Something Borrowed Sneak Peek: Chapter One Snippet
© K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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Eight Months Prior.
At fifteen, I met a man. Not just any man. A man from Seven Pines who turned my world on its head and made me the center of his universe. Izaiah Lavender claimed that our meeting was fate. A thug from Seven Pines had no reason to entangle himself with a poised young lady from The Falls. Yet, I took him by the hand and gave him my heart. He was my dark knight, my prince charming, my soulmate. By sixteen, he made me a mother. By eighteen, he’d given me a life I loved; the fairytale I always dreamed of as his wife. When I was thirty-five, that dream became a nightmare. The streets took the love of my life from me, and since then, I’d vowed never to love again.
Fast forward thirteen years later, and each time I looked at myself in the mirror, all I managed to see was a forty-eight-year-old widowed single mother who was still silently mourning the loss of her husband and son. Who the hell was the woman staring back at me? What had she done with the real me? Looking at my reflection felt like I may as well have been looking back at a stranger. My phone rang, snapping me out of my insecurities. I walked over to the bed and answered for my sister, Octavia.
“Please tell me you’re dressed and ready. The limo will be there to pick you up in thirty minutes!”
“I’m in the process of getting dressed right now. I promise I could go faster if I weren’t standing still talking to you,” I reminded her.
“Fine. I’ll see you soon! And remember, put a smile on.”
“Whatever you say, birthday girl.”
“It’s birthday woman to you. It’s my fortieth birthday, and I’m feelin’ hot tonight!”
I snickered. “Welcome to the forty club.”
Octavia smacked her lips loudly through the receiver. “Why, thank you. I may be forty, but I still look thirty-five.”
“That’s called good genes. Look at me, forty-five and still fabulous.”
She coughed before snickering. “Don’t you mean forty-eight?”
“Can you mind your business? I’ll see you in a bit,” I declared with a lighthearted chuckle before ending the call.
I tossed my phone back on my bed and looked at the two dress options lying side by side. “Red or black. Red or black,” I mumbled to myself.
I swiped up the black dress in my hands and placed it inside my small suitcase before tossing in my last few toiletries and accessories. I walked over to my nightstand to grab my Melatonin gummies when I noticed my hot pink vibrator in the bottom of the drawer. For a second, I toyed with the thought of bringing it along but decided against it.
Once I was dressed in something comfortable for the limo ride, I headed downstairs to wait for the birthday brigade to pick me up. I was excited to step out of Potomac Falls for a bit and breathe in the fresh air of a new city, even if it was only for a short weekend. Fifteen minutes later, I heard a horn honking in my driveway, gathered my purse and suitcase, and headed out the door.
Inside the limo, Octavia, Jen, and Melanie had all the greatest RnB hits from the ’80s playing on full blast–from Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ to ‘Nite and Day’ by Al B. Sure! A smile stretched across my lips as I started to nod my head to the music. Jen immediately handed me a flute filled to the brim with bubbling champagne, and we all made a quick toast before the driver pulled off. I tossed the champagne down the back of my throat and looked around at everyone I’d be spending the weekend with. Each of us were in our forties, me being the oldest. All our relationship statuses were different. Mel was divorced, Jen was still happily married to her husband, I was widowed, and Octavia was single and ready to mingle. All the women in our family aged well, so although my sister and I were both officially in our forties, we didn’t look like we’d aged past our thirties.
“You’re pretty quiet over there, Jeanine. What are you most looking forward to this weekend?” Octavia’s friend Melanie asked.
“Relaxation,” I answered without hesitation.
“What you need is somebody to break that back,” Octavia mumbled. My sister had always chosen her words carefully around me. Everyone did since Izaiah died, but she was obviously on one and had neglected to pack her filter for the weekend.
“What was that?” I asked.
“How long has it been since you had an orgasm or gotten wet, for that matter?”
I was instantly mortified. My sex life, or lack thereof, was not something I was in the mood to discuss in an open forum. If there had been an eject button on my seat, I would’ve gladly pressed it. “Octavia, please!”
“I’m tired of biting my tongue! It’s my fortieth birthday, and I don’t give a damn anymore.”
“Will you just shut up about it?”
She smacked her lips together after taking a sip from her champagne flute. “I’m just saying, Jeanine, you’re my sister and best friend, and I love you. We all do! You’re in your forties. You’re not dead. So, I need you to hear me when I say I want you to let loose and have some real fun this weekend. And by real fun, I mean you need to get fucked with a capital F.”
“This weekend is about you, not me. So, you do all the lettin’ loose you want, and I’ll be just fine. I’m just looking for a good time with you ladies and celebrating my baby sister’s birthday.”
“To each her own, but as for me, I need a do-over from thirty-five, hell thirty-eight and thirty-nine too, so yeah. I’m single, and I’m on the prowl, baby. Somebody better tell these hoes to lock up their husbands because I’m feelin’ forty and flirty tonight!” Octavia cheered.
“And on that note, let’s cheers to that!” I suggested before raising my glass, hopeful we’d changed subjects for good.
All the ladies rose a glass to wish Octavia the most memorable birthday ever.
Happy hour, dinner, dancing, and three shots of tequila later, our ears led Octavia, me, and her birthday entourage into the cocktail bar nestled in the lobby of our hotel, where a live RnB jazz band was performing.
“Is that live music?” Mel asked.
“Sounds like it to me,” I answered.
“I’m always in the mood for live music,” Jen suggested.
“Let’s go, then.”
We stepped inside the dimly lit bar and looked around. The oversized bar top seemed to stretch from one end of the room to the other. Suspended in the middle of the wall behind the bar was a large blue neon sign that said The Gryphon. A row of flickering tealight candles aligned the bar top as we walked over to an empty, plush booth and scooched inside. The loungey R&B jazz sound filled the space as I instinctively rocked in my seat at the band’s rendition of Erykah Badu’s “Certainly” from her Baduizm album. The almost all-male band consisted of a saxophonist, trumpet player, drummer, pianist, bass guitarist, and a female soloist.
“This seems like a vibe,” I commented.
Jen nudged me before winking. “Look at you, keepin’ up with the lingo.”
I snickered. “You sound like Isa and Imani.”
“I want more drinks. Who’s up for more drinks?” Octavia interjected.
“First round is on me. Pick your poison wisely, ladies,” I warned, noticing the fully stocked bar behind my sister.
Hours later, our table and the cocktail table beside us were filled with expertly made martinis, margaritas, shots of tequila, and champagne. The four of us surrounded our expanded section with roaring laughter. When the band started grooving to their rendition of Maxwell’s “Sumthin’ Sumthin,’” we hit the middle of the dance floor.
“If it's cool, we can do a little sumthin' sumthin.'”
I tossed my head back, allowing myself to get swept up in the music and let the groove take me away. The moment I opened my eyes, I landed on a pair of olive-green eyes staring back at me. Those eyes belonged to the young, white saxophonist playing alongside the Black musicians on stage. My brown orbs devoured him from head to toe. Every hair on his chestnut brown head was perfectly placed, leading up to the sexy upright swoop over the right side of his face. The sides were trimmed short, and he had little to no facial hair, which let me know he was too young for me to be so transfixed over. Yet, I continued to graze over his shaggy brown brows, faint mustache, and those damn hypnotic green eyes. He was clad in a black tux jacket, crisp white button-up shirt, bowtie, and a pair of freshly creased black suit pants.
Mel's hip bumped me, causing me to redirect my attention from what he looked like to the way he was playing the hell out of the saxophone in his grasp. The band had gone from Maxwell to SWV’s “Weak” to New Edition’s “Can You Stand the Rain,” and he was in the middle of his solo. I stood in awe, mesmerized by how his fingers fluttered with ease against the keys. Each fingertip melted into his instrument to hit every note with the precision of a trained musician. He rocked to the beat as he played, showing he had more soul in him than most people probably gave him credit for at face value. His trained, stable breaths showed he had stamina. It was easy to tell he was really into what he was playing and loved what he was doing.
Once the song ended, the band announced they’d be taking a break before their next set, and we headed back to our tables.
“Damn. They are so good!” Octavia cheered.
“Are you having fun?”
“Fun? I’m having a blast! Thank you so much for coming out this weekend!”
“I wouldn’t dream of being anywhere else. What’s on the itinerary for the rest of the weekend?” I asked her.
“Brunch tomorrow at eleven, and then I was thinking some shopping and then end it with a spa day. Then Sunday, we’ll have breakfast before heading back to Potomac Falls.”
I tipped my head forward. “Sounds good. I’ll be right back.”
“We’ll see you out on the dance floor. The DJ is playing my jam right now!” Octavia cheered before stalking off with Mel and Jen in tow.
To ward off the hangover headache, I predicted the tequila shots would bring, I walked over to the bar to order a round of bottled waters for the table.
“You should let me buy you something stronger than that,” I heard a warm voice say behind me.
I turned my neck to see the young saxophonist standing behind me with a smile scribbled across his ivory face. He was even more beautiful up close. White men weren’t my type, especially not one who looked young enough to be my son, but he had all my attention, at least for the moment.
I returned the smile. “No thanks. I’ve met my drink limit for the evening. It’s water for me for the rest of the night.”
He expressed a soft chuckle. “Where’s the fun in that? Did tequila make you make some bad decisions in a past life?”
“I’ve always heard Tequila makes your clothes come off.”
He smirked. “No harm in that.”
I fully turned towards him and let my eyes soak him in from head to toe. “What are you suggesting?”
“What does it sound like I’m suggesting?”
“It sounds like you are asking me to go home with you.”
“And if I was?” He proposed.
“As flattered as I am, I’m a grown-ass woman. I would break you, respectfully.”
“If that’s your way of discouraging me, you’ll have to come harder than that, respectfully.”
A smile walked up one side of my face. He was a witty know-it-all, but I found our banter entertaining, so I opted to keep the conversation flowing. “Is that so?”
“You’re pretty bold for someone who hasn’t even bothered to tell me his name yet.”
“Axel. And who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?”
“Jeanine,” I said, offering my hand to him.
He took my hand in his and kissed it while staring into my eyes. “A beautiful name for a beautiful woman.”
“C’mon, now. You’re laying it on a little too thick even for me. How old do you think I am?”
“Why does it matter?”
“Because I’m ninety-nine percent sure I’m old enough to be your mother.”
“I’m thirty-three, and I’m guessing you can’t be older than thirty-eight, so there’s no way that could even be a possibility.”
“Add ten more years to that,” I confirmed.
His eyebrows lifted toward his forehead. “Oh, really?”
He licked his lips. “Interesting.”
“Interesting? What does that mean?”
“Let me buy you a drink, and I’ll tell you.”
“Or you could save your money and tell me anyway,” I suggested.
“Again, where’s the fun in that?”
I cut my eyes at him and shot him a flirtatious grin. “Tequila sunrise. ONE tequila sunrise!”
“Coming right up.”
“You're lucky your band is amazing because if not, this would be going a lot different right now.”
“But really, your singer is amazing. All of you are.”
He dipped his chin in a nod. “Yeah. Jodie is amazing, but that saxophonist, now that’s talent,” he joked.
“You are very talented,” I agreed.
“Most people find it strange that a white boy in a RnB jazz bad, but I love it, even if I am the white elephant in the room sometimes. Ever since I was old enough to hold an instrument in my hand, I fell in love with music. I can play three different instruments, but the sax…that’s my baby. I studied all the greats–from John Coltrane to Charlie Parker; you name it.”
My chin descended in a nod. “The sax has always been a sexy instrument to me.”
He cheesed. “So, you’re saying I’m sexy?”
“No. I’m saying the instrument you possess is sexy.”
“Mmm. So, are you saying I’m not your type?”
I shook my head. “I didn’t say that either.”
He smiled again with a belly full of laughter. “And they say men are confusing.”
“You must win all the girls with that smile.”
“I do alright.”
“Yeah, I bet. I think this goes without saying, but I’m not a groupie.”
“I never took you for one. Besides, you don’t even think I’m sexy,” he teased.
I let out a soft chuckle. “Yeah, okay.”
“Let me change your mind about that.”
“Why would you wanna change my mind about something like that?”
“Because I think you’d enjoy yourself with me.”
“In what way?”
“Any way you want.”
I sunk my teeth into my bottom lip. “Give me one reason why I should go upstairs with you. Just one. Sell me.”
“One reason why you should go upstairs with me, huh?”
He chewed his jaw. “Just one?”
He reached out and placed his hand on my exposed knee. “Fine. I think you should go upstairs with me because I find you to be the most intensely attractive woman I’ve ever seen, and I wouldn’t be doing either of us justice leaving you sitting at this bar alone.”
The more he talked, the more I heard Octavia’s voice repeatedly playing in my head.
“Did my sister put you up to this?” I asked, allowing my question to overrule whatever he was talking about.
“She thinks, in her words, I need to get fucked,” I said, placing air quotes around the last couple of words that flew out of my mouth.
“I’m sorry, but this is my first hearing about any sister, but I don't disagree for what it’s worth, especially if I’m a viable candidate for the job.”
“Well, now I’m mortified,” I announced.
“Listen, I’m flattered, I really am. But I’m not looking for a hookup or a soulmate, for that matter. I just came out tonight to celebrate my sister’s birthday. Nothing more, nothing less.”
“That’s too bad.”
I didn’t know if it was the heat from the tequila in my system, but my insides had gone from cold and dead to suddenly on fire. I clenched my thighs, instantly regretting not bringing my toy to knock the edge off when I got back to my room. I couldn’t believe I was even thawing to the touch of a much, much younger man.
“Are you serious?”
“You said you were up for the job, right? So, after you finish your next set, let’s go, and we’ll see if you can change my mind.”
I didn’t want to know his last name, and I wouldn’t give him mine. He didn’t need to know what I did for a living or what I liked to do in my spare time. His only job was to provide my body the pleasurable relief I’d been abstaining from for years.
To be continued...