About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Lexus completely ignored the loud hustle and bustle of Chicagoans getting on and off the bus as they made their way through downtown for an array of winter festivities. When she reached her stop, she stepped off the bus and breathed in the crisp November air. Soft flakes were beginning to fall and the loud salt trucks caused a few pedestrians to take cover under store awnings to avoid the swinging salt from the trucks' brushes. Some people disliked the busyness of the city, but Lexus loved the constant activity and noisy atmosphere.
As she made her way into the tall skyscraper and arrived on the floor where her company was located, she admired the new logo that was intricately painted on the main office glass door. When Lexus, Imani, Cyd and Mya had joined forces and founded Elite Events Incorporated, they could have never predicted their company would take off so fast. They each ran their respective divisions while alternating as lead planner on each event the company booked. Lexus considered herself lucky to be able to run a successful business with those closest to her.
"Good morning, Ellie," Lexus said to the office assistant as she began removing her snow-white scarf and jet-black peacoat.
"Good morning, Miss Turner."
Before she made it completely through the second glass door that separated the lounge from the main office, Cyd met her halfway.
"Lex! Great, you're finally here," Cyd said as she led her through the hall to the back of the floor where the conference rooms were located.
"Why the rush, Cyd?" she asked with a smile as her warm brown curls bounced around her shoulders.
"Well, we need to decide who will lead a 35th anniversary party that Micah Madden wants to have for his parents. He has a meeting down the street so he dropped by the office a few minutes ago. Mya told him we could all meet with him before he leaves for his own meeting," Cyd explained.
The smile fell from Lex's smooth caramel face the instant she heard that Micah was in the office.
"Judging by the look on your face, that's exactly how I thought you would feel," Cyd said with a giggle. "That's why I came out of the room to warn you."
Three months ago Shawn proposed to Cyd and she happily accepted. The two were getting married next summer and Lex and Micah were both in the wedding party. Unfortunately for Lex, that meant she would be seeing a lot more of Micah as the wedding grew closer.
"A meeting? How convenient. Seriously, Cyd, I don't even understand why he has to plan a 35th anniversary party for his parents anyway. Why not plan a 40th anniversary party like any other normal person."
"Actually, the percentage rate for people who have 35th anniversary parties is very high and increasing every year," Micah said, standing behind Lex and Cyd. "My parents have never had a grand anniversary party so I think it's long overdue."
Crap, what are the odds, Lex thought to herself as she dropped her head to the floor. Of course he's standing right behind me. The man always had a way of sneaking up on her.
"I wasn't trying to sneak up on you," Micah stated, sensing her thoughts. "I had to step into the hallway to take an important phone call."
Lex recovered from her embarrassment and lifted her head before turning around to face Micah.
"Hello, Lexus Turner," Micah said as he extended his hand to greet her. There he was in the flesh. The one man she wished didn't occupy so many of her thoughts. Most people called her Lex instead of Lexus, but her full name rolled off his tongue as if he said her name every day. Better yet, by the deepness in his voice, you'd think he said her name every night.
"Hello, Micah Madden," Lex said, taking her cue from him and saying his full name, as well. "It's good to see you again."
Micah stood there observing her, his eyes burning a hole through her snug-fitting sweater dress. When his eyes left her dress and reached her lips, they lingered there for a while. On instinct, she licked her rosy colored lips trying to stop the pulsating feeling between her legs. Every time she was near him, she couldn't help but be consumed by his presence. The first quality she studied on him today were his muscular arms that were clearly visible through his white fitted dress shirt. The second quality she observed were his perfect white teeth and sexy dimpled smile. The third quality she liked was his unique sense of style. The man could wear a pair of sleek slacks and slim black tie like no other, and always looked as if he'd just walked off the runway.
"Likewise," Micah finally replied as he finished appraising her. "You look very nice today LG." She wished she knew why he thought it was okay to call her LG. He had started calling her LG two and a half months ago at Cyd and Shawn's official engagement party. It was short for lingerie girl. No one knew what it meant except for the two of them and when anyone asked, she never told them. He always called her LG after initially greeting her as Lexus. What is with this guy? If she ever got the nerve, she would question him about it. She wanted to question him now, but she couldn't. Secretly, she liked the way it made her feel. Even saying the nickname he'd given her, Lex thought he made it sound heavenly.
Cyd cleared her throat.
"Oh, and you look very nice as well, Cyd," Micah replied.
"Why, thanks," Cyd said as she flipped her jet-black hair over her shoulders. "It's so nice of you to finally notice that I'm standing here. I was about to tell you both to take it to the bedroom."
"Cyd!" Lex exclaimed loudly. "Really?"
"No, she's right," Micah interjected. "We should handle this." At Lex's raised eyebrow he continued. "I meant that we should get started with the meeting. I wasn't referring to the bedroom comment."
Lex breathed a sigh of relief.
"Unless there's something you want to tell me," Micah stated aloud, looking solely at Lex.
"Nope, nothing to tell," she responded a little too quickly.
"You two are hard to watch," Cyd said as she shook her head and glanced from Lex to Micah. "Let's just go into the conference room. Imani and Mya are waiting."
While Micah and Cyd were making themselves comfortable at the conference table, Lex decided to pour a much-needed cup of coffee. She took her seat next to Imani, but not before she cut Cyd a slicing look of irritation.
Cyd responded to the look by innocently lifting her hands and eyebrows in indication that she didn't understand what Lex was referring to.
"Ha! Yeah, right," Lex said aloud, although she hadn't intended to.
"Is everything okay?" Imani asked.
"Yup, everything is fine," Lex replied. As long as I keep my hormones in check.
"Great! Now let's get down to business. As you all know, Micah would like to throw a 35th anniversary party for his parents in their Arkansas hometown. First things first, we need to decide who will lead this event."
"I think Lex should handle this event," Mya quickly replied.
"I agree," Cyd added.
"Sounds good to me," Imani continued after Cyd.
"Great. Then, it's settled," Micah said as he stood to shake each woman's hand before finally reaching Lex.
"I have to get to work. But let's set a date to meet and discuss my needs."
Lex was a little taken aback by his comment and the fact that her partners had decided she would be the event lead. Micah was still holding her hand when he voiced the last words. Did he mean work needs or personal needs?
"Both," Micah said as if reading her thoughts again.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" Lex asked in confusion. Everything was happening too fast and she couldn't react that quickly. "Never mind, I will call you to set up a preliminary meeting for the anniversary party. Is there any day this week that doesn't work well for you?"
Micah finally let go of her hand and flashed another priceless smile.
"Any day this week works for me." He winked, clearly entertained by the fact that, once again, she was ignoring his advances. With that, he gave a quick nod to all the women and left the conference room.
"What just happened here?" Lex asked Mya in particular after Micah was out of earshot. "Last week, I thought we both agreed that we would figure out what Micah wanted for the anniversary party before deciding who would be the best planner since Imani and Cyd already have a few events lined up."
"I don't remember us saying that," Mya responded as she pretended to be occupied with straightening a stack of unruly papers. "I talked to Micah when he first got here so I already knew that it worked best with your schedule."
Imani and Cyd both laughed. While eyeing her friends and partners, Lex tried to figure out exactly what scheme they were trying to get away with.
"I'm pretty sure that's what we discussed," Lex said raising her voice a bit. "And what do you mean it worked best with my schedule. He didn't even say what date he was interested in so you couldn't possibly know what worked best."
"Yes, he did," Mya answered. "His parents never had a real wedding, but their actual wedding date is Valentine's Day. He said that he wanted to plan their anniversary sometime next month before New Years, or after if that's too soon. Like I said, I'd already talked to him."
"That soon?" Lex exclaimed. "Why did we agree to plan this party? It's already November!"
"We've planned plenty of parties with way less time," Imani responded. "Besides, you still have another two weeks left in this month."
"And let's not forget that last year, I planned the formal for the Peter Vallant Company with way less time than you have," Cyd added. "I had about two weeks to plan that entire event. If I can make that work, you can definitely make this work."
Lex crossed her arms over her chest in annoyance. Her body language was a clear indication that she was pouting, but she didn't care. She felt as if she was the focal point of the joke, and being the main focus of any joke was not a good feeling.
Mya's smartphone vibrated. "Lex, I'd love to continue this conversation but I have to meet with a client to discuss the grand opening event for their new clothing store."
"Of course you do," Lex said sarcastically. Imani and Cyd had their phones in their hands as well, and if Lex was a betting woman, she'd bet any dollar amount that one of them had texted Mya to give her an excuse to leave the conference room.
"I have to go, too," Imani stated. "I have to tweet about a couple upcoming events and I have to update our page on Facebook."
"I should probably call the florist for my wedding to confirm my appointment next week," Cyd interjected. "Besides, I'm sure you have to start working on a game plan for the anniversary party."
"Ugh," Lex responded in annoyance. "I know what you guys are doing and it won't work."
"Sweetie, that childlike pout doesn't look good on you," Cyd said with a laugh.
"Besides, we don't know what you're talking about," Mya added.
"Oh, really," Lex said sitting upright in her chair while uncrossing her arms and bracing both hands on the conference table.
"Look, I'm not blind. I know Micah has a thing for me. But y'all know I'm not going there with a man like him."
"Lex, listen to yourself," Cyd said. "Micah is educated, successful and sexy. Plus he's a bit of a bad boy. Trust me, women in Chicago have been drooling all over him ever since he moved here this past summer."
"But he's only interested in you," Imani added.
Rubbing her hands over her face, Lex tried to ignore what they were saying. She couldn't date a man like him.
He was too easy to fall for and after everything she'd been through, she wasn't willing to risk her heart again.
"You guys know what I went through with Evan."
Imani reached over and softly touched Lex's hand. "Lex, we all know that Evan's craziness made you swear off men. But you can't let him define your future. You need to move on from that situation."
"I know," Lex replied. "But it's not that easy. He controlled every part of me in high school and college. If I hadn't seen the light after Gamine's death, I would have never realized the type of man he was." When her grandmother, Faith Gamine Burrstone died a few years ago, a light switch had finally been turned on in Lex's head.
"Sweetie, Evan Gilmore was the ultimate a-hole!" Cyd exclaimed. "We all blame ourselves for not always speaking up when it came to our true thoughts about him. But Micah Madden is not Evan Gilmore."
"Not even close," Mya added. "You're twenty-eight. You need to date a real man."
"I have dated real men," Lex said, defending herself. "Remember Reginald Collins?"
"Right, how can we forget nerdy Reginald," Cyd cynically replied. "I still don't understand why you wasted your time on someone who didn't even like to kiss in public or private I presume."
"That's not true," Lex responded. "He was just very selective on how and when he showed his feelings." She wouldn't dare tell them that even though they'd dated for over seven months, they hadn't had sex and had barely even kissed.
"A peck on the cheek is not a kiss," Imani stated. "And that's all we ever saw him give you a light peck on the cheek. Even with that peck, he did it sloppily."
"He sure did," Mya agreed. "It made us gag just watching it. Like he wanted to open his mouth and French kiss your cheek, but decided against it. Awkward."
"Okay," Lex said drawling out the word. "Enough about my last boyfriend."
"If you can even call him that," Cyd mumbled beneath her breath.
"Anyway," Lex continued, "since I don't have a choice, I will plan the anniversary party. But I want to make it clear that I will continue to look at Micah in a completely professional manner."
"Hmm, and how is that working out for you so far?" Mya said, laughing. Imani and Cyd followed suit and joined in the laughter.
"Oh, you guys didn't see them in the hall earlier," Cyd said, ready to spill all the juicy details.
"Oh, do tell," Imani said, rubbing her hands together.
"My work can wait," Mya said, making no attempts to leave the room as she'd previously been prepared to do.
"Well I don't think I need to stay around for this," Lex said as she gathered her stuff and walked out of the conference room. Before the door fully closed, she heard the women giggle as Cyd explained how she'd made the situation even more awkward for her and Micah when she had suggested that they take it to the bedroom.