Ebony Nights: Advertising for Love
(December 2012, Samhain Publishing)

AdvertisingForLove_v1

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Contemporary Multicultural Erotic Romance

Ebony Nights, Book 2

In the kitchen, in a tux—and out of it—he’s got the skills to crank up the heat.

When Aisha Anderson hires a professional escort for her company’s gala, it’s not because she can’t get a date. Her fast-track career at Hansen Advertising doesn’t give her the time—and it’s the only way to avoid dancing with her creepy, inappropriate co-worker.

To her delight, Greg Williams plays the role of charming, attentive gentleman so well, she could almost believe the sparks between them are real. When he takes her home and demonstrates—with considerable sexual skill—that the heat is not her imagination, she can’t say no to his request for her number in lieu of payment.

Their hot night continues into a warm breakfast at Greg’s favorite back-street diner, where Aisha feels something she hasn’t felt for a long time. Part of a couple.

Later, though, when she runs into a former client of his who seems eager to compare notes on his erotic bag of tricks, the sizzle begins to cool in shadows of doubt. Long-term could be a stretch for a man who’s dated half the women in Chicago.

Especially when there’s the possibility that demand for his services could take him away right when she needs him most…

Warning: This book contains a sexy black man with mad culinary skills, an ad exec with a hunger for something well-cut and lean, and an escort service that knows how to satisfy every woman’s appetites.

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Enjoy the following excerpt from Advertising for Love:

Tanya slid the black business card across the table. The gold script lettering glistened enticingly in the sun—Ebony Nights.

“You are out of your damn mind.” Aisha crossed her arms and refused to touch it.

“Take it.”

“No.”

“Take it.” Tanya tapped the card with her manicured nail.

“No.” Aisha shook her head. “Didn’t your mama teach you anything?”

Tanya sat back in her chair and laughed. “She sure did. She taught me to go after what I want and to always help a friend in need.” She took a sip of her latte.

“Tanya.” Aisha leaned across the table and lowered her voice. “I can’t call them. It’s illegal!”

“Technically, it’s not illegal. They are simply a service that provides women with companionship for social events.” She winked. “What you do after that event is over is up to you.”

Aisha groaned. “How do you even know about them? I can’t believe that you’ve actually used an…” she looked at the crowded tables around them and whispered, “…escort service.”

Tanya smiled. “Renee hooked me up.”

“Wait, Renee has called them?”

Tanya rolled her eyes. “Yes, girl. In fact, I think you’re the only one who has not partaken of their services.” She paused. “Except maybe Sherri. It would look bad for a deacon’s wife to get a little paid action on the side.” She smirked. “But then again, stranger things have happened.”

Aisha picked her jaw off of the floor and sat back in her chair. “I can’t—”

“Stop.” Tanya held up her hand. “Let me break it down. First, you need someone—a male someone—to go with you to Hansen’s black tie gala on Saturday. Because if you don’t, you’ll look like a loser with no social life, and you won’t be able to keep that a-hole Phil away from you, despite the fact that his wife will be there, probably throwing back martinis at the bar. Correct?”

“Hey!” Aisha objected. “Only half correct. A-hole Phil, yes. Most definitely, yes. But I’m not a loser.”

“Whatever.” Tanya took another sip of her drink. “You know I love you anyway. Second,”—she ticked the point off on her finger—“this place offers a smorgasbord of brothas.” Aisha laughed. “Seriously. Whatever you’re into, they’ve got it—dark, light, tall, short, muscular, slim.” She paused, raising her eyebrows. “Big. Bigger.”

“Tanya!”

“I’m serious. It’s like shopping online. Choose your features and click ‘buy it now’. Besides, when was the last time you got some?”

Aisha paused before answering. “It’s been a while.”

“‘It’s been a while’. Uh huh. That’s what I thought. Not since that loser…uh…what was his name? You know, the one with the effed-up car.”

“Jamal.”

“Jamal!” Tanya snapped her fingers. “That’s right. He had the nerve to drive you around Chicago in that sputtering piece of crap. I’m surprised the hubcaps and mufflers and crap didn’t start falling off of it when he got up to forty-five on the Drive. And really, I’m not one to be all up in your business, but if a man drives a car like that, can he really kick it into high gear between the sheets?”

“Okay, okay. You’ve got a point.” She took a sip of her coffee. “And to answer your question. No. He didn’t know how to handle business in the bedroom, which is just one of the reasons why we broke up.”

“That and the effed-up car.”

“The effed-up car, the fact that he was about to get fired from his job, his mama issues—too many problems to list. But this?” She gestured toward the card still sitting on the table. “I don’t know if this is the answer.”

“This is not a dating service, Aisha. This is an escort service.” Tanya finished her latte. “You aren’t buying a boyfriend. You’re buying a bit of arm-candy for your company’s event and a little after-hours action. Look”—Tanya sat casually back in her chair—“I don’t know why you would have a problem with this. You outsource half of your life anyway.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, let’s see…” Tanya paused when the El train rattled past them on the tracks overhead. As they waited for the din to subside, Aisha crossed her arms. Tanya simply smirked. The clatter quieted and she continued, “You hire someone to clean your house. You hire someone to plan your vacations. You take your clothes to the dry cleaners. Hell, you even get your groceries delivered.”

“I hate grocery shopping,” Aisha said defensively. “Besides, this is not the same thing. This is a person.”

“This is a person providing a service, just like your cleaning lady. No difference.”

“Huge difference. I’m not paying my cleaning lady to have sex with me.”

“Well, maybe you should. It would probably be better than Jamal.”

Aisha couldn’t stop herself from laughing. “Have you seen my cleaning lady? She’s like sixty-five and four feet tall.”

“So? We’re all the same height in the bed, and with the lights off, we can be as young as we want to be.”

“Yeah, but can turning the lights off make you male?”

“Girl, anything in possible in the dark.”

Aisha snickered. “You’re crazy. You know that? There’s medication for people with your condition.”

“This right here”—she picked up the card—“is the only medicine I need.” She put it back down on the table in front of her. “And you need to call them to cure what ails you.”

Aisha still refused to touch it. “And what ails me?”

“Do you need a list? Let’s see. Number one, you’re a workaholic. Number two, you’re commitment-phobic. Number three, you’re a perfectionist. Number four—”

“Hold on, hold on. I’ll give you the first one, sure. But the rest? No way. Commitment-phobic? Perfectionist? If those were true, then how do you explain Jamal?”

“Oh, that’s easy.” Tanya reached into her purse and pulled out her sunglasses to shield her eyes against the bright spring sun. “You knew from the get-go Jamal was wrong for you. That’s why you went out with him. You didn’t have to worry about getting emotionally involved with a guy who never stood a chance anyway. Plus, your relationships never last because any guy that makes it over to your place only has one thought.”

“And what’s that?”

“Damn. What does she need me for?”

Aisha stared at her. “What in the world does that mean?”

“Oh, you know what it means.” Tanya dismissed her question with a wave of her hand. “Your place is hooked up. That view of the lake is fantastic. Plus, you drive a nice car and generally have your crap together. Most men take a look at all that and say, ‘Damn, she’s got all this? What am I bringing to this party?’”

Aisha raised one eyebrow. “So what you’re saying is that men are intimidated by me?”

“Yep.” Tanya punctuated her statement with a sharp nod of her head. “That’s exactly what I am saying.”

Before Aisha could protest, her cell phone rang. “Hold on, I have to take this. It’s Sandra.” She touched the Answer button. “Hello?”

“Sorry to bother you, Aisha. I know you’re on your break but…” Sandra hesitated.

“That’s okay. What is it?”

“Well…” Aisha could hear her nervousness. “Mr. Weinstein just called and he’s still unhappy with the logo revisions. I tried to tell him he needed to talk to you about it, but he started yelling about how the design doesn’t fit his image of the brand, and I told him I’m just the administrative assistant and I’d get in contact with you but he—”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it when I get back.”

“Okay.” Sandra sounded relieved. “Thanks.”

Aisha hung up the phone and turned her attention back to Tanya, who raised her eyebrows. “Problems?”

“Nothing I can’t take care of.”

“You go ’head and handle your business. Told you that you were intimidating. Oh, speaking of which, when will you know if you got that promotion?”

Aisha sighed. “I don’t know. A few weeks maybe. You know, I’ll be pretty pissed if I don’t get it, considering that last year I brought in the most revenue dollars—”

“And the economy was down.”

Aisha nodded. “Right. And it would be really bad if they promoted Phil over me.”

“Oooh, yeah. That would be bad. Like lawsuit bad.”

Aisha shrugged. “I don’t think it would get to that level, but—”

“But give a man some power over a beautiful woman, and watch him abuse it.” Tanya pointed at her for emphasis. “Phil’s already walking a fine line now with his behavior and how he looks at you. If he gets to be your boss, forget about it. You’ll need to get a lawyer.”

Aisha watched people jostle past each other on the busy street. On any given day in Chicago, the crowds were shoulder-to-shoulder but the first warm spring day of the season had turned the sidewalk into a traffic jam as everyone enjoyed the weather after months of oppressive winter.

Tanya’s purse began ringing. She dug inside and pulled out her cell phone. “It’s the office.” She slid her finger across the phone’s screen. “Hello?” She paused. “Okay, I’ll be there in a minute. Tell him to hold on.” She hung up. “I gotta go. The courier is there to pick up some papers I have to sign, and he’s having a fit because they’re not ready.” She tapped the business card one more time before getting up. “Call them. They can’t fix your intimidation problem, and they can’t fix your Phil problem, but they can fix everything for Saturday night. Let them know I gave you their number. They’re very exclusive and won’t talk to you without a referral.”

“Tanya, I don’t know if—”

“Call them!” Tanya squeezed Aisha’s shoulder before tossing her cup into the trash. “You won’t regret it.” She waved as she joined the steady stream of people on the sidewalk and scurried quickly down the street.

Aisha looked skeptically at the card for a moment before picking it up. She flipped it over; on the back was a phone number. No other information. She ran her finger thoughtfully over the edge of the card before slipping it into her purse.

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