “Did something happen to you?” or “Did somebody hurt you?” Evie never spoke.
“The baby’s innocent and deserves a chance,” Bertie said.
Evie lifted her chin. “The Whitfield’s are willing to pay for an abortion.”
Bertie shook her head. “Children are a gift from God.”
If only this were a gift she could give back. “Are you saying I’m going to hell if I have an abortion?” Evie challenged.
“No, I’m not saying that,” Bertie said. “God has enough love to forgive everything. I’m saying you never know what your baby could become. He could be the next president. She could be a superstar or a scientist. You never know. That’s the joy of parenting.”
“Or she could get pregnant at fourteen,” Evie snapped back. “She could get knocked-up and continue the cycle.”
Bertie folded her arms. “As long as you live under my roof, you’re keeping that child.”
Evie had packed her bags that very night. The Whitfield’s had taken her into their home. Evie read up on abortion. She even set the appointment. It was supposed to be at 3 P.M. that afternoon. They would go when Garvin got out of school.
Evie waited in her bedroom at the Whitfield’s for seven hours. No one came home. Then there was a loud knock at the door. Her mother stood crying.
“There was an accident. Garvin and his parents are dead. I just saw it on the news.”
Evie clutched her stomach and fell to her knees. Why couldn’t they have died tomorrow? She cried. A part of her wondered if she would lose the baby.
But her baby was strong. The little one stayed secure in Evie’s womb through the funeral and through the tears.
Seven months later, a baby girl screamed her way into the world. Evie looked at the shocking red hair and called her Pumpkin.
“What about Melissa or Amanda?” her mother asked.
Evie shook her head. “Pumpkin.” She kissed the orange curls and fell in love. But soon, Evie realized this was a needy human being and not a toy. She wanted her freedom. Pumpkin needed too much. Much more than Evie would ever be able to give her.
It took a few months, but Big Will came around to apologize. He didn’t acknowledge his daughter.
“I’m leaving town and I want you with me.”
“But what about Pumpkin?” Evie asked, straddling the six month-old on her hips.
“It’s either her or me,” Big Will said.
Pumpkin didn’t hesitate. “I have to wait for my mother to get home.”
By the time Bertie entered the house, Evie was packed and ready to go.
“You’re only fifteen,” Bertie said. “You’re not going anywhere.”
Evie left the next day. As her mother pulled up in the driveway, Evie jumped into Big Will’s car.
She yelled, “Take care of Pumpkin.” Then she kissed Big Will on the cheek. “Let’s go far away. I’m never coming back.”

3


Present day

“Men are going to line up around the block to try out your pumpkin.” Zane Johnson said, before taking several close up shots. He used his loft in Greenwich Village for photo shoots only for select clients.
“Knock it off. I’ve had enough of your innuendos to last a lifetime. If you weren’t family, I’d throw you out on your rear end.” Pumpkin Reynolds spoke through gritted teeth while maintaining her signature pose. She held a pumpkin-shaped bottle in her hand.
“Family has nothing to do with it. This isn’t about you being married to my cousin. If I weren’t the best, you wouldn’t use me. Besides, you can’t throw me out of my own home.”
Pumpkin chuckled. “You’re right about that. I can’t throw you out of your own home.” She didn’t acknowledge that he was, in fact, the best. She couldn’t risk inflating his already supersized ego.
Zane looked into his lens to prepare for another shot. “How’s Cameron doing anyway? It’s been a few months since I’ve seen him.”
“He’s deep into film production. Building our nest egg, he says.” Pumpkin hated how her voice sounded sad and weak.
“Hold still.” Zane adjusted his camera and took one more shot. He glanced at the photo before nodding. “I think that’s it. That’s the moneymaker. I’m glad we decided to reshoot with the fur.” He scrutinized the picture. “That look on your face is going to cause accidents on the highway. This will go up on the billboard in two weeks as scheduled.”
Pumpkin slid the faux fur coat off her shoulders. As an animal lover, she didn’t support cruelty to animals to be fashionable.
Pumpkin placed the perfume on the counter. “Thank goodness that’s over. I’ve sweated enough to fill a river.” It was mid-October and temperatures were still high in the nineties. She was ready for the fall weather to kick in.
“Yes, but it’ll be worth it. You’ve been out of the spotlight for almost a year. People can’t wait to get a whiff of Pumpkin Spice and Thanksgiving’s the perfect time to release your cologne.”
Zane handed her a towel.
“Thanks.” Pumpkin blotted at the perspiration on her face and arms. She’d worn a white tank and tan shorts, but after two hours with the heavy lights, she was drenched.
Zane changed conversation. “I’m hearing a lot of buzz about The Cover-Up. It sounds like it’s going to bring in some serious money.”
“Cameron’s been real secretive about it. I don’t even know who’s in it. Other than the title of the movie, I know nothing.”
Zane lifted a brow. “It’s genius. We’re living in the age where news is worldwide in minutes. So I don’t know how he pulled it off, but he did.”
“He had everyone sign gag-orders. Until the trailer releases next week, no one knows anything. Not even me. He gives the press just enough to keep the buzz going.” She lifted a hand to cover a sneeze.
“Bless you.” Zane tilted his chin toward the four-carat diamond on her left hand. “Wow. Let me guess. Another peace offering?”
Pumpkin swallowed. “Like a ring can ever take the place of a baby.” She pressed her hands against her stomach. “He promised we’d start a family. But his company is his true love.” She lowered her head. “I’m just a trophy. The model wife to impress his clients.” Her black pumps clicked on the wooden floor as she made her way to the window.
Zane came to stand beside her. “You can never be anyone’s trophy. You’re way too independent for that.” He touched her arm. “Be patient. Soon you’ll be trying to run after a pumpkin-haired baby in your five-inched heels.”
“I wouldn’t want my baby to get my hair.” Pumpkin touched her dyed hair and cringed. She had been born with the shocking orange colored hair and her mother had been inspired to call her Pumpkin. At least that’s what her Grandma Bertie told her. For years, Pumpkin hated her name and hair, until she’d been discovered on the Siesta Keys Beach fourteen years ago.
Pumpkin shook herself to the present. She wasn’t the awkward fourteen-year-old in braces anymore.
“Cameron loves you. He just needs to get his priorities in order. Do you need me to talk to him?” Zane asked.
She shook her head. She wouldn’t invite Zane into their business like that. She had God in her marriage and He was enough. “I’ve been married to your workaholic cousin for six years, so I know he means well. All I needed was a friendly ear. Thanks for listening though.”
Zane smiled. “Six years is a great accomplishment. In this day and age, if you make it past a month, it’s considered a success.”
“I know,” she said, “But it’s not easy. It takes a lot of compromising.” She turned to look at him, admiring his dark skin and grey eyes. “When are you going to settle down?”
Zane stepped back. “Never, I hope.”
“Never?” she asked. “Don’t you want a family? You won’t be young forever.”
“I’ve got time.”
Pumpkin cracked up, waved goodbye and then headed down the stairs. Zane loved women, or to put it more accurately, the ladies loved Zane. She could understand why.
Zane wasn’t just fine, but he was also easygoing. She’d met him at a photo shoot and Zane had indicated interest. However, Pumpkin had been drawn to the brooding man who stood next to him. Cameron Reynolds, with his smooth dark skin, chocolate eyes and broad shoulders, had been her first and last one-night-stand.
That was eight years ago. They were married two years after they met and the first three years sped by like the wind. But the night of their fourth anniversary, something changed. Since then, Cameron seemed... preoccupied.
Pumpkin twisted her wedding ring. For the past eighteen months, Cameron had been obsessed with his newest venture. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else would until this story hit the big screen. Until that happened, there’d be no baby. She shook her head. Maybe not even a happy marriage.
Pumpkin pushed the heavy, glass door and stepped outside. The humidity hit her in the face. She closed her eyes to block the sun’s rays and dug into her bag to search for her oversized sunglasses.
She heard clicks and automatically shielded her face from the flashes. It took a moment for Pumpkin to realize she wasn’t the one being photographed.
Her eyes widened when she noticed the man standing a few feet from her. She smiled and rushed over to him. The two kissed, ignoring the paparazzi egging them on. Finally, they broke apart.
“Cameron! What are you doing here? Why didn’t you come up to the shoot? Your cousin would’ve loved to see you.”
He leaned against a black Lincoln Navigator. “I know. Zane’s left me several messages. I’ll catch up with him later. I came to take my wife out on a date.”
She touched her chest. “A date?”
Cameron nodded. “I’ve been swamped with The Cover-Up and ignoring my beautiful wife. I think she needs an afternoon of luxury and relaxation. Then I have two surprises for her tonight.”
Pumpkin lowered her voice. “I don’t need that much relaxation. And I don’t need surprises. What I need is you.”
He chuckled. “I can handle that.”
“I hope so,” she teased.
Cameron held her door open and signaled to Mitchell “Mitch” Goodman, their driver/bodyguard. Once they were both inside, he drew her close to him. Pumpkin propped her leg over his, loving the feel of his thigh muscles under hers.
Her hand rubbed his chest. “How’s the movie going? When are you going to let me get a sneak peak?”
“Tonight,” Cameron said. “That’s my first surprise.” He kissed her on the lips.
Pumpkin rubbed her hands together. “Ooohh, I can’t wait to watch. You’ve been so secretive about it.”
“I know, but this movie is everything.” Cameron cupped her face with his hands. “It’s Oscar worthy.”
Goose bumps rose on her arm. “Wow. Who’s the lead?” “Percy Stanton.”
“Say what! How could you keep that from me?” She knew her eyes were round. Percy Stanton was an Academy Award winner and in the ranks of actors such as Denzel Washington. “If Percy’s in it, it’s going to be large.”
Cameron’s eyes shone. “This is the big one. I can feel it.”
Pumpkin squeezed his hand. “Let’s skip the massage. I’m ready to put the popcorn in the microwave.” She couldn’t wait to see the movie. She wanted to know what had kept Cameron at the studio and out of their bed for so many months.
“I have another surprise,” he said. “The entire cast, crew and their family of The Cover Up has been invited to Percy’s for dinner. He’s rented one of the halls in his building to accommodate all of us. It’s going to be a big shindig.”
She gasped. “We’re going to dinner with the sexiest man alive on the planet and you’re just now telling me?” She fussed with her hair. “If I had known, I’d have made an appointment to see the hairdresser.” Gabby knew how to tame her natural curls.
“It’s a good thing I’m a confident man,” Cameron chuckled, easing further into the seat. “Or I’d be worried.”
Pumpkin pinched his cheeks and grinned. “You have no reason to worry. You’re all I want and you know it.”
Cameron cleared his throat. “Actually, Percy insisted I bring you tonight. He’s a fan and so is his wife.”
“Shut up! Christine Stanton’s the Queen of the Runway. I’ve wanted to meet her for years.” Pumpkin shrieked and wiggled with excitement. Then realization dawned and she pulled away from him. Her eyes narrowed and her excitement cooled. “Is that the reason why you’re sweeting me up?”
Cameron looked out the window.
Pumpkin folded her arms. “I should’ve known. You need the supermodel, not your wife by your side.” She turned her face away to hide the hurt. Where was the man who used to look at her like she was his world? Now he saw her as the world did. An object. Tears threatened, but she refused to cry.
“No. No, it’s nothing like that.” Cameron scooted close and whispered in her ear. “I miss you.”
Pumpkin stiffened. “Don’t patronize me. I’ll go to your event. I have the perfect dress to wear. My makeup will be perfect. I’ll be your doll on display.” She couldn’t keep the bitterness out of her tone.
“Please don’t say that.” Cameron turned her head to face him. “This is different, Sweetheart. I promise you. I need you. I need you in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.”
Pumpkin’s eyes misted. She wiped her eyes. “It’s nice to hear I’m needed. I had begun to wonder ...”
Cameron’s eyes were sincere. “Never doubt my love for you. I know I’ve been consumed by this project, but you’re my driving force. You’re my...everything. I...” His voice broke.
One of the things Pumpkin loved about Cameron his was self-assurance. However, at the moment, he sounded...unsure.
Her brows furrowed. “What’s wrong? What is it?”
“I love you. If I were to lose you...” He exhaled.
Pumpkin’s heart thumped in her chest. “Why are you talking about losing me? Cameron, what’s going on?”
All sorts of possibilities raced through her mind. She braced herself for his answer.
His eyes were dark with pain. “I did something and I kept it from you.”
Pumpkin gave him a cautious glance. “What? What did you do?”
Her brain went in overdrive. If he cheated on her, she was going to kick his rear end. But she couldn’t picture Cameron in another woman’s arms. Was she being naïve about that?
“I...” Cameron covered his face with his hands. “I can’t tell you. I thought I could. I thought I could finally face the truth, but I can’t bear to see the hate on your face.”
“If you don’t tell me,” she said through gritted teeth, “I won’t be responsible for my actions. And what are you talking about hating you? I could never hate you.”
Mitch pulled over to curb. Pumpkin eyed the Metamorphosis Day Spa sign. Any other day, she would be ready for some relaxation. But how could she relax? She needed to know what was going on with her husband. Cameron made a move to open the car door.
Pumpkin tugged on his arm. “Skip the massage and all that. I want to know what’s bothering you.”
Cameron lifted his chin. “I’ll tell you. Just not now.”
She took in the stubborn jut of his jaw. Cameron had no intention of telling her now. However, she was the empress of stubborn. Pumpkin folded her arms. “I’m not leaving this vehicle until you ease my mind. This had better not be about another woman.” She didn’t think so, but she wasn’t tossing the possibility aside.
He looked at her as if she had sprouted an extra head. “There’s no other woman. What kind of man do you think I am?”
Inside, her heart rejoiced, but she wasn’t going to let him see that. “I had to ask, but don’t try to shift the subject.”
Cameron opened the door and got out. He held out a hand. Pumpkin exited the car.
“We’ll talk soon,” he said in a firm voice.
That voice might get others scurrying to do his command, but Pumpkin wouldn’t budge. “I’m not one of your lackeys. I’m your wife.”
“Yes, and I’m asking my wife to wait.”
She held up a hand. “Okay.” She’d give in for now, but this discussion was nowhere near finished.
The couple entered the spa and entered another world. The busy streets and honking were replaced with tranquility. They made their way into the back room.
Pumpkin froze. She barely registered the scents of lavender and vanilla teasing her nose. The sounds of lapping water signaling peace and tranquility were lost on her.
Instead, she zoomed in on the woman with the pixie cut sitting in the corner. She wore a plush white robe.
“Grandma Bertie! You’re here!”
Cameron laughed. “That’s my second surprise.”
Pumpkin jabbed him in the chest. “You didn’t tell me.”
Her grandmother smiled. “Then it wouldn’t be a surprise.”
Pumpkin scuttled over to kiss her on the cheek. “I can’t believe you left Farmingdale to come up into the city on a weekday.”
“Wasn’t hard when Cameron got me arriving in a stretch limo.” Her grandmother clapped her hands.
“If I had known that’s all it took, I’d have a limo at your door every week,” Pumpkin said.
Bertie’s shoulders shook. “I’m fine where I am.”
Cameron backed up. “I’m going to leave you both to it. I’ll see you both at the screening tonight.”
She waved at Cameron before centering her attention on her grandma. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
“Chile, stop. You were at my house just last weekend.” Bertie jumped onto the table. She was fifty-eight and had a body like Angela Bassett’s. Bertie was more fit than Pumpkin.
“That was last week.” Pumpkin undressed and got on the table next to her.
Bertie eyed her. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong.” Pumpkin turned her face away. She didn’t know what kind of psychic powers her grandmother possessed, but Bertie seemed to know when something was wrong.
“Nothing means something,” Bertie said.
Their masseuses entered the room, ending the conversation. Bertie was not one to discuss family business in public. For that, Pumpkin was grateful.
“I’ll have a deep tissue massage,” Pumpkin requested.
“I don’t know how you can take that,” Bertie said. “I’ll get the stone massage.”
The women nodded and proceeded to work. The massage eased her body, but not her mind. All afternoon Pumpkin wondered, what did Cameron do? 

(Copyrighted Material. 2015 by Michelle Lindo-Rice, All rights reserved.)