Too much is never, ever enough for Alexis Crystal. She's playing a dangerous game, but she's finally close to getting 24/7 sizzling satisfaction. With a ring on her finger from James Wilcox and the woman she loves firmly between her sheets, no one can match Alexis when it comes to scheming. And her duplicity just makes her better at helping her siblings get revenge on the lovers who are doing them wrong…
Devereaux Crystal just about has it all. Producer of TV’s hottest new show, she's engaged to entrepreneur Phoenix and will do anything for their adorable two-year-old, Nya. She and Phoenix have always set it off in the bedroom, but lately Devereaux is starting to question whether Phoenix will ever make his own success, much less set a wedding date. Soon, his seductive excuses and tantalizing evasion finally lead her to an unthinkable truth: Ebony, the fiery star of Devereaux’s series, is keeping Phoenix primed, hot, and at her beck and call. But Devereaux is holding all the cards—and she plans to use them to exact the sweetest revenge…
With the help of her sisters, Devereaux sets out to blow up Phoenix's house of lies. But the explosion ignites its own chain of devastating consequences. Because no one should mess with the Crystal women without expecting some fierce payback…
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Just Can't Let Go
By Mary B. Morrison
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Mary B. Morrison
All rights reserved.
# TGIF #dontneedthisish #iamthatbitch Backspace on all that except #TGIF. Tacked on #importantdecision #SSCATL. Never posted without ending with my hashtag #iamebonywaterhouse.
Knowing Tiera was hawking my social media pages, I'd revised my tweet before posting. She'd definitely alert Devereaux should a light enough to pass for white ratchet enough to lead any housewives series newcomer go #left with a well-deserved defamatory public announcement. I was looking #edible for my male followers, #glamtothenine for all my gurlsquad, so I posted a selfie to Insta with #bossbitch. Had to keep things in character until I knew which direction I was flowing in. 467 retweets in less than sixty seconds. #coolbeans
Devereaux could hire a zillion Ebonys, but there was only one #GoldieJackson and she knew it.
The humidity coated my bare shoulders with moisture while I paced back and forth on Peachtree Street in front of the building where Devereaux's office was located in midtown. To defuse my frustration, I made the sidewalk my runway. I placed my Bluetooth in my ear as I stomped fifty feet demanding my space as others stepped aside. My hair blew in the warm breeze. I rocked the best designer outer and under gear year-round. This was #mylife before #SSCATL. Shorts, skirts, halters, blazers, pants, coats, corsets. Black was my favorite color, but I wasn't a #OliviaPope bland hue type of chick. Didn't care too much for the spot her a mile away #rainbow-shine either.
I held the button on my iPhone, commanded Siri to, "Call BJ."
People continuously moved out of my way. Pivoting to retrace my steps, I noticed men #hawking my ass, women admiring my diamonds. I smiled, kept strolling. Two-Faced Melted Strawberry liquefied lipstick was my usual.
Most days I had a destination when I left house number one. Sometimes it was to go to house number two. Was seldom sure where I'd end up after dark. T.I.'s Scales 925. Ritz. Taboo 2. Intercontinental. Pin Ups. Mandarin. Lips. With my side. With my main. With my husband.
This celebrity thing was really happening overnight. What if I couldn't handle the #fame? It was ten thirty in the morning, already seventy degrees on this gorgeous summer day.
My hubby answered, "Aren't you supposed to be working? Everything okay?"
I hadn't had a requirement to report on a regular since I'd said I do. His inquiry was legit. A few people spoke to me. I nodded. Kept moving.
"I don't know if I can do this show."
"Honey, this is your fresh start. Give it a chance," Buster said. "This is the big break you've dreamt of. You're just a little nervous, that's all. You'll be fine. Big daddy has spoiled his Colombian angel, but it's time to spread your wings. I'm not going to let you fail. You need me to fly in from New York? I can make it to Atlanta by six this evening. All you have to do is say yes."
"Not yet. Maybe. I'll text you in an hour."
I tweeted, #ilovemyman #iamebonywaterhouse.
Had to keep posts general when it came to dicks. That way they all thought it was intended for them. My man was whatever guy I wanted at the time. 843 retweets and counting.
I'd done well for myself. Lied about being in law school until I snagged and married a seventy-one-year-old (well, he was sixty-nine at that time) millionaire whom I seldom saw. Tired of the young broke lames, lots of ATL females were hitching to much older men with money.
We owned a home in Long Island where he stayed. The house my ex-sugar daddy bought before I got married that I'd told Buster I'd sold was in Brookhaven a few blocks from Devereaux's. The six-thousand-square-foot home in Conyers had an indoor pool and a natural lake as our backyard. Our vacation proprieties were in Hawaii and Paris. Buster got what he wanted, a pretend husband in New York and me, his real trophy wife in Atlanta. I had no complaints. I was #wellkept.
Early in my relationship with Buster he'd told me, "If you keep your mouth shut, I'll take care of you."
That was a #donedeal.
On the real, the compensation for my role was sweet. Straight up, my lifestyle wouldn't change if I went to the garage, got in my black-on-black Benz with the tinted windows, and drove off with my personal tags that read, #AYMSSIK, which meant kiss my ass.
All females outside my ATL circle were haters. That was how I had to regard those #jealousbitches like Devereaux's sister Alexis. She was pimpin' on the peasant stroll. Policing her stripper gurl, or should I say, ex-gurl, Chanel every night at Pin Ups. Only thing Alexis and I had in common was spending other people's money.
Bills, I'd never seen one since my first date with Buster. My husband, I sexed him when he wanted, but he preferred to watch me spread for other men. Whenever we saw each other he'd play with my pussy, tits, and finger-fuck me until I came really hard. He had his life. I had mine. He didn't question me. I gave the same #respect.
I responded, "I always need you."
My husband was my biggest supporter. That was why I'd called him. My family in Colombia trashed me for being a gold digger. Now they were trying to come up on my coins. My ass was never wetter than my wallet.
"What's really bothering you, sweetheart?" he asked. "Stick with this, Goldie. Of all the professions you've pursued, this is the perfect one. You love being in front of the camera, and God knows it adores you almost as much as I do. Having a career is better than any amount of money I can give you. Take advantage of this opportunity. Just remember. Whatever you do, don't mention anything about me on that show. I'll divorce you and dissolve your trust."
Public humiliation was Buster's biggest fear. He did not want to have people gossiping at his funeral.
"Don't be so defensive, baby. It's not a reality show. She's filming the show like it's a reality series."
"Well, make sure she doesn't write me into the script. I'm too old to leave here shamed. People will do anything for ratings. I don't want any parts of the spotlight."
Too late for the nondisclosure. Before I auditioned, I told Devereaux I was married, knowing that would allow her not to view my business relationship with Phoenix as a threat. I didn't tell her BJ's initials or his name. The rock on my finger was the real proof.
Our marriage has always been private. Buster Jackson felt the less people knew about our personal lives, the fewer problems we'd have.
Sucking in my lips, I became quiet. Stopped walking. Stared at the ground. The way Devereaux wrote the script was like she was writing my life story. Couldn't tell my man half the things in the script indirectly applied to him, to us. #Coincidental. Soon I'd have to give him a heads-up, bail on this series now, or risk getting served divorce papers.
Busta was right. I did love this role. Couldn't afford to jeopardize my financial security on either end. Just didn't know how to be that bitch Devereaux wanted without risking becoming homeless again.
In the script, I was secretly married to an Italian tycoon. I was enjoying perpetrating the single life in the United States, but I wasn't a citizen. Unbeknownst to my husband, I was the side chick to two men — one married, one engaged: West-Léon and Travis. The finale was going to shake things up when the sexiest Italian man in film landed on American soil to take me back to his home in Italy.
Phoenix Watson's name registered on my cell.
"I've got to take this call, baby."
"You're a star, Goldie. Own it, sweetheart. I want you to be happy. Call me when you're done. I'll fly in and take you to Chops for dinner tonight. I'm proud of —"
"Thanks, BJ. Gotta go."
Touching the end call/accept call image on my iPhone, I didn't want Phoenix's call to go to voice mail. Obviously, Devereaux had called him since he was the one who referred me to her.
I answered, "Hey, babe. What's up?"
"I got some good news," he said.
"I wish I could say the same. You must've not spoken with Devereaux. She's pissed at me."
"Dev is going to let me manage you."
"Are you serious, nigga?!" Lowering my voice, I hissed, "I can't let you do that ish."
"You worry too much. If you fail, I fail. If you don't get back on track, Dev will never accept another one of my clients. Branding is what you need, Goldie. Dev is providing the platform for you to become a red carpet celebrity overnight. I want to make you the biggest star on television, get you major roles in films, commercial endorsements, all of that. They will beg you for appearances. I'm talking about branding you as Ebony Waterhouse. You are the woman everybody (men and women) is going to fall in love with. I'm going to manage you and that's final," Phoenix insisted.
"I don't need you. I'm good."
"Haven't I taken care of you?"
"Well, I need you to do the same for me. Don't you see if this works out, I'll become the go-to man for branding the potential A-list. For a measly five grand I helped you get that eight-hundred-thousand-dollar paycheck. The least you can do is help me pad my pockets."
I nodded. "Fine, Phoenix. Fine."
"Well, all right. I got this. I'm officially your manager now. Think I'll rename my company Phoenix Stars Branding and Imaging Corporation."
It wasn't the manager title I was worried about. "What if Devereaux finds out we've been fucking for years?"
"I got this. I told you Dev has daddy issues. She doesn't even know the dude. On her birth certificate her father is listed as unknown. There's no way she's going to let our daughter grow up without my being in the house. You keep making love to me and let me take care of Dev."
Shaking my head, I glanced at my phone. "Oh, shit! I gotta go. I'ma see you tonight?"
"You know it," he said. "Soon as I'm done taking care of the home front, I'll be over." I could hear in his tone that there was a smile on his face.
Oh, damn! Buster said he was flying in. "Wait, I need to go over these lines tonight. Come by tomorrow."
Joy turned to disappointment in his voice when Phoenix said, "Cool."
We never ended a conversation by saying bye. I whispered, "I love you, my babe." I contemplated going to the garage, getting in my car, going home, and leaving this opportunity behind. That was the respectable thing to do for Buster, myself, Phoenix, and Dev.
Softly, he said, "I love you, too, my babe."
With less than a minute to make the biggest decision of my career, I didn't want to be a second late if I were going back into that reading room.CHAPTER 2
The valet attendant at T.I.'s Scales 925 opened the door to the white convertible Lexus my fiancé, James Wilcox, gifted me. I stepped out modeling my five-inch red Louboutin pumps, a diamond anklet, and a silky salmon-colored dress that barely covered my bootylicious buns. The newest Michael Kors purse dangled on my forearm.
My engagement ring was where it belonged. At home. In the black box it came in. Inside my drawer. All the way to the back. For what it was worth, James could have it back and ship it to his side piece in LA. The ice my ex-girlfriend, Chanel, gave me was in my purse. Missing her, I dug into my bag, put her ring on the thin twenty-four-inch chain, then wore it around my neck. Legally I could say I do to either of them.
I wasn't here to meet James or Chanel. I needed to talk heart-to-heart with my brother.
I took my ticket, told the tall, handsome, blond-haired guy, "Thanks," and then strutted up the sidewalk and into the front entrance.
The scene was popping off, as usual.
A lot happened to me twelve weeks ago that I couldn't shake. My life was one big lie. Hell, I was so good at deceiving people I didn't know what to believe myself, especially when it came to love. Being in college was the main thing that kept me from going insane. Dreading that summer break was here. Non-fam who rubbed me wrong could get their ass kicked. Wish I'd never begged my mother to help me find my father. Biggest mistake of my life.
Taking one class would've kept me partially occupied. Too late to enroll. Shouldn't blame my fiancé, my ex-girlfriend, my mother, or my brother for my dilemma.
I stood in dining area number one; fluffed my dress. I stared at the round, pale man cracking chicken bones with his teeth. He gazed at the flat screen television in front of him. I looked around for my brother; he wasn't in this section.
The choices I'd made three months ago had gotten me in this horrible situation. I shook my hands as though they were dripping wet recalling the way I'd leaned on my brother's stovetop, let him penetrate me from behind until he came inside of me. That hadn't seemed like a bad idea at the time, when I had no idea my father was his father, too. Around that incident on a different day, one Saturday morning I'd pulled down his pants in my mom's kitchen, then sucked him off in sixty seconds. Brother or not, he was undeniably hot.
Gliding up the staircase to the second floor, I strolled to the end of this dining room. He wasn't in here. I could've texted. Would rather wait. Didn't want a disappointing, can't make it response or a request for a rain check. I'd gotten enough rejection from James lately.
I asked my brother to meet me here. Desperately, I needed someone to talk with. Someone who was just like me and wouldn't judge me. That eliminated my sisters Devereaux, Sandara, especially Mercedes. Confiding in my mom wasn't happening since her man was my newly discovered biological brother. Shit was complicated. It was best for me not to speak to my mom yet.
Skimming the crowded room buzzing with chatter, I didn't see him anywhere, but as usual, lots of eyes were on me. I went to the rooftop. A few people were doing hookah. Inhaling the fresh air, I gazed out over midtown, then rode the elevator back to the first floor. This place, famous for its shrimp and grits, stayed open until three in the morning. Checking my cell, I saw it was 1:01 a.m. People were drinking, laughing, talking over one another.
One man held up an empty glass, then shouted to the mixologist, "Hey, buddy, put a round on my tab for me and my new friends here!"
I sighed, rolled my eyes at him. Why was he so damn loud and happy? I hated jolly attention whores.
En route to the restroom, a guy seated at the bar grabbed my hand. "Hey, baby. Let me buy you whatever you want."
From the shoes on his feet, to his jacked-up fingernails, to the gray hairs sprouting out of his wide nostrils, he couldn't afford me. If he'd looked at my face instead of gawking at my ass, he would've seen I was already annoyed. I snatched my arm away, stared down at him. "Bitch, don't you ever touch me again in your life." Scales was too upscale not to have a dress code.
He leaned back. "Bitch?" His brows grew closer together.
I didn't give a fuck what he thought; he'd heard me correctly. He should drop the defense. He wasn't offended when he violated me. I hated the disrespectful shit men did. He didn't know me. That fool also didn't know I had my fully loaded forty in my purse, but if he touched me again, everybody up in here would find out. Some other woman might find his offering (probably a cocktail not a house) flattering. Not Alexis Crystal.
I had a fifty-thousand-dollar car outside. Registered in my name and paid for by James. The balance on my college tuition was zero thanks to James. Rent. Paid in full every month by my gurl or my guy. Now that Chanel was my ex-gurl, I'd have to be nicer to James, but I wasn't putting his ring back on 'til he ditched his side. Normally, this time of the morning I'd be at Pin Ups waiting for Chanel to finish stripping; then I'd empty her money bag into my oversized purse. Depending on how my conversation with Spencer went when he arrived, I might drop by the club on my way home.
Excerpted from Just Can't Let Go by Mary B. Morrison. Copyright © 2016 Mary B. Morrison. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
PROLOGUE - Devereaux,
CHAPTER 1 - Ebony,
CHAPTER 2 - Alexis,
CHAPTER 3 - Spencer,
CHAPTER 4 - Blake,
CHAPTER 5 - Spencer,
CHAPTER 6 - Devereaux,
CHAPTER 7 - Phoenix,
CHAPTER 8 - Alexis,
CHAPTER 9 - Blake,
CHAPTER 10 - Devereaux,
CHAPTER 11 - Ebony,
CHAPTER 12 - Alexis,
CHAPTER 13 - Spencer,
CHAPTER 14 - Blake,
CHAPTER 15 - Phoenix,
CHAPTER 16 - Spencer,
CHAPTER 17 - Devereaux,
CHAPTER 18 - Alexis,
CHAPTER 19 - Phoenix,
CHAPTER 20 - Ebony,
CHAPTER 21 - Blake,
CHAPTER 22 - Devereaux,
CHAPTER 23 - Spencer,
CHAPTER 24 - Alexis,
CHAPTER 25 - Phoenix,
CHAPTER 26 - Devereaux,
CHAPTER 27 - Blake,
CHAPTER 28 - Blake,
CHAPTER 29 - Ebony,
CHAPTER 30 - Alexis,
CHAPTER 31 - Devereaux,
CHAPTER 32 - Phoenix,
CHAPTER 33 - Spencer,
CHAPTER 34 - Blake,
CHAPTER 35 - Ebony,
CHAPTER 36 - Alexis,
CHAPTER 37 - Phoenix,
CHAPTER 38 - Devereaux,
CHAPTER 39 - Spencer,
CHAPTER 40 - Alexis,
CHAPTER 41 - Blake,
CHAPTER 42 - Phoenix,
CHAPTER 43 - Ebony,
CHAPTER 44 - Spencer,
CHAPTER 45 - Blake,
CHAPTER 46 - Alexis,
CHAPTER 47 - Devereaux,
CHAPTER 48 - Blake,
CHAPTER 49 - Alexis,
CHAPTER 50 - Ebony,
CHAPTER 51 - Phoenix,
CHAPTER 52 - Devereaux,
CHAPTER 53 - Alexis,
CHAPTER 54 - Spencer,
CHAPTER 55 - Ebony,
CHAPTER 56 - Blake,
CHAPTER 57 - Phoenix,
CHAPTER 58 - Alexis,
CHAPTER 59 - Blake,
CHAPTER 60 - Devereaux,
CHAPTER 61 - Devereaux,
A READING GROUP GUIDE,