Never Trust a Stranger

Never Trust a Stranger

by Mary Monroe

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A twist-filled novel of seduction and suspense from the New York Times bestselling author of Every Woman’s Dreamand the Neighbors series. 
Best friends Lola Poole and Joan Proctor-Riley have finally found the love and excitement they’ve always longed for. Online dating an endless line of wealthy, no-strings-attached lovers is the perfect escape from their unfulfilling lives. And between Joan’s selfish husband and Lola’s hateful, demanding relatives, the hotter these ladies’ secret activities get, the more they crave—and the more reckless they become . . .
When rugged trucker Calvin Ramsey comes into Lola’s sights, he’s a surprising answer to all her prayers. He’s kind and responsible—and delivers sexual healing like she’s never known. What Lola doesn’t know is that Calvin loves women to death—literally. And every caring moment and seductive promise draws her deeper into his inescapable, fatal fantasy . . .
Praise for Mary Monroe
“Mary Monroe is an exceptional writer and phenomenal storyteller!”—Kimberla Lawson Roby, New York Times bestselling author of Here and Now
“Impossible to put down.”—Susan Holloway Scott, national bestselling author of The Secret Wife of Aaron Burr
“An epic novel that spans a generation. . . . There’s a great twist in the final chapters that will have readers pounding the table.”
Library Journal

“Engaging, provocative, disconcerting and shocking, as the author shrewdly characterizes the hazards when adults play dangerous games with strangers.”
RT Book Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781617738050
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 03/28/2017
Series: Lonely Heart, Deadly Heart , #2
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 136,618
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

MARY MONROE, the daughter of sharecroppers, was born thirteen days before Christmas and always celebrates her birthday with a Christmas theme (once she even dressed as an elf). She usually spends the holiday with family and friends feasting on elaborate meals, exchanging gifts, and trying to keep unruly pets from knocking over the Christmas tree. But even when this event is spent alone eating a take-out dinner and watching the same sentimental Christmas movies for the hundredth time, it is still the most special day in the year. Mary is the author of the award-winning and New York Times bestselling God series, which includes God Don’t Like Ugly and God Don’t Make No Mistakes, among other novels. Winner of the AAMBC Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award and the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award, Mary Monroe currently lives in Oakland, California. She loves to hear from her readers via e-mail at Mary’s website at

Read an Excerpt

Never Trust a Stranger

By Mary Monroe


Copyright © 2017 Mary Monroe
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61773-805-0



February 2015

"Would a man with everything going for him marry a woman he met on a sex club website?" This question had been burning a hole in my brain for weeks, but I'd just drummed up enough nerve to ask it today.

Joan Riley was the only person I could ask. She had been my BFF since elementary school. She knew almost every one of my deep, dark secrets, and vice versa. We had done things that could have sent us to jail, or gotten us killed.

With a curious look on her face, Joan repeated my question. "Would a man with everything going for him marry a woman he met on a sex club website?"

"I asked you first," I said impatiently.

Joan gave me an incredulous look. "Now what the hell kind of off-the-wall question is that?" she asked, rolling her big, brown eyes. "And why are you asking me?"

I let out a loud sigh and slid my tongue across my bottom lip. "You, of all people, know that there is nobody else I can ask such a bold question. The thing is, I'll be thirty-three years old this year."

Joan shrugged. "So? So will I."

"I don't want to wait too long to have my first child."

"Then don't. As much action as you are getting between the sheets these days, you can have a baby whenever you're ready, honey."

"That's true. But the only men I sleep with 'these days' are members of our online sex club." I couldn't believe how casual I sounded. I'd just made a statement that was as bold as the question I'd asked.

"You don't have to be married to have children, and you don't have to look for a baby daddy on the Internet. If we walked down the street right now, we'd see at least half-a-dozen sperm donors who would love to make you a mommy." Joan snickered. Then she paused and cleared her throat. From the mischievous look in her eyes, I could tell she was gearing up to mess with me. "If you want to get pregnant in a more sophisticated way, there's that sperm bank on Pike Street."

We occupied a booth in Jocko's Bar and Grill that Sunday afternoon in February, a week after the Super Bowl. Jocko's was a popular sports bar located across the street from our favorite San Jose mall, which was about half an hour's drive from where we lived in the suburb of South Bay City, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

No matter where Joan and I went together, we were always two of the hottest women on the premises. We received equal attention from the men we encountered. They admired my smooth cinnamon-colored skin, thick, black hair, and pearly white teeth as much as they admired her light brown complexion, jet-black hair, and heart-shaped face. We were both petite, and Joan had had a baby but her body parts were still as firm and perky as mine. We were enjoying our lives, and spending time drinking together in a bar was one of our favorite pastimes.

Today was warmer than usual for Northern California this time of year so we wore jeans, Windbreakers over halter tops, and sandals. There were other women in the crowded bar, but almost every man's eyes were on us.

I was the designated driver, so I was still slowly sipping my first and last Cadillac margarita. Joan had just finished her second, but she wasn't even slightly buzzed. My girl was from a huge family of seasoned drinkers, so she was much more alcohol friendly than I was. She licked salt off the rim of her empty glass, and then she signaled the waiter to bring her another drink.

I glanced around the bar. I didn't see any men I'd be interested in enough to sleep with so I could get pregnant. I returned my attention to Joan. "I'm serious."

"So am I!"

"Then give me a serious answer." I gave Joan an exasperated look. "And please do me a favor and don't mention sperm banks or sperm donors again. I don't want to raise a child on my own. I want a husband." I paused and took another tiny sip of my drink. "Some of the men in our club are the cream of the crop. Handsome, intelligent, and they make a lot of money. A couple of weeks ago, I received date requests from two doctors, a lawyer, and a software company executive."

"A couple of weeks ago? You haven't heard from anybody since then?"

I heaved a sigh and nodded. "A dishwasher and a mailman left messages in my club in-box yesterday. The mailman lives in Denver with his mother. He's coming to California to visit his sister next month. The dishwasher lives in Vegas in a Section 8 apartment with his sister and her five kids. He's coming up here on a Greyhound bus next week to visit his brother and wants me to spend time with him in his brother's trailer!"

"Humph! The nerve of some people! I hope you didn't respond to those two."

"No, I didn't. I wish low-end men would stop asking me for dates. There's nothing wrong with them, and some are hot and really sweet, but you and I have both been down that road. I've had some fun times with broke dudes. Someday I'll probably hook up with a few more on that level again, even though they can't afford to show a woman as good a time as a doctor or a lawyer."

"Tell me about it. But getting jiggy with a dude in a trailer — who came to town on a Greyhound bus? OW! Girl, some of the men on the Internet have more nerve than a terrorist. Oh well. We can't stop sad sacks like them from trying to sleep with us, and it is kind of cute and flattering. Last month I received requests from a busboy, a maintenance man in a low-rent apartment building, and a discount store security guard. Even though they were gorgeous and a lot of women raved about them on the club's review board, I didn't respond. I deleted their messages right away."

"Sometimes I wonder if we're missing out on something real good by not accepting dates with club members in the low-income bracket. I checked the reviews for the dishwasher, and most of them were good."

"So what? If you can drive a Rolls-Royce, why settle for a Toyota? Last night I received requests from a judge, a real estate mogul, and a TV producer. The bottom line is, all of these men joined a sex club to have casual sex, not make babies." Joan snickered again. Then she finally got serious. "I'm sorry, so get that pitiful look off your face and go on," she told me, waving her hand in the air.

"What about the members who post comments on the club's blog and in their review section about how they developed a serious relationship with a fellow member? Some even got married!"

Joan gave me a steely look and a nod. "Oh yeah. Quite a few."

"Let me rephrase my first question: Do you think any of the high-end men in the club would marry women like us?"

"Who the fuck cares, Lola? I already have a handsome, intelligent husband who makes tons of money. And anyway, almost every single one of the men I've dated in the club is already married or in a committed relationship."

"Well, I'm not married or in a committed relationship, so I care," I said firmly. "I just want to know if you think there's a chance one of the club members I've been with, or one I haven't been with, would marry me knowing I've slept with a bunch of other members."

"Pffft!" Joan waved her hand in the air again. "Get real, girl. If you marry a club member, he's doing the same damn thing we're doing, so he'd have no room to talk." She glanced at her watch. "What's taking that damn waiter so long to bring my drink?"

"Don't you think you've had enough? The tequila that they put in the margaritas here is the strongest spirit I've ever come across," I said with a mild grimace, wanting another drink myself.

"No, I don't think I've had enough. I know there's going to be another showdown when I get back home, and I can't face it without a lot of strong 'spiritual' help."



A few minutes later, our waiter set another margarita on the table in front of Joan. She wasted no time taking a long drink. Her eyelids had begun to droop, and her light brown nose was now a bright red. Other than that, nobody could tell she was drunk.

After a mighty belch, Joan wiped her lips with a soggy napkin and looked at me with her eyes narrowed. She belched again and snapped her fingers. "What about what's-her-name?"

"What's her name who?"

"Miss Black Piggy — I mean Shirelle, your daddy's ex. She married that architect she met online and had three kids. And don't forget about her niece, Mariel. She met her husband through the same club. You told me yourself that Shirelle and Mariel are living like queens. They have children, big fancy houses in upscale neighborhoods, fat bank accounts, and all of the other shit every woman wants. And neither one of them is half as hot as you or me. I wonder if those two hoochies managed to hold on to their husbands, though."

"Oh! Didn't I tell you?"

"Tell me what?"

"I bumped into one of Shirelle's cousins at the beauty shop last month. She told me that Shirelle is happier than ever and Mariel is pregnant again. She's also very happy."

"Oh? Humph!" From the harsh tone of Joan's voice, I couldn't tell if she was disappointed, jealous, or both. "Well then. All that should answer your question about men marrying women like us that they met online."

"Joan, the dating site where Shirelle and Mariel found their husbands is a regular dating site. The kind that can advertise on TV. The club we belong to was created exclusively for people who want to hook up with other members only to have sex. You will never see a TV commercial about our site."

Joan hunched her shoulders, drank some more, and then swallowed with a grunt. The alcohol had finally begun to affect her. She gave me a curious look with her glazed, red eyes. "Well, like I said, I already have a handsome, intelligent, rich husband. Don't tell me you've fallen in love with one of your Internet hookups."

"Well, I —"

She cut me off and started wagging her finger in my face. "Honey, I advise you to forget about making a love connection with any of the men in the club. Didn't I tell you when I turned you on to Discreet Encounters that it was only about discreet encounters? Just straight-up, consensual, casual sex! And I've told you more than once to have a good time as often as possible, but don't go falling in love with any of the dudes. I — wait a damn minute! Is this about 'BigBen,' that well-hung Native American casino honcho from South Dakota that you were with last month? He's one of the few single club members you've dated."

Just thinking about my encounter with BigBen made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. With his flawless bronze skin, chiseled features, and long, jet-black hair, he was too good-looking for his own good, and for everyone else's. "I have no male friends because they're all jealous of my good looks," he had told me at least half-a-dozen times during our three-hour date. "I can't keep a woman because no woman wants to be with a man who is more beautiful than she is," he'd told me, also at least half-a-dozen times. He had booked a room in an adult motel with mirrors on the ceiling so he could look at himself during sex. To bring him down a peg or two, I did something I rarely did in bed with a man: I checked my watch right in the middle of his orgasm. And I made sure he saw me. That shut him up, but just for a few moments. The stunned expression on his face was priceless. He suddenly gripped the sides of my head with his hands, gazed into my eyes, and said, "I can tell that you're intimidated by my good looks and can't wait to leave, but I'm used to women behaving like you when they get around me. You should stick to plain men until you feel more confident being with an extremely handsome man like me." I had had enough by then, so I told him, "Honey, you can count on that." I slid out of that vibrating bed, got dressed in record time, and left that motel literally running.

When Joan had asked me about my date with BigBen the next day, I'd told her he had an awesome body and that he'd been a good lover, but I didn't tell her how much he'd bragged about his handsome features throughout the date. I had stopped sharing all of the details of my dates with her, and I was sure she had stopped doing so too. Last year she'd teased me for days about the Spaniard who'd had a heart attack in bed with me. Even more so than I'd teased her about the midget she'd almost accidentally smothered to death with her legs around his neck while he was performing oral sex on her.

I shook my head to clear my thoughts and returned to the present moment. "The man I'm thinking about is better than BigBen. Remember Calvin Ramsey, that fine-ass truck driver who lives in San Jose?"

Joan's jaw dropped. She looked at me like I had suddenly turned into a big pumpkin. "You think a truck driver is better than a casino big shot? Girl, please. Your 'date' with that truck driver last week was in a coffee shop. All you did with him was drink coffee and talk! For all you know he could be bankrupt, psychotic, and have a teeny-weenie. And you haven't even heard from him since."

"So what? Before I met Calvin in person, he and I had communicated online several times, so I know a lot about him. I really like him. He's not like any of the other men I've dated or communicated with. Not even the ones I've been with who I didn't meet on the Internet." I paused and cleared my throat. Just thinking about the handsome truck driver — who was also a war hero — made me tingle. "I don't want to rush into anything, but I think he might be the man I've been looking for all my life. If he is, I hope nothing happens to screw it up...."

"Well, the most likely thing to 'screw it up' is your stepmother, Bertha. Just like she screwed up things between you and that marine who wanted to marry you that time."

"Pffft! Maurice turned out to be a straight-up jackass anyway. I read in the newspaper a while back that he's doing time in prison for beating the woman he married into a coma. And before that, he'd done time for dealing drugs and human trafficking. I'm glad Bertha busted up my relationship with him." I sniffed and blinked hard before I spoke again. I didn't like the amused expression that was on Joan's face now. I gave her a threatening look just to make sure she knew I was still dead serious. "Besides, Calvin and I have something in common."

"And what's that?"

"His parents are deceased, too, and the few relatives he has, he's not too close to. Just like me."

"You really opened up to that truck driver, huh?"

"Joan, I wish you would stop downgrading his line of work. At least he's not a drug dealer or a pimp. Every man can't be a doctor or a lawyer or in some other big-time profession. Long-haul truck drivers deserve a lot of respect because they're doing a job that somebody has to do. I'm sure the average man wouldn't enjoy driving a big truck for hours on end and risking his life just to transport merchandise."

"You're right. Driving an eighteen-wheeler is just as respectable as any other profession. At least Calvin gets to travel from state to state, and he makes lots of money."

"And to be honest with you, I'd still like Calvin if he drove a garbage truck and didn't make a lot of money. It's been years since I met a man who's made me feel so relaxed in his presence." I took my time making the next statement because I had a feeling it was going to ruffle Joan's feathers even more. "I even told him about Bertha."

"You have got to be kidding!" Joan clapped her hands together like a seal, threw her head back, and laughed so loud and long, everybody in the bar turned to look at her.

"Can you laugh a little louder so the people out on the street can hear you too?" I hissed.

She stopped laughing and gave me a look that was part incredulous, part angry.

"What's wrong with you, Lola? Why would you waste your time telling a random sex partner — who you haven't even had sex with yet and hardly know — about your crazy-ass stepmother?"

"Woman, you have no room to talk! Didn't you tell me that you told some of your partners about your 'crazy-ass' husband?"

"Oh yeah, I did tell you that." Joan giggled and looked embarrassed. "And each one I told felt so bad for me, they were extra nice. It helps for me to talk about the mess I'm in with whoever wants to listen. Other than my meddling family and you, that is. So, what all did you tell Calvin about Bertha and her useless, rotten-ass children?"

"I didn't go into a lot of detail about Libby and Marshall. Talking about them takes a lot out of me, physically and mentally. Besides, there is so much to tell about them, it would have taken me a few hours just to scratch the surface. I focused on Bertha and how she's using Daddy's deathbed request to manipulate me. Calvin laughed when I told him how when I was a teenager she used to show up at the places my dates took me to. And, believe it or not, he actually said it was very noble of me to be so devoted to her. He feels sorry for her, and he told me that karma is going to reward me for my kindness someday. I swear, he's the most sensitive man I've ever come across."

"All that's easy for him to say. I'm sure he wouldn't say that if he knew Bertha," Joan decided. "You said his screen name is 'RamRod'? I think 'DudleyDoRight' would suit him better."


Excerpted from Never Trust a Stranger by Mary Monroe. Copyright © 2017 Mary Monroe. 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


Also by Mary Monroe,
Title Page,
Copyright Page,
Chapter 1 - Lola,
Chapter 2 - Lola,
Chapter 3 - Joan,
Chapter 4 - Joan,
Chapter 5 - Joan,
Chapter 6 - Calvin,
Chapter 7 - Lola,
Chapter 8 - Lola,
Chapter 9 - Joan,
Chapter 10 - Calvin,
Chapter 11 - Joan,
Chapter 12 - Calvin,
Chapter 13 - Calvin,
Chapter 14 - Lola,
Chapter 15 - Lola,
Chapter 16 - Joan,
Chapter 17 - Joan,
Chapter 18 - Lola,
Chapter 19 - Calvin,
Chapter 20 - Calvin,
Chapter 21 - Lola,
Chapter 22 - Lola,
Chapter 23 - Joan,
Chapter 24 - Joan,
Chapter 25 - Joan,
Chapter 26 - Lola,
Chapter 27 - Lola,
Chapter 28 - Joan,
Chapter 29 - Lola,
Chapter 30 - Lola,
Chapter 31 - Joan,
Chapter 32 - Joan,
Chapter 33 - Joan,
Chapter 34 - Joan,
Chapter 35 - Calvin,
Chapter 36 - Lola,
Chapter 37 - Lola,
Chapter 38 - Joan,
Chapter 39 - Calvin,
Chapter 40 - Joan,
Chapter 41 - Lola,
Chapter 42 - Calvin,
Chapter 43 - Joan,
Chapter 44 - Lola,
Chapter 45 - Calvin,
Chapter 46 - Joan,
Chapter 47 - Lola,
Chapter 48 - Lola,
Chapter 49 - Calvin,
Chapter 50 - Calvin,
Chapter 51 - Lola,
Chapter 52 - Calvin,
Chapter 53 - Calvin,
Chapter 54 - Joan,
Chapter 55 - Joan,
Chapter 56 - Lola,
Author's Note,

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