Welcome back to Friday Features.
Up today, Ms. Suzette D. Harrison.
Suzette D. Harrison, a native Californian and the middle of three daughters, grew up in a home where reading was required, not requested. Her literary “career” began in junior high school with the publishing of her poetry. While Mrs. Harrison pays homage to Alex Haley, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, and Toni Morrison as legends who inspired her creativity, it was Dr. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that unleashed her writing. The award-winning author of Taffy is a wife and mother who holds a culinary degree in Pastry & Baking. Mrs. Harrison is busy cooking up her next novel…in between batches of cookies.
Here’s a little about her latest title, My Joy with an excerpt to follow.
Joy Matthews isn’t afraid of risks. She’s quit her Fortune 500 job and enrolled in culinary school, chasing her dream. Joy wants her own couture cake boutique. Pursuing her dream by day, Joy pays the bills working nights at The Hourglass—an exclusive gentlemen’s club catering to patrons who enjoy “a little extra fine on a woman’s frame.” Joy’s catching up to her dream when a chance encounter reconnects her with Quinton Daley, a childhood friend. Mutual attraction throws the proverbial wrench in Joy’s relationship-phobic, happily agnostic life. A goal-oriented woman who “doesn’t do men with Bible breath,” Joy sees in Quinton a whole lot of what she likes but doesn’t need. Tall, chocolate-skinned, and born-again, Quinton’s Christianity poses a risk even the tenacious Joy isn’t willing to take. Quinton Daley isn’t fazed. He’s a man of faith who will willingly wait on Joy to come to God…and him. When love and lust heat up, Joy and Quinton face a predicament. Will they indulge? Or abstain? Join this wild mix of custom cakes, a saved, sanctified and sexy man, and an obsessed patron from The Hourglass who’s determined to make Joy’s life a sticky mess.
Enjoy this excerpt!
PAID, NOT LAID
Welcome to The Hourglass where the sands run wide.
Tonight The Hourglass is full like the figures—overflowing with its usual suspects, styling and profiling like diamonds. Bright. Shining. In the dark, on the Down Low. Not as in men liking other men. These playas here like their women, and they like them big.
An upscale gentlemen’s club, The Hourglass’ modus operandi is providing fluffy and plus- sized fantasies. This establishment was created for men coveting the company of women with a little extra fine on the frame. If defined by their wallets alone, most of these patrons can be classified as gentlemen.
I wasn’t aware California’s central valley had so many baller-shot-callers until working here. This clientele has wallets that support their hefty dreams, literally. From the capital to the bay, the foothills and back, these gents are rolling. Not every patron has deep pockets, but trust, The Hourglass hosts men with money in the millions.
That’s why I’m here. Tryna be paid, not laid.
My girlhood goal was never to be swirling around poles, legs flapped open, business on parade. This is my part-time slave. A means to an end in a sexy, safe environment where I don’t slide or ride nothing. I’m not vending machine exchanging coochie for coins, which is why I keep my happy hips on Level One.
The Hourglass has three floors. Level One, where I work three to four nights a week is tame, for no-skin-on-skin, hands-off “virgins” like me. No touching. No licking. Just looking. Second floor employees? Patrons can look and maybe lick. Now, the third floor. That’s what my girl, Diamond, had the nerve to rename The Upper Room.
I’m not religious. I no longer believe in God; and trust, we don’t speak. An ex-child of the cult, I’m not agnostic. I’m indifferent and don’t care to argue God’s existence. Still, naming the top floor The Upper Room is downright irreverent. But that’s Diamond for you.
Chick has to be the coolest white female. In here, she calls herself Diamond Divine. I call her D.D. for that, and the fact that it’s her cup size. Her behind is near-‘bout flat, but her hips are almost curvy-wide as mine. With her ivory skin, flaming hair, and jade-green eyes, chick is gorgeous and could be a cover model: plus-size. Still, she’s like most of us in here tryna earn extra and keep out of collections.
Back to what Diamond calls The Upper Room. It’s not my thing, but my Third Floor sisters do some sexing. D.D.—a former Vegas girl who stripped on the strip and starred in skin flicks— says it’s smoky and theatrical with poles, cages, and butt-naked lap dances. D.D.’s trying hard to get Third Level status and work some skin in, but she has to have a patron sponsor her in. The Third Floor has a $2,500 cover charge. D.D.’s take-home would be a hefty percent. I can’t judge. But that’s not me.
That’s why I stay on Level One where The Hourglass remains, in its simplest form, a gentlemen’s supper club “offering privacy to gentlemen of means gathering, for leisure or business, in the company of women of substance”. No disrespect to my fully-empowered sisters who choose to, but I can’t do tart in a titty bar. I don’t flash these goodies.
I’d barely locked my purse in the employee lounge before Zaki was in my grill. Please note: I didn’t mind.
With his always professionally styled long locs, Zaki had to be one of the finest Nigerian- American brothers I’d ever had the fortune of being hot and bothered about. Take a cup of Idris, a pound of Djimon, and mix with several slabs of that deep, dark, delicious Michael James Shaw!
Lawd, today! Did you see when he rolled outta Miss Kizzy’s bed in the remake of Roots and showed Massa Tom what he was working with? Bless that wonderful name! Find several needed seats, Massa Tom Lea. You’re not it!
Anyhoo…as I was saying, Zaki is oh so right. And if I wasn’t employed here and didn’t see us cracking condoms as a conflict of interest, trust! I would’ve dropped Zaki some the first, second, and fifth time he expressed interest. Instead, I stood in the hall, ready for him to bug me about old dude yet again.
“You look nice.”
“True,” I teased with a wink. I’m a flirt, admittedly. “What can I do for you?”
See, yet another reason why I like Zaki—other than the fact that he’s a good bartender and
knows how to put extra on those Pink Panties. He’s quick on his feet, and keeps up with me. I wondered if that included horizontally…
“Huh?” I obviously drifted, thinking of what life could be like being nakedly busy with Zaki. “I said, he’s still interested.”
Some boss patron named Randall Cummings had been “requesting the honor of my
presence,” nonstop over the past two months. He’d even sent gifts like gourmet chocolates and spa certificates to sweeten the possibility. I’d declined each. R.C., as I renamed him, haunted floors two and three. We already know those floors are too high. I can’t pay that licking and looking price. “No thanks, Zaki.”
“He’s willing to meet you on Level One to keep things comfortable.”
Shame on me, but my mental calculator got to multiplying. Zaki had approached me like some emissary for R.C at least seven times in the past weeks. Every time he did, I asked what level homeskillet was frequenting.
Zaki’s answer? “The top.”
Multiplying seven by Level Three’s twenty-five-hundred-dollar cover charge was…fix me, Jesus…nine months of my mortgage!
Sorry, but curiosity caught my kitty.
I’d never seen Randall Cummings up close. Zaki pointed him out a couple of times, but always at a distance. The lights in The Hourglass were kept low, so I saw little to nothing. I was suddenly curious about seeing up close what kind of brother dropped five figures at a companion’s club in two months.
“So, what’s wrong with dude that he’s so persistent? Is he Gollum? Lil’ Wayne? Or Flava Flav?”
Zaki laughed like I was crazy, which I am. “Why the brother gotta be unattractive?”
“ ‘Cause he pays for it.”
Zaki shook his head. “Joy, don’t let the smooth taste fool you. These men in here pay
because they want to.”
Sometimes, when I’m not an active companion keeping company, I hang at the bar and talk
to Zaki. I’ve gotten to know him as a pretty laid-back, smooth business kind of brother. But I noticed his voice had a razor’s edge when stating what he’d just said. “You okay, Zaki?”
“I’m straight.” Crooking his head towards the end of the hallway, he invited, “Walk with me to the bar.”
Sucker for a fine man that I am, I did.
“He asked me to give you this.”
Really?! I looked from the Tiffany-blue box and up at Zaki. “Z., you’re fine enough to play
games with, but not tonight. What is this B.S.?”
Zaki shrugged. “Open it and see.”
And that’s when I should’ve run my broad behind up out that piece.