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Authors: Ruthie Robinson


BOOK: Steady
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Ruthie Robinson

Genesis Press, Inc.


An imprint of Genesis Press, Inc.
Publishing Company

Genesis Press, Inc.

P.O. Box 101

Columbus, MS 39703

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, not known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying, and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without written permission of the publisher, Genesis Press, Inc. For information write Genesis Press, Inc., P.O. Box 101, Columbus, MS 39703.

All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author and all incidents are pure invention.

Copyright © 2011 Ruthie Robinson

ISBN-13: 978-1-58571-470-4

ISBN-10: 1-58571-470-4

Manufactured in the United States of America

First Edition

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To my family and friends, thanks for your support.


Hampton Heights was an average-sized city in the southern part of the grand state of Texas, nestled into the part of the state known for the beauty of its hills and lakes, hot summers, mild winters, and neighborhood gardens. Billboards all over the city proclaim its famous slogan:
Gardening in your ’hood, where the food is always fresh, always good.

To say people in this city took gardening and all things green seriously was an understatement. The city had been trying for the last fifteen years to remake itself into the neighborhood-garden capital of the world in order to change the long-term eating habits of its populace. The city had grown tired of being known for having the heaviest population in the country, the most poundage per square yard. The citizens of Hampton Heights wanted to live differently; it had become their quest.

By providing tax incentives, supplementing homeowner association dues, and scraping together federal monies from agricultural grants, the city’s leaders were able to provide concrete financial assistance to its residents to help make its mission a reality. Over the last ten years, Hampton Heights had slowly but surely attained its goal, now boasting twenty-four out of twenty-five neighborhoods with gardens and, more importantly, a healthier population.

Hampton Heights was equally famous for its annual gardening competition. The competition had begun as another way to motivate its residents to garden. A substantial cut in property taxes—a 50 percent one-year reduction—went to the winning neighborhood, an incentive that proved hard for the city’s residents to resist. Like its grander city gardening plan, this idea also surpassed participation expectations; twenty-three out of twenty-four neighborhood gardens participated in the competition.

So no more ‘Heavyweight Capital of the U.S.’ for Hampton Heights. It was now known as a green city, where the people were friendly and the produce locally grown, which meant grown a few blocks away from your home in your neighborhood by everyday people. Working in and receiving food from the neighborhood gardens had become woven into the fabric of the lives of people in this town, as routine as going to work or taking the kids to school.

So in the city where neighborhood gardening was king, the winner of its annual garden competition was considered queen.


December 31

Katrina slid into the backseat of a beautiful canary yellow Camry belonging to Amber, who was behind the wheel busily buckling her seat belt. The last of the trio, Claudia, popped into the front passenger seat, perfumed to the max, making breathing difficult. They were ready—finally—and headed to
the party,
the New Year’s party to end all parties, and this year’s most difficult party to get an invitation to. Amber was Katrina’s co-worker; Claudia, Amber’s wealthy mate. It had been through Claudia’s connections, a friend of a friend of a friend, that they’d managed to wrangle this coveted invitation.

Katrina hadn’t planned to attend. Parties were so not her
. But Amber had hounded her until she’d given in. “And don’t come dressed like a church lady or my mother,” she’d added. That meant shopping for Katrina, whose wardrobe consisted of sweats and XL T-shirts for working in her yard, or slacks and shirts for work. The night of the party Amber and Claudia had arrived at her doorstep earlier than expected and had taken her over—applying her makeup and switching her usual glasses for contacts. They’d given her a complete makeover, taking a picture at the end to make sure she wouldn’t forget what she could be.

Katrina had stood in front of her mirror, trying to find herself behind her new front. What had she been thinking? Choosing this scrap of a dress, her shoulders, legs, and thighs bare? She’d been thinking of Will, that’s what. And those thoughts had propelled her to choose something that would make him sit up and take notice. Sitting here now, she’d never felt more naked. She looked down at herself once more, acknowledging that she looked great, way different in that vampy, slightly skanky way. Here she was, a piece of white fabric wrapped tightly over her breasts, stopping just below her . . .

“You’re not changing,” Amber said to Katrina’s reflection in the mirror, perhaps having seen something in Katrina’s eyes. “It’s too late, anyway, so let’s go!” she added, grabbing Katrina’s hand and pulling her to the door.

Katrina hoped Will would be there, at least—maybe seeing her in her near-naked state would make him
her, for once, instead of giving her his usual skim-over followed by a friendly wave. It had bothered her that she’d wanted him to notice her, that she was standing here changing herself so that he would.

Will Nakane was her neighbor and the object of a major crush. She’d watched him since he’d moved in fourteen months ago, watched as he’d pulled the for-sale sign from his lot, and she fell instantly in lust—the unrequited kind, of course; no other kind would do. It was a crush she’d yet to shake.

She’d watched as he built his new and now-famous environmentally friendly home. Watched and monitored his life, taking in his many outside activities, from cycling—which she believed was his favorite—to kayaking, motorcycling, and fishing . . . and the matching women that accompanied those activities, all of which she catalogued.

Hell, who knew if he would even be here tonight. A good chance, though; a party of this magnitude usually drew all the area singles. And if she didn’t run into Will, maybe she might meet someone else, someone to replace the crush she had on her neighbor.

She sat in the backseat, now feeling anxious, rethinking for the umpteenth time her decision to come. She usually gave parties a wide berth—all that small-talking, schmoozing, and flirting seemed more like work than fun to her. She leaned forward and looked out the window as they approached the house where the party was being held. Impressive. Old World elegance, living large at its finest, and, if the cars snaking their way along this road were any indication, packed with people—a New Year’s Eve party for the ages. She sighed, finally relinquishing her hope that they would get lost, experience engine failure, or have a flat tire. No such luck. The only upside to the night’s adventure was that she’d come with friends. Amber and Claudia had been her friends going on three years.

Amber pulled her car into the wide circular drive located in the front of the house, which was filled with double-parked, wall-to-wall cars, mostly expensive ones mixed in with a few hoopties.

“There’s another place in the back for parking,” Katrina said. “I’ve been here before on a gardening tour.” Amber made a rude noise. “Hey, can I help it that I like gardens?” she asked.

Amber pointed the car toward the back of the house, where a makeshift parking lot had been set up to handle overflow; judging by the size of the overflow, there were an obscene number of people inside. Amber squeezed her car into a space between a truck and an Escalade and they all disembarked, deciding to go through the back door instead of walking back around to the front, hoping for a quick entrance. It was more than a little cold out, and Katrina had left her coat in the car. She’d worn a little sweater—arm candy only—resting just below her breasts with one lone button at the neck.

To keep her mind off the cold, Katrina took the opportunity to look over the grounds. She learned from an earlier garden tour that this home, inherited and built on twenty acres of land, belonged to the younger son. Outside of the city proper, but not quite in the country, the property boasted magnificent manicured gardens. They walked past the stables, continuing past the pool house with the glass-enclosed, where clumps of people were dancing, drinks in their hands, talking, laughing, apparently having a grand time. The more adventurous had shed their clothes and were now skinny dipping, causing Katrina’s eyebrows to lift.

Music, some rap song, pounded from the speakers. The words were unintelligible—probably about pimps and hoes. It seemed to her that it was always about pimps and hoes, with the occasional bitches thrown in for added effect. They continued onward, Claudia and Amber in front, holding hands, doing their couple thing, Katrina trailing behind. They passed the tennis courts, which had been turned into a makeshift dance floor, her eyes searching beyond them for the entrance to the more formal gardens. She loved those gardens. As they made their way to the house, rap gave way to R&B, now Maxwell smooth.

Good Lord, where did all these people come from, Katrina wondered; this town wasn’t that big. She watched people dancing on the deck, the dance-floor crowd moving en mass, resembling a swarm of bees on the attack. People dressed to impress, women with dresses that rivaled hers in shortness and tight fit mixed in with the jeans-and-T-shirt crowd. She walked up the steps leading to the back deck, looking over the men and women here—all types, all colors.

She squeezed her way through the back door. “Excuse me,” she said, breathing a relieved sigh when she entered the house and stepped into a room big enough to hold a hundred people. There were fewer people in here, most with some kind of yellow-and-pink swirly drink in their hands; a few were dancing in place to the sounds coming from outside. Waiters stood at the ready with more trays of those cute drinks.

Not knowing what to do with herself, she stopped and seized a drink from a passing waiter—her own pink and yellow concoction. Not too bad; pretty tasty, actually, she thought, taking a sip. “Ohmigod!” she thought seconds later as the drink worked itself into her veins. That was some kick! She wasn’t driving; non-drinking Amber was their designated driver.

Now what to do with herself, she wondered, her eyes roaming around the room, taking in all the beautiful women and equally remarkable-looking men. She spotted a chair in a corner, way in the back, with only a small number of people in its vicinity. Great, she thought, heading in its direction, only to pull up short as she reached the chair. Someone had beaten her to it—a man, pulling a laughing woman down to his lap.

“Okay, now what?” she whispered to herself, her eyes moving around the room, searching and landing on Will, and not just any Will. It was
Will, her neighbor, her jones, who stood off to the side of the room, talking to a gorgeous model type—always his preference.

She spotted a plant a few feet away and stepped closer to it, out of the way, to watch him, a favorite pastime of hers. He was smooth, her Will, agile and elegant, decked out in a dark suit, untucked white dress shirt underneath; all casual class. He stood tall, a little under six feet, with a cyclist’s physique, all lean muscle. Katrina loved, loved,
lean muscle. She knew his body, had seen it on too many occasions as she’d watched him. She’d watched him come and go during the construction of his home, cycling on his bike—always cycling on that bike, clad in that body-conscious cycling gear.

BOOK: Steady
2.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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