About the Book :: Behind the Scenes :: Excerpt

Henson Trilogy Book 1 / November 2003 / BET Books / ISBN 1-58314-452-8
buy at barnes&noble.com - buy at amazon.com


Self-help author and teacher Cassie Graham has always been drawn to sexy men with beautiful eyes and a wicked smile, but when she meets reclusive restaurant owner Drake Henson, she does her best to deny her instant attraction. The last thing she needs is an arrogant, wealthy man who’ll offer the promise of marriage with no love, and she’s determined to resist Drake’s charms at all costs…


Drake has had his share of obstacles to overcome, and after spending most of his adult life raising his two younger siblings on the rough streets of Washington, he knows his social skills could use some improvement. Drake decides to take a class offered by Cassie to help him prepare for his upcoming high school reunion, and soon finds himself getting a taste of real passion. Now if only he can only persuade Cassie that when it comes to love, there’s a lot she can learn from him…

Cassie came to me fully formed (no pun intended). The first scene (where she crashes into the hero) wrote itself. However, she initially crashed into a sexy PE teacher. Unfortunately, she captivated him so much (he laughed at all her jokes) that the story soon fell flat. They were having such a great time I felt that I was writing a dating manual rather than a story.

So instead of tossing the story aside (I liked Cassie too much, though at times I could have strangled her) I considered some of the other guys on the field and noticed one reserved figure that caught my interest. I asked him a few questions. He gave a brusque reply, but I liked his voice, I liked his manner and he had an interesting history so I thought ‘Let’s give him a try’.

Exit sexy PE teacher; enter Drake Henson. Unfortunately, that PE teacher stuck in my mind. As time passed I learned he wasn’t a PE teacher after all but a rich guy who didn’t do much of anything. However, he was determined to stay in the story and was very annoyed that he didn’t end up with Cassie. I told him if he was nice, he could be Cassie’s friend.

But he was crafty and managed to be Cassie’s friend anyway without being very nice about it. So he became Drake’s nemesis. Yes, you guessed it, that former PE teacher was Kevin.

Chapter One

Cassie Graham knew the moment of impact would be painful. She was certain it was impossible to have more than six feet of well-muscled male fall on top of you without suffering a few lasting bruises. She landed with an undignified oof! On the grassy turf of the park with any belief that grass was softer than concrete forgotten. The impact knocked off her glasses, turning her world into an impressionist painting of hazy trees and buildings. She briefly wondered if all the nineteenth-century masters were just myopic.

“Are you all right?” the man asked. His voice was unusually kind, which it had no right to be since she was the cause of the collision. His concern made her feel even more foolish.

Cassie glanced up and two meltingly rich golden eyes came into focus, gazing at her like a medieval charm that had the ability to put someone under a spell. She was not sure if it was the expression or the color that brought heat to her face, but something made her cheeks grow very warm.

She opened her mouth to say that she was fine and assure the poor man that there was no reason to worry, but words caught in her throat when she glanced down and realized that he was half naked. He was shirtless, proudly displaying his Brazilian nut skin in the summer heat.

He hovered above her like a large cat, his solid arms on either side, trapping her as if she were some unfortunate prey. She knew that she was in no danger, but the image of his powerful arms and torso made her wary.

“Is she okay?” an impatient male voice asked.

Another spoke up. “Where did she come from?”

Cassie transferred her gaze to stare at the blurry faces of a small semi-circle of mostly half-naked males. She briefly shut her eyes and groaned. Could the day become any more humiliating?

“I’ll handle this,” the man above her said. He tossed the football to one of the men. “Start without me.”

The man stared at the ball and began to protest. “But—“

“I said start without me,” he repeated, his voice firm.

The group of men mumbled among themselves and left. Cassie kept still. Perhaps if he thought she was hurt he would not be angry.

She heard him softly swear as he moved off her with the agility of the athlete he obviously was. Cassie breathed a sigh of relief now that she was free of him and his speculative gaze. Suddenly, his hands were all over her, expertly searching for broken bones or torn flesh. She gasped when his sensitive fingers slide down her side like a series of butterflies. She sat up, grabbed his hands, and bit back a giggle. “Stop that! I’m very ticklish.”

He smiled, flashing brilliant white teeth. “That’s good to know.” He had a pleasantly deep voice like marmalade on toast. She also recognized a soft musical lilt that suggested an island birth. It reminded her of her extended family back home in Jamaica.
“Can I have my hands back?” he asked in a teasing tone.

She saw that she had her hands wrapped around his wrists. He had large worker’s hands. She wouldn’t have expected them to be so gentle. She quickly released them, embarrassed. “Sorry.”

“Are you sure you’re not hurt?”

“Nothing that a bowl of asparagus vichyssoise can’t cure,” she said without thinking. She instantly regretted such a gauche statement, knowing that she should have said, No, my body does not feel as if it had been crushed by a car, and left it at that. She opened her mouth to retract that, but he didn’t let her.

He stretched out next to her, resting on an elbow, and said, “Garnished with chive oil and asparagus tips.”

She paused, surprised that he would be knowledgeable of one of her favorite dishes. “Naturally.” She decided to test him some more. She narrowed her eyes, wishing she could distinguish his features and thus read the expression there. However, at the moment all she could decipher was a beautiful voice and flashing smile. “Then there would be a shrimp, avocado, and mango salad.”

He shook his head. “No, you’ve already had avocado.” He reached up, gently pulled a strand of grass from her hair, and twirled it between his fingers. “How about chicken with olives and preserved lemon with an Old World Pinot Noir?”

Her heart began to pound from both his touch and his words. Could it be? A man who loved food as much as she did? She bit her lip, wondering if she should continue but unable to stop herself. “And for dessert? It must be something chocolate.”

He thought for a moment, then snapped his fingers. “Chocolate and banana pie.”

She grabbed her chest and stared up at the sky. “A man after my own heart. I have died and gone to heaven.”

The man watched her return her butterscotch gaze to his face, the expression lovely and wistful. He doubted she knew how adorable she looked with her red blouse and khakis stained with dirt and her dark brown hair springing from its braid. She had a pleasant round face the color of cocoa, and a mouth that looked as if it would taste like sweetened raspberries. He licked his lips at the thought. That was something he would definitely like to find out.

November 2003 / BET Books / ISBN 1-58314-452-8
buy at barnes&noble.com - buy at amazon.com

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