Read An Excerpt
NEVER BEEN TO ME
Multicultural, Contemporary Romance
The Saturday night launch at the world renowned Louvre had arrived and, having arranged to meet Nick at the museum, Persi gathered her purse, opera cape and entered the limo, which deposited her at the reception hall.
She appeared early enough to successfully calm the Etienne family and present a visually stunning aura of confidence and character. As she greeted society notables, seemingly, everyone paused; the air stilled and the room hushed. Persi looked in the direction that drew all the attention. Her eyes converged with all others and rested on the most gorgeous black man she’d ever seen in her life. Tall, ruggedly handsome, regal, assured and, with his mere presence, he took the breath of every woman in attendance.
“Damn! Who is that?” her assistant asked.
“My date,” Persi said proudly. Unable to move, she witnessed Nick’s eyes casually comb the assemblage as they returned the favor and, upon spotting her, she watched him walk towards her, a warm smile of recognition on his face. Black Man Walking, she thought. Is there anything more beautiful? More fundamentally cool? More sexy than a black man coming towards you with—whatever on his mind?
“Hi,” she returned the greeting, their eyes locked into each others.
He wrestled his gaze away, long enough to take in her form in that gown. “You look terrific.” He spun her around once and the strapless, magenta-aubergine gown flared out dramatically before resting by her matching five inch stilettos.
“You clean up pretty good yourself,” she countered as they smiled and kissed “hello” before the curious crowd came closer.
Both the perfume line and Nick Betancourt sensationalized the event. He paid just the right amount of attention to her without being cloying or under foot. They sipped champagne retrieved from the trays of traveling, liveried waiters and danced to the music of the chamber orchestra discreetly nestled in the alcove.
“You are a hit,” she whispered.
A smile dimpled his cheeks in answer.
How can a man this fine still blush when being paid a compliment, Persi wondered. She knew every woman in here—old or young—wanted him, and Persi wanted them to think she had him.
As the launch drew to a close, Persi’s face washed with relief. “I’m glad it’s over,” Persi admitted, taking his hand.
“Did I tell you how stunning you look in that gown?” He ran his thumb under his bottom lip, turned her once, the gown behaving as trained.
“Why, yes you did.” She threw her bare shoulder at him.
“Why don’t we get out of here?”
“I thought you’d never ask.”
He kissed her hand and led her through the diminishing crowd, disappearing from the ball like Prince Charming with his Cinderella. “Let’s go this way,” he suggested, placing her opera cape around her and pulling her toward the Champs Elysees.
Nick walked backwards facing her. “C’mon,” Nick urged her on and dismissed the limo.
She couldn’t resist as she followed him. He held her hand tightly and she loved the feel of his warm skin in hers, the nearness and scent of him, the feel of walking in tandem with another human being—a man—a gorgeous man in a tux that fit him just right.
When they reached the center of the boulevard, Nick stopped. Persi followed suit. “Look. I wanted you to see this.”
He stepped aside and Persi tore her gaze from his handsome face and, laid out before her, like a string of fallen stars from the sky, was the Champs Elysees lit up for Christmas. Ablaze in a stream of silver lights from where they stood—all the way to the Arc de Triomphe.
Her heart sprang forth and her hands flew to her lips. “Oh, my, it’s beautiful!”
She giggled, laughed and walked forward without him. The entire street, the trees and the store fronts where all wrapped in silver lights; Disneyland and planetarium combined— spectacular!
He grinned and followed her steps, laughing because she was laughing; happy because she was happy. She ran back, took his hand and urged him on up the boulevard. Something that didn’t cost him a dime, gave her immeasurable pleasure. “I had them do this just for you,” he teased.
Joyful tears leaked from her eyes. “You know, I believe you,” she felt embarrassed. Her heart filled like it never had.
“Hey. It’s Okay. It’s Christmas time in Paris.”
He took her face in his hands, wiped away the tears from her eyes with his thumbs and kissed her gently on the lips. Then their exploring tongues found one another’s. Oblivious to everyone around them, she savored their combined taste, which sent shivers down her spine, the feel of his body against hers, the touch of his hands under her coat, around her waist, next to her skin.
“C’mon, let’s walk up to the Arc before we go home.”
“I like the sound of that,” she said to him.
They sauntered arm and arm up, the monochromatic silver lights serving as the spotlight to their destination. Nick smiled back at her and set Persi’s heart afire with joy and desire. Arm and arm, they walked the winter wonderland of two thousand sycamore trees lit by tiny fallen stars. When they reached the Arc de Triomphe, Persi turned into Nick and they kissed amid the magical lights, all traces of other folk peeled away, leaving just them in the midst of quiet cacophony. She felt little girl happy; shoe-shopping happy; Obama being elected the 44th president of the United States happy. She squeezed Nick’s waist tighter and felt his nature rise.
When they pulled apart Persi smiled up at him and said, “I’m glad you’re here with me.”
“Me too.” He grinned and his dimple agreed as well. “It’s chilly. Let’s get you home.”
As he slid his key into the keyhole, she rested on his back and when the door sprang open they tumbled in. Laughingly, she knew. This was the night. After all this time, this would be the night they’d make love for the very first time.