Chanel L. Faye


Music is in the air… along with the thrill of love. 

Alyssa Davis

The last thing I expect when I show up in Madrid to see my favorite DJ, is for a hot stranger to swoop in to save me. Lately, my life has been consumed by my divorce and my crushed dream to have kids, but he gives me the tantalizing chance to live out my wildest dreams in ways I never imagined. 

It’s meant to be one perfect night. I had no way to know it would change my life forever.

Amastan Ag Abahag

I’ve been living behind my DJ persona for so long, that I can barely remember who I am anymore. I’ve avoided the complication of romantic flings, until I met Alyssa. She’s a sultry temptation I can’t resist. Quickly she becomes my muse, making me want to write a hundred songs about her and treat her like a queen. 

I know one night with her will change my life. But will my music come between us in more ways than one?

Love in Madrid is book 1 of the Love In… Series.

Author note: This is for an 18+ audience. It has sexual content and a pregnancy.




“The name is Anderson. Please check again.”

“Ma’am…, I’ve checked three times. There is no reservation under that name.”

An exasperated expression crossed his face as he glanced at the frustrated line of hotel guests that had formed behind me.

“Alright, let me book right now,” I said as I took out my credit card, hoping it would go through. I knew this had been a bad idea, but my sister had pushed and pushed, saying a holiday was just what I needed. More like a hole in the head right now.

“Ma’am, we are fully booked. Now, please—”

“Okay, recommend another hotel, please, even a B&B. I just arrived, and this was my only accommodation,” I pleaded.

His polite façade was slowly slipping as grumbles started getting louder behind me. I scanned across the reception desk and met striking green eyes, cloaked by pitch-black eyebrows.

“The Summer Festival is starting tomorrow, and all accommodations are fully booked. If you could excuse me.” The hotel receptionist’s deep Spanish accent brought my attention back to him.

“But … What am I to do?” My heart fell to the ground as I imagined myself sleeping on the streets of Madrid. I didn’t have enough money to change the date of my return ticket to the US.

“Excuse me,” a sensual French intonation broke through my pity party. “I believe Robinson’s booking has two extra rooms to it. Please put her in one.”

I looked at my savior and realized it was the man from across the reception desk. Strands of his hair, dark as ink, brushed his forehead.

The receptionist nodded, happy to have a solution to his problem.

“You didn’t have to do that, but thanks,” I said, smiling at the kind stranger.

“My grandmother always said that a true gentleman helps a distressed woman. It’s a pleasure to help.”

“A very wise woman, your grandmother. But don’t presume that you’ll be allowed in my room just because you helped me.”

He smiled, showing a crooked front tooth. “I wouldn’t dare.”

The receptionist handed me my room card and a hotel brochure, and we moved to the side to allow another guest to check-in.

“Hi, I’m Alyssa Davis,” I said.

“Amastan Ag Abahag. Davis? I thought I heard Anderson when you were badgering the poor guy.”

“Anderson is my sister’s married name. She was the one who supposedly made the booking. This whole trip was her harebrained idea. Blackmailed me into taking it.”

“How do you blackmail someone into taking a holiday?” Mirth showed behind his green eyes.

“Let’s see? You make flight and hotel reservations without your sister knowing and then Jedi mind-trick her into getting onto the flight.” My eyebrow arched as I spoke.

“She must be a Jedi Master to have that kind of power.” He smiled as he played along.

The side of my mouth lifted. “Or she knows my deepest desire and used it against me.”

“Now I’m intrigued.”

“I’ve said too much as it is. What about you? Robinson?”

“A friend made the group booking for the Summer Festival. That’s his surname.”

I laughed. “Oh, okay. The room you gave away – they won’t mind? I promise I’ll pay for the room and any charges to it.” I mentally finger crossed as I’d have to phone my sister and tell her the mishap and then get her credit card number to pay.

“Don’t worry about it.”

The bellhop was patiently waiting for me with my luggage, but I somehow didn’t want to leave Amastan. His green eyes had a soothing calm to it. My life had been in turmoil these past years and the tranquility reflected in his eyes was comforting.

The hotel porter was slowly moving the trolley with my luggage to the elevator to get me to walk. “I… Huh… Also, have a ticket for the Summer Festival. Maybe we’ll see each other there?” I walked backward so that I could continue talking to him.

“I’m sure we’ll meet again. Au revoir.”

The air-conditioned room greeted me as I jumped onto the pristine white sheets of the bed.

One night.

One night, until I got to hear live the music of the man who made my life bearable these past few years. I didn’t know what he looked like, as he always concealed his face with a blue veil that only showed his eyes. His name was just a symbol, and he never gave interviews.

The whole man was an enigma, and his pulsing, transcending, tribal music seemed to speak to my soul.


Buy Love in Madrid Now!



She longs for a family. He longs for her.

Marketing Manager, Kanesha Green has baby fever in a big way. Nearly 40, her biological clock is a ticking time bomb. Problem is, Mr. Right is nowhere to be found. Her dating history is a who’s who of failed relationships. Deciding to take control of her life, Kanesha opts for a sperm donor to make her dreams become reality.

While Kanesha is looking through the database of potential donors, her best friend makes a compelling offer. He’ll be the donor… but only if he can get her pregnant the old-fashioned way. Can Kanesha keep things strictly platonic when she’s secretly been in love with him for years?

Everyone thinks Cody Sullivan is a notorious commitment phobe. Little do they know he’s been pining over his best friend since college. No way was he going to allow an anonymous donor to make a family with the woman he loves. Now that she’s agreed to his unorthodox terms, he’s hellbent on making her see the two of them have always been endgame.

Baby Be Mine is a sexy novelette with a hot-as-hell alpha, a strong female lead, and a HEA.


Chapter 1


Clicking on the email from her friend, Kanesha Green’s heart sunk when she saw virtual pink balloons floating on her desktop computer before an invitation to Yolanda’s baby shower popped up on the screen. A huge boulder took root in her heart, submerging it in a sea of bitterness, envy, and disappointment that filled her soul. This was the fourth baby shower invitation she had received this year. It seemed everyone she knew was either pregnant or a parent already. Every woman except her.

She squeezed her chestnut brown eyes with fingers, a deep sigh leaving her broad mouth. She hoped the released air would halt the sinking bitter pain in her chest. Next month, she was turning thirty-nine, the looming birthday a neon sign that her dreams of a family—a husband and children—were only that … a dream. Five years into her singleness and non-voluntary celibacy was a sure sign that marriage and babies were not going to happen for her.

Glancing at the invitation again, Kanesha wondered how she was going to survive smiling through the celebration. Though happy for her friend, the thought of pretending to be content with her singleness to her friends at the baby shower was unbearable. In her group of friends, she was the abnormal, single, childless one.

Her eyes gazed out of the large floor-to-ceiling window in her office at work that framed the magnificent dark blue Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Bridge. Having this view of San Francisco was one of the perks of being the marketing manager for a large publishing company. Her manicured fingers lightly tapped her mouth as she took a deep breath. At least one area of her life had gone according to plan. She had her dream job, promoting authors who wrote novels people could lose themselves in for a few hours—leaving behind their humdrum lives for a moment to experience adventure, action, and love. Love. One thing that had eluded her, her whole life. She read the invitation again. A measure of pleasure rose in her when she read that it was a co-ed baby shower. That meant she could drag her best friend, Cody, to the dreaded event. Him being there would be the only thing making it tolerable. She knew he would bitch and moan the whole time, but he’d go because she’d asked him.

A knock sounded before Jessica peeked in, her blond hair falling across her shoulders and face before she brushed it behind her ear.

“Hey, Kanesha, do you have a minute? I want to discuss Tiffany’s book covers. I don’t think the new covers complement the marketing brand colors for the book series.”

Kanesha closed the email, along with Yolanda’s invitation, and smiled at Jessica, glad to have a distraction from of her negative thoughts. “Sure. Why don’t you come in and we’ll discuss it?”

Kanesha absently sipped her red wine, her finger toying with a black springy curl from the loose hair flowing down her back. She sat at the pale brown bar at a popular Japanese restaurant in the Russian Hill neighborhood, waiting for Cody, who was an hour late. She was used to Cody’s tardiness, which had gotten worse when he became a prosecutor at the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. She glanced at her watch, her Cody-patience-clock starting to wane.

She was about to pay her beverage bill when Cody’s tall build rushed through the door. Looking at him as he talked to the host, Kanesha appreciated Cody’s lean build in a dark gray suit with a white dress shirt. The suit perfected his sun-kissed skin and dark brown hair. Though they had been friends since their freshman year in college, Cody’s tall, dark, and gorgeous looks still set her heart beating at a faster pace. She grinned and gave a small wave when Cody glanced at her and pointed his finger toward her at the bar to the host. Cody walked over with the restaurant’s host, who guided them to a black oak table with pale blue chairs set for two.

Before she could even place her glass of wine on the table, Cody gently grabbed her hand, stilling its movement. She glimpsed up into his chocolate-brown eyes, her mouth turned up into a slight smile as she waited for the inevitable apology that would come from his mouth.

“I’m really sorry. A deposition went on longer than I intended and by the time I looked at my watch, I knew it was better to come and apologize face to face than through a text.”

She took a sip of her wine, wondering if she should make him grovel even harder, but decided against it as she needed him to agree to go to the baby shower with her. She gave him a mischievous smile. “I know, Cody, you have a very important job. No need for apologies.”

He leaned back into his chair, his eyes appraising her as they slightly narrowed. “Okay, what’s going on? What do you want?”

Kanesha twirled the stem of her glass, delaying her answer. A waiter arrived, giving her a reprieve as they gave their order. They had been to this restaurant enough times to have memorized the menu. Watching the waiter walk away to place their order, Cody turned to her. “Spill.”

“What?” She gave a nonchalant shrug, her fingers sliding down the stem of the wine glass. “I understand that you were held up. No biggie.”

His eyes narrowed even further, as if trying to figure out what she was up to. “Pssh. I know you want something. If not, my ears would be bleeding from your lecture about time management.”

She parted her lips to speak when the waiter arrived with their meal and drink orders. A glass of wine for her and a bottle of beer for Cody. The smell of soy sauce and spice wafted to her nose, making her mouth water. She hadn’t had lunch, as her nerves were too tightly wound up from the invitation.

Kanesha had attended plenty of baby showers, but Yolanda’s invitation made her anxious and fearful that her chance of being a mother could be running out. Yolanda was her childhood friend, and their lives had been in tandem until they’d veered off in different directions when Yolanda married, and now she was expecting her first child. Yolanda, who had given no thought to motherhood, was actually going to be a mother, something that Kanesha craved with all her being. She’d always thought that she’d be a mother by now, but now that she was staring forty straight in the face, still childless, her dream was slowly fading.

“Are you ever going to tell me what’s up with you today?” Cody’s words broke through her thoughts. The steam from the food dissipated as Kanesha brought her chopsticks close to her mouth and took a bite. The taste of soy sauce, pork, and seaweed created a flavorful combination in her mouth. A moan escaped her lips as she swallowed. This was why they frequented the restaurant so much. She glanced at Cody and caught a simmer of heat from his eyes before he looked down at his plate and sipped his beer. She gave a slight shake of her head. She must have misread the look in his eyes.

“Well?” he said.

“You remember Yolanda, right?”

He scoffed. Boy, did he ever. “You mean the chick who ended up in my bed when you guys crashed at my apartment after a night of partying?”

“Yeah, her. And she was drunk. She didn’t know it was your bed.”

A dark brown eyebrow lifted. He used his chopsticks to pick a piece of his gyoza. “Drunk, my ass. She still grabbed my junk when she was allegedly drunk.”

One side of her mouth turned up as she picked at her ramen with her chopsticks. “Stop. You know it was a mistake. She thought she was in bed with her boyfriend.”

“I’ve interviewed witnesses that were better liars than her. Anyway, what about her? She’s married, right?”


He mumbled, “Thank god,” under his breath, but it was still loud enough for Kanesha to hear. She tilted her head and gave him a hard stare. “I received a baby shower invitation from her.”

“Okay? Why has it got you acting strange?”

“Well…” She played with the napkin on the table. “It’s a co-ed baby shower, so… can you come with me?”

He groaned, leaning back on the chair as he dropped a piece of gyoza back onto his plate. “No, Kay. You know I hate those types of events.”

“Celebrating babies and new life?”

“Standing around talking about babies isn’t what I’d call fun.”

“There will be other men there who wish they weren’t, so you’ll be in good company.”


The corners of her mouth turned down. “Please? I need you.”

Buy Now

Buy Cooked Now!

She has a job to do, and she can’t let anything get in her way—not even love…

DEA special agent Brittany Townsend’s assignment is simple. She’s to go undercover at the trendy San Francisco restaurant that’s a suspected cover for a drug smuggling ring, and get the evidence she needs to shut them down. Too bad there’s nothing simple about her feelings for the restaurant’s loyal, charming, and distractingly sexy head chef…

Quincy McKnight made a deal with the devil to save his brother’s life. Now, his restaurant is a front for illegal activity he could never condone, but must tolerate. His life is way too messy to even consider romantic entanglements. But…there’s something about his lovely, whip-smart, new employee that’s making him rethink everything

Brittany and Quincy are in danger of losing a lot more than their hearts as this mission plays out. Can their potential romance stand the heat in Quincy’s kitchen? Or will their one shot at happily ever after go up in flames?

Cooked is a spicy, steamy, lightly angsty, romantic suspense standalone with a guaranteed HEA.


Chapter One



The gunshot hit the cement wall that I was using to shield myself. I peered round to see the gunmen ducking from the shots of my colleagues. I sneaked a look from behind the wall to see if I had a clear shot of one of the gunmen. As I raised my gun and twisted my body to get a better aim, I gasped and fell backward onto the cool concrete ground. Fighting against the sharp pain, I took a breath of the filthy air permeating the alleyway in San Francisco. I wondered if I had been hit and how bad it was. Footsteps swiftly approached me.

“Brittany! Have you been hit?” Michael asked as he crouched down beside me, his gun ready to shoot.

“I don’t know,” I wheezed, frozen on the ground.

With his hand, Michael searched my body for wounds as he lowered his gun. The shrill noise of police sirens echoed in the alley as they pulled up. The gun shots stilled, and footsteps slapped on the concrete to escape the scene.

Michael gave out a breath of relief. “You’re good. It hit your bulletproof vest.”

I slowly sat up, my hand on my aching lower chest. “What happened? Did you arrest them?”

Carlos—my former work partner—approached us, putting his gun back into its holster. “Michael? Is Brittany hurt? Should we call for an ambulance?”

“Nah, she’s good. Just had the wind knocked out of her.”

Michael and Carlos helped me up and leaned me against the wall. I took in large gulps of air mixed in with the stench of piss and garbage from the large containers lined in the alley.

“We arrested three of the El Monstruo Negro guys and a few ran away. But these are low-level guys. I’m not sure what intel we will get from them,” Carlos said.

“This whole thing was off. It seemed like they knew we were coming tonight,” I croaked.

“I agree. They were prepared,” Michael said with a nod.

Carlos put his hand on Michael’s shoulder. “Well, let’s go and find out. I’m sure one of these guys will have loose lips.”

The blue lights of the police cars reflected against the dark, dirty alley as we walked to the crowd of cars littered with police officers and DEA agents.


I opened my apartment and switched on the light, its warm glow lighting up my sparsely furnished lounge. The keys made a rattling sound when I dropped them in the bowl next to the door. I walked past the couch to the kitchen to pour myself a bourbon, gulped it down, and poured another, which I carried to my dark bedroom. I pulled off my black shirt and stepped toward the long length mirror, my fingers slowly trailing down the purplish-pink bruise on my dark brown skin near the bottom of my rib cage. I winced and sipped my bourbon to ease the pain. I removed the rest of my clothing and stepped into the shower.

A knock sounded as I walked out of the bathroom, wrapped in a white towel and a shower cap covering my shoulder-length straight black hair. A small smile crossed my lips as I walked to the door and opened it. Michael stood by the door, leaning against the door panel.

He grinned. “Good, now I don’t have to take your clothes off you.” He pulled me in and his lips connected with mine. He kicked the door closed and lifted me, and I wrapped my legs around him, the towel falling to the floor as he carried me to the bedroom.


The four-story DEA offices in Oakland, San Francisco Bay were a dull sandy brown color with black paned windows. I sat in my off-white cubicle, equipped with a desktop and a printer, typing up the report on what had transpired last night when the phone on the desk rang. I groaned as I saw who was calling me.

“Ma’am,” I answered.

“Agent Townsend, my office, now,” Supervisory Special Agent Tameka Atkinson’s clipped voice came through the phone. Before I could answer, she’d put the phone down.

“Okay,” I said as I breathed out a frustrated sigh and stood up to walk to her glass office.

“What’s up?” Michael asked as I walked past his office, his door open.

I shrugged, cracking my knuckles as I neared Supervisory Special Agent Atkinson’s office. Agents normally got called to her office when they were in trouble. My mind began working overtime trying to find any mistakes I might have made last night.

I gave two sharp knocks before opening the office door to see that my supervisor was not alone in the office. Two white men and a Hispanic woman sat on the chairs facing her desk wearing plain clothes, but from their stance, I could see they were police officers.

“I heard about your near-miss yesterday. Are you okay?” Supervisory Special Agent Atkinson asked.

‘Yes, ma’am.”

“Good. Pull up a chair.”

I sat down and waited to hear why I had been called to her office, my fingers fidgeting with the silver necklace around my neck.

She picked up a file on her desk and handed it to me. I opened the file and saw the name: Quincy McKnight with an ‘OPEN’ stamp next to the words ‘case status’. Clipped to the file was a digital picture of a tanned, white-skinned male with turquoise green eyes, dark brown hair, and a straight roman nose.

“The San Francisco Police Department narcotics squad has been investigating McKnight for months now with assistance from the DEA. Last night’s interrogation with the perps that you guys picked up yesterday gave us information that a significant number of narcotics will pass through his restaurant in the coming months.” She paused, and one of the two men took the opportunity to speak.

“We need someone to go undercover and give us inside intel of what is happening there. We need to know what, when, and how the deal will take place inside that restaurant.” His dark eyes pierced right through me.

“And that is where you come in,” Atkinson said.

My eyebrows rose in surprise. “Me?”

“Yes. We want you to go undercover. We need someone who knows a bit about running a restaurant, and we know your grandparents used to own one, right?”

I cleared my throat. Sadness rolled over me as I remembered my late grandparents and the summers I’d spent with them helping them run the restaurant. “Right.”

The woman was next to speak. “McKnight uses a recruitment agency to find staff for his restaurants, and the agency informed us he is currently looking for an assistant general manager. You’ll be the candidate that the agency puts forward to him.”

I nodded as I glanced at the information on McKnight. According to the file, McKnight was a two-star Michelin chef with restaurants across the US, but his restaurant in San Francisco was his flagship one where he was still head chef. The SFPD suspected McKnight worked with the El Monstruo Negro cartel to bring drugs into the US from Colombia. A familiar slow burn of anger simmered inside me when I saw a drug dealer, who had no regard of the impact the drugs had on people’s lives, as long as they made money out of it.

“When do I start?” I asked, tapping my fingers on my arm, eager to begin  the undercover operation and nail McKnight.

“Next week. You’ll have a brief interview with McKnight before you start as an assistant general manager,” Ms. Atkinson answered. “Take the file and read through it. Tomorrow, the SFPD narcotics team working on the case will meet you. I’ll brief Michael and you’ll report to him every two weeks on your progress. Okay, you can go now.”

I nodded and walked out of the office. I took a deep breath, relieved that I hadn’t been in trouble and excited that another bad guy was on his way to being busted.

                                                                                                                   Buy Now

Hollywood Love


Is true love even possible in a city built on broken dreams? There’s only one way to find out…

Nursing student Jordan Madison wasn’t looking for love. Her broken engagement proved how devastating that could be. But then she met a sweet, kind, and devastatingly handsome aspiring actor who made her question everything. The fact that he has a girlfriend back home means she needs to keep him in the friendzone…even though what she really wants is quite the opposite…

Alex Miller was chasing a dream. He left his entire life in Seattle behind to move to Los Angeles. And frankly, it was all a little lonely and overwhelming—until he met Jordan. Becoming her friend is the best thing that’s happened to him in a long time. It would be so easy to fall for her. Too bad he can’t ever let that happen…

Can Jordan and Alex overcome all that stands between them—including the ghosts of his and her past—to find a screen-worthy happily ever after? Or will their story end like a Hollywood tragedy?


Chapter 1


The reclaimed wooden table shook, spilling my tea on the floor. Soft music played on my headphones, anatomy and biology books laid out before me.


I heard it through the music. I removed the headphones and looked up to grey-blue eyes that had an apologetic look to them. A fluttering started in my stomach as his eyes pierced through me.

“I’m so sorry, Miss,” the man said with a smile on his handsome, squared face. “I wasn’t looking where I was going. I can buy you another tea if you don’t mind.”

Reluctantly, I looked away from his eyes to the table to see if any tea had spilled onto my books but saw no stains. I sighed gratefully. “No, that’s okay, I was done anyway.”

I gave a small smile and started packing up the books, putting them in my book bag.

“Are you sure? I feel bad,” he said, picking up the plastic coffee cup from the floor and putting it back on the table.

“No, that’s fine, thanks for the offer though,” I said as I rose from the table and headed toward the door of the café.


7 hours later.


“Great! You got back just at the right time, Jordan,” my brother said as I walked through the double doors of his bar.

“What’s up? Why are you so excited?”

My eyes narrowed as I strolled toward the wooden bar area with soft lighting and pale brown pastel interior, where he was cleaning glasses.

“Well, the stock just got in, so I’m going to need help before Tess comes in for her shift,” he said with a grin on his face. “Now before you say no, just remember, you’re living with me rent-free,” he chuckled, placing the glasses down.

“Why can’t Tess do it when she gets in?”

“She’ll be getting in just before happy hour starts and that’ll be too late. Please. Pretty please?” He pouted.

“Alright,” I said with a groan as I placed my book bag down on the ground next to the bar counter and started to put away warm beer and liquor from the crate that my brother brought from the storage room. The cold air of the refrigerator hit my face as I opened it to place the beers. “But it’ll just be a minute because I need to study. I have a test tomorrow.”

He put up his hands. “Hey, as long as the front fridges are full of beer, I’ll be happy. I’m going to the back to get more.”

The music on my headphones made stocking the fridges more tolerable.

“Excuse me?” I heard through the music and I turned toward the voice. My heart jumped. It was the cute guy from the café. His grey-blue eyes had been on my mind the whole day.

I removed the headphones. “Hi, can I help you?”

“Hey, I know you,” he said. His smile grew bigger.

“Um, yes. We met this morning. Well not really, but we talked.” My heart flip-flopped as I approached the bar counter where he stood.

“I hope I didn’t ruin your morning tea. You sure left in a hurry.”

He sat down and played with a stoneware beer coaster.

“Yeah, sorry about that. I was late for class. Can I get you a drink?” I asked while trying not to stare at his handsome face with a gleam in his eyes.

“A beer, please.”

I grabbed the beer from the fridge and placed it on the coaster. “Happy hour doesn’t start for another hour.”

“With the day I’ve had, happy hour starts now,” he said, squeezing his eyes shut and twisting his bow-shaped mouth.

“Aww, bad day?” I asked as I finished putting beer into the fridges.

“Bad audition, more like it. By the way, my name is Alex. Nice to meet you.” He grinned, extending his hand to me.

“Jordan,” I said as I grasped his hand, sending heat down my arm.

Behind me, I heard grunting sounds as my brother returned carrying a crate of beer and placing it on the floor. “Wow, those are heavy,” he gasped, wiping his coffee-colored face with his hand.

“Do you need a hand?” Alex asked.

“No, these will last for tonight, and we can’t be letting our customers carry stock for us,” my brother laughed.

“Good, you’re back. Now I can head upstairs,” I smirked at my brother.

“Come on, just wait until Tess gets here. Plus, you can’t leave a customer alone. “He turned to Alex. “He might need another beer.”

“Eric,” I said to my brother. “Meet Alex.”

Eric laughed, extending his hand to Alex. “Nice to meet you, man.”

“Likewise,” Alex said.

“So when this Tess arrives, can I buy you a drink to make up for this morning?” Alex focused his eyes on me.

“You don’t have to, it was a mistake. Could have happened to anyone.”

A wistfully thoughtful expression crossed his face. “I was just distracted this morning with the audition and didn’t see your table.”

“So you’re an actor, then? Might I have seen you in something?” I asked jokingly.

Alex gave a short laugh. “No, more like an aspiring actor. Just recently moved to Los Angeles to try my luck. What about you? You mentioned a class earlier on.” He had finished his beer and began tapping the side of the bottle.

“Can I get you another one?”

“Yes, please.”

I grabbed another beer and handed it over. Eric was at the end of the bar trying not to listen in to our conversation.

“I’m training to be a nurse, my second career,” I smiled.

Second career?”

“Yes, I worked in sales and marketing before I went to Nursing College,” I answered as I sat down.

“Why change?” He chuckled. “I’m sorry, am I asking too many questions? My friends say I can grill like a lawyer.”

I laughed, my eyes taking in his strong jaw, straight nose, light brown bushy eyebrows, and short dark brown hair, with a curl across his forehead. The bar doors opened and two male customers walked to the bar counter, where Eric assisted them.

I glanced at the customers and turned back to Alex. “I left my first job when my mother got too sick to take care of herself, and after she died, I volunteered at retirement homes, where I realized I liked nursing.”

Alex touched my hand. “I’m sorry about your mother.”

“Thank you. She died two years ago,” I said.

“I’m sorry about your mother. I know it was two years ago, but it must be hard still,” Alex said.

I turned to hide away the tears moistening my eyes. “Thanks. I’m fine.”

“How’s your father?”

I took a deep breath. “He passed away when I was two and Eric was ten years old, so now it’s just the three of us.”

I could see that he wanted to probe further, but the doors to the bar opened again and in sauntered Tess, wearing a black T-shirt with a metal band printed on it and jeans torn at the knees. Tess had been Eric’s bartender since he had opened the bar five years ago.

“Tess, thank goodness,” I exclaimed as I got up from the bar stool and hugged her. The evening Happy Hour crowd was starting to fill up the bar’s tan booths, Eric busying writing down their orders.

“Hi, Jordan. So Eric has been keeping you behind the bar, huh?” Tess said with a grin on her face, her red hair curling around her round face, her green eyes twinkling with laughter.

“You got it, and I have a test tomorrow.”

“Get out of here. I’ve got it now.”

She turned towards Alex. “Do you want another drink, sir?”

“No, I think this one will be my last. But I still owe you a tea or a drink,” Alex said to me.

I smiled and touched my soft short curls with my hand. “Sure, I guess you do.” Tess glanced at the two of us as she straightened the glasses on the back bar countertop and checked the liquor.

“Yo, Eric,” I called to him from the other side of the bar where he was serving customers.

Eric draped a dish towel over his shoulder as he turned and walked toward me. “Yes, Jordan? Are you making your escape now?”

“I’ll help again tomorrow, I promise. Just have to ace the test first.”

Grabbing my book bag, I slung it on my right shoulder and turned to Alex. “It was good to meet you.”

“Till next time,” he said with a slight smile on his face.

I headed to the stairs that lead to my apartment.

My mind was lost in thought. Why had I opened myself up to a stranger? Normally, it took me a while to warm up to people, but it had been easy to talk to Alex. The fact that I had talked about my mother surprised me more than anything. I bit the inside of my mouth as the raw scar in my heart left from my mother’s death started to ache.

I smelled smoke and headed to the kitchen, catching Therese taking burnt food out of the oven and placing it on the sink, putting water on it to stem the smoke.

“Therese! What are you doing in the kitchen? You know you’re not allowed to cook!” I coughed and laughed when she gave me a sheepish look.

Therese was Eric’s wife and a terrible cook who could even burn water. Her mocha-colored skin had a slight blush to it. She had dark oval-shaped eyes with long lashes, smooth skin, and shoulder-length black hair that she straightened every other day. Black pants encased her shapely legs, paired with a blue blouse.

“I was just trying to make Eric his favorite hot wings to surprise him.”

“Well, the surprise would have been a burnt down apartment building. Why didn’t you wait until I got home?”

I walked to the sink to assess the damage.

Her cheeks reddened as she got water out of the fridge. “I have some news I have to share with him, and I thought cooking his favorite meal would soften the blow.”

“What is so bad that you had to bribe him with food?” When Therese glanced away, I added, “Or is it too personal?”

“I’m pregnant,” Therese blurted out, then, taking a deep breath, she sat down on a kitchen chair.

I beamed. “This is glorious news! I’m going to be an aunt!” I grabbed Therese out of the chair and gave her a tight hug.

“Thanks, Jordie, but Eric doesn’t want children.”

My eyes widened. It made sense now why Therese was such a nervous wreck. “Weren’t you being careful, then, if you knew he didn’t want kids?”

“We were. We’ve always been careful. It was just that one night…”

“La la la,” I sang, determined not to hear any more about my brother’s sex life.

Therese broke into a smile. “Hush, you are a grown woman.”

“And Eric is a grown man who knows how babies happen, so he’ll understand.”

“I just hope he’s happy with my pregnancy,” Therese said.

I hugged her. “It will be okay,” I whispered. “You’ll work it out together.”

I went to my room to do some studying. I was enjoying Nursing College, but anatomy class was my weak spot, and tomorrow we had a test.

Going through the human body structure I heard my brother enter the apartment. I couldn’t quite hear what they were saying, but suddenly I heard a big whoop and laughter. I ran down to the living room to see the commotion.

When Eric saw me, he lifted and twirled me.

“What are you doing?” I laughed. “Put me down!”

“I’m going to be a father, Jordie!”

I looked at Therese, who was beaming with happiness.

“I thought you didn’t want children,” she said to Eric.

“I thought I didn’t, but now you’re pregnant, I just… I’m just so happy.” He walked to his wife and gave her a deep kiss. “So happy.”

“I’m thrilled for you guys, but I’m also starving. What should we order for dinner?”

“Hot wings,” Eric said. “It’s a celebration, so champagne, too.”

He cast a loving glance at his wife. “I’ll drink for the both of us, baby.”

I laughed before placing an order at our favorite chicken wing establishment on the phone.

The food soon arrived, and we sat in the living room with the television on in the background.

“Babe, we will have to house hunt,” Eric said.

“What? What for?” Therese said.

“Well, I’m thinking when you get to eight months, the stairs might be too much and the baby will need a backyard to play in, so why not look for a house now?”

Therese raised her eyebrows. “First of all, you don’t know what I will and won’t be able to do. But you might be right about the backyard.”

“What about the apartment?” I asked.

“When we find a place, you can stay here until you finish college, and when you start working, you can start paying me rent, that’s if Therese agrees,” Eric replied.

I childishly stuck my tongue out and threw a couch pillow at him, which he caught with a laugh. I watched as Eric and Therese snuggled on the couch and felt a twitch of jealousy in my heart. As my mind wandered to Alex, my heart did a different kind of leap that made me nervous.


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