Beverly Holland lives it up with her older businessman beau, Eric Fox. He gives her everything she craves—except satisfaction between the sheets. Frustrated, she picks up sexy stranger Dante at a hotel bar, who shows her what she’s been missing! But he’s also about to shake up her life. Beverly has no idea that Eric is really a hitman or that Dante has a vendetta: Eric killed his brother and now he wants Eric dead. Beverly also doesn’t know that while she’s carrying on with her man’s potential killer, her man’s carrying on with her best friend, Marilyn—who will do anything to make Eric hers…. When the forces of lust, lies, betrayal and revenge collide, who’s going to survive—and who will ultimately be the hitman’s woman?
R. Barri gives an overview of the book:
Dante rented a car at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. He’d spent the long flight thinking about his brother and what a waste it was to have his life taken away at the young age of twenty-nine, two years younger than Dante. Russell, who had finally seemed to be getting his life back on track after going through an ugly divorce, had moved to Detroit for a new beginning. As far as Dante knew, there was no one serious in Russell’s life at the time of his death, as he had been focused on turning his store into a success before rebuilding other aspects of his life. Now he would never get that chance. And Dante would never get to truly know his brother as a man. Or as a father.
Conversely, Russell would never get to see Dante’s further evolution through life and whatever it had in store for him. That included a significant other. Though Dante had never been married, he’d known his fair share of women. None had really stood out and tugged on his heartstrings. Maybe it wasn’t in the cards for him to find love. Or maybe he just hadn’t met the woman who truly did it for him.
Either way, it was an experience he would never get to share with Russell. Dante blamed himself for not reaching out more to his brother, allowing them to bond in adulthood. It always seemed like there would be more time. If only he could do things over. But it didn’t work that way when one party was dead.
All that was left was to try and make things right. He was sure Russell would have done the same were the situation reversed and he was the one feeling empty while his brother lay in a pine box in a cemetery.
Dante drove the Cadillac Escalade down the freeway and continued his thoughts about the tragedy that brought him to Detroit for only the second time. The first was little more than two years ago when Russell first opened his store on Seven Mile Road. On a whim, Dante had decided to drop everything and fly from Nigeria where he was doing a story about government corruption. He only stayed for two days, but Russell seemed genuinely appreciative, even if there had been moments of strain, mostly in relation to differing points of view on how each should run his life. He wished he could take back every negative thing he said to Russell. If only he had the chance.
Dante pulled into the parking lot of the hotel on Fisher Lane. Traveling light, he carried his one bag inside, checked in, and went to his suite. He looked out the large window and took in the city. There were two men out there intimidating and terrorizing businessmen and women, forcing them to pay up or else. And apparently the authorities weren’t doing a damned thing about it. He wouldn’t be surprised at all if Leon Quincy had the cops in his hip pocket. Well, Quincy and Eric Fox would get their comeuppance. He would see to that.
Right now, though, he could use a stiff drink. Dante had noticed the lounge downstairs when he came in. He freshened up and headed there.
Beverly was bored. More than that, she was feeling horny. After having spent all of Eric’s money and then some, she was looking for a little fun, minus him. Maybe she would have a drink and then some dancing. Eric wasn’t much of a dancer with two left feet. She doubted he would be too keen on her dancing with another man. What he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.
She spotted the hotel. Most hotels had a place to drink and dance, right? Especially the five-star ones like this. It was a good ten miles from where she lived, so there was little chance Eric or one of his friends would see her.
Parking her ruby red Lincoln MKS, Beverly checked her makeup and hair, and ran a hand over her black knit dress. Not that she needed to do much to look great. Most men seemed to share that view and women, too. She still wanted to make sure it was all put together nicely.
She walked carefully to the hotel in her pointy-toe pumps that had yet to be fully broken in. It would just be her misfortune to fall and break her ankle.
Beverly entered an impressive lobby and wasn’t sure which way to head first. Taking a chance, she went to her left and saw the Crescent Lounge. She heard some music--easy listening. Not exactly her taste, but she wouldn’t let that stop her from at least having a drink.
Inside the lounge, Beverly immediately laid eyes on the man sitting all by his lonesome at the bar. From where she stood, he was drop-dead gorgeous. Obviously tall and muscular, he was baldheaded, caramel skinned, and oozed sexuality. She would bet that he was all that and more in the sack. The mere thought turned her on.
Maybe I shouldn’t even go there. Otherwise, I just might get myself into trouble.
She ignored the warning bells and felt compelled to talk to him. It never occurred to her that he could be with someone who had gone to the ladies’ room. Guess there was only one way to find out.
Beverly moseyed over to the bar and took a seat beside the man, barely able to keep her eyes off him. “Buy a lady a drink?”
He faced her with deep gray eyes flecked with gold. His square-jawed features, as rigid as they were refined, were a cross between Denzel Washington and LL Cool J.
“Sure,” he said in a voice heavy with masculinity. “What would you like?”
How about you? “I’ll have a Cosmo,” she told him, inhaling the powerfully enticing cologne he wore.
“Cosmo, it is.” He signaled the bartender and ordered the drink and another one of his own, a cognac cocktail. Then they checked each other out. Beverly sensed he liked what he saw, as did she.
She decided to get the formalities out of the way. “I’m Beverly.”
She liked the name. “What’s a nice looking man like you doing here drinking all alone, Dante?”
He considered the question. “Well, since I’m new in town and don’t know anyone, I didn’t really have much choice. I could ask you the same question.”
“So ask,” Beverly teased, flipping back her long, dark hair.
“All right. What’s an attractive woman such as yourself doing in a hotel lounge asking a stranger to buy her a drink?”
He does like my look. Good start. “Honestly, it was boredom,” she said. “I just needed to get out of the house. I ended up here...and realized I didn’t want to drink alone.”
Dante smiled seductively. “You don’t have to.”
The drinks came on cue. Beverly tasted hers and suddenly felt even more bold in coming onto this man. He struck her as the type who could handle himself if Eric were to walk in at that moment and make trouble. But she would rather forget about Eric for the time being and concentrate on Dante.
“Where are you from?” she thought to ask.
Dante pointed his enchanting eyes at her. “Originally from Oakland, but I’ve been living in L.A. for a while now.”
“Sounds nice,” Beverly said, running a finger around the rim of her glass. “I’ve never been to California, but I like everything I hear about it.”
“Seeing is believing. You’ll have to check it out for yourself sometime.”
“Maybe I will.” She would have gone before now if she’d felt she might run into someone like him. “Seems like there’s a lot to do there.”
Dante chuckled. “California can mean different things to different people.”
“What does it mean to you?” she asked directly.
“It means having a place to hang my hat, figuratively speaking, while being able to come and go as I please.”
If only life were that simple for me. “What brings you to Detroit, if you don’t mind my asking?”
The way he gazed at her, Beverly almost thought he would say her. Instead, his simple yet firm response was: “Business.”
He tasted his drink. “I’m not opposed to a little pleasure.”
She showed her teeth. Neither am I. Not with you. “What type of business are you in?” Judging by his casual clothing and easy demeanor, she imagined he might be a college recruiter. Or an insurance salesman. Maybe even an ex jock now working as a pitchman for some products.
“I’m a journalist.”
That one surprised her, but somehow seemed to fit. “You’re here for a story?”
“Something like that.” Dante touched her hand, sending sparks flying throughout Beverly’s body. “What’s your story?”
I knew this was coming. Can’t tell him anything he doesn’t need to know. “Not much to tell. Just a woman out for a good time,” Beverly said.
“And also a woman of mystery.”
“I thought men were attracted to mysterious women?”
His mouth curved upward. “Yeah, that’s true. Especially ones as sexy as you.”
Beverly’s libido rose a few notches. “Do you have a room?” she asked boldly.
“Yes,” he said with anticipation.
Her curly lashes batted. “So what are we waiting for?”
“Not a damned thing,” he declared.
About R. Barri
R. Barri Flowers is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than forty books, including mystery fiction, true crime, and criminology, as well as numerous short stories and articles. With a B.A. and M.S. in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University, the author...