A Pleasing Temptation(6)

By: Deborah Fletcher Mello


“I’ve got this! And we need the exposure. If we’re going to sell these franchises and grow this brand you need to do this.”

Before Kamaya could respond, their secretary, Virginia Wade, called her name, purposely interrupting the conversation. The two were renowned for their no blows held back battles and a rise of ire was beginning to curdle like spoiled milk between them. “Kamaya, I left some checks on your desk to be signed, and the massage center called to confirm your appointment. You need to be there by eight tomorrow morning.” The woman smiled. “And welcome back.”

“Thank you, Virginia,” Kamaya said as she moved from the reception area into her office space. She pointed her index finger in Paxton’s direction. “I swear, if this blows up…”

“It won’t. Stop worrying, please. We’ve been doing this for how many years now? No one has discovered anything about your salacious endeavors and they never will.”

The two exchanged a look and then she closed the door behind her as Paxton stood on the other side.

* * *

There weren’t enough hours in a day to do everything Kamaya needed to do. She was past the point of exhaustion and she still had a grocery list of things that she needed. Work had moved from her office to the dining room in her Marengo Street home. She pushed the folders from in front of her to the other side of her table, shifting documents from point A to point B as she attempted to bring some organization to the mess.

She had bought the chain of strip clubs in spite of having some reservations, but the purchase price had been too good to pass up. Envisioning where she could take the down-and-out titty bars had been a no-brainer. Revamping their programs, revitalizing their interior designs and hiring all male dancers had been the easiest decision to make. There was a market eager to enjoy the adult entertainment men brought to the dance stage. Women loved watching beautiful, hard-bodied males and they were willing to pay well for the privilege.

Franchising the properties and the business formula had been Kamaya’s idea. Starting with the New Orleans’s property had been Paxton’s, the proximity of the location allowing them an up close and personal view of what would work and what would not. That, and his inside connection to the investor who’d easily come up with the required cash had been enough for her to trust her old friend with the reins. Now she was excited to see if he’d actually been able to pull off her vision.

She pushed herself from the table and stole a quick glance at the clock on the wall. It was just past midnight and although she knew she needed some rest, she was anxious, her entire body a ball of nerves. She needed release. Something heated and dirty, where sweat carried the fretfulness from her body. She needed her sure thing for just an hour, or maybe even two if it was really good. In the realm of Kamaya’s small world, men were toys, sex was a game and she knew how to play them both to her advantage.

As she moved toward the master bedroom she pulled her cell phone from her back pocket and pushed the speed-dial button. Paxton answered on the third ring.

“Why are you still up?” he asked, his voice low, as if he were whispering.

“I have a lot on my mind,” Kamaya noted. “Is this a bad time?”

There was a moment of hesitation before he answered. “Can we talk in the morning?”

A hint of surprised lifted her brow. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…”

“It’s no big deal,” he said cutting her off. “Laney just stopped by. She was upset and then she fell asleep…”

“Laney?”

He took a deep breath. “I was going to tell you tomorrow. Actually I was planning on telling you today but, well…” He took another inhale of air. “I asked Laney to marry me and she said yes. We’re getting married.”

Kamaya paused, his words seeming to go in one ear and explode someplace deep in her head. “You and Laney are getting married?”

“I really hope you’ll be happy for us, Kamaya. You’re my best friend, and it’s important to me that…”

She interrupted him. “Let’s talk tomorrow,” she said and then, just like that, she disconnected the call.

Seconds later the device rang, vibrating in the palm of her hand as an image of her and Paxton together flashed across the screen. She pushed the power button, and when the phone was off she tossed it to the floor of her walk-in closet and slammed the door shut.

Something like rage teased her spirit. She was surprised by Paxton’s news and she shouldn’t have been. Laney McDonald had been his Achilles’ heel for too many years to count. The woman had been blowing in and out of his life like a wayward wind, restless and wandering and never making any significant impact while there.

Also By Deborah Fletcher Mello

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